Communication

“Whenever the desire for communication precedes the selection of structures, the lesson goes great. Whenever the structures precede the desire for communication, the lesson falls flat.”
John Bracey

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56 thoughts on “Communication”

  1. So true. Yesterday in one of my classes the end of class alarm went off and we were still discussing the calendar. We were talking, laughing, chanting, and coming up with a new class job, the “liar” who contradicts what I say. The kid loves to argue and it sure helped get in reps to keep contradicting this kid’s statements about the date and weather. I thought of this very discussion as I was mock-sheepishly telling the class oh well no quiz today. If the targets for the day had been my main objective we would have missed out on some great community building and reps on numbers, days of the week, weather, and words for feelings/thinking. I was proud of my kids’ creativity and focus. I am not too sure if their focus and enjoyment of the class would be as high if I felt tied to certain structures. I’m just trusting that the year is long and if we are talking 95% of the time in French or Spanish with loads of reps, they will acquire a lot of language.

    1. This is happening to me this week. Even though I have a rep counter, we are only getting about 10 reps each structure. I don’t mind because I am recycling all the old vocab along with it. Students are catching on.

  2. …the year is long and if we are talking 95% of the time in French or Spanish with loads of reps, they will acquire….
    Even three years ago here this kind of statement was often met with a kind of “Oops! That’s a little too California for me!” (Or Oregon…)

    1. And that’s exactly what Krashen has been arguing! If the kids get enough sheltered/non-targeted input it’ll be just as effective (I think way more so) than trying to plan it, control it, and teach it.

    2. Oregon may be the new California ha ha. I’m new in my job and probably burning bridges I don’t know are there yet. Ah the enthusiasm of youth.

  3. “Control It”
    I am trying to work out in my mind what Krashen meant by “control it.” After all, we are the experts in the room. We are guiding the discussion. We choose the questions which impact the direction of the discussion. We ask the when, where with whom, where. We choose the next student. We choose the beginning point of the discussion. So there is control. Does he mean that it is not pre-planned?

    1. You pick words and you communicate within those words. Sheltering.
      The notion of “i+1” is intuitively appealing, but notoriously vague. Of course, you can only acquire what you are ready to acquire. Nothing profound about that. Unless you’re clueless about SLA and you think you can get whatever you want acquired whenever you teach/target it.
      i+1 is often used to refer to the next “structure” someone is ready to acquire. Guess what? “Structure” is often used to refer to a rule. And guess what? Linguists tear this idea of structure “i+1” apart – what constitutes a “structure”? Traditional grammar rule? Universal grammar parameter? What about phonological structure? etc.

      1. “i+1 is often used to refer to the next “structure” someone is ready to acquire. …“Structure” is often used to refer to a rule.”
        I intend for i+1 to mean lexical item, because for my intents in the classroom, it is the variable that carries the most meaning and also the one I can assess most accurately. I think phonological structure is along for the ride, but good points and nice to know the arguments agains. I personally like the idea of i+1, even if it is hard to pin down. Perhaps I like it better because of that…

        1. So, targeting lexical items. Hmmm.
          I take it to mean, you will include in the input new and unfamiliar vocabulary, the words you want acquired (“targeted” has the connotation of focusing on it in order to “teach” it or get it acquired).
          Would then “acquired” mean recognize the form and link it to meaning? (that’s the traditional sense of acquiring vocabulary). In this limited sense of acquisition, yes, this may be a “variational feature” – an aspect of the language that can be acquired at any time – as opposed to a “developmental feature.”
          And the “content words” (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) may be more variational, even in a fuller sense of the word “acquire” – internalizing knowledge of form, meaning, and use. The function words (articles, pronouns, conjunctions, etc.) are definitely developmental features in terms of full acquisition. So, you’d have to qualify the purpose to “target content words.”
          But what if traditional notions of “vocabulary” and “grammar” are inseparable? That’s at least what the UG Minimalist Program proposes. And without even understanding that line of thinking, it’s common sense that a word also has a “grammar.” If we accept that we cannot force acquisition and performance of grammar, then targeting lexicon is a fools game.
          Again, by “target” I mean to “focus on and get acquired.” This is the notion TPRS has prescribed to “target” – if we only get enough reps. The same notion that SLA gives the word . . . “target” is a tainted term. For that reason, I’d say “shelter.” When you shelter you can focus on and limit new input, but the goal is more communicative than to get reps and get something acquired. The incidental result of sheltering will also be to get plenty of reps.
          When you independently read a text with prior familiarity of 95+% of the words, then you can still gain moderate to high comprehension. Comprehensible exposure to 5% or fewer new words will potentially further acquisition (not complete acquisition) of those words. A well-designed graded reader controls that 5% over the series of books at the same level so that the 5% words are artificially more frequent. It does NOT organize by chapters each of which focuses on getting reps of a few words/phrases.
          We are not creating an “input flood” or using “input enhancement” – both of which are “explicit interventions” to get something acquired, usually a traditional grammar rule. In targeted TPRS, you would create something of an input flood – deliberately increasing the incidence of certain grammatical forms. The idea is that the forms will be more salient and be noticed, supposedly necessary for acquisition. We disagree with the idea that a form needs to be consciously registered in order to be acquired, and we disagree for good reason.
          To get a sense for this and how “target structure” is used in the SLA literature, then check out this article I just found online: http://www.ijllalw.org/finalversion7341.pdf

  4. “So, targeting lexical items. Hmmm.” Haha, I know. I keep using this word “target”, because either 1. I’m stuck in an old way of thinking and I need this new approach clarified further or 2. because it’s the best way for me to explain what I see as what we do in class that works. It’s very likely #1 and I appreciate any and all patience while I figure it out.
    If it is #2, I think that the lexical items that I’d be targeting are those that will allow me to communicate with my students about what I hope to communicate with them about (story, weekend plans, a sports game, Day of the Dead, etc) and that will push further lexical development beyond what they have already acquired. It’s loose. Sheltered vs targeted, still quite blurry to me I am going to admit.
    “I take it to mean, you will include in the input new and unfamiliar vocabulary, the words you want acquired” Yes, and not necessarily acquired, but at least a good start down that road. Mainly recognition, in a flow environment ideally, so as to minimize interruptions in comprehension. Basically what I just read that you said in paragraph 3.
    This is good stuff Eric. I’ll look at that article you linked to. I hope you keep hammering on this. I may have taken slight offense to the word “again” before, but I think I’ll see it as a welcome opportunity to try and further wrap my head around your insight and toss off any old baggage I may be holding on to. And then I’ll probably come back swinging that baggage… so watch out. 🙂

    1. Dude, the “again” was not used in the sense of “I have to explain this again.” It was used in the sense of “Remember how I define my terms.”
      Glance at the article and you may see why I am adverse to “target” and “structures.”
      🙂

      1. Hey Jim, I’ve been thinking a lot about this. And I think I get what you mean by saying we target vocabulary. That probably does better describe what I have been doing, although I’m doing less of that. We can think about this and try it out to see which gives the best result – targeting or sheltering vocabulary.
        Targeting – deliberately focusing on a few words and making the communication fit the language in order to get reps, which we hope leads to aural recognition of the words.
        Sheltering – deliberately limiting how much new language we use to communicate. Lots of reps, especially in the beginning when there is a small language sample to use. The result will very often be aural recognition of the words, although the goal is to exchange messages.
        Note: I will often do some targeting upon first presentation of a new word – those mass reps build familiarity and facilitate future sheltered communication.
        Although I’ve been targeting vocabulary in the sense above, I genuinely question whether sheltering vocabulary at every step is best. For example, the verb slam and the high-frequency mini-stories I have been using may be unnecessary and even less effective/efficient than were I to just choose an engaging and meaningful conversation theme/story and bring in bounds language as it is necessary.
        When you look at Blaine’s curriculum you wonder if he mislabeled what he actually does. His stories are not targeting vocabulary like claimed. Often the “structure” only appears once in the story he is asking!

        1. “Targeting – deliberately focusing on a few words and making the communication fit the language in order to get reps, which we hope leads to aural recognition of the words.
          Sheltering – deliberately limiting how much new language we use to communicate. Lots of reps, especially in the beginning when there is a small language sample to use. The result will very often be aural recognition of the words, although the goal is to exchange messages.”
          These are excellent definitions. Very helpful. One other problem (and I think it’s been discussed before) related to targeting as defined here is that teaching language in a sequence of targeting may not allow for as much re-use of prior vocabulary as sheltering would tend to allow.

        2. …the verb slam and the high-frequency mini-stories I have been using may be unnecessary and even less effective/efficient than were I to just choose an engaging and meaningful conversation theme/story and bring in bounds language as it is necessary….
          I suspect this as well. It always goes to that word “compelling”.

          1. Targeting in these activities are good “training wheels” in an important CI skill: staying in bounds. Just shift your mindset from thinking of getting reps to teach something to getting reps to stay comprehensible.

        3. …when you look at Blaine’s curriculum you wonder if he mislabeled what he actually does. His stories are not targeting vocabulary like claimed. Often the “structure” only appears once in the story he is asking!….
          This is also true of Matava and Tripp stories. Yes, the structures are there in the stories, but I am beginning to see that it is not the regular appearance of the structures that make the stories comprehensible. That helps, of course. But the real reason those stories work so well is because they are really interesting. This is new information to me, and results directly from the thread here about real communication as the true bread and butter of what we do, as opposed to any “techniques” or “strategies”. This explains Blaine’s unique ability. He just engages the kids. It’s all we need to do as well. As opposed to many others who do this work including Susan Gross, Blaine is able to make it a two way street, where the kids want to contribute, and he listens to them and is not just delivering comprehensible input services.

          1. We have overcomplicated the essence of what we should be doing: communicating comprehensibly.
            How overwhelming is the Green Bible chapter on “TPRS Teaching Skills and Techniques” ??!! The 49 skills in “TPRS in a Year!” ??!!
            These books are awesome and these skills should be talked about. But I think we could train more teachers by going at this in another way. Rather than think of this as cumulatively adding more skills, going from the parts to the whole, we should go in the other direction: whole to parts. Isn’t this the best way to teach a skill? The best way to learn to play basketball is to play basketball! The skills “teach themselves.” And you “pop-up” (react) the individual skills as a response to need.
            I think we should, like in the Natural Approach, just tell teachers to pick something to communicate to kids, and then see what they naturally do in order to make themselves comprehensible. People will find themselves questioning as in circling, sheltering vocabulary to stay in bounds, going slow, etc. as a result of trying to be understood.
            Teachers don’t have to stress about being “transparent” (kids knowing every single word the entire time). As a result of trying to communicate, the teacher will get the message across in a way that suits the student’s level of competence. EVERYONE can be a language parent – you just have to want to understand and be understood.
            We’ve over-intellectualized it and over-classified the approach and as a result this way of teaching is overwhelming to someone trying to learn it and that contributes to a larger learning curve!
            The “TPRS skills and techniques” can be learned at a later time. But let’s be honest, a lot of this is FLUFF. Some of it is “tricks” that fall away once our kids buy in. What is always there and is at the center of it all is:
            1) Finding meaningful & engaging (compelling) content
            2) Storyasking, which can be explained as letting kids fill in the blanks like a mad-lib.
            3) Constant interaction, especially via comprehension questions
            4) Sheltering = staying in bounds, but we don’t have to be so strict about this one – it should be encouraged to bring a word in bounds if it comes up and is important to the communication.
            You can modify that list if you think I’ve missed something essential.

          2. I agree completely Eric. And hopefully that is now a direction to seriously consider taking, away from making new teachers feel inadequate because they don’t have the skills. How many times has that happened with new teachers, where it looks so overwhelming and yet as you say is such a simple thing in point of fact – just communicate.
            Let’s look at, below, some of the big “skills” and see if they can be done away with, or at least not worshipped so much. That is to say, what if the new CI teacher, instead of allowing those skills to clutter their minds when they are teaching as they try to “learn how to do TPRS right”, were to just try to communicate with their kids in interesting ways? What would happen? There would be a ton of i+1 going on, that’s for sure. Again, look at Adriana Ramirez teaching with the sound off* and see if it might be easier to have new teachers just imitate her by asking repeated questions, whichever ones came into their minds, like Adriana does and not worry so much about specific skills (except for one) as per:
            Circling – not needed. This point was made by jen here about five weeks ago. She said in a comment that what is really needed is, instead of focusing on the “skill” of circling, that the new teacher need only be aware of asking lots of questions and getting lots and lots of repetitions on them in an effort to communicate with her students about interesting things in a spirit of negotiating shared meaning. We left the “Order of Circling” thing by the side of the road years ago. I do think that the question words would still be necessary for the first year, but all I do now this year is write them on the board if I want when they occur.
            SLOW – not needed to think about because if the effort to communicate about interesting things is there, SLOW will happen naturally, without our thinking about it.
            Staying in Bounds – this is a necessary skill and we must be aware of it when communicating with our students.
            Checking for Understanding/Choral Response – not needed to think about it consciously as a “skill” to learn because if the effort to communicate with our students about interesting things is there, we will naturally check for their understanding.
            Point and Pause – is vastly overused and not necessary to any degree that we currently use it. In the best classes, there are less than 3 or 4 new phrases on the board at the end of class, with the ideal number being 0 new phrases. Point and Pause has caused more problems than it has solved.
            Teaching to the Eyes – it’s not necessary to think about it as a skill. If we are trying to communicate with someone, don’t we naturally look in their eyes? Besides, this skill has often morphed into Teaching to the Forehead, as the new CI teacher thinks it’s all about her CI Performance capacities, when that attitude too must go, giving way to a simple human desire to communicate.
            *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOxcBvb7vAU

          3. After iflt this summer at grants house I suggested we forego the TPRS circling practice after the beginning workshop and just ask participants to be silent and only use nonverbal communication. It’s like so much of our teacher training baggage has caused us to focus so much on the words at the expense of positive body language. Imagine a teacher just trying to keep a group of people to focus on them without saying a word. 9o% of communication is nonverbal right? The words on the board become a distraction for many. (I’m trying to remember that I had to struggle through all this once too… Haha still do)
            Grant and Bryce were trying to get at some of this in their post conference workshop last weekend. They did mirroring demos, and also asked participants to take off their teacher face and put on their human face. The genius of Teach to the Eyes Ben.
            I agree that we tend to overcomplicate this business. But that’s the name of the game, how we’ve all been trained. I often wonder if we teachers taught and trained in trad manner are at more of a disadvantage to effectively communicate than someone without any formal training in language teaching at all. So much baggage. (I find myself saying that word a lot lately.)

        4. I’m waiting til I read that study to comment Eric. I love this conversation if for nothing else to get the language aligned with what we do. But I agree it may push me to approach teaching differently (more humanely) as Diane and you and others are suggesting. So, I’m leaving this thread up on my computer and will get back in a couple days.

        5. Eric, I read that Input Flood/Enhancement paper this weekend. Targeting in order to provide Input Flood did not work so well in the paper. But that study was measuring a grammatical structure (conditional), not lexical items. Do you know of any studies that have measured gains from input flood of lexical items? I know it’s not all about reps, but…
          Having gone back and re-read comments, I’m thinking that my use of “targeting” with regard to vocab is way looser than what some might have in mind. Ben has written a few times about the importance of not saying a sentence during a story that doesn’t contain one of the target “structures”. This is the hyper-targeting that is best juxtaposed with sheltered comm. I’ve more or less supported this in the past in theory, but not really in practice much at all (have any of us really? I personally always want to explore tangents and am constantly pulled to birdwalk away from the targets in order to keep interest, mine and theirs.)
          But the words aren’t really the targets at all are they. The communication is the target. The students’ attention/engagement/contribution is the target.
          I think this theme will be at the forefront of my professional curiosity this year. It’s certainly got me thinking about what I do and what I say I do.

          1. I actually did not read the article. I just skimmed the beginning. I thought it would be beneficial for us to see how the terms “targeting” and “structure” get used in SLA. If we are in fact doing something different, then we should use different terms.

          2. You can target (take aim at) vocabulary (content words especially), but the most you should hope for by getting reps is an ability to match the form (the sound or the spelling) with the meaning.

  5. …the notion of “i+1” is intuitively appealing, but notoriously vague. ….
    Diana Noonan and Joey Dzietzic and Paul Kirschling and I almost argued ourselves into a fistfight over i+1. Joey had to call Krashen. Then we still didn’t understand because Joey put his own spin on it.

    1. I think at iFLT some time when Krashen was speaking, he said that the “i+1” phrase was really great because no one could get an easy grasp of what it meant, therefore it got talked about and talked about. I forget his exact way of expressing it, but it was funny.

  6. i+1 to me includes any time I’m speaking real Russian, that is, with the intent to communicate.
    When I’m truly communicating with kids, I am going to include +1, even if that’s only because I get a little fast for them. New vocabulary or old vocabulary, used new ways, is +1.
    Logical connectors and (grammatically/meaning based) word endings are often +1, even if they are understood, because there are going to be new bits in every real communication. I can’t keep them out.

    1. I really like this definition, Michele. Really good. Thanks.
      And for reading I like “i – 1”.
      Also what you said in that other comment is a true gem:
      …I’d suggest that the +1 is not always comprehended, but that it’s something the brain feels it can disregard for now, because the main meaning is clear….

  7. Extemporaneous (unrehearsed) language is generative – always recombined in new ways => it’s
    i + 1!!
    We’ve prolly all had that experience where we use ‘old’ vocab recombined in new ways, and a kid makes the “I don’t get it” sign, or it shows up in a comprehension check or weak choral response.
    This recent thread really supports narrow, narrow, narrow usage for novices, as new tidbits – grammar features etc -will inevitable find their way in, and keep the deeper mind very busy.

    1. Even when it’s kids who are more likely intermediates, keeping at a level that the novices will understand will still yield +1 for the upper levels. Yesterday an upper level kid corrected my use of a word “also” with the word that means “also” and “additionally, in comparison to.” I had been trying to stick to what the newbies knew, and she automatically corrected my Russian. Then she looked shocked and waved a hand over her head. She wanted to know why she thought of that. I explained the difference. And told her she was right. The rest of the kids hadn’t even noticed there was a different word there, clearly demonstrating what Nathaniel says about +1.
      I’d suggest that the +1 is not always comprehended, but that it’s something the brain feels it can disregard for now, because the main meaning is clear.

  8. i refers to what the learner has acquired.
    +1 refers to what has not been acquired but is comprehended by the learner.
    As I understand it…
    If it is not comprehensible, of course, it cannot be acquired.
    If it is not next in the natural order of acquisition, it will not be acquired yet.
    (“learner” here means the one in the process of acquiring, the acquirer.)

    1. Huge point here:
      …if it is not next in the natural order of acquisition, it will not be acquired yet….
      To me that means that we need to get off our high horses with all the targeting and just talk to them in a natural way. Why twist one’s speech?

      1. Ben. I have been getting some LOW reps in my PQA. I think that I have reached a point where I have been re-using alot of old vocabulary and simply splice in the sheltered vocabulary when appropriately to the student’s narratives. I would see the rep counters getting 15, maybe 20 reps for the vocabulary. I kind of see it as “eh” since my students were engaged and were able to follow the PQA.

        1. Unconsciously, I’ve written “temporary” words on my whiteboard. These words are the ones that have showed up but students may still have trouble understanding them in context. These are the recycled words that work their way in PQA.

  9. Yes, the idea of i+1 is tied to the Natural Order Hypothesis. Krashen observes all this evidence that there is a pretty inflexible order of use of morphemes (the smallest units of meaning, e.g. “-ing”), an inflexible order of stages (e.g. everyone goes through the same 4 stages in forming negative sentences), as well as universal hierarchies in which every language has the same stages (e.g. stages in using relative clauses – incredible!!!).
    Remember: the way they are testing this is in production, so it can be argued that these are not acquisition orders, but performance orders. It may make more sense to say there are natural output orders/stages.
    We can also look to BVP’s “input processing principles” to understand why there is an order in which certain elements are acquired from natural communication, e.g. one of his corollaries: “The Lexical Preference Principle – Learners will tend to rely on lexical items as opposed to grammatical form to get meaning when both encode the same semantic information.” The idea is that when comprehending, if there is no processing – no link between the form to the meaning (and that link is not necessary for every bit of language in order to comprehend the message) – then it cannot possibly be acquired.
    I encourage people to go read what Krashen wrote about i+1 in his section on the “input hypothesis” [now called the comprehension hypothesis] from his 1982 book Principles & Practices, pages 20-30. http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/books/principles_and_practice.pdf
    In fact, EVERYONE should make time to read this book! PLEASE!
    Be aware of how SLA discusses i+1, especially if you are operating with a different definition. And remember the critiques made of i+1, so that you are not inviting critique:
    1) It is not clear what is meant by “structure” and trying to define it in absence of a theory of language (UG, emergentism, etc.) is haphazard.
    2) Krashen doesn’t use a consistent definition of i and i+1 – sometimes using it to refer to a person’s level of COMPETENCE and sometimes referring to the language STRUCTURE ready to be acquired.
    Remember, we should not “take aim” (target) i+1 (a structure) – “enough natural communication and understanding that i+1 is always provided” (p.24).

    1. “Remember: the way they are testing this is in production, so it can be argued that these are not acquisition orders, but performance orders. It may make more sense to say there are natural output orders/stages.”
      Doesn’t this point more towards providing more natural speech to students?
      Thanks for the resource Eric.

      1. Such a gem from Eric, among thousands:
        …the way they are testing this is in production, so it can be argued that these are not acquisition orders, but performance orders….

    2. Eric could you please clarify BVP’s principle?
      “The Lexical Preference Principle – Learners will tend to rely on lexical items as opposed to grammatical form to get meaning when both encode the same semantic information.” The idea is that when comprehending, if there is no processing – no link between the form to the meaning (and that link is not necessary for every bit of language in order to comprehend the message) – then it cannot possibly be acquired.
      Is this an example of small units of sound or words coming along for the ride that do not have to do with the meaning? Like adding a preposition that is not necessary for meaning (like an ‘a personal’ in Spanish)?

      1. It’s a corollary to the principle of “The Primacy of Meaning” – Learners process input for meaning before form.
        An example of the Lexical Preference Principle: when we use adverbs of time (e.e. today, yesterday, tomorrow), then the inflected verb ending is less likely to be processed. If it is not processed, it canNOT be acquired.
        “Yesterday, I walked to the store.” The learner does not need to process “-ed” on “walked,” because “yesterday” has already given the learner the meaning. And it’s certainly easier to hear “yesterday” than it is to “-ed.”

        1. This is a huge point, Eric. I’ve been wondering this lately in my vague, subconscious way – whether in making what I say comprehensible and easy, am I not maybe keeping them from having to listen more closely and hear certain crucial things. What makes me think that is when it becomes obvious that something has not been acquired that I think has been, because of responses coming from apparent comprehension. I am sometimes really surprised by a lack of comprehension of something when I use it in a different context or after a period of time, and it is something I thought was acquired. There are so many ways to make ourselves understood without our listeners needing the details of the language, and then they don’t hear those details and don’t acquire them. This puts a whole nuther angle on CI. Comprehensible, repeated, recycled… but not too facilitated. Hmmmm…something to think about for sure.
          This is fascinating.

          1. Yep. It’s only helpful if the kids have to attend to the input to get the meaning.
            We will do the least work possible to get meaning. So, if we can get meaning from a gesture, we have no reason to also process the input. Too much extralinguistic support and it’s not really the INPUT that is being comprehended. I think it is our job to gradually take away that extralinguistic support (scaffolding).
            Note: This is how processing instruction works – forces you to use the language input to get meaning by controlling for those processing strategies that give us meaning in other ways or that make us misinterpret the input.

          2. Eric’s comment here, Ruth, is the best explanation for the way you’re feeling right now that I have seen so far. I can’t believe it – you try so hard to be clear and now we see how ungrateful the students can be, letting you hang out there having gotten it ten seconds before you end your strong efforts to make it all clear. I don’t know, but it is certainly one possible explanation. Very interesting. Now what do we do? Speed up to make them run after the bus? Slow down and make them pay the fare before they can hop on? All very interesting. Eric’s statement needs us to look into it possibly this week to get deeper into this topic:
            …[students] will do the least work possible to get meaning….

          3. I don’t know if it relates to those kids’ lousy attitudes either, but that aside, it is a tremendously important concept and is going to change the way I do some things starting tomorrow. What I will change exactly, I don’t know yet. I’ll play it by ear, but just having the idea of not facilitating comprehension toooo much in my mind, has got to make me do some things differently. Maybe more wait time, both me waiting longer before I add a gesture or rephrase or point or whatever and also using the “touch your nose if you know” which gives all kids time to think before a choral response. I don’t know. We’ll see. Just being aware of this is helpful, a gradual weaning away from the supports. It seems so obvious now.
            Thank you, Eric!
            I also want to find time to write up more short readings based on what we have done in class but not the same story, so they need to think about what they are reading more and not just think back to the story or whatever we did to generate the reading. Reading the familiar story is another way that they get meaning without acquiring the language. It’s an important step, but they need different conversations and different readings using the same language in new ways. Yes, the language will come up again naturally at some point, but I’d like to try giving them more in different contexts right off, as well.

          4. Also, I have been recycling structures in different ways, different contexts in short Do Now sentences (respond to question or translate). It is a way to push them to think a bit more about language they need to acquire. Now I am more conscious of why I am doing this and will be more intentional.

          5. Awesome stuff, Ruth!
            Touch your nose if you know to get them to wait before chorally responding. Stolen!
            And making changes to the reading so kids have to pay more attention. Also cool. Then, it gives the reading a purpose: find the differences – in fact, that could be one way of doing a reading assessment.
            I find my kids enjoy reading their own class story and laugh at what they have created. And I get to honor the student who was writing the story. But maybe I’ll start slimming the story down and like Laurie presented in Maine, leave spaces between story events where I can ask the detail during the reading day and thus create a riff of a story off our own story! I want some “task” to do with the reading – and “fill in the details” is an information-gap task.

          6. …comprehensible, repeated, recycled… but not too facilitated….
            Huge point and all new. The fact that you thought they had acquisition when, seeing the structure in a different context, they clearly didn’t. This was a common mantra from Susie: “They always get less than we think.” Now if that is true than how does that relate to our being overly clear? Does it mean that when our students are understanding a contextual passage they are not so aware of the individual words but are getting the message so that they are not really getting the structures we are teaching? An example is how hard it is for them to get “has” vs. “is” in French. This of course connects to the Natural Order of Acquisition hypothesis which in turn connects to the recent discussion here about sheltered communication vs. targeting structures. This topic of overly facilitated speech has never come up here to my knowledge.

          7. Yes… GREAT reminder. I find myself hanging onto gestures for likely far too long. It was during Linda Li’s mandarin class in Denver 5 or so years ago that I silently wanted her to drop the gestures. Of course she would have eventually, but I remember thinking that I wanted them gone so that I could know for sure if I comprehended the Chinese. Motivated learner/L2 teacher thought of course. But supports what BVP is saying.
            Something I do about once a week is conduct part of my class while sitting behind most of the students. It was born out of a few mornings of sluggishness. But I think it’s a keeper bc it requires hyper attention to the words (vs nonverbal cues) by students. Kind of like a telephone call. A simple aural assessment.

        2. Eric I am reading a book published in India. Now, the publishers of books in India seem to be happy if the books stick together. The book I am reading has pages out of order, cut off, and there is a typo in almost every sentence. Many words are just left out. I read in an irritated way for about 100 pages. Now, however, it doesn’t bother me at all. I just read for meaning. If a word is left out, I still get what is meant. And just yesterday when reading that book I felt how absurd it is to make new language students spell correctly. How crazy that really is, when you can leave words out and still be understood. Your post on the textbook being addictive is germane to this point. Grammar teachers don’t really want to teach language; they do want to show off how smart they are.

  10. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Wait! Is it wrong to err on the side of facilitation if the other comprehensible/contextualized/compelling criteria are met?

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