Data – 3

This is Eric Herman’s view on the data thread. Definitely read it:

As far as how many teachers are using TCI. I don’t know. Way too few of us are active here and on moreTPRS. And there are degrees to which TCI is applied.

We are the radicals – light years ahead. Krashen is still a radical 30+ years later.

I’ve included links to the evidence in applied research in a Primer linked on this site.

In that PPT, I include this link to comparison studies:

and this link to TPRS studies:

See slide 14 for what I call the Insanity Argument. Rather than just look at whether TPRS works, we should also be looking at whether the mainstream approach has worked. It hasn’t. Low student enrollment, low student proficiency, and high teacher turnover.

I agree that it’s “case closed” when you see a good TCI class in action. Seeing is believing. Like Ben said, we’ve traditionally not tested fluency nor proficiency. The bulk of FL teachers and SLA researchers have measured language gains in terms of “learning.” (explicit learning).

There’s the iceberg model – a lot is not testable and it may only be possible to test the tip.

100 instruction hours in a class of 15+ students is nothing – you’re trying to look at the microscopic difference between minuscule SLA gains between TCI and traditional approaches. Despite this realization, I acknowledge that if we had data in support of TCI, then it could bring us back to the future.

There aren’t any good comprehension-based, proficiency tests that I know of. That’s why I tried to write my own with guidance of Dr. Beniko Mason. I discussed the details in a forum post:
Here’s the English version:
And the Spanish version:

I wanted a way to show what my TCI kids have accomplished, what a traditional test doesn’t measure. I recommend you find a reading at the level you desire your students to reach. For each of the 4 skills, they can read* and/or listen to a story in L2 and then summarize in L1 , read* and/or listen in L2 and then rewrite or retell in L2.
*take away the reading while they are summarizing

I think you can use to analyze the word frequency levels of the reading – the higher the frequency, the more valid – the more you show that comprehension of that language will be useful to real world communication.

If forced to give a common assessment, ALSO give them a comprehension-based test in order to better show all that the kids can do. Anyone with common sense should be able to see from the way you tested the kids that it is closer to measuring real language ability.

Seeing is not believing for everyone. Maybe, a teacher so used to the traditional paradigm may not be able to grasp the magic of a good CI class. Maybe because they’re looking for the wrong things. They have on their “grammar goggles.” I’ve had observers. I’ve had an admin get it immediately and ask me right after to go spread it to the high school (unfortunately, she moved the following year). My fellow non-CI teaching colleagues were the ones that were the least enthusiastic when I showed them video of my classes and demoed for them.

Parents have been the easiest sell of all. They’ve probably all suffered a grammar-oriented classroom, so they see the value in what I’m doing. Then, if you demo for them, then another “case closed.” I had Open House last night and I received wonderful comments from parents “My kid said I had to meet you” and “I wish I had had teachers like you.”

I’ve probably shared this before, but worth sharing again. This puts some numbazz on the sea that is SLA. . .

50 function words = 60% unsimplified speech
1,000 high frequency word families = 85% unsimplified speech
3,000 word families = 95% unsimplified speech
7,000 word families = 98% unsimplified speech

Research shows that to ensure comprehension you need 98% knowledge of the words (defined as a 70%+ on comprehension tests). If you want moderate comprehension (55% on tests), then you need 95% comprehension.

The average native speaker acquires 1,000 word families per year from ages 3-25.

Now, it should be obvious that with our limited time, we can’t expect 1,000 word families to be acquired in 1 year. We probably can’t even expect a quarter of that amount! (Remember: a word family includes inflected forms and many derivations). This trivializes the actual differences between a level 1 student with 100 hours of FL instruction and level 2 with 200 hours. The difference is minute.

So, if we can’t get a kid to acquire 7,000 word families, then they won’t have great comprehension of the real world. Thus, only the fastest processors would ever have a chance at achieving that light speed of acquisition in 4 years of a FL program.

That brings up another point: the ultimate goal of education in general is to produce a life-long student. In the case of SLA, if you don’t produce a life-long student, then that person will never continue to acquire and can never handle the outside world. In order to develop a life-long student, the study of the language must be pleasurable. Unfortunately, “rigor” has been confused with ideas such as “they must do a lot of homework” and “it should be hard” and “not everyone should be able to successfully acquire a foreign language.”



1 thought on “Data – 3”

  1. …in order to develop a life-long student, the study of the language must be pleasurable….

    Eric that made me think of this quote by Krashen:

    …the path of pleasure is the only path.The path of pain does not work for language acquisition….

    Stephen Krashen

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