Q. How do we make sure that our students will hear the “important” words (some call them “high frequency”) if we go non-targeted?
A. If we are teaching for whole-language mastery, then we need to unlearn or let go of the idea that we are teaching parts of the language. If the high-frequency words are important they will come up again and again, and if they are not, then they won’t. This means, to me, that we need not stress ourselves out and bog our instruction down in the quest to pile reps upon reps in one sitting. Just use the language, and day after day, the “important” elements of the language will reappear again and again, and be acquired when the learner is ready. This last point is, to me, frequently overlooked in targeted instruction. We can hammer a certain linguistic element forever, but if the student is not ready to acquire it, then all our efforts are in vain and we are just putting a lot of energy on something that really does not matter, and not only that, also inhibits our ability to connect with kids and find the humor, joy, and creativity that non-targeted work promises.