Input vs. Output 2

This content from a recent response by Robert to Jody on
https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/12/05/ohio-may-have-a-problem/
cannot be ignored so I am reposting it here as a blog entry:
I have to agree with Jody. Most programs ignore the importance of the conversation, i.e. the interpersonal component.
I also question whether Chris’s correspondent understands Krashen. From what I have read and heard, Krashen is not against output, nor does he consider it unimportant. He is against forced output – and that is a significant difference.
Recently I came across a TED Talk that provides, among other things, a time-lapse audio of the presenter’s son transitioning from saying “gaga” to saying “water”. Imagine if the poor kid had had to wait until he said “water” perfectly to get that first drink. The comments about modifying language are also significant for us as classroom teachers. The presenter points out that it was when the caretaker’s speech “dipped” to its simplest form that utterances (output) were elicited from the child. (Voluntary utterances, btw.) I’m sure this is what Krashen is going for when he talks about “transparency”. I think the first half of the speech is most relevant for us as foreign language teachers.
Here are the URLs:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/deb_roy_the_birth_of_a_word.html
https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/11/24/brian-found-an-article/

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6 thoughts on “Input vs. Output 2”

  1. Not trying to “name drop” but I have had the discussion with Krashen (and Beniko Mason) about output, attended many seminars and read his studies and books and yes…it is essential to note that when we talk about output, we need to be aware that forced output is not an acceptable practice. Forced output includes: making students repeat, forcing full sentence replies to questions – orally or written, asking students to memorize dialogues (from the dark ages of ALM) Forced output increase the affective filter which … as we ‘Krashenites’ know…results in little to no language acquisition.
    Transparency, as I understand it, is 100% comprehension. This is necessary for novice level students. However, as the students acquire more language and reach the intermediate level…we, as teachers, need to include a few words structures which force the student to deduce the meaning. If we don’t depart from 100% comprehensibility our students get totally lost when there is a new structure and consequently ‘shut down’. We want them to learn the skill of deducing the meaning based on context and critical thinking.

  2. …if we don’t depart from 100% comprehensibility our students get totally lost when there is a new structure and consequently ‘shut down’. We want them to learn the skill of deducing the meaning based on context and critical thinking….
    Diana could you expand a bit on this and the difference in comprehension/transparency and how they change from lower to more advanced levels? This word transparency is not more than a year old, really, in my experience, and, although there are blog entries on it, I still don’t know what it means. Maybe you could just write a bit more here for the group on this topic.
    Merci d’avance.

  3. Not Diana and really just thinking aloud here . . . .
    If we think in terms of “scaffolding” (to use edu-speak) or “training wheels”, then our beginning students need full-on training wheels / extensive scaffolding so that everything we say is 100% transparent/comprehensible to them. The language (and everything else) is just too new to them to do anything else – they would be overwhelmed.
    As they become accustomed to what we do and how we do it, we need to introduce ambiguity in small doses so that they learn how to deal with it. (The way I see it, this is one place that Second-Language Acquisition differs from First-Language Acquisition because in FLA we deal with ambiguity and incomprehension regularly as children. Our school situation does not allow for that, because of both time constraints and the expectations of our students.) When, how and how much targeted incomprehensibility to introduce are part of the Art of Teaching because this will differ with every class.
    One good place to introduce targeted ambiguity and incomprehension is reading. Then I can use a “think aloud” (a popular term in my district at the moment) to show students how I deal with a word I don’t understand through context clues, etc. We can also introduce students to circumlocution by defining new terms and structures in the target language. For example, even though it is a cognate in German, I can clarify “Bank” by saying (in German) “the place where people have a lot of money” or something similar rather than simply giving names of banks – though that is useful too as a reinforcement.
    Part of our problem as teachers is that we allow non-targeted ambiguity and incomprehensibility to creep into the lower levels and then have to “save the day” by either writing a lot on the board or using English. (Yes, I’m guilty of this.)

  4. Robert, thank you for making this important distinction regarding the role of ambiguity. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard your statement: “Our school situation does not allow for that, because of both time constraints and the expectations of our students” coming from the mouth of someone who is justifying an analytical approach. Now, we can address this very legitimate concern, but from a CI perspective.

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