Krashen in Schools 4

Using too much English in the classroom is a situation that we all face. We need to get this one tied down for next year. It is hugely connected to classroom discipline and and gains in fluency yet we don’t really acknowledge that. We don’t realize what a snake English/L1 is in undermining the effects of jGR and the Classroom Rules.

How, indeed, do we go about addressing the question of how to fully enforce a 2% English rule – or whatever percentage below 5% as an absolute limit, on ourselves and a no-English rule on the kids consistently? What are the kids to think when we correct them once on a Wednesday and then the following Monday we let it go? This is a big deal.

It’s a Catch-22. The only way to stop it is to make a rule that says that we may, from time to time, need to use English to clarify things, while, since they are not the teacher, they don’ t have that right. It is the only way I can think and hopefully somebody comes up with something better.

The hypocrisy is that we say we do comprehensible input but we don’t. Not in the sense of the idea, in the truest sense, that CI is an unconscious din/flow/uninterrupted focus on meaning and not on words, a marvelous product of turning the acquisition over to the deeper mind, the only one part of the mind capable of learning a langauge. In the way that fully honors Krashen’s work.

I think I know what this whole thing is about. Ego. It’s about a stubborn reaction to a crazy idea by a discounted scholar who happens to have it right, that people learn languages by focusing on the meaning of what is being said or read and not focusing on the words so that language gains happen as an unconscious and not a conscious process.

That’s where my bitchy edge comes from, Robert, right there. In that unconscious/conscious idea. That’s where I lose patience with my colleagues.



6 thoughts on “Krashen in Schools 4”

  1. In Breckenridge one morning you were headed out on the bike and you introduced me to this “badass dude” as you called him…the guy who uses L2 from day one. I think his name was Ruben? It was a very brief conversation since y’all were rolling on by, but ever since then I have been intrigued and curious about how he does this from day one level one. Clearly he creates a culture where “this is just what we do.” Have you visited his classes ever? Is there any way we could get an inside look at this?

  2. No, he just does it. He doesn’t speak English. It’s all French. Diana told him to avoid using L1, and he came in and just did it. No more complex than that. Thus the term badass dude. Reuben Vyn.

  3. I’m fully aware of the detrimental effects English has on class. After you let it in once, it finds its way back time and time again until it becomes too hard to enforce limits on its use. Next year I am going to try and start off using L2 from day one and see how it goes. Of course I’ll clarify meaning by writing. I’m hoping that it will change the culture of my classes. If all they hear is French from day one, then maybe CI will feel less like a game to them and become more authentic. I’ve tried to use TPRS/CI for four years now. I am admittedly terrible at its implementation, but that does not mean I’m going to throw in the towel. I’ve been tempted, but I know it my heart that Krashen has it right. I know that if I start teaching direct and indirect object pronouns by name that I will lose the majority of my kids. Not only that, they might begin to dislike languages because they don’t understand and “can’t” do it.

  4. Furthermore, I think I finally get that we can’t put CI in a box. What Ben said last week, that the stories need to drive the structure, really resonates with me. Finally, I’m giving up on trying to force a TPRS “curriculum.”

    1. That is a big shift for most of us, Andrea, so you are to be congratulated. My guess is that 90% (at least) of people claiming to do CI try to fit it into some kind of “curriculum”. It can’t be done. So good on you!

      1. I wanted to make it fit so badly, just so I could have peace of mind – something to show my admins, “Hey look, we’re using this book and following these structures, blah, blah, blah.” Over the course of four years I tried implementing and reimplementing different curriculums only to be reminded of why I dropped it in the first place. They were so unauthentic and kids just didn’t connect to any of the stories. Next year I plan on using Matava’s and Tripp’s scripts and writing my own too. I am really going to try and make it to San Diego this summer. I’m in dire need of the comradery.

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