Lance Piantaggini

Robert draws our attention this morning to a question raised by Lance Piantaggini on the ACTFL Language Educators list. It warrants our attention:

From: Lance Piantaggini
To: Language Educators
Posted: Nov 16, 2014 10:57 PM
Subject: 80:20 Rule + 90% Target Language + Comprehensible Input
Message:

ACTFL’s 80:20 Rule states that the ideal ratio of student talk to teacher talk is 80% to 20%. ACTFL’s strategies to use the target language 90% of the time include providing comprehensible input in the number 1 slot.

If teachers spend 20% of class time communicating, how are students receiving enough input? This statement suggests that the majority of input students receive is from visual media, texts, and other students.

1) I am looking for evidence to support that student to student input is as effective as teacher to student input.
2) Since teacher communication ought to include the other 7 strategies to remain in the TL for 90% of class (i.e., not just providing input), I am also looking for teaching methods/resources (even just a model lesson sequence) that supports how to accomplish this in ~12min (20% of a 60min class).

Given recent discussions, I understand that requesting research might be a touchy subject, but as a new teacher I feel compelled to base my decisions on overwhelming evidence, and not tradition, especially since I teach Latin (acknowledged by Shrum/Glisan as influencing the outdated grammar-translation method).

Thanks!

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23 thoughts on “Lance Piantaggini”

    1. This 80/20 concept is friendly to project-based learning, wherein the students do most all the work. This is attractive to some because ostensibly the students are engaged and rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. In subjects other than foreign language, this is cool.

    2. Oh, and as far as I understand, the 80/20 concept is originally a Google thing. Employees of Google are encouraged to spend 20% of their time doing whatever they want. This is supposed to increase creativity and give room for new ideas to be developed. Some in education have taken this concept as a support of PBL. Okay, I’m done now. Sorry for all the comments.

      1. James we never get enough or your thoughts so keep them coming. Although I am wondering how you are doing with the eight classes and how you even have time to read here with a new little one of your own. I don’t think you should be teaching 8 classes. Plus, you might be pissing off some of your colleagues who need students. Who ever heard of a school with 8 Latin classes in it, with the exception of those in Atlanta in the Patrick Machine.

        1. Out-frikkin’-rageous. Those kids will probably end up fluent in Latin too. Ridiculous. I mean, they could be learning Spanish grammar rules andhere they are, wasting their time in Latin…

      2. I actually like the Google 20% time idea, especially in the school setting. What if we gave students one full day a week to pursue something they are passionate about? A. J. Juliani discusses the idea in the educational setting (see his blog at ajjuliani.com). There would be a huge presentation day on which they present the results of their research to fellow students, parents, community members, etc.

        It is, however, totally unlike limiting teacher comprehensible input to 20% of the class time.

        1. My school does something like this; giving students time to inquire and research a topic of personal interest. We call it “Boss Level” and it lasts a full week, from 8 to 3:30 everyday. Our first “Boss Level” will happen the week after Winter Break (our semester ends before Winter Break, which I think is smart), and our second “Boss Level” will happen at the end of semester 2.

          But I digress…

  1. There’s maybe some misperceptions about student output here:

    — students make errors but most of these are interlanguage (basically, they “screw up” in predictable ways, many of which have nothing to do with input or their L1 or the L2 they are learning)

    — students don’t “pick up” on most errors they get from other students– and not because input isn’t picked up– because the actual amount of L2 said by students in a typically “communicative” classroom is super-low

    That said, there’s not much to recommend much student output– Blaine Ray basically didn’t bother with it– because the kids do need as much QUALITY L2 input as possible and realistically they are not getting that from each other.

  2. Thank you Eric for pointing out that it’s probably just from someone’s blog. However, the fact that this statement even exists in foreign language circles is deeply disturbing to me, in the sense that even if, say, one hundred teachers advocates this kind of insanity, that affects a lot of kids.

    So I am glad Lance asked the question. In a healthy online environment, that question would get pounced on. Let’s see what happens with ACTFL. I don’t care how busy they are down there in Texas getting ready to change the world this weekend, they should respond to Lance with the answer he obviously knows is right.

    Yes, his post was great. (Another Latin King, I suspect.)

  3. It’s also the long-time accepted paradigm of “communicative, learner-centered” classes. All this crap comes from the influence of the European Framework. If you can get through the following PDF from Columbia University, this explains what LP is talking about. Eric is right. The 80/20 is arbitrary, but emanates from this paradigm which is thought to be cutting edge and effective. OUTPUT is king. I don’t get it. This way of learning is thought to be the ONLY way in Europe and the rest of the world. Teacher talk is vilified. It’s a joke of course. Only the strong survive.

    http://www.lrc.columbia.edu/sites/lrc/files/The%20Common%20European%20Framework%20of%20Reference%20for%20Languages%20Presentation.pdf

    1. I do not get why ppl have such a hard-on for CEFR. All it is is a 6-point rubric. How is it ever going to help anyone teach?

  4. The move towards output and projects and more hands on instruction in all subjects was probably a pathetic attempt to remedy the absolute boredom that occurs in teacher centered classrooms, and no blame there. But, as James pointed out earlier today, a critical misinterpretation of the European Framework occurred in language classrooms: output in languages got thrown into the pot with all other subjects in direct conflict with the research. It was an unbelievable professional gaff, but one that didn’t stop tens of thousands of teachers from pouncing on it to keep from having to actually speak to their students in the TL. Why would they not want to do that? Because they weren’t trained in that way and they don’t know how to do it, knowing very little about what the term comprehensible input even really means. Moreover, since they were the smartest kids in their traditional language classrooms in high school and college, changing would mean losing that edge that defined them as gifted at languages. They weren’t gifted at languages, they were gifted at grammar. They don’t know how to teach using CI, and they don’t want to know. And that is the current state of the profession, as we try each day to nudge the giant ball a little further in the direction of what is best for kids, not teachers.

    1. I would want my kids to learn via projects and DOING things… just not in language. But actually, in CI/TPRS our student do, in fact, DO LOTS OF THINGS with the language. It just might not LOOK like it.

      1. It sure makes teaching feel more meaningful. You know, I’ve never had a student ask me, “When are we going to use this?” since I taught with CI. The answer is, right now and ever after, so I don’t think they think about it. It’s relevant now.

  5. “Given recent discussions, I understand that requesting research might be a touchy subject, but as a new teacher I feel compelled to base my decisions on overwhelming evidence, and not tradition”

    Love it!

    What is CEFR?

    I know a young girl who just got back from Nicaragua after a year living there with her family. She started back at the local high school in level 2, then 3 (no formal study other than homeschooling Spanish a bit), and finally went into level 4 because she complained “they never talk!” That is, the class never talked. In level 4 apparently their grammar suffering and memorization pays off enough to actually let the class do relevant (I have never had this complaint either since moving to CI Diane!) things, like converse. Her parents lamented that she was not in my district, because as they said, “Mr. Tripp’s class is talking from Day 1”.

    Also, re babies and blogs, nap time is glorious! There are a few other things in my life that I decided to let slide for a couple months during the nascent stages of my new baby’s life, but this blog isn’t one of them. As long as I’m teaching and struggling, I will come find solace, support and inspiration with all of you. (That being said, after my first one was born, I totally checked out for months, but I was not teaching at the time either. I know Sean that you’ll do what needs to be done for your family, whether that means checking out, reading, or posting. Also, I use prep time a lot at school to do exactly this sort of prof development/planning… as I told a friend the other day, I don’t really plan, rather I plan to react.)

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