This Question Needs Responses in the Next Hour

This is from Keri. Any responses, and pls send anything that comes into your minds, have about a one hour turnaround time since Keri is in CT and it is almost two o’clock there now:

I am hoping someone could help me out with this:

This afternoon the High School World Language teachers have a PD to “Develop interpersonal speaking cards/assessments for remaining units of study this year”. The description of the PD goes on to list the Pedagogical Expectations:

“Embed the measurement of interpersonal tasks into instruction”
“Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of interpersonal oral communication”

I was wondering if someone could help me put into words how what we do is already interpersonal (and how it comes naturally). Of course, I have my own ideas but maybe someone could help me to articulate it a bit better. I always get anxious having to defend what I do and it never comes out right. However, my assistant principal will be there and he supports me so I feel safe enough to do so if I am asked by other teachers.

Also, I’m sure I will be asked how I measure their speaking… I suppose I could say it’s difficult to measure this since we are talking about acquisition vs. learning, etc… Also, I could mention that forced speech does nothing for acquisition… any other thoughts?

I should have written earlier because my meeting begins at in a few hours but maybe someone could help me.

Thank you!



17 thoughts on “This Question Needs Responses in the Next Hour”

  1. On the speaking you can mention that we in Denver Public Schools have dropped the speaking assessment for the first two years in order align with the research, which shows that the kids cannot produce speech that early.

  2. “Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery of interpersonal oral communication”

    You could say that mastery requires 10,000 hours of input and that even in our four year programs we only have 500 hours of which at least 150 have to be subtracted for calling roll, English, interruptions, etc. So we have less than 1/25th of the time we need according to the research to accomplish the above task.

    1. Oh man! You got me laughing Ben but it’s sadly true. If taken seriously, we can measure simply the various interpersonal skills by taking a seating chart and marking a plus + for every time students are engaging in hearing and focusing on the messages. This has various manifestations according to we differentiate and respect the SLA process for each individual student. An admin would HATE to hear that a student sitting up is valued the same as a student repeating a rejoinder. 1st language acquisition is fundamentally the same as SLA. Though we may compare two children’s ability to speak, we have faith that they will eventually.

  3. My advice Keri is to lay low on this thing. They don’t want to hear what you say. When you say:

    …I always get anxious having to defend what I do and it never comes out right….

    That is because of them, not you. If you were hanging around with a bunch of people who actually understand the research and are not throwbacks to a bygone era in foreign language instruction you wouldn’t have to feel that way. There is no need for you to feel anxious. It is all part of the change.

    So protect your position on this by remaining quiet. I have been exactly in this position many times. I would always just say this, “I’m not comfortable addressing your question to me because it involves such big ideas connected to research that we would need a week in this room to get to any kind of agreement.” Or something to that effect. I think it is important that we not feel that we have to defend how we teach. It’s good that the AP will be there.

    I have seen your videos. You have no reason to defend yourself. They are the ones in trouble.

    1. And what I mean by they are the ones in trouble is that their students don’t really like their classes, except the few who like it for all the wrong reasons. Your presence in the district is not unnoticed. But at these meetings when there is an admin in the meeting who knows what you are doing and likes what you are doing, it is all invisible world stuff but they know that they are the ones who are being pushed to change. Why? Because of the research on how human beings actually in the real world for real no bullsh-t acquire language and it has almost nothing to do with what they are doing in their sad classrooms where everything – so devoid of fun – is so caught up in the cobwebs of the boring left hemisphere of the brain all class period.

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    You could defer to ACTFL on the 3 modes. Copy it from the guidelines and highlight it to look prepared:}

  5. From the ACTFL Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners:

    Novice Learners (and most of our students are in this category)
    – comprehend general information and vocabulary when the communication partner uses object, visuals, and gestures in speaking and writing
    – generally need contextual clues, redundancy, paraphrase, or restatement in order to understand the message
    – understand and produce vocabulary related to everyday objects and actions on a limited number of topics,
    – uses words and phrases as lexical items without [conscious] awareness of grammatical structure
    – uses words from native language when attempting to communicate beyond word or gesture level
    – may repeat words and phrases in an attempt to clarify or substitute words
    – uses primarily facial expressions and gestures to indicate problems with comprehension

    Look at how much of that supports doing what we do in TCI/TPRS:
    1. understand the “gist”
    2. use scaffolding for understanding
    3. limit vocabulary (and topics)
    4. no grammar mastery – or even awareness
    5. expected production is word and gesture; resorts to English
    6. repetition to establish meaning
    7. Gestures to indicate lack of comprehension

    1. Robert, this is perfect! I feel much more comfortable referring to ACTFL! I found the ACTFL document “Performance Descriptors for Language Learners / Interpersonal to which you are referring but I do not see where it states “uses words and phrases as lexical items without [conscious] awareness of grammatical structure”.

      I am trying to find this so I can highlight it because I know it will come in handy later. You said it was under “novice” and I’m assuming “interpersonal”… Would you be able to tell me exactly where you see that on the document? I’m not sure how I am missing that.


      1. Hi Keri,

        The document I was using is a poster from 1998. It is a summary of “performance guidelines” designed for schools (hence “K-12 Learners). There was a book that went along with the poster and had more detailed explanations of everything, but I have found the poster much more useful through the years. It hangs on the wall by my desk, and I can refer to it quickly when showing students (and parents) that interpersonal communication doesn’t mean memorizing a bunch of grammar.

        The “ACTF Performance Guidelines for K-12 Learners” has been replaced by the Performance Descriptors, and apparently that particular language did get into the new version. Bummer. I added the word “conscious” in brackets because it isn’t in the original, just “without awareness”. However, I believe that the unconscious mind is fully aware, so I put in “conscious” – but also because as worded by ACTFL, many people would look at that lack of “awareness” as a deficiency rather than a normal part of acquiring a language.

        Hope this helps.

  6. I would agree that it is probably best to lay low if possible, but remember that what you are doing is focusing on communication in the target language, and particularly on comprehension during the first few years (if not more…), since comprehensible input is the only way that gains will be made.

    Plus, as we communicate with our students we are constantly assessing them, particularly through formative assessment. It is probably also a good idea to mention how much time oral assessment can take away from a program if it is really pushed. (Not to mention that it is inappropriate for early language learners anyway…)

  7. Thank you to all of you who have responded!! I really appreciate it! Our AP actually couldn’t make it at the last minute so all of us kind of just did our own thing. However, all of this will come in handy for me in the near future when we are supposed to talk about interpersonal speaking again.

    Also, if I end up teaching a level one or two class next year, this information will be great to use when I explain why I do not want to assess speaking at all in those levels.

    Again, I appreciate all of you responding so quickly!! Thank you!!

    And Ben…

    “Some ass wrote that sentence. It doesn’t make any sense.”

    Haha! Thank you for that! You gave me (and my student teacher) a good laugh! I needed it!

    1. “Some ass wrote that sentence. It doesn’t make any sense.”

      Haha! Thank you for that! You gave me (and my student teacher) a good laugh! I needed it!

      Yes, it is Edubabble, using jargon from education to say nothing with as many words as possible while sounding erudite and obfuscating the fact that you have no idea what you are talking about.

      Go here for the Edubabble Generator:

      You, too, can come up with statements like this:
      We will benchmark student-centered cohorts within the Zone of Proximity.
      We will prioritize bottom-up paradigms within the core curriculum.
      We will embrace revolutionary mastery learning through cognitive disequilibrium.

      Alternatively, or additionally, you might like to play Edubabble Bingo:
      It’s on way to pass the time in those long and boring meetings.

  8. It’s getting late and I’m kinda tired, but honestly I keep going over “embed the measurement of interpersonal tasks into instruction” and I have no idea what it means. I think it involves a slide rule, or beads on a string, and for Mandarin maybe an abacus…

  9. Thank you again for all of your comments!
    If you don’t mind, I need help with something similar. Our district will soon be implementing Mastery Based Learning and I feel that what we do here aligns well with this. I would love hearing your suggestions, once again, on how to articulate this when we have our meeting in a few weeks.

    1. Keri, can “mastery” describe IGR skills such as tracking the speaker? I can never imagine students demonstrating mastery of slices of language. MAYBE by understanding a completely new story then have them illustrate it. I do this for my semester finals. You can have them do a freewrite… You can write a SMART goal that by X date, 80% of students will write a narrative of more than 50 words in ten minutes. I have this in mind for admin for year 1.

      I hope this helps.

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