Reading with Upper Level Kids/Use of Native Speaker

If you have a native speaker in your classroom, you can take advantage of it in advanced classes by using the following sequence when dealing with an authentic text (Le Petit Prince in my case which I am doing with my 8th graders).
Normally I would just use R and D but that only works when the text being read is slightly lower than the capacity of the class to read. With more difficult texts, this is the sequence I’ve been having a bit of success with:
1. Native speaker reads a paragraph in L2.
2. We read sentence by sentence while the right student* blurts.
3. Translation/Grammar – this is my time to shine. I translate and point out grammar things. This may lead me to the board for some old style grammar lecturing. I have to watch that but usually the kids in advanced classes want to learn it, so I let my grammar teacher freak flag fly. Oh boy! Remember, it’s not about teaching CI, it’s about getting through class with our mental health intact. (We lose our mental health when we put the CI car in gear but the students are not engaged – better to teach the old way and keep the car in neutral. Otherwise we burn up the clutch. That is what I think is happening with some in our group. They try so hard at CI but don’t have the right group of kids. And the only “right” group of kids is the one which has never had traditional instruction.)
4. L2 Discussion – gotta really go slow here.
5. L1 Discussion (optional) – Heaven.
6. Next paragraph same process.
*This is like a barometer but has to be a student who can really self advocate. Each time in step 2 above when the readers (we just go around the room and each kid gets to read in French a sentence or two – something I never would have allowed before but they love it so fine) are reading their sentences in L2, this kid blurts out every single word he or she doesn’t understand and we translate it.



4 thoughts on “Reading with Upper Level Kids/Use of Native Speaker”

  1. “And the only ‘right’ group of kids is the one which has never had traditional instruction.”
    Yep. Harmful. So hard to tear through all that grammar+output scar tissue.

  2. Oh wow! I am going to try this! I don’t have native speakers but my “level4” has mostly kids who are more like “novice low-mid” and then 2 are “intermediate mid-high” (quotes bc not official). It has been frustrating to do stuff w/ whole group, which they enjoy bc of the group…but the kids who are more advanced get frustrated / bored and the kids who are less advanced sometimes “feel stupid” because the 9th grader is “better than” the 11th graders.
    This kind of organically happened today, not in a reading but they were “quizzing” me on their “Star of the day / Holiday version” info. I don’t know specifically what it was, but they were kind of automatically scaffolding themselves somehow. I don’t even get it. But reading this post gives me a great concrete process to try with them and I have a perfect “blurter” kid! MANY MANY THANKS FOR THIS…as usual just at the time I need it 😀

  3. This is perfect timing. I have a Tunisian exchange student in my level 3 French class and she is wonderful. She could be a teacher someday. I don’t know if I get step 5)L1 discussion. Discussion about what? The text or the grammar? Sometimes I do L1 discussion to work on things like foreshadowing or predicting. Is that what you mean?

  4. Emeka in Step 5 we just act like it’s a novel in English and talk about the ideas as we would in any L1 literature class. We do that because great literature makes people want to talk about it, and we can’t when we are in Step 4 of this schema.
    However, I am rethinking that post. It uses a lot of English. And the kids I’m finding it works with are kids who have the grammar stink in their background. Don’t I want to be in L2 the whole time?
    If you can’t tell, I’m really rethinking a lot about what we do in TPRS these days, esp. about reading. It’s always an intense rethinking that is always about whether CI can work in schools or not. I’m cutting a lot of stuff out, returning to the source – Steps 2 and 3.

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