Recently someone posted on the More list asking about how and when to gesture to establish meaning, and their query was met with a strong assertion that establishing meaning through gestures is just not to be done. The person with the question said that he did not want to lead anyone astray so he rescinded his question. This is really too bad since there is no one right way to do CI.
The only way to truly lead anyone astray would be to tell them not to convey comprehensible messages to their students. The point of CI teaching is to make the language comprehended by the students. Whatever order we want to put things in, whatever method we want to us of establishing meaning, reinforcing the meaning, checking for comprehension, the gold standard is not some pre-determined order or set of rules or steps. A particular order may work for some people with some classes on some days, but not for everyone, everywhere, all the time.
The gold standard is: Did my students understand the messages I conveyed to them in spoken and written form today? If the answer to that question is yes, then you did CI correctly.
There is, to me, no need to keep a rigidly-defined set of steps, dos, donts, ins, outs, or what have you. I personally think that is an error. What works in some classroom across the country, with a different student population, in a different language from yours with a different reaching style/personality than yours, might not work for you.
But as long as we are making the input comprehensible, making the messages have meaning to the students, acquisition will occur. It might not occur on the timeline WE want. It might not proceed according to a pre-determined syllabus. In fact, it probably won’t. But it WILL happen, as long as we are giving our students’ brains the fuel they need to acquire language – comprehensible messages.
It is the freedom to “talk about whatever” that attracted me to TPRS in 2005 when I discovered it. The freedom to be in the moment and be present with my students. I think that the more rules and steps and such, the less successful comprehension-based teaching is, the harder it is, and the less engaging it is for teacher and students. Others disagree but that is my experience.
The work of gaining CI skills, then is to work on simple ways to make ourselves comprehended without too much to think about, working on foundational skills to support us no matter what content we are teaching. And assessment that only looks at comprehension of messages.
There is no one right way to deliver CI, so we can look at the different ideas out there and decide what approach makes sense for our own particular style and needs, and our own unique students. There is a set of foundational skills and a mindset and a framework to help make instructional decisions in the moment (should I worry about what tense I am using? is a framework that can be dropped, for example). But there is no RIGHT way to deliver CI.
Cos if it ain’t comprehensible it ain’t CI. Since delivering messages is all it takes, then it follows, ergo, there ain’t no wrong way to give CI. If we’re giving them CI then we’re doing it right. To repeat, if it ain’t comprehensible then it ain’t CI so rest assured, if they are understanding whatweyou say and what they read, it’s all good.
Tain’t what you say it’s the way a’cha say it…