Target in the Reading Phase – 2

We all know that Krashen’s research says nothing about targeting vocabulary, but CI teachers do it in stories anyway in order to get the kids to learn the lists of words that they think are necessary to acquire a language.

Why do it if it’s not necessary? Because they erroneously think that they need to teach the high frequency vocabulary, semantic sets and thematic units listed in the school “curriculum” (really the table of contents of a textbook) bc that’s the way it’s always been done. The school makes them do it, even though it doesn’t align with research.

By 2000, the marvelous tool that was comprehensible input in the hands of Blaine Ray in the 1990s had become in the hands of other TPRS experts a tool to teach vocabulary lists. School exercised their power over the pure (read non-targeted) CI that Blaine espoused in the beginning.

This in turn helped TPRS experts sell books, which the called novels. How?

It is because in the same way that people started using CI/stories to teach lists of words associated w the textbook, so also did they use CI/stories to teach words in chapters in the novels so that the kids could read the books.

I have in an email from Blaine that states that he never targeted. I asked him if he ever targeted, and he responded to me, “I’ve never thought about that. I guess I don’t!” That happened in March of 2016.

But between Blaine’s original non-targeted stories in the 1990s and now, CI has really constrained interest (Krashen’s accurate term to describe what happens when CI is used to teach lists of words so that kids could read the novels.)

The result has been that far more teachers who try TPRS quit after trying it. Susan Gross told me only 1 out of 100 succeed. That’s bad.

Krashen made a mistake in allowing the CI world over the past twenty years to target vocabulary so that students could read the novels. He didn’t respond forcefully enough to this breach in his research.

In 2008 he came to Denver Public Schools and on video said that “TPRS comes closest to aligning with my reseearch” – I was in the room – and the TPRS camp interpreted that (no blame – it was pretty exciting) to be a full endorsement.

The rest is history. We now have novels by the billion in CI classrooms that most kids can’t really read and if they can they are white privileged kids and the result of that is classrooms split down social and economic lines.

That Krashen didn’t properly challenge the powers that be has resulted in a proliferation of the novels and that is not a good thing in the first two levels.

The biggest problem is that there are too many words to target in the novels because the kids haven’t experienced enough auditory comprehensinble input in those lower levels.

So you had to create many stories just so they could read one chapter and that ate up a month or more of the year.

I don’t understand why a person would do that unless to make money by selling novels.

Targeting words in novels by creating stories with the words that the kids are supposed to “acquire” to be able to read the novel has proven itself over decades of futility to not work. It’s just too boring. It is boring bc it is not created by the kids themselves.

Instead, go ahead and do the non-targeted stuff completely as per categories A – F, to create tableaux and stories, in Star Phase 1 in the Create phase and then just embed the vocabulary that you want them to learn in Star Phase 4.

This is elegant, simple, and for those who feel that they MUST target, it may be the answer to the still-pursued but futile problem of tying CI, which is not about targeting at all in terms of the research, with lists of words.

Even today, teachers still use stories to set up novels. The result is a great loss of interest, and that loss was foisted on the unwilling shoulders of the teacher who then thought they sucked at TPRS. Krashen calls this loss of interest “constrained interest” but nobody listened. They just went on teaching boring stories to set up boring novels. Then many of them quit and went back to the book, through no fault of their own.

When you do a natural story with no targets, and then embed words from a list that you want them to learn, bc you have to teach those words,, then all you have to do is embed those words in the Phase 3/Phase 4 reading.

Let’s say you want to teach the rooms in the house. You add a sentence into the reading based on the (always non-targeted with the Invisibles) story with the name of a room or two in that sentence. And then you stop reading in Phase 4 and give them a list of words of all the words in the house.

Then tell them to study that list overnight for a quiz which they memorize all the rooms in the house . Problem solved the right way.

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