Tina on NT

Tina wrote this on the morelist today. It addresses the concern that Jeff brought up on Monday that non-targeted instruction brings us out too wide and thus lose the kids. It represents a good description of a reasonable position between the “Just Talk to the Kids” extreme and the Targeted extreme:

In my view the input can be narrow and not targeted. The teacher uses whatever language comes up within the context of the activity/story while still keeping it comprehensible with the “illusion of transparency.” The teacher must not overload the students though, so the language is narrow. You are not going off on every tangent that you would in real life. So you are confining yourself to a specific narrow topic that probably also has some visual support. Strategies like student artwork, drawings on the board, also Picture Talk and Movie Talk can help include visual support.

My conceptualization of T vs NT is really one of intent.

In T1 (as I understand it), the intent is to teach students the target words. The words/structures come from a list, many repetitions are made, usually in one sitting, and then students are expected to have some facility with those words/structures. The story exists to repeat the target words. The assessment is often at least partially based on the target words/structures.

In NT anything goes. This could overwhelm the students. It’s like trying to get a drink out of a fire hose.

In NT with T2, the intent is to do an activity – create a story, hear a story, fold paper airplanes, talk about a picture, etc. The words that come up, come up. The teacher uses T2 when needed when they sense (or know) that the students do not comprehend. For instance, you might be showing them a map of the USA. And they do not know the word “city” so you write it on the board and lightly circle/target it. “Tanya lives in a big city. Class, New York is a city. Portland is a city. Is McMinville a city? No class McMinville is small. A city is big. Portland is a big city. Right? Isn’t Portland a big city? But not as big as New York, right? Mcminnville’s not a city. It’s a town. So, Tanya lives in a big city not a town. So in the city of New York…”

But the teacher’s intention is not to teach “city” it just came up and there was some light circling to talk about it. Just to be sure that the kids understand Tanya’s living situation. The teacher moves on and expects nothing regarding “city” from the kids in the future. The story exists to provide linguistic data by conveying interesting (and hopefully compelling) messages. The assessment is most likely more like summarizing the story or taking a Quick Quiz asking one-word answers about the story.

Both can be narrow, scaffolded, and comprehensible. But yes I agree that NT input is easier to provide when one has a narrow structure to work within. Just “talking to the kids” easily veers off into incomprehensibility. Using a narrow structure like Story Listening (especially if you prepare a real simple story) Movie Talk, Picture Talk, Special Chair, One Word Image…these are ways to narrow the range of input and provide rails for the teacher to go down, instead of just widely talking about “whatever” which can quickly get overwhelming.

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48 thoughts on “Tina on NT”

  1. I agree. I have only been working with NT for a little over a month now but I am not worrying anymore about what words “come up”. If they are important to the story and/or conversation, I will “lightly target” them as Tina puts it and then go on. I feel that I am still able to go narrow and deep with my kids by still sheltering vocabulary. I do not want the students to see too many new vocab words at a time. Since we’ve done our last NT story, we’ve done various games and activities and have had conversations based on the content of the story. I see that some kids have acquired the new emergent structures and some still have not but still understand the basic idea of the story. I’m not worried anymore (like I was when I was targeting) whether or not those kids will acquire the structures. If they don’t acquire THOSE particular ones, they most likely have acquired other phrases and or vocab anyway in yhe same story. Also, chances are, they will be exposed to the same “emergent structures” at another point in time anyway.

    Yesterday, we started class with our “opening conversation” and we never stopped. I never got to my “planned lesson” which was to continue reviewing their NT story. They were so into the conversation all in Spanish that I just couldn’t stop them. Although we were talking about whatever they wanted, I made sure to keep the conversation comprehensible as to not lose them. The conversation was certainly not targeted but a few new words / structures came up during that time and I “lightly targeted” them to ensure we all understood and then we went on from there. That continued for 84 minutes. I just kept the conversation going on whatever interested them. During that time, a student actually used “quema” (burns) correctly in our conversation which happened to be an emergent structure in our last NT story!

    1. Is it possible that somebody could post on here a copy of the write-up of one of these NT invisibles stories? I feel like if I read one, I could get a good feel about how the teacher uses simple language to talk about a complex issue. I’ve got at least 30 copies of my Matava write-ups, and I’d be willing to do the same with her permission of course.

        1. I’d say it is NT also. I don’t expect my kids to have the words mastered when I’m done. I just use script after script in hoping that one day they will have heard some words enough to acquire them.

          1. Jeff said:

            …I just use script after script in hoping that one day they will have heard some words enough to acquire them….

            This is in line with the research. People in our buildings would say otherwise. I think that their intent is to get teachers all “on the same page” more than actually align with the research.

            Keep talking and they will acquire. I guess that is too simple a formula nowadays, and in the TPRS world as well. It’s not just philosophy, but also language pedagogy, that is a simple thing made difficult.

          2. I was in my PLG meeting yesterday. This is something new this year and it gives us time to “collaborate” with our colleagues. I put collaborate in quotations because that doesn’t happen. My colleagues don’t understand the way I do things. I can’t nor do I want to convince others that this way is “better” for our students. I usually just keep my mouth shut and listen to the other two language teachers in my group complain about how badly their kids did on the “reflexive verb” quiz, etc.

            However, my yesterday they were talking about how great it’s going to be to create “interpersonal speaking cards” during our next PD. I can’t imagine giving my classes, who are all so happy to speak about anything and everything in the TL, to then stop and say “Wait! Here’s a card! You MUST talk about THIS for the next two minutes!” How boring! So, I mentioned how my kids are already doing this without cards and the French teacher asked me in a sort of accusatory tone how I make sure to get the quieter kids to speak and how I assess them, etc. I briefly explained how it is only important for them to listen and forcing them to speak does not help. Of course, I was not understood and I just left frustrated. So yes, Ben, you are right. “A simple thing is made difficult”.

          3. This is my department exactly. I don’t think it’ll ever change. At least not before I retire in 25 years. Each meeting is so cluttered with “What are we going to do about the new AP class?” We don’t bother to talk about the rest of the kids. If we do it’s always trying to get them to be AP kids.

          4. Keri said:

            …I briefly explained how it is only important for them to listen and forcing them to speak does not help….

            That is what a professional does in such a situation. State it calmly and drop the mike. Well done. My tendency would have been to beat them over the head with the mike. Hard. I’m getting counseling to help me with that tendency.

    2. Keri said:

      …I’m not worried anymore (like I was when I was targeting) whether or not those kids will acquire the structures….

      This is major news. I am very happy to hear this, Keri. Why? Because the kids will acquire the structures. Just not in the way we can orchestrate. All they need is more and varied input in a rich fabric of CI in the form of reading and listening, at maybe a 50% each ratio. Up to 60% reading. Just guessing.

  2. Jeff,
    I’m not sure where to attach it so I just copied and pasted a the text of our story below. I hope it helps.

    Hay un jalopeño que se llama Hector. Hector, el jalopeño tiene veinte y dos años. Es rosado con muchos puntos azules. Tiene una cara pequeña pero no tiene una nariz. Sin embargo, tiene dos ojos, una boca, y muchos dientes. Hector no tiene familia pero es un jalopeño feliz. De hecho, Hector está muy feliz en este momento porque está enamorado. Hector está enamorado de otro jalopeño que se llama Helen. Helen es un jalopeño muy bonito y ella está enamorada de Hector. Helen parece mucho a Hector porque ella es gigante y rosado con puntos azules también.
    Hector y Helen están en la nevera de Chile’s en Wallingford. Hector mira a Helen y le dice <>. Helen mira a Hector y le dice <>. Entonces, Hector le dice <>. Helen le responde <>. De repente, Helen está triste. Hector le pregunta <> Helen le responde <>. Hector está muy sorprendido y le pregunta <> Helen le dice <>. Hector está triste y llora.
    En ese momento, el papá de Helen entra en la nevera. (Su papá es un jalopeño pequeño.) El papá de Helen mira a Helen y sonríe. Después, mira a Hector y le pregunta gritando <> Hector le responde <>. Entonces, el papá grita <> Hector le dice al papá <>. Al padre no le importa y Hector se va llorando y salta en la salsa.
    En la salsa, hay otro jalopeño que se llama José. Hector le pega a José porque José le gusta al papá de Helen porque él no tiene puntos azules. Fin.

  3. No problem. For some reason, it seems that when I copied and pasted it, it didn’t paste what was in quotations throughout the story so a lot of dialog is missing. I could send you a copy via email if you’d like.

  4. From what I can tell this is about 100% comprehensible. How did you come up with the problem? I assume it’s He says something to make her sad?

  5. I actually didn’t come up with this problem. The kids came up with it. During the NT story, I had asked “What did Helen say to Hector?” and a student answered “My father doesn’t like you” and then it just took off from there.

    With my NT stories, I find they are much more interesting when the problem emerges on its own. I’ve been lucky in that respect. In a few classes, I’ll be doing my first NT story with an Invisible character. We’ll see how that goes.

    1. Keri said:

      …I’ve been lucky in that respect….

      That’s not luck. For many years you have been reading and testing, always testing and growing. That is hard work that brought that seemingly lucky “My father doesn’t like you” idea.

      And yes, in Inv. stories the target emerging on its own is what I had in mind. It’s a topic in progress.

      1. I agree. It’s not luck. It is build on trust, environment, mood of yourself as a teacher and others. This week has been positive for me and I let the students know. Recently, I was observed by an instructional coach and a 2nd year Spanish Teacher. It was my second year French 2 class. From my slowest processor to my fastest, they were tracking the OWI and giving suggestions in the TL. When I asked them what happened yesterday, one person said “we wanted to show off for those district people.” I wanted to laugh so hard. These students are sadly driven by fear too often. I felt odd that they hardly do this for me. And why should they? I just let them be kids and guide them with my expectations. I then told them, “I am so proud of you all.” Then my main blurter students asks, “Me too?” I said, “Yes! Especially you. You gave so many suggestions in French!”

        Coming up with the problem requires the above plus, look at what Keri did– She asked a simple question to come up with the problem. I have been using “there was a problem” then asking the students “What is the problem?” It may be too much pressure.

        1. Steve, what you said is is so true! The few times I explicitly have asked my students “What is the problem?” it didn’t work out well. There IS too much pressure because the students feel that they HAVE to come up with a good answer and know that I’m relying on them at that very moment to do so. The best NT stories that I’ve done this year (and in previous years ago without meaning too) were all because the problem came out unexpectedly. So, now I never ask what the problem is. I trust that it will appear. We just have to be patient and wait for it.

          1. This shows how far you have come in the past few years Keri:

            …The best NT stories that I’ve done this year (and in previous years ago without meaning too) were all because the problem came out unexpectedly. So, now I never ask what the problem is. I trust that it will appear. We just have to be patient and wait for it….

            And if no problem appears we drop it and move on. No big deal. No failure. Just more CI. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We are just regular people. Doing our best. That’s all we can do. The kids don’t walk out after a failed story complaining that it was a bad movie and they want their money for the ticket back. They just walk out and to to their next class. As long as they feel success, they are fine. How to guarantee their success? Be kind and assess them fairly on what they do, not on what they do compared to the kids next to them.

        2. Steven said:

          …I have been using “there was a problem” then asking the students “What is the problem?” It may be too much pressure….

          It is too much pressure. We are alleviating the pressure with non-targeted instruction. Kids can just listen and only contribute if they want. I find it unfair to suggest, as Susan Gross has done, that we should just make the story “like a movie in their minds” but oh, we get to stop the movie whenever we want and ask them what happens during the movie, requiring cute answers in return for a grade. Who does that?

  6. Sorry, Jeff and Keri, that you have to suffer in your departments. It’s really nice to have at least one person in your building on your side, that is, a person with some clout. I’ve been in both situations. My quality of life is so much better now at my current school knowing that my admin respects my teaching. Not surprisingly, all staff feel that admin respect them as teachers and professionals. I’m very grateful to be in such a school environment.

    Jeff, just like Keri did, I’m posting below my most recent NT story with my period 1. They’ve turned our stories into Jerry Springer episodes a few times, where the mother or children find out who the father really is… kinda thing. Hopefully they grow out of this kinda drama (lol).

    Hay un helado que es de fresa y es tan grande como Godzila. Es musculoso porque va al gimnasio. El helado se llama Felipe y tiene tres ojos, dos a los lados y uno en el medio.
    Felipe, el helado, tenía dos niños. Un niño se llama Chocolate y el otro se llama Vainilla. La familia no sabe que sexo es Chocolate (¡no manches!) pero Vainilla es un chico.
    A Felipe le gustaba pollo con sprinkles, pero no le gusta el pescado.
    Felipe estaba en el desierto de Australio. Se llama el Outback. Ha vivido en el Outback por un año. Hacía calor y hacía sol en el Outback. Mucho calor y mucho sol.
    Felipe encontró a su esposa en el desierto. Su esposa se llama Ruby y es de sabor Rocky Road. Los labios de Ruby son de bombones y sus ojos de almendras. “Ruby, tú eres preciosa y deliciosa,” dijo Felipe.
    “Gracias, mi amor,” respondió Ruby.
    Había un problema. En el desierto la familia de helados se estaban derritiendo. “¡Dios mío!” exclama Chocolate. “¡No quiero derretir!”
    Después del año, Ruby quería pasar más tiempo en el desierto. “Me gusta el desierto,” dijo Ruby a Felipe. La verdad era que a Ruby quería pasar más tiempo con su segundo esposo que se llamaba Frenchy. La verdad era que Chocolate y Vainilla eran hijos de Frenchy, no de Felipe.
    ¡No manches!

    1. Granted, I do have a handful of heritage speakers in this class that make it easier for the rest to swallow the emergent vocabulary. They make it easier by saying it aloud, acting it out… I guess you could say, playing with me and the language.

    2. Thanks, Sean. You are lucky to have such a great school environment. It’s actually not too bad at my school because I am lucky enough to have support from all my administration. The only ones who don’t understand are my colleagues in my department. I’ve actually had teachers from outside my department to come observe me because they’ve heard positive things from my students. I really have hardly ever had any conversations with the teachers from my department about what I do since we’ve only started our PLG’s this year. However, I rarely share anything because I don’t feel like getting these confused looks and getting asked questions to which they are not going to understand the answers, anyway. Actually, our German teacher loves and agrees with the method but he’s been extremely slow in experimenting with it in his classroom. And he’s only part time so I don’t get to see him much.

      Again, my administrators absolutely love what I do and I am happy for that. In fact, one just spoke with me the other day and asked if I’d be willing to take a cohort of students from levels 1-4. He said he would love to have the other language teachers adopt this method but it is something he cannot force. Therefore, he wants to see how much my students can do at the end of four years in a CI classroom as opposed to the other kids. I agreed this would be a great opportunity. He proposed this idea at our last department meeting but, of course, didn’t give the real reason why. The other teachers ended up agreeing (some a bit reluctantly). I am looking forward to being able to compare the abilities of my kids with the others after this time. My administrator said the scheduling may be tricky to do but he thinks it will be worth it.

      1. “The only ones who don’t understand are my colleagues in my department. I’ve actually had teachers from outside my department to come observe me because they’ve heard positive things from my students. ” My situation is similar. Instructional coaches have come by with beginning teachers to learn about my classroom environment, my implementation of literacy in FL and class engagement. Principal has told my colleagues that he loves my organic approach. He always works with me to get the best evaluation. One of my colleagues is interested to “experiment” and I hang out with him. I have only sent him links to traditional TPRS since he still works with thematic units. The other teacher teaches STRAIGHT from the book with worksheets. He is the dept chair but will retire soon.

      2. The cohort is a cool idea, despite the pressure it may include. What stood out to me was what you wrote. You said, ” I am looking forward to being able to compare the abilities of my kids with the others after this time..” Can you push for a communicative type of “comparison” rather than an accuracy, grammatical diagnostic?

        1. Yes, when the time comes I will definitely make sure that the comparison is communicative in nature. I think my administrator already had that in mind because he said he was interested in seeing how the kids can communicate after being in this type of class for four years. You’re right that it will put some pressure on me but I think a difference will be able to be seen from kids in a CI classroom for 4 years versus a very traditional classroom. I know I see a huge difference in the kids writings when they do Free Writes. They come up with things that I never saw before when teaching traditionally for 14 years. And this is only after having them for less than one year. I could only imagine how they would be able to write and/or speak after having them for four.

          1. …I think a difference will be able to be seen from kids in a CI classroom for 4 years versus a very traditional classroom….

            You won’t believe what you will see. It will be big, very visible. As you said above, strong gains in writing. They will also read like kings as long as you keep literacy at 50% of your program. Speech will be very strong but on that just remember that even four years is a fraction of the time needed to get to authentic speech. Their listening will be the best of all the four skills. And another thing you will see is how ALL the kids like it, vs. the three or four kids who make it to level four in most programs. This student retention factor over four years will be so dramatic that the admin who thought this up will be singing your praises all over the district and beyond. Many of us, esp. in middle school, work so hard w our kids to get them to love the language and feel confident. but so many of those kids drop in high school and so we can’t get accurate data on why they dropped out. They dropped bc they felt stupid at the high school level. So you will see huge student retention rates. That what ppl pay attention to. I am continuously impressed with the way you do your job Keri. You seem to have, over the years in contact with us here, always looked for the new and then with great focus and dedication placed it in your classroom. It is a strong quality in a teacher.

          2. Thanks, Ben. If it weren’t for accidentally finding this blog, I’d still be teaching the old way. I can’t even imagine that now. I am so thankful.

            I do have the kids read about 50% of the time. I find that it is after they’ve heard the story AND after reading that the kids begin to really acquire parts of the language. I don’t expect for their speech to be so strong. I actually now tell my students in the beginning of the year “Welcome to 5 Days of Spanish!” They look at me confused. I repeat that and briefly tell them that meeting 84 minutes for every other day and spending every single second in TL (which doesn’t happen), that we will have 126 hours of Spanish which is equivalent to a little over 5 days. They are always shocked. So I also let them know throughout the year that it’s ok if they cannot speak comfortably just yet.

            I am interested in what kind of assessment there will be for comparison. I’ll have to speak to my administrator when the time comes.

          3. WOW! “5 days of Spanish” I love this so much! I will definitely use this and credit you Keri!. I’ve often used some of those numbers, but never thought to frame it in days! Amazing! Yay! I feel like this will help with those who are not feeling confident…might help them to cut themselves some slack!

          4. I’m glad you like it but I can’t take credit for that. I heard that somewhere else…I believe it was Jason Fritze, but I could be wrong. However, that stuck with me too and I love reminding my students of it!

  7. Jeff, here is my most recent period 5 NT story. This class only has one heritage speaker. It is a different experience working with them than with my p1 class of multiple heritage speakers. I do more chanting, more call and response, more songs, more TPR, and shelter vocabulary more.

    Hay unos lentes que se llama Gladio. Los lentes son pequeños y circulares. El color es morado. Los lentes no son inteligentes, son estúpidos. Los lentes, o Gladio, está feliz. Son lentes felices. Gladio tiene veintiuno años.
    Gladio estaba en China. Él vivía en China. En China hay cascadas enormes. A Gladio le gustaban las cascadas enormes. Gladio estaba enfrente de las cascadas enormes, mirándolas. “¡Órale!” dice Gladio.
    A Gladio no le gustaba el té de menta. En China, los chinos beben mucho té de menta. “¡Qué asco!” exclama Gladio.
    Enfrente de las cascadas Gladio vio un libro que se llama Captain Underpants. “Qué interesante,” dice Gladio. Gladio quería leer el libro, Captain Underpants, pero Gladio es estúpido. Él no podía leer. Captain Underpants no tenía pantalones y Gladio quería saber por qué.

    1. And I totally agree that it’s interesting to see the narratives that other teachers are typing up in their classes, just to see what kind of language is being used. Thanks, Jeff, for prompting this. Hopefully we get more posts.

      1. Mine is based on the script, “The refrigerator story” by Anne Matava

        Hay un muchacho que se llama Shane. Él es estudiante en el colegio Mickey Mouse en Orlando, Florida. Shane vive muy lejos de Orlando, encima de Mount Everest. Tiene una casa muy pequeña y de muchos colores. Su puerta es negra.

        Todos los días Shane camina a casa después de clases con su mejor amigo Joel. Un día ellos caminan cuando de repente (suddenly) ellos tienen hambre. Quieren comer algo. Es un problema porque la casa de Shane está muy lejos.

        Pero ellos ven una casa más cerca. La casa es muy grande y verde con una puerta rosada y un techo anaranjado. Es la casa de Tyler. Tyler no está en casa. Shane y Joel caminan a la puerta, y sin tocar, ellos abren la puerta y entran en la casa y van directamente a la cocina. En la cocina hay un refrigerador. Joel lo abre y ve una caja de emergencia. Él la agarra y los amigos la comen. Está pésima. Entonces salen de la casa.

        Ellos siguen caminando cuando de repente ellos tienen sed. Quieren beber algo. Ellos ven una casa pequeña y café. Es la casa de Brandon Brown. Hay un perro café en el jardín. Pero Brandon no está en la casa. Ellos caminan a la puerta, y sin tocar, ellos la abren y entran en la casa y van directamente a la cocina. En la cocina hay un refrigerador muy pequeño. Ellos toman un jugo de chocolate y lo beben. Está delicioso. Entonces lanzan las copas en el piso y salen de la casa.

        Tyler sale de WalMart y conduce su Ferrari rápidamente a su casa. Entra en su casa y va a la cocina para comer su caja de emergencia. Pero hay un problema. No está. Tyler ve que el refrigerador está abierto y grita, “¿¡Dónde está mi caja de emergencia!?” Entonces él toma su iPhone y llama a Papa John’s. Pide una pizza grande.

        Joel y Shane siguen caminando pero están muy cansados. Quieren dormir. Ellos ven una casa muy grande y blanca, con un techo azul y una puerta verde. Tiene cinco ventanas también. Es la casa de Frankenstein.

        Frankenstein trabaja en Papa John’s. El lleva pizzas a los clientes. Hoy él conduce su Prius a la casa de Tyler. Le lleva y le da una pizza. Entonces regresa a su casa.

        Shane y Joen entran en la casa sin tocar y van directamente a la sala porque quieren dormir. En la sala hay un sofá muy grande. Los amigos se duermen en el sofá. De repente Frankenstein entra en la sala y ve los amigos durmiendo en el sofá. Él agarra a los dos chicos y los lanza de la ventana. Los chicos vuelan en el aire a su casa y entran en la casa por el techo.

        1. Jeff, so, the refrigerator story is one you’d recommend? I think using a Matava script could be just what my classes need this week.

          I too am getting a kick out of reading these!

          1. Jeff can you send the stories you used this year? Anne has a kind of “Top 10” but I would be curious to see if they overlap with the ones you chose this year. I am assuming you used the same stories at different levels. I would also like to know how many stories you’ve done.

          2. Volume 1: Report card day, The thirsty boy, Who’s paying, Afraid of the package, The tent story, Try it on, He talks too much, I would prefer something else, The refrigerator story, The bully (highly modified).
            Volume 2: Can’t find her brain, Lazy (easiest one ever), The love letter (my favorite), Not full yet, Cheap jewelry, Come outside, The fortune teller, Take two gummy bears and call me in the morning, Don’t drink the V-8, What a good looking man, Bored.

            These are the stories I have used this year. A couple of them I’m going to use soon, but have used before, so I added them to the list. I’ve made a few up my self too, so I’m at about 18-20 stories in Spanish 1 so far. We also read BBQuP as a class and I have to teach Expresate, so there’s that. We are on chapter 6 of that. We also do MovieTalks from time to time.

  8. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    These are such fun!
    I’m not familiar w/that (colloquial?) expression, ¡No manches! What does it mean?

  9. I’m enjoying reading these stories. I agree with Alisa, they are fun! I’d like to know what “No manches” means, too!

    1. “You’re kidding,” or “stop playing with me.”

      I got schooled the other day about a few heritage speakers in my class on the use of the word guey. How I hear guey being used makes it sound like how we use ‘dude’ or ‘tío’ in Spain. But they’re saying it has more vulgar heft, like how lots of teenagers use the ‘n’ word today. I don’t know. I’m not convinced.

      1. I would avoid use of the word guey because it does have vulgar connotations. Close friends will use it together in a “dude” type of way (haha) but it has no place in a classroom.

  10. the intent

    This is key, Tina.

    Is the intent of the Billy Goats Gruff to teach 1) Billy Goats Gruff, 2) cross the bridge, and sees the troll?
    Or is it to share a story in the L2?

    Let me restate what you have said:

    Story Telling calls for sensitivity to the audience. Consider the following questions: What is the audience level of comprehension?What level of vocabulary can they handle? How sophisticated can the grammar get for them?How much complicated can the syntax get? How diverse is the audience linguistically? Which structures best communicate the story to the audience?

    These questions could be interpreted by a traditional mindset in a cover-the-book sort of way. They could also be considered from a tell-a-story mindset which seeks the most appropriate language for creating a story experience for the listeners.

    There is a post or comment that you made some while back, Ben. You said that you would not choose a picture for its utility in teaching vocab/structure, but based on the level of interest intrinsic to the picture. (That was even before Invisibles, maybe during your post-retirement sabbatical.)

    1. Thank you for pointing this out Nathaniel:

      …you said that you would not choose a picture for its utility in teaching vocab/structure, but based on the level of interest intrinsic to the picture….

      The truth is that the entire fifteen years I did TPRS I had that mindset. I always felt like an imposter bc I couldn’t figure out why a teacher would ever want to use a story to teach crosses the bridge. But I dutifully soldiered on. Until New Delhi when I found a way to make that mindset work.

      Your description of the traditional mindset in TPRS, wanting to use the story to teach the various linguistic elements that you describe above, is important. I would ask you your opinion of what percentage of “TPRS” teachers fit into that category? Just take a guess. I have no idea what the answer is. I know what I would guess but will wait for your response to say. Anyone reading is welcome to venture their guesses. And of course we cannot know. I am certain of one thing. Krashen thinks that the number is a lot lower than it is, which is not good for anybody. In fact, in my opinion, which is super unpopular, to say the least, I would say that the actual number of teachers currently doing TPRS in ways that do not align with the way Blaine originally envisaged it is out of control.

      1. I am not sure about numbers either. But I have a little anecdote to share (and I do not apologize for it being anecdotal) which took place after reading your comment, Ben.

        A friend told about a chapter vocab list he had to teach. He decided to use nouns that are hard for English-speaking students to pronounce. So he chose “guerrero” (warrior) and “emperador” (emperor). The rest of the vocab did not look to promising until he noticed “tenía celos” (s/he was jealous). So that was his lesson story to be developed: someone was jealous and an emperor and a warrior were somehow connected to that jealousy. He said it was a good lesson.

        1. He did not set out to teach these words.
        2. He was limited in the words he could use (those in the lesson that were to end up on a test).
        3. He was looking for “targets” based on interest/limitations of the vocabulary.
        4. The words chosen were those deemed potentially interesting.

        My friend was not trying to teach the words. It was to create a story with his students within the confines of the stated curriculum. I did not watch them develop the story so I do not know if it looked like a targeting of structures or if the structures were simply used as needed to create a story about a warrior and an emperor and a bad case of jealousy and its consequences. The issue with intent is that it is not easily discernible. As mentioned (above?) with Krashen’s experience w/Li and Fritze it is a subjective sensation. An important question is whether the learner experiences it as practice or as something integral to the communicative situation.

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