Who is Jack?

Someone named Jack has gone to the Teacher’s Discovery website, where the book is being sold, and written this review of my newest book A Natural Approach to Stories, about the Invisibles and non-targeted CI:

Nothing New

May 3, 2017  |  By Jack

Terrible writing, very long winded. The only thing I walked away with is a One Word Image, and I already know how to create those. 

Staff’s Response: Hi Jack, Thank you for your review. I am sorry you were not pleased with the book. Teacher’s Discovery has a 100% guarantee. If any of our products do not meet your expectations, you get your money back, no questions asked. I have shared your review with the developer and manager. Thanks again for taking the time to share your review!

Here is my position:

That is the best writing I have ever done. It took more than a year almost as a full time job and if Tina had not helped me write it it would not even exist. Her soul is in that book too. No one knows how much work there has been put in on that book.

Moreover, I don’t think that there is a Jack. I think that this is a fabrication by someone who doesn’t want the Invisibles and NT instruction to work. There is every reason to believe this.

The pushback against non-targeted CI instruction is very great right now and there are a lot of people who would love it if the non-targeted approach were to fail. I feel very strongly that, even if there is a Jack, he did not read the book.

Here is how you can help:

If you read the book and it is working for you, please go here and write a review to counter this guy:

http://www.teachersdiscovery.com/create_review/26718/spanish

Thank you!

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32 thoughts on “Who is Jack?”

  1. It’s sad to see this kind of review. I will be reading your book soon as I am starting to have time in my day. I am sure there is push for NT not to work but it is a battle that is futile. NT has always won. It will continue to win against the rules of man. There is no structure no matter how detailed or backed by TPRS gurus that can beat good ol’ NT and Time. It’s fighting against millennia of human history.

  2. I just finished reading your book, TPRS- The Easy Way. It is so practical and gives me such a clear idea on how to set up my French classes using TPRS and the Invisibles. Is your book, A Natural Approach to Stories different to The Easy Way? If it’s similar, I could definitely leave a positive review. If it’s different enough, I know what my next reading will be! 🙂

  3. How cowardly to not put one’s real or complete name, so as to enter a dialogue abt the ideas in the book…

  4. Dear Ben, this review and it’s writing style sounds to me like mobbing. Though I sadly know you only through your books and the PLC I can say that you have already changed my life as a teacher bc you have given back to me the passionate motivation I had at the beginning of my career.
    Rest assured I will write a very different kind of review.

  5. I can’t review your book bc the review site is only for the USA. Is there another possibility bc I’d love to do a review in favour of it. I just started reading it a second time.

  6. Yes Udo just send the review to me at benslavic@yahoo.com and I will send it to TD and maybe they can use it in some way. I am feeling defeated bc I know that Jack didn’t read the book. I just know it. I think your word “mobbing” is accurate. I really appreciate your support. My age is a factor in my despair. I have worked too hard in my life to have some dumb ass to do this to me. Not to mention what Tina put in on that book, which was, quite frankly, sheer brilliance combined with dagger-in-her-teeth effort. At one point when she was testing the Invisibles in her classroom in Portland, I was emailing her like ten times in three hour middle-of-the-night in New Delhi marathon sessions of back and forth communication as we realized that we had found something that for the first time both gave us lift off in our classrooms and explained why TPRS stories with targets weren’t working for us, a kind of liftoff that neither of us had experienced ever in our careers, and this guy pans it w/o having read it. If I can find out who Jack really is, plug your ears. There will be some noise made by Jack and you will hear it in Germany. I’m pissed.

  7. “Reviews” like this are absolutely cowardly and obviously mean-spirited. It says more about this person than it does about you or your work. Unfortunately, the internet encourages trolling because people can just sit behind their computer in anonymity and I suppose it makes them feel like a bigger person (or something…). There will always be some bad apples… Don’t let it bring you down! You’re doing good work.

  8. That’s unfortunate. I haven’t read that particular book but all of your books are no-BS and straight to the point and practical.

    It’s my understanding from reading Krashen, BVP, Wong, Lee for the past 1.5 years (obsessively) that either non-targeted CI or targeted CI could work depending on the situation. Anyway when you target you have no idea if the students’ brains are ready to acquire the given targeted structure.

    I actually saw this in action when I student taught 6 years ago (I did student teaching in a K-12 Catholic school teaching Preschool through 8th grade). I knew nothing about TPRS/SLA back then. When the cooperating teacher and I were teaching preschool there was this kid that did not pick up the words that were in the songs/lesson we were doing, but he picked up some language from when he was around me and the cooperating teacher as we were setting up for class and speaking in Spanish.

    My approach this year has to be semi-non targeted. I just make sure I incorporate the Sweet 16 verbs, but beyond that I don’t really target.

    1. Greg you said, “Anyway when you target you have no idea if the students’ brains are ready to acquire the given targeted structure.”

      We truly do not. Even if we can “find out” what structures are late-acquired they still need to hear those structures early on like say, gender agreement or the partitive in French etc…

      More importantly, I was thinking that targeting is a stepping stone towards inequity and causes a divide between those who are good at school and those who for multiple reasons cannot perform or demonstrate proficiency. SLA is piecemeal and the reate is unique for everywhere. Targeting is cookie-cutter curriculum with little differentiation in relation to SLA principles.

      1. Steven I’m so glad you’re coming to Wade’s conference in Cherokee Nation and Cascadia here in the Republic of Cascadia. There will be a huge focus on equity at both.

        1. In Wynne Wong’s book on Input Enhancement there is research that input flooding (targeting) can push along the acquisition of certain grammatical structures.

          I think the problem comes in when we ASSESS on a timeline.

          1. Yes I think the big deal is when we assess in a timeline too. But I don’t understand why we would “flood” them with a certain structure if we didn’t plan to assess to see how our efforts paid off. It’s just human nature. “Did the eighty repetitions stick? Let’s see! I’ll quiz em on it”. And Wayne maybe didn’t care in her research if she hurt some kids by seeing if their acquisition was pushed along. What’s the point? And is it worth it?
            “No kids’ self-concepts as learners were harmed in the making of this book.”

          2. The research in Wong’s book was with adult learners in regards to input flooding.
            There is also “input enhancement” where you bold certain items (but you don’t necessarily point those out to the students). There has also been some success with this. BVP talked about this on one of his shows.

            You can also do informal assessments. You notice things in the output (writing mostly). I’m a fan of the timed writes.

            My students love Brandon Brown wants a dog and El Nuevo Houdini. Those are very much flooded with the sweet 16 verbs.

            I think the whole debate about NT vs T is half a dozen of one and 6 of the other. Nothing wrong with doing OWI alongside the other CI techniques in my opinion. Maybe as I get deeper into OWI this summer and next school year my view will change.

            Main advantage I see of OWI is that, very much like Movietalk, it’s a lot easier for the teacher to jump in and feel some success from the very beginning whereas the traditional TPRS when you try it out the very next school day after you went to a Blaine Ray conference, it’s a total flop….or at least it was for me.

          3. Interesting thoughts, Greg, about what works for a teacher to jump into without experience, TPRS, OWI, or Movietalk…

  9. I’m so sorry you have to stomach this vitriolic comment, Ben. It sucks that they have to leave it up on the site. I think that just about everyone knows, however, that there are many weirdos out there posting reviews about things. Yelp.com is such a poor source of info to find critiques of a restaurant, for example. Just about everyone knows that. It gets some disturbed, angry people posting comments, and not many others.

    As far as your writing, please don’t change! Through your writing I am able to image myself implementing the activities. If your reader is open to learning and not simply to finding some novel activity to plug into a lesson plan, but actually learning, then your publications will take them there. Not all teachers are open to learning.

  10. By the way, is anyone on this site going to be at NTPRS this summer? We should get together for dinner or drinks and talk about One Word Images. What say you?

  11. Ben, I just sent you my book review by e-mail. I would be very glad if it helped to to counter the …hole’s review!!! Sorry, for the language, but I dislike trolls too much to be in a forgiving mood.

  12. I read it Udo. Thank you. What you wrote is very strong. It is like something I heard from a colleague today:

    …if you make something no one hates then no ones loves it…..

  13. Ben, I am sorry that this has happened and that you feel despair right now. Judgemental criticism about something that is close to one’s heart can feel devastating. It is completely understandable to feel discouraged when the hard, deep work that involved completely rethinking how one acts and exists in a classroom isn’t appreciated in the way you feel it deserves. We all recognize it, Ben. There are countless comments on this PLC over the years that tell how life-changing your sharing has been for us all. It has for me, no question about that.

    Perhaps it would help to look at the rest of the situation. Besides “Jack’s” two cents, there are nothing but 5 star reviews telling about how life- and career-changing your book is. I believe those will keep rolling in. How could they not? Genuine, passionate, caring people change lives.

    There is a line from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic that has strengthened the foundation of my self-confidence and sense of self-worth, revolutionizing them completely: “You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures.” Following that logic, Mr Slavic, you have mountain chains of worth – you came out of retirement to keep pushing the boundaries of CI for goodness sake! I am so grateful for whatever good deeds and karma I built up in the past for having stumbled across your books and this PLC. I know I am not alone in this feeling.

    You’ve got this, Ben. You’re Ben Friggin’ Slavic!

    1. ThanK you Jason I feel what you are saying. It helps, what you and Udo and others are saying. Really LOVE the part about measuring worth in terms of dedication to one’s path. That is really at the core of it. I grew up way too competitive and now I am seeing things that cannot be grasped mentally about our profession. I can’t even put what I am learning into words, except that it has something to do with God. Jack, whoever he is, did not read that book. I just know it. Thank you again, Jason. Sometimes I think in terms of “Would I go to war with this person?” Yes, I would go to war with you.

  14. It is the one negative comment that will do us more damage than the several affirming comments. The mind focuses on that one and draws us away from the others. Resist the maelstrom.

    I do not know who Jack is either, but then again, the only name I recognize is Leigh Anne’s. Maybe I know Jeff, but maybe not.

    It is a strange comment. Nothing new. It would be helpful to reference for us where all of this non-new stuff is located. Nothing new…this can all be found on Ben’s blog…just sign up at benslavic.com.

    In a sense that is true. CI has been around for decades as a research topic…and for millennia in the home…and sporadically and spottily in the classroom. TPR has been around since the mid-60s. TPRS since the early 90s. SL has been around for many years. And what about the other things: student jobs, student images, student interests, questionnaire, jGR/ICS…they too have been around for years. Invisibles? Why, they have been around for months and months.

    But it is fresh. It is in one place. It is in a new niche. One wonders how many teachers will read come across it and find it new. They are looking for a change from the drill of vocab, the inadequacy of grammar, and the labor-intensity of skill-building proficiency. There will be those for whom it is new. There will be some one-more-shot people. There will be people who need a resource to recommend to colleagues. And the newness will continue to invade the classroom.

    1. Nathaniel said:

      …it is the one negative comment that will do us more damage than the several affirming comments….

      It was always that way on my course evaluations. And there was never more than one, and usually none. But what is up with that one comment? I have always been insecure and doubtful but less and less as time goes by. Teaching, if we can withstand the emotional input required, teaches us far more than we could ever teach our students. Emotional Input. EI. Ugh. Yes, God, may I have another day of fun with my lovely and well-behaved students? Thank you, God. I know you only do what is best for us, but 35,000 classes in a row? Dude!

      1. Ben it took you 34,960 classes to get to that class in India where the kid held up the first Invisible. He really did have your best interests in mind the whole time. And Jack is part of that Plan.

      2. Jack, in his search for novelty, overlooked this quote from the introduction:

        “All of the strategies offered in my previous books are certainly effective stand-alone activities. They all work really well. But they are not a system. Now, in this book, I offer a system to make stories work in a truly extraordinary way, in an astounding way.”

        I like to have a system which allows for the whims of the students (and the teacher) which allows us to back off when the time is wrong and to go for the gold when the time is right.

  15. Yeah, it’s funny that, even though I got a lot of positive feedback from students and parents this year, one negative comment that I came across on ratemyteachers earlier this semester ruined almost a whole week for me. I think the thought that someone is anonymously criticizing you publicly also makes it sting more. I can take criticism, but say it to my face.

    I think that guy doesn’t realize how much work it took you to put that book together. I tried some of your advice from TPRS in a year the first day I got it and it freaking worked like magic (like when you call one of your students “maestra” and they decide when there is a disagreement on the details of a story). That’s just a small thing but if I didn’t have your book I’d probably never think of something like that OR I’d think of it after 10 years.

  16. Hit the road Jack! And don’t you come back no more, no more, no more, no more!

    All anyone has to do for buy-in about this is read the following line, found on page 70 of the book:

    “Students ask if they can Skype in or use FaceTime to be present in class when they are not in school. This is a common occurrence with at least two teachers currently using the Invisibles.”

    Like…what?! Like…seriously?! There are actual teachers on this Earth who have had students request this?! Wow. Just…wow.

    If an educator can read that and STILL scoff at the approach, that is NO kind of person I would want working with my own children…

    1. Thank you Jen. The thing is, Tina and I are learning very fast that the amount of unkindness there is in our profession right now goes really deep, beyond the Jacks out there, and right into our own backyard.

  17. All I can say regarding that book is that I have never worked harder, stayed up later, gotten up earlier, or given so much of my spirit to any other enterprise I have ever worked on. If what Ben and I gave to that book is not good enough for one person out there then too bad for them. We have no more to give. I had my first TPRS training twelve years ago. I have been reading and learning about CI ever since, following the community very closely, with an eye to one day contributing. If someone like me could not tell a “new idea” when she saw it, no one could. Not to mention that I am actually pretty intelligent so I can think for myself. That book, to me, is a physical manifestation of my very deepest convictions on BEING with young people. It is actually bigger than language teaching. It puts into words some deeply-held convictions that I share with thinkers and educators from John Dewey back to Plato. If “Jack” cannot hang with us, then he can go grab his nice safe little textbook or his nice book of curriculum and have at it. Too bad for his students.

  18. That was an interesting pilot program with your 1 (of 6) classes, Anne. Thanks for sharing (on Teacher Discovery).
    Btw, Anne, will you be at CI Liftoff in Portland (ME)?

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