This is a repost from some years ago. I feel like I’m swimming upstream on this point in the group. Oh well – I’ll keep repeating it. Until we jettison all the L1 explanations in class, which are about ego and showing off more than they are of any actual value to the students, we will continue to wonder why our students’ gains aren’t as high as we know they can if we would just stay the heck out of L1.
Just to clarify that last sentence – we allow our L1 banter in class, yes, we just don’t intersperse it with periods of L2 input. Right? We spent years coming to that point – it is the MIXING of languages that we want to avoid. Do we all agree on that point?
Here is the article in support of uninterrupted flow:
When we compare an orchestral rehearsal to the actual performance, we see that there are interruptions created when the conductor stops the flow of music to make some point, and the musicians sometimes grab their pencils, bring their instruments down, lean forward, make a note in the music in response to the conductor’s comment, and then begin again as a group. When the flow is thus interrupted, it doesn’t hurt the actual performance – rather, it helps.
But what happens in terms of reading acquisition when we stop a reading class to talk about some point, usually one of grammar, using English? Can we interrupt our reading classes and get away with it as the orchestral director can?
In my opinion, no. It is my belief that we can achieve much higher rates of L2 input in stories and reading by not interrupting either one in the way that the conductor stops the flow of the orchestra in a rehearsal. Krashen has shown that any kind of “net” activity, making the acquisition (in both stories and readings) unconscious (when they focus on the message and not the medium used to deliver it), is the way people acquire languages.
If that is true, then the use of grammar to teach languages becomes exposed as a much bigger red flag than hitherto imagined. Instead of being a method that simply didn’t work, the constant feeding of the mind with junk food (grammar explanations) during class becomes an insurmountable obstacle, like a colossal boulder in the middle of a road, during the L2 flow of class.