A Specious Argument 2

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11 thoughts on “A Specious Argument 2”

  1. Question:

    Mazin–a freaking super star–says likes like “Yo quisiero” clearly oversimplifying some pretty complex issues of inflectional morphology. To correct or not to correct?

    He can handle it and he gets better and better (partly because his parents are putting the down payment down on a house in Spain).

    But for the others–do I let them say “yo gusto?”

    1. The essence of what we do in a concise, non-threatening presentation! Thank you thank you thank you. I stumble so much trying to explain this all in a sound byte, which really is about as much as people care to hear. I so appreciate the crafting of this document!!!

      Drew–I find myself these days doing the ” ah…no te gusta el chocolate? a mi si me gusta. Me gusta muchisimo el chocolate!” or something like that. I must confess that I used to (ouch…even as recently as this fall) cringe visibly whenever someone said “yo gusto” “yo me gusto” or any of those combinations. Especially the upper level kids. Then one day it dawned on me or hit me upside the head that it isn’t their fault. They have ingrained these errors by virtue of three or more years of analytical “learning.” So I lightened up. I had to. I was terrorizing them.

      Just last week I was using “me encanta” as one of the structures in the Matava script about going shopping. I decided to hammer this one in an effort to partially repair the damage. The script is designed for this use in my opinion, because there is a line where the shopping partner says “me too!” so you have to teach “a mi tambien.” We got a little chant going, where I would say random things really slowly so they could hear all the parts, like ” a …mi….me encanta comprar zapatos” and they would chant “a mi tambien!” Lots of reps with lots of random things I liked or loved. Even upper level kids benefit from this, and of course you can expand and use “me importa, me fascina, me interesa, etc.”

      Anyway, lightening up was the key to this for me 🙂

      1. and jen they can’t learn those things with their minds. That is the lie. When you went with the hammering and repeating of me encanta and then chanting it, you were doing the only thing that works. I was so aware of this today. I was aware that when I was a kid I only learned words or combinations of words because I wasn’t focused on their meaning. You got it and lightened up and broke through. Right on.

        Each hammer like repetition is as a jack hammer to the concretized “knowledge” in each of their minds. Good on ya’. Hundreds of reps, lots of chants, all focused on the meaning and not the structure, and soon, in a process that we don’t need to understand but must respect, they have it! They might be walking home and me encanta jumps into their minds as if from behing a tree and they smile and emrace their new friend introduced by you earlier in the day.

        If only the teachers who pour the concrete could be made accountable for the damage they inflict. I’m not kidding. Those upper level kids are, in fact, as you say, NOT at fault.

  2. This is beaUtifully put.

    Good question Drew. But I think you answered this very well in that essay you wrote after your German-teaching stint, re “correcting” the grammar of the one student who said something incorrectly. That’s how you do it. With little attention paid to HOW the student said it (but rather WHAT she said), and you modeling good grammar through paraphrasing or repeating (correctly) what she said.

  3. Hi Ben –

    (feel free to delete this post after you read it)

    I can proofread but not think right now, so I just have a few typo corrections before you send this:

    paragraph 4, “mirrows” should be “mirrors”
    paragraph 5, extra “a” in the first line
    paragraph 8, verb should be “acquire”
    paragraph 10, accommodating (add an “m”)


  4. Hey everybody. I requested your opinions on the original text of this blog thread, directed to the teacher and IB principal, for those aware of that history, and nobody gave me any advice. I guess I’ll just send it. Last chance to comment on the main blog post above. Send it? Don’t send it? What?

  5. I agree with Chris. I think you did a nice job bridging the gap in time that has gone by, stating your truth. It seems both professional and heartfelt (but I am not super confident in my ability to recognize “professionalism” so I defer to others. Just offering my gut reaction 🙂

  6. I like it. You know that. The first paragraph of Jeff’s message will lose them. They don’t believe that is true. They are absolutely convinced of the opposite. However, it is not your job to convince them that your point of view is correct. You know that, too. You are informing them of your beliefs in a reasonable and cogent way. I figure it’s all you can do.

  7. I think it’s great, Ben, but there’s potentially also a logical disconnect between the two letters if they’re read in a certain way. The first letter basically says that everyone (even the super-bright IB kids) acquires rather than learns a language. The second implies that CI methods are preferable because we should take into consideration the vast majority of students who can’t get the language in traditional ways like the “super-bright” kids can [i.e. which may be read here as if the IB kids actually can get a handle on the language in traditional ways!!!]. I don’t think you want to say that, even by implication, since we know (some of us by personal experience), that that’s not true.

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