Three Modes Defended

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

59 thoughts on “Three Modes Defended”

  1. Grant, this is great. I deal with the same issues with colleagues in my building. It is hard to break out of this kind of thinking because of 1) our own habits–the we picked up as students under this kind of system, 2) colleagues’ expectations, 3) student expectations 4) parent expectations, 5) textbooks. Because of these factors, I feel like I need to continually remind my students of the behaviors and attitudes they need to have in a CI-based classroom. I can’t just tell them once at the beginning of the year and think they will get it. thanks for the clear thinking–I am going to print out some of these and put them up on the wall in my classroom.

    Fortunately 1) the teacher is the key factor in the classroom and 2) we believe that people can change and grow.

    I am not feeling real articulate today, so my thoughts above are not clearly expressed, but it is at least comforting to me to see that you are grappling with these issues as well and helping us all to think through the implications of other influences on us and our students.

  2. Here is the poster I am putting up in my room to reiterate Grant’s points:

    WHAT DOES HARD WORK LOOK LIKE IN THIS CLASS?
    Since language acquisition only happens when written and spoken messages are actually being understood, “hard work” means ON THE INSIDE you need to:
    • Stay focused on the message being delivered.
    • Listen to comprehend.
    • Read to comprehend.

    So if you are working you are engaged in active listening which means ON THE OUTSIDE you will:
    • Listen and observe actively.
    • Respond with body language.
    • Respond with short answers.

  3. I’m making posters too. Then, to redirect, we have the Classroom Rules, but we also have this to point at with the laser. This is radical. They actually will have to do a little metacognition here. Who woulda thunk it?

  4. Is the thing I’m going to say off track or might it be included?

    Students letting me know when they become aware they don’t understand (using the decided-upon signal) certainly helps me keep the language comprehensible. Otherwise, I’m guessing most of the time. I do comprehension checks often, but I don’t want to overdo them–wasting time and losing flow. I think that students taking responsibility (not perfectly, of course) for letting me know is part of “engagement in active listening”.

  5. Jody is right. So here is version 2.0, with some additional tweeking after I have thought about it for a while.

    WHAT DOES HARD WORK LOOK LIKE IN THIS CLASS?
    Since language acquisition only happens when written and spoken messages are actually being understood, in this class “hard work” means that ON THE INSIDE you need to:

    • Stay focused on the message being delivered.
    • Observe what is happening.
    • Listen with intent to comprehend.
    • Read with intent to comprehend.

    When you are working you are actively engaged with the language, which means that ON THE OUTSIDE you will:

    • Respond with body language.
    • Show the teacher when you do not understand.
    • Respond with short answers.
    • Read and show that you understand.

    Sorry, this is stuff is messy sometimes. Takes awhile to get it out in a way that makes sense to me. Glad we have this private forum to think out loud in.

    1. I am interested in this idea of the student beginning to understand the sensations of acquisition and how different they are than the thoughts of conscious learning. If a student began to understand this difference and respect it as a process, might it be easier to teach them?

      BRAINSTORMING DOODLES: (changing by the millisecond)

      You will feel:

      like you are understanding, but you may not feel as though you are “learning”.

      However:
      You will know you are learning when you understand what the teacher says or what you are reading.

      You will know you are learning when TL starts to fall out of your mouth in class without you thinking about it too much.

      You will know you are learning when TL comes out naturally and makes sense (even with errors).

      You will know you are learning when you notice you can write more in the TL than you did before.

      You will know you are learning when you are not translating from English to TL when you speak or write.

      1. Love this: “the sensations of acquisition” being different than “the thoughts of conscious learning.” Thank you! This is all so hard for me to articulate in a concise way. I end up feeling pedantic in my explanations. I may just copy what you said!

      2. I love it! I think that this will help my students feel more confident that they really are learning more than they think.

        “You will feel like you are understanding, but you may not feel as though you are learning.”

        thanks to Grant for starting this important re-education piece.

  6. Must be the time of year. I just made a new-semester resolution that I will spend a good amount of time when we get back to school after our winter break to get the kids reacquainted with the rules of engagement. I seem to have dropped the reins too much with my level IIs, and they need a major reminder on how class needs to work in order for them to get the maximum of benefit with a minimum of out-of class (busy) work.

      1. Will do, Carol, but Jason Fritze is here tomorrow and Friday and I want to hit the pause button on this dialogue for a few days. I want my Grant poster done, especially, before moving on. I haven’t been able to keep up anyway and I want to go back and look back at the last month of stuff before hitting play again. A very cool thing is that our group member Annemarie from Maine happens to be here in Denver this week and will be at the Jason Fritze workshop.

  7. Thanks everyone. Good ideas here! Seeing Bryce’s title about what does it LOOK LIKE made me think, why not make three charts –
    hard work looks like:
    hard work sounds like:
    hard work feels like:

    This might be an alternate format that resonates with somebody. the FEELS LIKE gives an opportunity to address what we were talkign about in another post recently. Krashen says that we may not be consciously aware of having acquired material. But in class, you FEEL confident. You FEEL aware of the stream of the conversation. You FEEL like you’re understanding. You don’t feel lost, defeated or frustrated.

    i think the format you choose is up to you. But I want to reiterate that what we’re doing here is so huge and so easily misunderstood by people that we have to work overtly and with intentionality to redefine the paradigm of “rigor” for those who are used to rigor being equated to more (busy) work. If people (non language educators I’m talking about here) know then it makes sense to them – of course you have to hear the language to acquire it. It’s when they don’t know how we’re defining rigor that they fall back onto their own prior knowledge and we get labels of ‘fluff’ and ‘too easy’, etc.

  8. I really think these will give our students a better understanding of their jobs . One, actually three, more ways to connect/to resonate with them. I especially like the WHAT HARD WORK FEELS LIKE. My posters are going up tomorrow. Thank you all for your ideas.

  9. Thank you, Grant. This is so important and empowering! Gotta love that LEAP document. I gave it out to my dept chair before she observed me yesterday. She laughed and almost handed it back to me – her format for observation from grad school in the 70’s was apparently enough for her – she said that outloud. I must have had a horrified look on my face. At the end of the day my observation noted two important things – I was in the TL for virtually the whole class and I did a good job scaffolding a listening assessment so they all could be successful! Sometimes they don’t want to let you know that they are watching, but they are!

  10. Yeah Grant this is a major contribution, a concrete response to the almost monumental task of communicating what we do to others. I just want someone to publish here in one of these comment fields what a final version of the poster would look like.

    Bryce and Jim are making one, Jody’s is the format I want and here we again must work together to avoid re-inventing the wheel on this deal. So who is doing it?

    Once we have it, I will see that it gets in the poster downloads on the new site so everybody can have it in the fall. Why? Because what Grant has done here is going to be a so powerful in that first month re-education of kids to how to be actual human beings in a classroom.

  11. Com’on. Who’s doing the final Grant document and is it in first person like Jody suggested? Who’s doing it? I can’t – I have the Jason Fritze workshop. I’m not starting next year without Grant’s poster.

  12. I wasn’t planning on making a poster of this (yet, because I’ve not been doing the mental creation of it), just waiting in the background on this one. So it’ll have to be someone else for an immediate completion.

  13. OK. Here’s what I’ve got for a STUDENT POSTER. This first one is what does HARD WORK look like. The second one I’ll post addresses the redefinition of LEARNING. I don’t know how to bold, so *this* is bolded on my word doc and _this_ is underlined. I tried to take all suggestions here inthe comments in to consideration. thank you all!

    WHAT DOES _HARD WORK_ LOOK LIKE IN THIS CLASS?
    Language acquisition only happens when written and spoken messages are actually being understood.
    THEREFORE: _HARD WORK_ means:
    on the INSIDE RIGHT NOW you are:
    • Focusing on the message being delivered.
    • Observing what is happening.
    • Listening to comprehend the message.
    • Reading to comprehend the message.
    “Working hard” means you are *_actively engaging with the language_ RIGHT NOW*. That means:
    ON THE OUTSIDE I will *SEE* you:
    Focus on *who* is talking or *what* you are reading
    Sit up with eyes on the teacher
    Respond with body language and gestures
    Show the teacher when you do not understand
    I WILL *HEAR* YOU:
    Respond with appropriate emotion to every statement you hear
    Respond with short answers to every question

  14. the redefinition of LEARNING:

    In this class, “learning” does not equal memorizing stuff.
    If you are “learning” you will experience the *_sensation of acquisition*_
    You will:
    o feel you follow and understand CONVERSATION with ease
    o feel you understand and follow READINGS with ease
    o build images in your head of the words you hear and read
    o feel so involved in the discussion you won’t realize it’s in Spanish
    o have words bouncing around in your head ready and wanting to come out through your pencil or your mouth
    o begin to notice you can
    o write more words than before
    o build longer sentences than before
    o create more interesting images than before
    o have words fall out of your mouth or pencil in Spanish without realizing it or thinking too much
    o retell with ease a text you have read (first in English, eventually in Spanish)
    o retell with ease a story you have helped create (first in English, eventually in Spanish)

  15. Awesome. I am going to try to put all this together now that the Jason Fritze workshop is over and my-oh-my what a workshop it was. I’ll try to share as much of what I learned as soon as possible. And no a video wouldn’t really bring much of our learnings.

    Jody, Grant and Bryce what you have written on this thread has taken me to an entirely new awarenesses of how to communicate my rules and expectations to my students. So I will get the poster I plan to use next year, or maybe this year, up here when it is done. Can we start next year now please?

    1. I am not waiting for next year. I am starting this Tuesday. I have already put up a big poster in my classroom. I will probably tweek it as I see student reactions that we are not anticipating here.

      There is no need to wait till next year. We are not behemoth textbook publishers. We are grassroots and agile. We can be nimble and adjust on the fly. That is the utter beauty of this movement–the instant response time to student/teacher needs. That is our advantage and we need to use it.

      1. I am also putting up a poster that has major elements of Grant’s redefinition of learning. That is great, Grant. We all know the difference between learning and acquisition. We believe it and we all need for our students to understand it but no one has spelled it out like you just did. Duh!

        At this time of the year I see some students retreating into the survive and memorize mode. Probably has to do with MY lower energy at this time of the year. It shouldn’t happen but it does. I think this additional poster will help to keep the most troublesome person in my classroom on target: ME!

      2. …there is no need to wait till next year. We are not behemoth textbook publishers. We are grassroots and agile. We can be nimble and adjust on the fly. That is the utter beauty of this movement–the instant response time to student/teacher needs. That is our advantage and we need to use it….

        Love this.

      3. Yes to Bryce’s comment about posting immediately, being nimble and willing to adjust on the fly..

        I also concur about my energy also being the root cause of funkiness in my class at this time of the year.

  16. When I read Grant’s quote of the ACTFL’s Executive Summary of the Standards: “Knowing how, when, and why to say what to whom…” I had a curious impression of synchronicity because a friend had just sent me a Ted Talk …..

    http://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action.html

    which explained that normal marketing and communication strategies focus on What (we want to sell= the product) and sometimes deal with How (to get it, to use it, etc.) but rarely bother with why. And that Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers went about it inside out. They focused on Why and worked with people who believed in the same Why to find out How to achieve their goal and eventually produced the What (technological innovation, the civil rights movement, the airplane).

    And the other day Ben said that language is “a spontaneous, joyous thing to be shared to make life and sharing with others happier that day.” And I thought that’s our Why and Stephen Krashen has given us a theory called Comprehensible Input which is our How and now we have our What, TPRS. Which we are still working on, but since we share the same Why, there’s no doubt that it will be successful.

  17. I think it would be really powerful to have a “metacognitive” conversation with my students even at this point in the year and ask them, What does it look like when you “get” the language or words and phrases? To already have Grant’s list in my head and yet to draw it out of/generate it with my students would give them the ownership of it. Also, I think someone in this thread mentioned this already-to put it into the first person, such as “If I am learning I can experience the sensation of acquisition by feeling that I follow and understand conversation with ease…I can write more words than before” etc.

    I love the idea of reflecting with the students midyear how they are learning in my class and what are some road blocks they are encountering in this acquisition process. For example, I can ask them “What blocks you from understanding conversations with ease?”

    I realize that this conversation with students takes away valuable CI time, but what an awesome opportunity to get students engaged in the learning and reflecting about their learning.

    I just finished two back to back conferences here in Colorado-an Expeditionary Learning Conference at the Odyssey School and the Jason Fritze workshop at Thomas Jefferson High School, so my mind is super saturated.

    What I’m trying to do is take what I gained from the EL conference about student-engaged assessment use it to enhance my CI classroom.

    One of the core components of EL schools is “The Habits of Learning.” I like this word habit because it implies lots of practice leading to something almost automatic-a habit. I’ve been working on breaking the workings of CI into learning targets, similar to Grant’s list. My next step is to attach assessment and evidence to these targets to make it clear to my students and others (parents, administrators, colleagues) how I assess my students’ progress in these areas and how I involve them in assessing themselves.

    I realize that many people don’t want to get entangled in this assessment and evidence business, but from what I saw with students at the Odyssey school, it is very effective. Even to post one of Grant’s “Ways of acquisition” on one day and have students focus on just that ONE on that particular day might be really helpful in the beginning. For example, on a particular day, you might be working on reader’s theater (in Jason’s magnificent style) and so write on the board “I can understand and follow readings with ease.” And then review with students how they do this in class. Review Jason’s rules of how does he know and you the student know you are following along the reading-be on the correct page, follow with your finger, and respond to teacher’s questions and fill in the blank. Then after reading ideally have a specific way to assess the reading acquisition. I’m sure teachers do this automatically-reviewing the guidelines for reading-but to also be transparent with students everyday on what you’re aiming for that day-reading with ease-clarifies the learning for both students and teacher.

    When I figure all this out-my learning targets and assessments attached to habits of learning (which has to be in the next month because I’m presenting it to my PLC at school) I will post it.

    1. It is probably no coincidence that Annemarie’s learnings at the Odyssey School training overlapped with RT. In one she got the theory and saw excellent modeling of it by the accomplished expeditionary learning/Odyssey teachers up there on the northwest side of Denver. And then she saw Jason do it as well. Her listing of what Jason did to assess during the RT modeling is extremely important. All of it is important. This is true breakthrough stuff. The issue is well described above by Annemarie. And, of course, for months now, almost a year, we have been talking about doing the same thing in terms of the Three Modes of Communication (initiated by Robert last May). The idea of TYING LEARNING TARGETS AND ASSESSMENTS TO HABITS OF LEARNING is just powerful. Maybe it is time for this kind of thing to become a common topic in professional development classes. This is a crack in the wall of the old way and I for one feel the warmth of the light coming through.

  18. This is what I have so far, to be made into posters for use in German, Spanish and French classrooms. Comments/upgrades welcome. It is the combined comments of Judy, Bryce and Grant plus my rules and I request permission from you three to put it under copyright it for use here and not get sent all over the internet by someone. Not that anyone would do that bc most people don’t even how to use it or get what Annemarie is saying. Here is what the posters look like. You will find them soon online here except no longer on the public side, but rather here on the blog side. They will be labeled simply “Rules 2012”.

    RULES AND EXPECTATIONS

    Language classes don’t seem like other classes. To really learn a language, you have to feel it and not think about it so much. So, the students who succeed in Spanish will be the ones who don’t feel like they are learning, but who feel like they understand. Therefore:

    – You will know you are learning when you understand the conversation or the reading.
    – You will know you are learning when you notice that you can write more in Spanish than you could before.
    – You will know you are succeeding when it all starts to look like a movie in your mind.
    – You will know you are succeeding when you forget that it is even a foreign language.
    – You will know you are succeeding when you start speaking spanish without thinking too much or worrying about mistakes.

    At the end of every class, remind your teacher to make time after the quiz so that everyone can talk about how they did. Just read the checklist below with your teacher and discuss how you did. When you can talk to your teacher about how you did and make a few comments, your teacher will know that you are trying and your grade will go up. Even if you don’t want to talk about how you did, you will notice that your grade is an A or B anyway, because you can understand. It may take you a little while before you master this checklist, but keep trying – it will be worth it!

    STUDENT CHECKLIST

    Students who get high grades in this class say:
    • I listen to comprehend.
    • I read to comprehend.
    • I sit up with squared shoulders and clear eyes.
    • I respond to questions using short answers.
    • I use the stop sign when I don’t understand.
    • I do my 50%.
    • I don’t talk over.
    • my acting is like a mirror to my teacher’s words.
    • I stay focused on the message.

    TEACHER CHECKLIST

    • I stay in the target language 95% of the time.
    • I stay in bounds.
    • I remember to get us reading 50%. Of the time.
    • I circle slower than I think I can.
    • I remember my PQA counters.
    • I engage everyone.
    • I remember the three tasks for stories.
    • I remember to discuss how we did at the end of class.

    [credit: Grant Boulanger, Spanish teacher, Skyview Middle School, Minneapolis, MN; Jody Noble, Spanish teacher, San Francisco Day School, San Francisco, CA; Bryce Hedstrom, AP Spanish teacher, Roosevelt High School, Johnstown, co; Ben Slavic, French teacher, Abraham Lincoln High School, Denver, CO]

    1. WOW. Just logged in to read the follow ups to my post. FANTASTIC.

      This:
      “my acting is like a mirror to my teacher’s words.”
      is phenomenal. I need these words! much more succinct than before.

      I like the Checklist idea and can envision myself beginning a class in silence. Simply laser pointing to a large checklist on the wall and hovering for a meditative 10 seconds over today’s “learning target”, aka: “I read to comprehend” and then beginning the reading straight away.

      And, yes, the Teacher checklist is oh, so necessary, isnt’ it??

    2. I love these too. One of the biggest challenges we face as “trainers’ is communicating that this is a totally interactive classroom. This helps. The only thing I see as a potential problem is the “high grades” line. If we want to reach all students, then we need a more inclusive phrase here. I realize that if you teach in a high-achieving, competitive, number-focused district, this is exactly what you need in your room. But, in many places that one tiny line, so close to the beginning of the list, will turn off a huge chunk of students. What the rest of us need is a phrase that invites, welcomes and still leaves no room for negotiation. This is how this classroom works. (oh…and at the end, by the way, this is also how you acquire language and get good grades) Does that make sense?

      with love,
      Laurie

        1. What a great call Laurie. You are so right. I don’t want to push away those who “live” in their low grades.

          And yet, as we know, they are often the real stars (they just don’t do homework). My best student this year was moved to another school due to absences and F’s in every single class, but she was one of the top language students I have ever seen.

          But there are simply so many kids – just about all of them – to whom school means grades. Could it be that, once the kids who need A’s to be happy see that the high grades are going to the unexpected kids, then they will realize that they are not going to be able to earn them the old way (memorization, lack of civil interaction with their instructor), maybe it’ll be o.k.?

          That last sentence didn’t make sense. Need input on this one, certainly. I would like to have this point you raised resolved soon, so please if anyone has any ideas on how to address what Laurie said please do so.

          But this whole idea of “tying learning targets and assessments to habits of learning” – Annemarie’s words – is going to define and illustrate and defend and define and illustrate and defend again all my work in my classroom and this poster is going to be about five feet tall and lasered at every few minutes. I don’t care if I sacrifice fifteen minutes a day to discuss this metacognitive piece. They will be trained!

          1. I am also uncomfortable with connecting acquisition to grades. Sometimes, they intersect; neither is causal of the other or (in my opinion) should be.

            There appear to be behaviors that encourage the possibility of acquisition. I think kids should be trained to understand what those are. Acquisition does not happen in a straight line or at a constant speed. It varies widely among individuals in ways that are quite unpredictable AND predictable.

            There are behaviors that appear to connect to good grades. Kids should be trained to know what those are and exercise them if they are interested in doing so.

            Sometimes, these two behavior areas intersect–but I think it would be a mistake to believe that we KNOW exactly how that works. I still think there are 4%ers that are acing daily quizzes, not necessarily because they are demonstrating developing acquisition, but because they have excellent short-term memories and higher executive-functioning skills which translate into high quiz grades.

            They also may be demonstrating acquisition. (How do we know?) I think it’s hard to know except over the long term and in ways that are difficult to discretely assess. (I notice I am speaking about “where I went” rarely even thinking about what verb to use or what ending it should have. OR I notice that I am doing this without EVER thinking about those things. OR I notice I can only speak about where I went while thinking about how to say it.) A whole lot of metacognition.

            To Laurie’s and Ben’s point: an easy way might be to say (only if you want to include the connection at all): Those who “do well” in this class report that they …

            “Do well” could be acquisition OR grades.

            My mental wanderings about this subject are difficult for me to articulate.

          2. Gosh that is well written.

            Now, should I just take out “get high grades” and put in “do well”? I don’t know. It’s kind of the same. You have your high achievers who would relate more to the former, and your low achievers (in other classes) who wouldn’t care either way.

          3. I like the idea of taking out the “high grade” emphasis. I am no dummy. I know kids view school as a place where they go to “get good grades” and/or suffer greatly, or both. We are in a huge transition. We show in our own classrooms that learning (meaning being open and available…not necessarily talking about conscious “learning.”) and sharing is joyful.

            “Do well” is vague enough that it could mean “get high grades” and it could also mean “do well” in terms of practicing the skills, especially the interpersonal skills required for acquisition to take place. Or it could mean something even broader. It might even trigger a discussion, since there will be kids who want “do well” to be spelled out. They will ask “what do you mean by “do well?” We can take the opportunity to approach this as a class. Just one idea.

          4. 90% convinced. Any last ideas before we change it to “do well”?

            Any other changes or edits needed in that document, which I am going to refer to as Rules 2012 and use with no small degree of intenstiy, as this work may be the first time these kids have ever been like this in a classroom.

            Say it ain’t so, Joe!

      1. because?

        I know the actfl likes this–contrast and compare, etc. This behavior is certainly a marker of conscious learning, but I don’t see the connection to acquisition.

        1. “Profe, I noticed you wrote ‘la’ mano but it ends in ‘o’. why?” There’s no instruction happening that has told this kid it needs or should be ‘el’ but it’s a pattern they’ve acquired and an anomaly they’ve picked up on. They almost can’t help themselves from asking the question out loud because it hurts their ears to hear it or their eyes to see it. Even though they’ve heard me say ‘la mano’ 200 times, THIS TIME they noticed it. Often this is an indicator of acquisition.

          What do we do when a kid raises their hand and wants more information about something they’ve noticed? We give them the information they’re seeking. In my experience, this often happens when a kid is so comfortable with the language their brain can focus in on other things. On details that others don’t see or hear yet.

          The brain is a natural pattern-seeking device, according to Jensen and others. If they are seeing patterns in language, like my Hmong student who said, “you use the boy sound when there are boys and girls”, that’s certainly, in my view, a sign of increased acquisition.

          This would be a marker of conscious learning if it were being encouraged or, as in most traditional classes, if the kids were being outright trained to seek out these patterns in spite of the meaning of the words. But, when they occur naturally, individually, spontaneously my experience indicates that this occurs in those kids who have acquired material to a point where their brain is able to focus on other details of the language.

      2. The Hmong girl’s insight came from the unconscious mind which is where you had the kids at that point. So it might be impossible to notice such patterns in a conscious way. It surfaced. She didn’t figure anything out. Like you say, her mind was ready in that moment to allow that thought to happen.

        What I am trying to say is that she didn’t try to have that thought. It (language learning) has nothing to do with figuring things out consciously and everything to do with turning that process over to the rightful part of the brain that is primordially wired for it, the unconscious mind.

        So, in the same way that thoughts just flow up into our conscious mind when we awaken from sleep, so also in this situation as her mind was in the unconscious acquisition mode that we call comprehensible input, where the mind is focused in an unconscious way on the message and not the words, that thought just surfaced. It was a gift from the deeper mind, an unopened letter, as Jung called dreams, and she chose to open the letter and read it which led to her question for you.

        Therefore, to encourage conscious critical thinking up at the higher end of the taxonomy during a CI class can’t really work in the teaching of languages, in my opinion. We can’t really ask a kid to look for patterns (a conscious analytical process) and then at the same time let the flow of CI (an unconscious natural process) do its thing. Their mind can only be in one mode – conscious or unconscious –at one time. The reflection piece as per “Rules 2012″ should therefore come later, at the end of class, in my opinion.

        The affective filter also plays a part in this discussion. By building trust in various ways outside and inside the classroom, by encouraging at every turn, by grabbing on to the littlest of successes, by assessing what they can do and not what they can’t do, their filters are lowered and when that happens the unconscious mind can power up because it isn’t required for guard duty.

        Most of us keep moving around between languages, dunking the minds underwater for five minutes for some real CI, the real thing, and then using English to a fault for a few minutes and back and forth like that so that the mind can’t figure out what it is supposed to do. This is not Krashen. This is TPRS as most people practice it, and is a reason, a principle reason, for the failure of TPRS in at least 99 out of 100 classrooms.

        We don’t really do comprehensible input. We don’t trust. We always have to explain. If you don’t believe it, take a video of yourself. Like that fish thing I have on YouTube:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H47hWgbAN6Q

        looks like it is pretty compact CI but in reality ten minutes of pure codeswitching madness has been edited out, revealing a gassy ass class, like this comment.

        1. wow. Herein lies an interesting debate.
          First, let’s be clear. I’m talking about realizations and epiphanies that occur in beginning level students, specifically within my own experience as a middle school teacher.

          My Hmong girl was not involved in CI at the time. Her observation came at a time when she was reflecting on language- hearing ‘interlanguage’ in her head and that realization happened.

          It’s my assertion that when kids have heard enough and read enough – that is to say after hundreds of reps of a particular word, structure, etc- their brain, the more cognitively advanced brain, which is different than the baby’s brain in many capacities, will seek out patterns. That is its job. If we are to believe and respect Jensen’s research, then we have to allow for an honor when kids see patterns emerging. To not do so would be to disavow oneself of the brain research we, ourselves, rely on to justify the method.

          “The brain seeks patterns. When we tell stories in (for example) the third person past tense, students catch on to the pattern of how to form past tense. We don’t have to spend time explaining and doing worksheets on the past. The brain seeks patterns and figures it out! When we change perspective, they seek the pattern.” Susie Gross

          I am not advocating that we actively encourage students to seek out these patterns. I’m advocating for awareness of the fact that when they begin to notice patterns it is a sign they are beginning to acquire the patterns inherent in the language, without direct, conscious instruction. It is a sign of “learning” in this environment. it is a sensation of acquisition, to use, I think, Jody’s term, that can occur. Or, perhaps more appropriately stated it is a result of acquisition, in which case you are both correct in that it should not be in the list of “what does learning look like in this class”. That it sometimes creeps into the conscious mind is not a terrible thing. It’s not something I would encourage, but it’s not something we can avoid either, as these kids’ minds are seeking to make sense of their world. It’s unavoidable and I would encourage kids who make those connections because I believe that such realizations, which occur naturally and are highly personalized to the individual, can aid and foment, if only a little bit, in further acquisition. I can imagine the unconscious brain involved in a state of executive functioning saying to itself, “I can ignore the details of that message and focus on the details of this other message, the meaning of which I comprehend, but the details of which I don’t yet fully comprehend.

          1. It’s so complex. There is this strange interplay of unconscious and conscious forces which Jung calls the psyche in an almost infinitely complex process that we call language acquisition, about which grammar teachers haven’t the slightest idea. Susie’s quote gets to the heart of it. Yes, the mind seeks patterns. Ergo – all we have to do is stay in the language. Yet we don’t. Oh well. That’s another topic.

  19. Yes, you have my OK to put it under your own copyright, as long as you split all the millions with Jody, Grant and me! 😉

    Seriously, though, I think a number of us can feel the dike beginning to break. The tipping point is about here. The quantum shift to CI is happening and when it does, the big publishers will jump on board and will attempt to claim it all. You are wise to be thinking in these terms, Ben.

  20. Krashen (a totally misunderstood individual like many champions and activists and no I won’t apologize for mentioning him here all the time so get over it – he’s right) commented on those teacher rules (about the same as above) on my classroom wall. He said that when a child sees that a teacher is willing to hold himself to a set of posted rules also that that builds a sense of trust and fairness, so important to children, which can only bring more comprehension to the classroom process. The French verb to get along is s’entendre avec, to hear each other, as in “Je m’entends bien avec eux/I get along (hear myself) well with them.” Why try to teach a class in which only fake hearing is going on?

    It’s been a big weekend here! We got a novel category started, we found a new CI project to take it all to the next level in RT, and we got what I consider a major breakthrough in my own teaching, the importance to give planning time to tying learning targets and assessments to habits of learning.

    1. “when a child sees that a teacher is willing to hold himself to a set of posted rules also that that builds a sense of trust and fairness” – Case in point today in one of my classes. I was out today for professional development so I had a sub. I had the students fill out a “Teacher’s Report Card” in which they do NOT write their names (it’s anonymous) and it consist of questions like:
      -the best things about this class are:
      -what I have disliked or felt uncomfortable about
      -overall, the teacher is:
      -overall, the class is:
      etc….

      I probably won’t hand something out like this ever again as I have a tendency to take things too personally but it did give me a much needed eye opening when it comes to enforcing and following the rules I set forth. Unfortunately, and I hate admitting this, I have a tendency to get off topic and speak more English than what I should. A student wrote down that I do not back up my rules and I don’t follow my rules because I get off topic and allow too much English from myself and from other students.

      So now, I need to figure out what to do on Monday. Do I address some of the concerns students wrote about, apologize for not enforcing and following my own rules and begin enforcing and following the rules? Or do I shrug off everything that was said and just start doing what I’m supposed to be doing?

      1. Chris, this has happened to me and I suppose to most of us. It happened to me the first year I was trying to use Ben’s materials without reliance on the text book. Your brain is saturated. You’re excited about the joy you see in the kids faces and the evidence of real acquisition you see in your classes. There’s so much to focus on it becomes difficult, if not impossible to focus on it all at the same time.
        Chalk this up to experience. A good one. Learn from it. Take Ben’s 2012 Rules Teacher Checklist in on Monday and put it up. Own up to the English you speak, briefly explain why it’s a bad thing for you to do, promise to do better, assign someone who can make an annoying noise to sound off when you start speaking English that is not a comprehension check and then double down. Challenge yourself to rise to the occasion.

        Then, at the end of class, THANK them for helping you realize that you’re English invites their Enlgish.

        I feel I can say this to you here and now because I have to do the same damn thing on Monday. 🙂

        1. We all do. All the time. Because they aren’t stupid. Chris that is the perfect answer from Grant. There is just enough mea culpa in there, not too much (you just mention how following rules is not easy for the teacher either). What you really want, as I stressed in TPRS in a Year!, is the feeling that we are all in this together trying to communicate in the TL. It’s hard for them and it’s hard for us. Then you try again. That’s what Mondays are for. They are wonderful days of the week, because they teach us those invisible cell level lessons of forebearance. Main thing? Every time you get excited about how cool something is, think about how they probably have no idea what you are talking about. We can’t jump around between languages. We can’t reference 17th century comic theatre with kids whose main cultural background is Barney. We just stay in the TL and then, with five or ten left in class, jump on the Metacog Railway at the end of class for a trip up Taxonomy Mountain to end class. That’s when we can metacognisize and speak all the English we didn’t speak earlier. Happy Hour, as it were.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

$10

~PER MONTH

Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben