A Few Reminders

Some points about how people acquire languages:

From Dr. Beniko Mason:

“The best way to improve in a foreign language is to do a great deal of comprehensible, interesting reading. The case for self-selected reading for pleasure is overwhelming.”

From Dr. Stephen Krashen:

“Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill.”

“Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.”

“Language acquisition comes from input, not output, from comprehension, not production.”

“There is massive evidence that self-selected reading, or reading what you want to read, is responsible for most of our literacy development. Readers have better reading ability, know more vocabulary, write better, spell better, and have better control of complex grammatical constructions. In fact, it is impossible to develop high levels of literacy without being a dedicated reader, and dedicated readers rarely have serious problems in reading and writing.”

“The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production.”



8 thoughts on “A Few Reminders”

  1. Yes. Now, on FB I mentioned that I limit myself to 3 new expressions or chunks. I do this for repetitions but also for working memory. In my first year, I have allowed for 4 or 5 chunks. However, in a second year class I have reached a plateau of not including ANY new terms for two days!

    This is all unintentional mainly but I would still like to stay in bounds. Any impetus to limit ourselves to three new terms?

    1. Limiting yourself to 3 new expressions or chunks is very interesting. I think there there are some new vocabulary that gets thrown out in the conversation that we don’t need to worry about getting repetitions on while other vocabulary we do. I suppose the balance lies in feeling how much you can narrate given the language already introduced in class along with the new, emerging structures. If our compelling narration skills are running dry then we go fish for another emerging structure. That’s when we ask questions like, “What problem does ____ have?”

      Would this be your take on it too, Steven?

      1. Sean said:

        …if our compelling narration skills are running dry then we go fish for another emerging structure….

        I have thought that for years but lately (see those four posts I put up here today) I see myself not wanting to go fishing so much (too draining, too much responsibility on me) as to allow the timbre and tenor of the class’s energy to splash the water so much that the fish just jump out of the water. This is what allowing the story to create itself with no targets does for me. I think that image makes sense….

      2. Sean, I have gone fishing for my 1st year students. They are on it 98% listening even during a block class. I attribute this to my demeanor as a teacher. Most of my students are naturally uptight and may have a hard time relaxing and being kids again. However, I find myself fishing for another target or doing the “A secret” trick. I guess I have to dive deeper by asking them “what did ____ do?” “Did someone arrive?” “What happened?” More open questions to open up the possibilities.

  2. Thanks, Ben, I opened up the blog to find a few Krashen quotes for my TCI 101 presentation on Thursday, and voilà! Exactly what I needed, and I didn’t have to dig for it. So thank you.

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