A Blow To His Confidence 15

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5 thoughts on “A Blow To His Confidence 15”

  1. Unrelated comment but want to make it anyway. I just walked out of my fourth year class, where a kid after class said to me that I am the only of their four teachers who ever spoke to them in French.
    I had just done a backward design set up class for Friday’s song “L’Amoureuse” by Carla Bruni, and I shared with this student, “Don’t think you’re not learning grammar!” And then I explained to her in clear terms how we had done a lot of grammar in the class just then. Below are two examples that I told her about:
    (Remember my goal was to get at least forty, preferably seventy or eighty, circled repetitions on each of about twenty target structures in the song that I have identified as new to them so that when they hear the song on Friday it sounds like English to them).
    My first targeted L2 in the song was the chorus:
    Et je chante pour toi la seule de toutes les choses
    Qui vaillent d’être là, qui vaillent d’être là./
    And I am singing for you the only thing, among everything,
    That is worth being here, that is worth being here.
    Now all of that was obviously way too complex to establish meaning for, or circle, all at once. So I had to break down, pull out, the structures in palatable chunks that made sense and were shorter and, as it were, manipulable, digestable, in terms of sound.
    So the first thing that I pulled was:
    Je chante pour toi…/
    I sing for you…
    I circled this 76 times according to the very efficient student who agreed to count how many repetitions I got on each targeted structure.
    I knew that they were familiar with I sing, but less so with for you, which involves emphatic pronouns, which I know they had only seen in books and on worksheets. I could just tell that the sound “pour toi” was a little awkward for them even though they were level4 students.
    So I did lots of circling around the various forms of the disjunctive pronouns, questions involving I sing for you, I sing for you (formal vous), I sing for him, I sing for them, for her, etc. It was a clinic in the sound of disjunctive pronouns. Mega grammar.
    Next, I did the same – 30 minutes worth – of circling around la seule de toutes les choses…/the only thing of all the things… This was a bit more difficult but I really wanted to set up the subjunctive to follow, and I had fun getting reps using sentences like:
    Class, is this the only one of all the markers in French class? Are these the only ones of all the markers in East High School? Is money the only thing of all the things that count? Is intelligence the only thing of all the things that count? What is the only thing of all the things that count? etc. On that one, I ended up using a lot of c’est, ce sont, ce feutre vs. ces feutres, etc. tous les feutres, toutes les choses, so I was teaching the difference between c’est and ce sont, ce and ces as demonstrative adjectives, and tous vs. toutes as adjectives as well.
    By saying all that grammar out loud in the context of speech that made sense to my students, I was teaching grammar, pure and simple. What I was doing was flying the airplane instead of drawing a plane on a piece of paper and pretending to fly it and hope nobody called me on it. I did not specifically have the students parrot nonsense, things like mon ma mes ton ta tes son sa ses votre votre vos etc. – such reps do no good, none at all.
    So I was able to convince this bright student that not only was she learning French by hearing it spoken in class, she was also learning a lot of grammar! She seemed very happy when she left the room. I was happy too. Because never would I have believed, earlier in my career before I met Susan Gross, that I could teach French grammar without using English. I can’t wait until class on Friday, when they will have gotten fifty or so reps on all the words of the song.

  2. I should add to the above by saying that all of those reps/grammar lessons were housed in some kind of interesting CI. One time on this blog I blastedMiriam Met for going around in a workshop saying “shoes” without making herself clear. I just heard shoes a bunch of times in the middle of a bunch of non comprehensible input. So I don’t want to send the message that I just started repeating the above structures from the song. I created PQA and did different things relating to us as a class, as people. For example, I sing for the kids a lot, because I am an incredibly gifted singer, and so the “Je chante pour toi” sing was easy to relate in an interesting way to my class as we went around on the PQA on that idea.

  3. First time in four years? Wow. Today I heard a student being tutored in “another” language. Question (in English) What is today? Students answers in TL. Good, what is tomorrow? Student answers in TL. Good. Drum roll…If today is…and tomorrow is … what is the day after tomorrow? Student answers in TL. Good. The quiz is tomorrow, study blah, blah. The only TL spoken was the one word answers of the student. I am so glad we are working toward a better way. I may not have come close to mastering TPRS, but I know my guys hear more comprehensible language and yours do too.

  4. The term “never heard the language before this year” by that fourth year student was surely not perfectly accurate. I am sure that they heard French over those three years at least ten per cent of the time.

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