A Blow To His Confidence 7

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17 thoughts on “A Blow To His Confidence 7”

  1. Ah, excellent! The plot thickens. Some new obstacles, a setback perhaps, new characters, hope. Now what?!? Can’t wait. Real teaching, real life, real drama.

  2. Incomprehensible French is hardly a worthy communicative goal. In the 10th grade, a sentence such as “je souhaite que les frites tombent du ciel” should not be considered an accomplishment. My most struggling student, a 10th-grader with severe learning disabilities who can nonetheless participate in our frequent conversations with native speakers of French, is capable of more than that! Not to mention that the very idea of fries falling from the sky makes my stomach churn… what is this, “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?” Although this is clearly fiction, I would have less difficulty suspending my disbelief for the rest of the story installments if there were more realism… in particular, the narrative voice is extremely inconsistent. Are we to believe that the narrator is a student? A researcher? A teacher? The platitudes lead me to believe that this “K” narrator is not actually fleshed out in the writer’s mind. Have you considered a writer’s workshop? A creative writing course? This parable has quite a way to go… but keep writing! Fiction is not easy.

  3. Dear Anonymous,
    I would love to hear more about two (and a half) things:
    a) What techniques are you using to help your learning-disabled students to achieve?
    b) Where are you finding native speakers of French and how are you incorporating them on a regular basis in your class with your students?
    We could all certainly benefit from your expertise.
    with love,
    Laurie

  4. Anonymous, I hope that Duke doesn’t read your comment. He is all about kids learning from each other. That is what his twexting is all about. The way I understand this, the kid said that about the fries at a French table with his peers at lunch. He was trying to speak French. Who in the hell are you, anyway?

  5. To Anonymous (Let’s be clear about this: I don’t know who you are, so you can’t be “dear” to me):
    You wrote: In the 10th grade, a sentence such as “je souhaite que les frites tombent du ciel” should not be considered an accomplishment. My most struggling student, a 10th-grader with severe learning disabilities who can nonetheless participate in our frequent conversations with native speakers of French, is capable of more than that!
    These two sentences alone raise a number of questions and deserve a response.
    1. Where do you teach? Is French part of the larger social milieu? [Your comment about regular conversations with native speakers implies that]
    2. Are these beginning or advanced students? When did they begin learning French? [If the learning began in Kindergarten or Elementary School, then the sentence would not be much of an accomplishment in 10th grade; if this is a second-year student, then according to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and the Language Continuum, he is still in the novice stage, and the spontaneous creation of such a sentence IS an accomplishment.]
    3. Why do you find it necessary to denigrate the out-of-class efforts of a student to speak a foreign language? Are you really that insecure? [Please note the setting: at lunch, outside, among peers.] Do your students spontaneously discuss in French the works of Camus, Rabelais, Montaigne, Voltaire and others during their out-of-class time? Perhaps they hold a salon during their lunch period? Do they walk up to you outside of class and carry on conversations with you? [One of the Standards is “communities”, i.e. using the language outside the school setting. Last year I bumped into a beginning student – perhaps three months of exposure to the language = about 60 hours – at a store; he proceeded to greet me and introduce his friend to me and begin telling me about what they were doing, all in the target language. Are your students this adventurous with the language?]
    4. Why do you equate learning disabilities with stupidity? [This “learning-disabled” student managed to acquire his first language, didn’t he? Why is it such a big thing to you that he is able to acquire a second language?]
    5. Since your methods are so efficacious, what are they? The regular participants on this blog are committed to best practices. If you can show us that your method or methods are superior to TPRS, we will adopt them.
    6. Why do choose to ignore the context of the sentence in order to make your point? [Students who, to this point, have been lost in a sea of grammar and linguistic instruction and Incomprehensible Input; the instruction has been neither particularly engaging nor comprehensible to the majority of them. The point is not that the student produced this single sentence but that he became engaged in the language.]
    Not to mention that the very idea of fries falling from the sky makes my stomach churn…
    So what? The statement was not made for your benefit. What makes you the arbiter of what is and is not acceptable for students to say to one another on their own time in their own place? If you don’t want your students to use their imaginations and creativity in your classroom, that is – for better or worse – your decision. You condescension here is palpable and entirely misplaced.
    Although this is clearly fiction, I would have less difficulty suspending my disbelief for the rest of the story installments if there were more realism… in particular, the narrative voice is extremely inconsistent. . . . This parable has quite a way to go… but keep writing! Fiction is not easy.
    And now having established – at least in your own mind – your superiority, you seek to flaunt your erudition through a meretricious tour de force of textual analysis, hoping/expecting that we will accede to the alleged inconcinnity of the narrative and be appropriately subdued and overawed by the perspicacity of your perception. You are asking me to accept your ability to read between the lines when you have yet to convince me of your ability to read the lines. (See comment 6. above.)
    Furthermore, unlike Pam, who introduced herself and began a collegial dialogue, you
    1. don’t even have the temerity to indicate who you are
    2. give us no indication of your own credentials or experience to consider your comments as anything more than the rant of a malcontent who wishes to sow discord
    3. step in with overweening hubris to make pronouncements that obviously are intended to denigrate and belittle.
    Ergo, as Ben wrote, just who do you think you are? ::digitus impudens::

  6. P.S. If these are the attitudes you display toward your students, they have my deepest sympathy. You may be an efficient “instructional services provider”, but you are not a teacher.

  7. Had to go do laundry. Now I’m back and have to add . . .
    Incomprehensible French is hardly a worthy communicative goal.
    Can we say “duh”, boys and girls? Your introduction of this extraneous comment indicates either that you haven’t understood the posts or that you are attempting to use an old propaganda technique of identification so that we will be more amenable to accepting the totality of your message. This blog is all about how to engage students with comprehensible input. Or are you implying that the sentence “je souhaite que les frites tombent du ciel” is incomprehensible? You certainly understood it. You simply didn’t like it. There is a difference.
    BTW, there are surprisingly few people in this world who actually care about the placidity of your internal organs. Besides, you can always take an antacid for that.

  8. I think this was a cute role play! What boy hasn’t said really ‘stupid’ stuff trying to impress a girl?? It shows creativity, using what French he knows, plus a desire to make an impression on a girl. How cool is that? It would have made one heck of an impression on me if I were a 10th grader!

  9. Incomprehensible French. Hey, Anon, I totally agree with you.
    But before we can run like a gazelle with any language, we creep, we crawl, we toddle and then walk, we jog and along the way, we fall a lot. Every one eventually can walk and run and enjoy it, but only some are Olympians and World champs.
    My kids, at 11 and 14 are fluent in English they speak like National Champions. Someday on their journey, they will be Olympic Champs, even though they’ve said some pretty absurd things a long the way. But they have had 60,000-75,000 hours of English vs the 700 hours that a HS senior has in L2.
    As a L2 teacher, I keep this in mind while I eat my meatballs with a grin.

  10. Dear Anonymous,
    Please understand that the student who said that sentence about French fries has had NO experience with French before this year. Also understand that his teacher is NOT a TPRS teacher, he has spoken very few sentences before this one. His vocabulary base is not very big. This statement was incomprehensible to you because I did not put the entire story up, it’s only one sentence and it’s out of context. I chose not to put up the entire story because the goal of my e-mail was not to suggest a story. I chose that particular sentence because it was a fairly difficult sentence for a person who has had NO French before and who has parents that can not read or write in English, not because of a second language but because they are illiterate , and who if he graduates will be the first in his family to graduate high school. Since our teacher is not a TPRS teacher, we are not doing this in a classroom , we are doing it at a table in a lunch room. This being said, many story ideas come from food. However, not all of these stories are stupid. We did a story last week on Patrick Henry’s speech “Give me liberty or Give me Death” Again, our teacher is not a TPRS teacher and so the students are doing these stories voluntarily. So, if a story about French fries falling from the sky will make them happy and they learn French while doing it, I really don’t care about realism. The narrators are different for each story- It would probably make more sense to you if I put the whole story in the e-mail, but I didn’t. I am trying to make the stories more realistic but this is very hard to do considering that I am in 9th grade with only ONE year of French. While there are upperclassmen that participate in stories , I have the highest vocabulary level- which isn’t all that high . As a side point, being in 9th grade I have witnessed many break ups and hook ups between my classmates in the hallway, and believe me, “I wish French fries would fall from the sky” is NOT the most stupid thing I have heard a boy say to a girl. Perhaps I will start scripting our lunch stories ahead of time so that they are more realistic.
    Please do not make assumptions, they lead to wrong ideas.

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