A Little Silly

I was admiring the crisp New England weather last month when visiting Connecticut and Keri Biron told me that the winters could be pretty bone-chilling. So I do appreciate the nice 60 degrees with sun here in Denver today. While I was watering my perennials, staring at the ground, my mind does what it inevitably does whenever I have a moment to reflect – it turned my attention to CI. And I had a thought that I’d like to share that reflects all of the zillions of other thoughts justifying CI that we’ve had here over the past ten years. It is a thought about CI, however, that has never occurred to me: the fact is that language is in fact a spoken thing and that its written representation is in fact no more that that – an expression of it but not what it is – sound. The sound came first. It’s like a drawing of a chipmunk is not the real thing. So when traditional teachers teach grammar, citing the verbiage about writing in ACTFL to justify what they are doing, they are, in a way, trying to find truth in illusion, and thus are really off base, and not a little silly, and I’m going to sprinkle some stupid in there to describe their mentality, since they claim to be professionals in a professional field, but are really in my mind just a bunch of guys with axes in a field in the 14th century claiming to be surgeons. They aren’t. So, if you ever have doubts about trying to teach using non-targeted comprehensible input, just don’t. You’re on the right track, and certainly you’re on the 21st century track. Alors, ayons un peu de courage!



5 thoughts on “A Little Silly”

  1. I like this post very much. Yes, language is sound first of all and writing came milleniums (hundred of thousands of years?) later. To me in my quiet moments language is music; I fell in love with English (my L2) bc of ther sound of it, certainly not bc of my grades which were disasterous at one time – but I still loved the sound of English even then. And thank god my English teacher in the upper classes was unable to undo that.
    Luckily at my Waldorfschool I have built up a good reputation for my teaching proficiency so that most of the parents listen to what I have to say about language aquisition and research.

    Sth else: In my experience kids who struggle with spelling or even have a spelling disorder can be really good at the spoken language.

    1. Somebody should do some research into the great authors, the true masters of syntax and imagery. I would bet that some of them sucked at spelling when they were young. And what would it matter if Proust could spell or not when he was 7 years old? I don’t see the connection between language mastery and spelling. Good that you are there standing up for this concept Udo. There are teachers out there inflicting damage on kid’s belief that they can become great writers bc they can’t spell.

  2. Yes, I have had dyslexic students who got spectacular grades once they realized that it was all about the meaning in the sounds. I had a 13 year old who had been told when she was 11 not to take English because she was dyslexic and Spanish would be easier for her. Told by the school administration. Two years later, when she was required to take a second FL, there was no choice, she had to take English, and she found herself in the same class with the students who had started two years earlier. I tutored her, she loved Harry Potter, she started watching the films in English and Bingo! A year later she’s getting top marks, better than those who had had 4 years of “normal” lessons.

    1. Great to hear!!!
      I just don’t get it why so many language teachers don’t seem to be interested in the research. We are supposed to be professionals then we should act like one.

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