A Rare and Unique Opportunity

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84 thoughts on “A Rare and Unique Opportunity”

  1. Here’s to spying:
    The Helena Curtain online forum (Ñandu) has been unusually quiet these past weeks.
    No one is asking or posting comments lately !! And NECTFL was cancelled for 2015.

    Ben, it’s not easy to post a comment on ACTFL after such brilliant thinkers.

  2. Catharina I agree that the Bear and the Jackal are unmatched and to put them into conversation with some of those ACTFL teachers is…well….it’s just unfair. And that is exactly why we need to press our opportunity and post anyway. The fact is that if their names are mixed in with a tremendous amount of other names, it brings so much more credence to what they say. Otherwise, without our support, it’s just a couple of TPRS crackpots trying to argue points that most people don’t even understand. When that happens our guys’ points cannot be heard properly, because they are “TPRS” points. We have to keep that from happening with a chorus of support. ACTFL needs this and the only way what these two animals are saying gets through is with all the new posts over the next weeks from the rest of us. I think that Curtain knows it’s time for her views to be set aside. She had a good run, got worshipped a lot, made a lot of enemies, including Carol Gaab. No blame. I think she really believed what she sold. It’s that story of Dale Crum and I sitting in the front row and seeing her eyes flicker when asked about CI in front of 300 people. But it’s a new day now. But, back to that other point, how cool would it be to see 294 new comments there in the next four hours? That’s what I’m talking about. It would put some heads on permanent spin.

    1. Thanks, Ben, for the continual support! These ACTFL threads have sucked away many hours of my life in recent weeks. And it’s so frustrating to write a post linking research, quoting researchers, forming a logical argument, to then see that the next fool says they agree so much with what some other fool wrote, which I had just literally destroyed into little bits. It’s so nice to see when others have responded to the thread, because otherwise, I’m thinking about what I will write. I need more sleep 😉

        1. Dude that’s the way I feel. But all you have to do is read one of the comments and you will all of a sudden think of something. Like Thomas Soth wrote the passage below on the authentic readings thread:

          …authentic resources are the way to go to motivate students and expose them to the voices and viewpoints from the Spanish speaking world. Using only scripted texts and slow speech rate audio sources does not prepare students when they are confronted with Speakers and products outside the classroom. In level one and two I use a lot of commercials, memes and graphic representations and prepare scaffolding questions to help out with comprehension. The students find actual products so much more engaging than the textbook videos or videos produced for low level students. I use them to motivate students in the class to help with management and retention for learning and so students can be ready for using language outside of the class….

          Now on the surface this looks like it makes sense. But I know that Eric and David Sceggel and others have called these teachers out on such comments, observing that some of them, like above how this teacher claims to “prepare scaffolding questions” to help out with comprehension, are questionable. They claim to make their classes comprehensible. But they don’t. They lie to themselves and their kids. Their classes favor the few kids who can hang. Their instruction is neither slow enough, interesting enough (if it’s not about the kids then it’s not interesting), or clear enough to appeal to any but the brightest kids. It’s a pattern and they grossly misuse the term comprehensible input so that it doesn’t mean anything anymore. We can comment on stuff like that. Just read carefully and ask questions. It’s probably best if we ask questions. I wouldn’t say what I said above to this guy. Instead, I said this:

          Mr. Soth said:

          …the students find actual products so much more engaging than the textbook videos or videos produced for low level students….

          Could you expand on this? Specifically, what level students are you describing and how do you get them to engage in such authentic materials? I want to know what you are doing so I can do it!

          Thank you!

          If you look more closely at that sentence in italics by Mr. Soth you can see that not once does it occur to him to just talk to his students (credit: Susan Gross) without the use of some kind of authentic resource like a commercial or the use of a textbook. And yet in the same paragraph he says that he uses “a lot of commercials, memes and graphic representations and prepare scaffolding questions to help out with comprehension.” This is a contradiction. You don’t get comprehension going in the way we know it as comprehensible input in that way. I only know because for 24 years I also tried to use commercials and textbooks with lower level students and it just didn’t work, because I didn’t know then about CI and how it actually works, and that in my view is the crux of our argument with ACTFL and why we should keep asking questions about what the term comprehensible input really means.

          Man I don’t care what we say. Just ask a few questions for clarification. Keep asking what “comprehensible” means to them. Call them out. Because Eric and Robert have sunk their hearts into this. They know what is at stake and they know that the pipeline of communication we have with them is about to close. There is too much at stake to not keep that dialogue alive as long as we can before that group becomes what it always has been, a place where people suggests topics and the numbers 0 or 1 appear in the number of comments category next to the newly suggested topic and life goes on and kids heads continue to strike the restraining devices holding them back from a decent language experience because they just don’t understand their teacher, because the term comprehensible input just doesn’t mean anything in most classrooms these days. It is a terms whose meaning has become falsified, in much the same way that in the history classroom down the hallway the teachers teach falsified history. And someone has to stop those teachers from using terms incorrectly. On behalf of the children. Tag. You’re it.

          1. I was happy to see Eckard Kuhn-osius post on the What is Comprehensible Input Really? thread. He is a member of the GermanTPRS Yahoo group and makes helpful posts. His comments about caretaker speech, etc. are where I was headed (but more slowly) with my question about simplified native-language texts on the other thread. When I get a chance, I will write a follow-up post to his comments and take my argument a bit further. I’ll cross-post to the authentic resources thread.

            In addition, I am reading one of the books referenced in the original thread (Content-Based Instruction) and am about ready to post there again, pointing out that this work does not address Eric’s question, either.

          2. I look forward to your comment on the book referenced. In the past month, no one has yet been able to do better than say: “Go read that book that costs $150.” That’s all Director Sandrock could do.

          3. Eckhard was one of the first to email me after the original thread, asking permission to repost the thread topic questions to the Listserv of the American Association of Teachers of German. I don’t know if he did so or not. Eckhard brought up numerous good points. I wonder how “comprehensible” he is to the ACTFL hardliners.

          4. I can check on AATG, which I am on, but rarely find the time to keep up with. Knowing Eckhard from that listserv, I am sure he did as he was one of the most consistent posters when I read it regularly.

          5. I don’t think he has posted it yet, but I will keep a lookout for it. Did he ask you recently?

          6. I posted today on the “Authentic Resources” thread and the “Comprehensible Input” thread. Here’s what I wrote on authentic resources:

            On the thread entitled “What is Comprehensible Input really?” (See here – http://community.actfl.org/communities/viewdiscussions/viewthread/?GroupId=439&MessageKey=b60434b5-105d-43b8-b6a2-f823831861f8&SuccessMsg=Thank+you+for+submitting+your+message.#bm16 ), Dr. Eckhard Kuhn-Osius made some comments that are, I believe, germane to the issue here and that answer in part my question. Here is the relevant passage from Dr. Kuhn-Osius’ post:

            We have really no evidence that “authentic texts” are really the optimal way of teaching a language (and the wide use of baby talk, graded readers, etc. for native speakers strongly suggest that first-language learners are not fed with “authentic texts”, but instead are given authentic communication which is adjusted to the emerging proficiency of a budding native speaker). “Authentic texts” for beginners are almost automatically the opposite of authentic communication since they usually do not directly speak to over-aged language learners from a different language. The goal is for students to engage with authentic texts either as participants or observers, but as far as I can see there is no real proof that the goal and the way to that goal need to be identical. If our students engage in real communication with native speakers, the natives will not speak ‘authentically’ but simplify their language to a point where they think our students will understand them (or they switch to English right away).

            Dr. Kuhn-Osius notes the lack of evidence for authentic texts as the optimal way of teaching a language and further adduces texts prepared for native speakers (baby talk, graded readers) as not being “authentic texts” as the term is commonly understood. Going further with this, I would like to pose the following series of questions:
            1. If, as has been shown (baby talk, graded readers in the first language classroom, children’s versions of classic literature including the Bible, comics and graphic novels of classic literature), native speakers adapt and simplify not only “authentic texts” but the language itself to meet the language learner’s needs and abilities, do these remain authentic texts? (Dr. Kuhn-Osius implies that they do not, at least as “authentic text” is normally defined.)
            2. If the College Board puts “Antigone”, “Oedipus”, “Faust”, “Crime and Punishment”, “The Stranger”, “Tartuffe”, and other translations of non-English originals on its AP English Literature Exam, what does that say about the nature of “authentic texts”?
            3. If schools teach courses in “The Bible as Literature” within English departments and must, perforce, give time to the tenets and strictures of Hebrew poetry in order to understand the text, what does that tell us about the nature of “authentic texts”?
            4. If, as has been shown (see number 1), we adapt authentic texts to the needs and abilities of native learners, why is it not acceptable* to do the same thing for non-native learners? Why must the authentic text remain “pure” simply because it will be presented to a non-native learner when we don’t do that to our native learners?
            5. If we write simplified texts and use adapted oral language for native learners (see Dr. Kuhn-Osius’s comment) to meet their needs and abilities, why is it unacceptable* to do the same for non-native learners?
            6. If the goal is ultimately for learners to read “authentic texts” independently, what makes the use of authentic texts in the process – especially in the early stages of acquisition – the optimal method for this?
            7. If the needs and abilities of non-native learners differ from those of native learners, why would we not write materials designed specifically to meet the emerging proficiencies of budding non-native speakers, just as we adapt “authentic texts” to the emerging proficiencies of budding native speakers?

            Perhaps, as Dr. Kuhn-Osius, Mr Herman, and Mr Coxon have suggested, the search for authenticity lies not in the specific text at hand but in the communicative act(s) arising from it. In that case, could a text specifically designed to meet the emerging proficiencies of budding non-native speakers actually be more “authentic”, as well as more interesting and comprehensible, than many (most?) texts written by native speakers for native speakers?

            *I base my assessment of its not being acceptable on the statement by ACTFL in the 21st Century Skills World Languages Map (p. 4) that the classroom of “Today” is characterized by “Use of … authentic resources”.

            I am looking forward to any answers to my questions that may be forthcoming.

          7. Robert, careful not to be too rational 😉
            I feel like we’ve OWNED this ACTFL listserv this month.
            No one is putting out any where near the quantity and quality of responses as those of the TCI teachers.
            That’s pretty cool. I hope ACTFL is taking notes.

          8. This is what I would like to say. Correct any way you wish or delete. It’s basically just rephrasing in a clunky way what you all have said much better.


            “I agree with all of you.

            You are clearly passionate and well informed.
            You understand the complexity of teaching a language that sounds foreign to the students. You are able to instinctively feel the right +1, the zone of proximal development. You can skim, scan, and backwards plan. You can find age and level appropriate authentic materials. Make them comprehensible and worthwhile to your class.

            You can do it. There is no question in my mind.

            How about all the other World Language teachers and Curriculum Directors? The thousands and thousands of teachers who don’t remember, understand or know of Krashen, Vigotsky or Bruner. The educators that I wish were carefully reading what has been discussed in these threads, and reflecting upon their own practice.

            Most students I’ve encountered as a teacher and as a parent are force fed with i+15 and too much English. They are moved year after year to a higher level of instruction without ever getting a solid foundation of useful language.
            Whether it is because of textbooks, too much emphasis on grammar, misuse of authentic resources, misunderstanding of what “comprehensible” feels and looks like, or a lack of sound SLA pedagogy, the results are most often deplorable.

            In the name of the students who, as I am writing, feel inadequate and incompetent as their dragging their feet to FL class, I am hoping with all my heart that the important conversations that have taken place these past weeks will make a change. It is an urgent matter.

            Catharina Greenberg

          9. Catharina, I think your post looks good. Just one change in the last paragraph:
            “… as they’re dragging their feet …”

          10. Thank you Robert. I don’t know that I will post it. It doesn’t have “weight”.
            My daughter had come home in tears after mocking remarks from her FL teacher. Or so she perceived it. I wrote for her, my 15 year old trooper.

            I am sorry for the sleepless nights, yet I appreciate every post (but my own…) on ACTFL, whether they’re short, long, detailed or based on anecdotes. It’s actually quite extraordinary what you all are doing on ACTFL. Extraordinary.

          11. Catharina I think, but am not certain, that it was Nathaniel who suggested that ACTFL put something into their philosophy statement about the mental health of children. It IS an urgent matter when i+15 is delivered to them and shame is the result. Teenagers already feel stupid enough in schools, where the smart kids deny them their own intellectual autonomy in most of their classes, and they don’t need for their WL instructor to add to that. This is especially true when in point of fact the human brain, though maybe not wired to learn physics in every case, is indeed wired to learn a language in every case. So post what you wrote. Just do it. No thinking involved. What you wrote is so true and from the heart. I especially resonate, and no surprise to you, with this:

            …in the name of the students who, as I am writing, feel inadequate and incompetent as they drag their feet to FL class, I am hoping with all my heart that the important conversations that have taken place these past weeks will make a change. It is an urgent matter….

            It makes me feel that I’m not crazy.

  3. So I just can’t imagine the time Robert and Eric are spending on this thing. They must know something. Don’t we all know on some level what a chance for dialogue we have here? As long as we don’t lose our mental balance because of it, we should get involved. My thinking, Leigh Anne, is that here is a group, Language Educators, numbering in the thousands, many of whom who are unknowingly providing snake oil input to their kids so that their kids are having a hard time and nobody in the world is challenging them. And, when challenged by us in this past month, many of them wrap themselves up in the “we all get to teach how we want” flag and turn back to their textbooks, as David Sceggel has made perfectly clear. I agree that we all should teach as we judge best, and that is what they are doing, but nobody is calling them on the results. They write their own tests that do NOT measure real acquisition and then interpret the results as they wish and when we step on their toes about what comprehension and acquisition really mean – to me, that is all I see Eric and Robert doing – they scream bloody murder. That is not the reaction of someone I want who is teaching my kids. I want someone to listen. So the whole thing freaks me out, if you can’t already tell, and it freaked me out even when I was doing it for that quarter century, because nobody yelled at me loud enough and helped me see clearly until Susan Gross did. And I think many of THEM know something is wrong. Look at the faces of their students in that tomb-like silence they have going on. I just want to see something change. So I’ll be looking for your name on there. Why does what we say have to be intelligent, anyway? Read some of their posts – some are based in ignorance and privilege and received ideas and a kind of haughtiness that just sucks. What we want them to see is that they must listen to us now, as Terry Waltz put so directly a week ago:

    …when a large group of teachers who do not teach thematically stand up and ask to be counted, the corresponding changes should be made out of professional courtesy and responsibility….

    1. It has been stated for way too long that method doesn’t matter. That’s also the statement in our district. A teacher can choose to teach the content in whichever way they see best. Well, that’s nice and all, but gets us nowhere. How can the methods be different and still be equally good?! What is the assumption there? That there are many ways to acquire a language? That every way to acquire a language is equally successful? I have a problem even with saying we all have to teach the same content, because there are curriculums that are closely tied to method. So you can’t give me a traditional curriculum and then say: “But you can teach it however you want.” I’ll never throw in that towel.

        1. I’m not sure where to put this comment. Maybe I’ll hold onto it. I know it would get some strong reactions. . .

          What ACTFL wants: that we teach to get kids to a proficiency level, not to teach to cover a certain content of vocabulary and grammar. In my opinion, the only curricular content should be a word frequency list and grammar is unsheltered and allowed to emerge. Accuracy follows more CI. Many people are saying that ACTFL allows for any method, so long as that person develops proficiency. And we aren’t gonna change that, because we don’t have a good (practical, valid, reliable) way to assess for proficiency.

          It is important what Robert and Eckhard are saying about goals. To me, acquisition reigns supreme, and I won’t do anything that won’t optimize that goal (except if it ever took away from the most important thing: student well-being. The 5C’s, thematic units, and authentic resources do not optimize acquisition. And as more people are noticing, these things do not fit with the 90%+ target language position statement. Impossible to teach with 90%+ comprehensible input AND teach another academic discipline, organize themes around the “bigger questions,” teach linguistics, cover culture and history of dozens of DIFFERENT countries that speak the target language, and do it with authentic resources, IF the goal is to maximize acquisition for as many students as possible.

      1. When we start talking about method, approach, strategy, etc., we quickly get into a quagmire of conflicting definitions and opinions with often little appeal to anything other than “it works for me in my classroom”. (I think we have seen what happens when we turn the tables and ask the traditionally dominant practitioners to provide research data for their practices. They certainly do not accept their own kinds of arguments as valid when used by someone who practices TPRS/TCI.)

        Nonetheless, I think it is helpful for us to explain how we understand certain concepts and ideas. I want to do this for the PLC and have you give me feedback on it; some of this has crystallized as a result of the ACTFL discussions, and that means that at least some good has come from them. Pardon the ramble, I’m using the blog to think out loud.

        In Haley and Austin’s book (Content-Based Instruction), they define an Approach as “a set of theoretical principles”. The term “set” implies coherence and not just an accumulation, so I see “Teaching with Comprehensible Input” as an approach. The set of theoretical principles includes the following
        1. The single most important element in the acquisition of a language, whether first or second, is “comprehensible input”, defined as “messages containing ideas, advice or information that are intelligible to learners and sufficiently engaging or compelling to pique learners’ interest so that they attend to meaning, thereby acquiring the target language essentially unconsciously.”
        2. Conscious attention to the rules of language (i.e. grammar) does not produce fluency in speech or writing, though it may aid in accuracy through the editing function of the brain.
        3. Output is not necessary for acquisition, although it may be useful to the learner for prompting further input; testing hypotheses about the target language; expressing ideas, advice, emotions, and information; gaining confidence in use of the language; promoting a sense of belonging to the “club” of speakers of that language; achieving desired ends; and other tasks and useful to the teacher for assessment of acquisition and checking of understanding.
        4. Since output is not necessary for acquisition, it should not be forced by the teacher but should proceed naturally from the learner’s desire to communicate and achieve certain goals possible only through the use of the target language.
        [I invite comments on other principles that belong in the set of “TCI”.]

        A method is a plan for implementing the approach. While one approach may give rise to more than one method, these methods will not differ radically from one another, and the set of possible methods arising from any set of principles will be limited (i.e., no set of principles will give rise to numerous methods). If Teaching with Comprehensible Input is an approach, TPRS is a method arising from it. The constituent parts of TPRS are
        1. Establish meaning for new target structures
        2. Provide oral/aural comprehensible input using the new target structures, any language required by the interests of the learners, and language already acquired (at least partially) by the learners, being mindful to provide sufficient repetition of language for processing.
        3. Provide written/visual comprehensible input using the same parameters

        Within this approach (TCI) and method (TPRS) there can be a great deal of variety and variation. Strategies include
        1. Story telling and Story asking
        2. Listening for comprehension
        3. Dictation (in a variety of formats)
        4. Reader’s Theatre
        5. Look and Discuss
        6. Read and Discuss
        7. Embedded Reading
        8. Movie Talk
        [Please add more]

        Distinct from but related to the method is the organizing principle for curriculum mapping. While there is some freedom in deciding on an organizing principle, and more than one principle may come into play over the term of a course of study, organizing principles need to align with the approach and method the teacher has chosen to follow. Some organizing principles that align with TCI and TPRS include
        1. Student interest (often determined through survey)
        2. Highest-frequency words
        3. Stories
        4. Films
        5. Thematic units (as broadly understood; not semantic sets)
        [anything else?]

        An example of incongruity between the organizing principle and the approach would be to claim to Teach with Comprehensible Input but organize the course according to a grammar syllabus.

        Many teachers and educators use the analogy of “choosing the right tool from the toolbox”. This is a useful analogy if we understand the limitations. Unfortunately most teachers use this analogy to mean that they feel free to borrow and use whatever practice or strategy looks inviting to them without regard for the method or approach to which it belongs. If we extend the analogy a bit, they are taking tools from a completely different toolbox. It is like taking tools from a plumber’s toolbox to do surgery. Could there be something useful to the surgeon in the plumber’s toolbox? Potentially (after all, surgeons sometimes use pen cases to do a tracheotomy in extreme situations), but isn’t it much better to use the tools in the surgeon’s toolbox to do the surgeon’s job? Borrowing practices and strategies from another method or approach is similar. Sure, there may be some ability to adapt them, but wouldn’t it be better to use the tools designed for the job? I fear that the “eclectic approach” generally results in a hodgepodge or jumble of quickly successive practices that lack cohesion.

  4. My recent post on the Authentic Resources thread:

    Adam, thank you so much for sharing Mr. Bailey’s blog with us. Lots of good stuff there! I read a bit of what he has to say, and it seems that he might argue for a classroom not necessarily based on AuthRes (as defined by most teachers), but rather for “whatever works: they’re acquiring the language if they’re tracking with what you and other students say in the TL.” (quoted from Bailey’s post “Whatever” Works: Non-Targeted CI Lesson 1, The Man Who Sells the Moon)

    I find this topic of AuthRes interesting, but I do not understand the reason why ACTFL says we must be using them in class. This takes a lot of time and energy, but the payback is minimal. A few minutes of a few kids maybe understanding enough of the resource to actually engage with it and therefore acquire something? I’m not saying we shouldn’t expose our students to AuthRes. But I think their importance in the FL classroom is way overstated. Unless we use Nation’s definition of “authentic” which I’m paraphrasing as “any communication that is meaningful and engaging to the student”. In that case, yes, yes, yes to AuthRes! But if it means what most of us assume, actual material created by and for native speakers, I’m not convinced it’s in all FL students’ best interests. Actually, I don’t see how it’s in the majority of FL students’ best interests, compared with comprehensible/translatable materials, authentic or not.

    “There’s convincing research and my anecdotal experience proving that AUTHENTIC texts have a lot more natural REDUNDANCY…” Adam, can you share this research? This seems to contradict what we’ve learned from vocabulary researcher Paul Nation on this topic as summarized by Mr. Herman.

    “…non linguistic cues such as spacing, photos, illustrations, captions that make the text more comprehensible.” But do these cues make the text comprehensible enough for our students?

    My own personal experience as an intermediate/advanced Spanish learner taught me that the text needs to be very comprehensible (95%+). While living in and traveling around Peru I had Vargas Llosa’s book Los Jefes (certainly an authentic resource, albeit too incomprehensible, about 80-90% comprehensible I’d say). What happened after trying to read Los Jefes? I gave up. It was not comprehensible enough to me, and so I lost interest.

    So, what does this say about our beginner students? Should we spend our time and energy searching for AuthRes that engage our students? Sure, if we want. Are my students acquiring more Spanish when I include them in the curriculum? Not necessarily. They are acquiring optimally when they understand the messages communicated with them, feel compelled to engage with these messages, and get these messages repeatedly.

    1. That is the 2nd time (the first being from Sandrock) that authentic resources have been called “redundant.” I don’t think they understand what “redundant” means. Just because you say it’s “redundant” doesn’t make it so.

      Today, I had a day of “authentic resources” with 7th and 8th graders. The school play this week is The Little Mermaid, so we worked the lyrics from “Kiss the Girl.” We also did some Adivina. http://www.fundacionlengua.com/es/adivina/sec/181/
      Both of those resources are written for native speaking kids.

      Then, we tried some Spanish Listening from the beginner level. http://www.spanishlistening.org/
      These are authentic interviews for native speakers, but not for young kids.

      The result? Tons of English. I don’t know how you ever make something comprehensible without knowing the words and there are just too many unfamiliar words. Authentic resources are NOT repetitive, which is a prerequisite for acquisition. Even if comprehensible, it must be repetitive. If I wanted to get the reps in, establish meaning for everything, then I’d have had to spend tons of instruction time on a tidbit of an authentic resource. I slowed it down, repeated, gestured, translated, etc. The effort to make it comprehensible is NOT worth it. The words in the authentic resource are also not chosen based on a sense of “usefulness” – doesn’t prioritize frequency as a graded reader does.

      This was a novel activity, but in terms of acquisition, much lower return.

      1. “The result? Tons of English.”

        This was a point I began making, but decided to not, in favor of working toward inclusion (versus exclusion of AuthRes). Though I agree 100%. It’s largely wasted time. I am waiting for the one fellow to respond to Ben’s request to share with him the comprehensible AuthRes’s that are compelling and engaging his students. I am guessing that either a large word bank is needed, or simplification (but then it’s not authentic right), or… tons of English!

        1. Actually, the man’s comments about authres being much more interesting to his students than TEXTBOOK content clicked with me. When you’ve got only 2 options: real stuff from the target language and cultures, or you’ve got a grammar-sequence, topically organized textbook, I’d bet on the authentic resources being more appealing any time. But when you add a third option: compelling, student-co-created and comprehensible language, doesn’t that almost always blow the others away for interest?

          1. Better than textbooks for SLA, if you use it as fodder for at least some CI. Otherwise, maybe the textbook is better for beginner kids, because it at least has some comprehensible passages. I don’t know how you’d get the repetition of CI with Authres. And I like Authres from time to time, especially popular song lyrics, but I don’t really even waste my time searching for that perfect one until Spanish 2 at earliest. If I do bring in an Authres, it is minimal (5%ish of total class time averaged out over the course of the semester, and distinguished from our main fluency time. This includes a couple videos, and maybe some searching on Wikipedia from time to time, and oh, new this year, a soccer match, because I’ve been using Robert’s Soccer League idea this year and it’s been going really well.)

            Authres, I did not know what the hell that meant the first couple times I read it. haha. Took me a few reps in context to get it.

          2. Great comment last night about authentic resources, Diane. I liked the plug for Look and Discuss. I’m torn between your presentation on that at the conference and another session I would like to attend.

            Once again, the online community misses the point of our objection. Like too many people they think that an “attack” on exclusive use of #authres is a call to get rid of all authentic texts. When posting we need to be certain that we don’t allow them to paint us into that corner. All of us use authentic resources, just not as the sole or even primary material for the course for reasons already outlined.

  5. I cut and pasted what Greg wrote. It is brilliantly expressed, especially the third paragraph:

    In his original post Eric Herman mentions the idea of a language class being “easy.” This entire discussion on Teaching with Comprehensible Input hinges on this idea in my view. To offer another response to Eric’s original question, Comprehensible Input equals “easy” language learning.

    Eric says, “In fact, if we were truly teaching with CI and truly trying to reach all of our students, then ALL kids would say that class was easy (…).”

    Not to divert from the question of the original post, but a secondary question might be: Should our classes feel easy for our students? Robert Harrell offered definitions of “Comprehensible” and “Input” -and we see that even these two words themselves can be defined in more than one way (And the very fact that we are having this discussion implies that we all might have different ideas of what Comprehensible Input even looks like in the classroom). But if we take “Comprehensible” to mean that students understand the majority (around 90%) of any given input, we can say that Comprehensible Input is “Easy Input.” Should I be worried, delighted, or something else my students feel that my class is easy? Of course I would not want a student to feel that they are not learning in my class, but if language acquisition is happening in my class, is it not a sign of acquisition success if a student feels like the language I teach is “easy”?

    In my experience thus far in language teaching (almost four years in six different public schools in the U.S. and France), I have spoken with several colleagues who pride themselves on having “hard” classes, especially at the upper levels. For many of my colleagues I learned that “hard” means they require students to keep up with a large and constant stream of new vocabulary which they are assessed on. For others, I learned that “hard” refers to the level of grammatical, pronunciation, spelling, and other types of accuracy taken into account for grading.

    If our goal in the classroom is mutual understanding with a lowered affective filter (which is one result of high comprehension), shouldn’t language teachers pride themselves on having “easy” classes? Acquiring a language for most people is a time-intensive process, but should this process not feel easy? Comprehensible Input is “Easy Input” or, maybe more accurately, “Easy-Feeling Input.”

    Greg Stout, French teacher

    1. Well said, Greg! My rigor poster hanging on my front wall says that students should “feel confident, feel like it’s easy, may NOT feel like they’re learning.” It seems strange to me that teachers will think that they are doing a bad job as teachers if they are not giving enough Fs.

          1. Wonderful posters, James. I’m sure there will be clones appearing in classrooms throughout the country, including mine.

    2. Thanks Ben – but the idea of easy language learning is only “beautifully expressed” because I learned it here, where it has been beautifully expressed in many different ways.

      1. Ben asked for posts to be copied here, so this was mine:

        A few experiences with authentic resources:

        Easy, positive uses of authentic resources I have found:
        – Playing popular and/or well-known music as students enter & leave class. I tell them the artist if they want to hear more. Some students have downloaded music on iTunes as a result. (But this is not an acquisition goal; it’s a comfort with the language and cultural sound, and it adds a fun atmosphere.)
        – Showing photos from target cultures as “Look and Discuss” prompts. It’s easy to compare to photos of familiar scenes, too. Using interesting visuals is even better — ones with potential for discussion and imagination. Google image search is my friend; I search in Chinese to find Chinese photos.
        – Showing non-wordy comics and advertisements or signs. By non-wordy, I mean a sentence or less of text. Really, I’m aiming for the visual and not the words in this case, too.

        Positive uses that take a good amount of prep time to make them comprehensible to students:
        – Finding simply-worded songs that require minimal additional front-loading so students can intuitively grasp the meaning of them. This means that I’ve used 2 or 3 songs this school year in this way, and one of those songs only with level 4 students. I show them the English meaning of the lyrics and over time, they grow familiar with the sound and the meaning in Chinese. They join in singing as they feel ready. For level 1, I’m really aiming at getting the chorus, not all the words, in the target language, so again this use of authentic resources is a very limited part of my class time.

        When I’m aiming for acquisition of language, though, which is the overall goal of my classes, nothing beats material that is scaled to the current level of my students’ comprehension plus a very little new material. This is my understanding of the i+1 concept. “i” is what students already have acquired, and the +1 is a tiny percentage of content that is new.

        I teach Chinese, and that means reading develops more slowly. I want them to experience success and the joy I find in the language, not feel overwhelmed by how much more they have to go. So while I have some authentic books, magazines, and newspapers in my classroom, these are for those few students who seek them out, not what I use for class teaching material. I do not see how they would help beginning students as a tool for acquisition. Picking out individual characters they recognize is not as valuable a task as reading a full story within their current vocabulary.

        Diane Neubauer
        Chinese Teacher
        Valor Christian High School, Colorado

  6. I have two contrasting reactions to the ACTFL thread:
    1) Robert and Eric are brilliant and unstoppable.
    2) The posts are too long and intimidating.

    Regarding #2: I’m not sure, but I think strategically what we’re trying to do on those forums is tempt people into a discussion. To me the longer posts take a lot of time to digest, and don’t lend themselves to interaction. Maybe that’s why there hasn’t been a lot of traffic. The silence means, I think, that people are shrugging their shoulders and saying, essentially “Fine, let them have their Krashen-y opinions, I’ve got my own.” Just a suggestion, but possible with shorter posts there will be more breathing room for dissent, response and reflection, which is what we want.

    With a BIG tip of the hat to Eric and Robert.

    1. Ben,

      Re #1: Thank you, but ACTFL appears to be an immovable object.

      Re #2: I have had a little bit of the same thought, which is why my initial post about how “authentic texts” are simplified and adapted for native learners was shorter – or at least I tried to make it shorter. Still, it received no comments. When I post on the original thread (Thematic Units), I will have a couple of comments but will limit my posts to a single topic each.

      1. Okay, I just looked at the thread and see that Eric and I post significantly longer comments than the single-paragraph comments of most of the others (e.g. Mr. Soth). But not everything is reducible to sound bites.

        1. How about: “I don’t believe that your students really understand the words in most of the authentic resources you use. I can say that without even looking at those resources.”

          That probably wouldn’t come off very well, though.

          1. Bingo James. I just want to know how they do it, and with what. I can’t imagine authres-as-best-practice advocates will ever be able to argue that those authres are leading to real communicative gains. Unless simply to say that they “motivate” by making connections with the target culture. Perhaps ACTFL needs to specify then, that authres do not necessarily lead to communicative gains but rather gains in awareness and understanding of the target culture. That’s different, way different. I’d support that. Because nobody is saying that authres are not good for the FL classroom (Diane’s post was right on for how we should use them in our classrooms), they just aren’t ideal for communicative gains.

            Ben, I tend to agree that briefer is better. That being said, if the “cream” of our profession (those willing and able to have professional conversations about best practice) cannot engage in a sustained and in-depth (rigorous) conversation about how to best teach FL, we’re kinda screwed. (I love that you respectfully made that point to Luann, Robert!!) But that also being said, notice how almost all of Krashen’s posts to professional communities are very concise? He gets this. We can’t reduce everything to soundbites as Robert says, but the closer we get to a soundbite the more people we reach with our message. And Occam’s razor. Thanks for bringing this up Ben!

          2. Jim, you are 100% right about Krashen being succinct, which makes his few words all the more important.

            Our understanding of CI is very nuanced, compared to most FL teachers who are stuck in grammar-land, suffering the textbook and hating their jobs. They have no idea. They peek over the fence at what Robert and Eric are offering, and they are blinded, it’s gotta be overwhelming. I’m guessing they turn away, it’s too much to take it.

    2. Okay, here’s my latest post on the “Thematic Units” thread, attempting to keep it short.

      I have not posted for several days because I was reading one of the books suggested by Ms Gilbert: Content-Based Second Language Teaching & Learning: An interactive approach (2004) Haley & Austin, one of the sources for “all the research cited”. It seemed to me that I should take advantage of what was proffered before continuing the conversation.

      When the book arrived, I was looking forward to reading the research that shows using thematic units is the best way to organize a classroom for foreign language acquisition, especially since each chapter begins with a section entitled “What does the Research say?”

      I was sorely disappointed.

      Don’t get me wrong, the book presents research and anecdotal evidence to support the position that thematic units are one good way to help students learn both academic content and academic language in an ELD/ESL program. There was, however, no research to show that this is the only or even the single best way to organize a program for acquisition of a foreign language. ::sigh:: Once again, the recommendation fails to speak to the prompt.

    3. Second post of the day:

      I often find it helpful to allow a topic to “lie fallow” for a few days while my subconscious brain processes information before coming back to a text and looking at it again.

      First of all, thank you to Mr. Sandrock for his reply and sharing some of this thoughts.

      Second of all, there seems to be in this thread a general misperception that Mr Herman and others are advocating for the replacement of the term “thematic units” in ACTFL’s statement about the classroom of “Today” in the 21st Century Skills World Languages Map. As a result, the replies in support of thematic units speak of their general efficacy, not their sole supremacy. Unfortunately, all of this information does not address the question: “What research shows that thematic units as an organizing principle are superior to all other organizing principles” as indicated by ACTFL’s statement cited above?

      Others have shown that the factors that make thematic units effective (“a meaningful and engaging context”; “improving vocabulary, reading, and writing – as well as motivation”; “a hook around which learners can make connections”; “exploring a topic through a variety of genres and thus considering different points of view”; “multiple opportunities for reworking vocabulary, structures and functions as learners the same content”; “natural repetition”) are not unique to thematic units but also available via other organizing principles, so I will not belabor that point.

      Posters in other threads as well as this one (e.g. Mr Sandrock’s comments) have argued for a multiplicity of approaches, methods, strategies, and practices because of the complexity of teaching. Why is this same breadth of acceptance not accorded divergent organizing principles for the curriculum? Why must it be thematic units?

      1. Well done, Robert. Repetition. Maybe if we say it enough times, that this is about claiming thematic units are superior, eventually they’ll get it.
        By now we’ve asked so many questions that have gone unanswered.
        Thank you so much for getting that book and making it clear that it doesn’t support thematic units as the best way. That research, I’m sure, does not exist. Nor can it ever really exist, as Eckhard and Terry have said, because there are too many variables to control. All the more reason to avoid absolutist statements!

  7. I had this same thought this morning before reading the above, expressed here by Jim:

    …if the “cream” of our profession (those willing and able to have professional conversations about best practice) cannot engage in a sustained and in-depth (rigorous) conversation about how to best teach FL, we’re kinda screwed….

    This is an amazing thing to say, that so many thousands of teachers are just so mired in complacency that they can’t even bother to engage in any new conversation about what is best for kids. It makes me think that they really don’t care about what is best for kids, or maybe they, since they were trained and excelled at grammar translation, are unwilling to embrace the new communicative approach that will define the 21st century at some point or other. I guess we need a whole new generation of young teachers who get Krashen. I guess that is what it will take.

    I agree about the shorter posts, but gosh if you read some of what has been said in those long posts, it is absolutely necessary to say those things so I agree with Robert on that. But at the end of the day you are right Ben. Maybe a whole bunch of short questions are in order. Their silence to our questions is deafening. I have asked at least two pointed questions requesting for expansion on points made by ACTFL members and have received no responses. This is a big pain in the ass. But I applaud the Jackal and the Bear. They fight for what is right and stand there in the middle of the arena and invite any and all comers into the arena to mix it up with them and the timid warriors of ACTFL just hide behind those wooden things in the arena, ready to jump up in the stands at one swipe of the Bear’s big claws. It’s an absurd excuse for a professional discussion, where one side invites discussion from the other and the other side, notably Paul Sandhill, just don’t answer, like corporate executives who fail to respond to requests from the public about what is best for the people because they don’t want to offend the shareholders. OK rant over.

    1. My impression is that many foreign language departments in affluent school districts are having to report to a supervisor who is not a foreign language teacher. And that supervisor — often an admin with an English or History background — says that the world language department needs to prepare students for the AP exams.

      These teachers in these foreign language departments need to appease their supervisors and keep their jobs. Right?

      The College Board seems to emphasis “communication tasks” as the goal in curriculum design. For example, in the The AP Spanish Language and Culture Course & Exam Description, 2013, under it’s “Curriculum Framework” section, we read:

      Overarching Premise
      When communicating, students in the AP Spanish Language and
      Culture course demonstrate an understanding of the culture(s),
      incorporate interdisciplinary topics (Connections), make comparisons
      between the native language and the target language and between
      cultures (Comparisons), and use the target language in real-life settings

      The emphasis here is on students communicating. I think many supervisors of foreign language departments interpret this to mean that they need to get their Spanish students to start practicing communication as much as possible from the get-go, level 1, year 1.

      While I imagine most of you here know all this, I’m just thinking about how we need the College Board, not just ACTFL, to get on board with CI. The College Board also needs to not publish the below statement about the need to teach thematic units if you want to get your class AP certified:

      The course incorporates interdisciplinary topics and explicitly
      addresses all six course themes: Global Challenges, Science and
      Technology, Contemporary Life, Personal and Public Identities,
      Families and Communities, and Beauty and Aesthetics.

      1. The AP Exam tests language in the 3 modes, which is a good thing.

        The fact that it confounds proficiency with a test of higher level thinking (like an SAT) is a bad thing IF we want a test purely of what language has been acquired and can be communicated.

        ACTFL and CB want communication, but how to get there depends on teacher interpretation. Of course, teachers clueless of SLA and CI theory will confuse the ends with the means. How language is tested becomes how language is taught – the backwash effect.

        I agree that forcing organization to be around those 6 themes is pointless in terms of acquisition and adds 1 more unnecessary hoop for us TCI’ers to have to jump through. I don’t think knowledge in those 6 themes would affect the result on the AP Test. You could teach non-thematically or with different themes and have kids do just as well or better.

        I recently looked at the National Spanish Exam (NSE) and it looks like half of the test is discrete grammar and semantic sets of vocabulary. I don’t doubt that TCI-taught kids would be okay on this type of test, but it is a huge invite to continue teaching traditionally. And it certainly isn’t the best way to measure what our kids have acquired.

        Then, the other half of the NSE is all based on authentic resources. That seems to be all the rave right now: Assess kids with texts intended for fluent native speakers, and see what a FL student can guess.

        As soon as I look more into college FL entrance exams and confirm what I already suspect (that they look like the NSE), I plan to start the next ACTFL thread. I promise it’ll be “juicy.”

        1. Well, I know you’ve really thought about how to assess students’ acquisition levels in the Novice stages, Eric. That is certainly some tricky business, trying to assess students acquisition when they aren’t able to produce much more than single words or phrases. But the AP exam is testing students at the Intermediate High level or above, I’m guessing. That isn’t such tricky business, right? Albeit, the College Board has certainly made their AP Spanish Language and Culture exam complicated and convoluted, especially with that back-and-forth dialogue session. So fabricated. So unnatural.

          Here’s a suggestion, College Board. Have your AP foreign language exams be 1) some multiple choice questions on an Intermediate High level reading, 2) an essay piece from a straight forward, open-ended writing prompt, and 3) and voice recording describing a favorite hobby, or something personally relevant. I don’t know. Perhaps that would require too much supervision.

          And yeah, organizing a curriculum around those 6 themes that are mandated by College Board if you want your FL class certified AP have little bearing on how well a student will perform on the AP exam itself. Yes, you could say there is vocabulary specific to each theme, but that specific vocabulary gets used in conversations of all kinds of topics. AP’s flawed approach is glaring.

          1. Any assessment that makes previous year tests available is allowing another confounding factor: test preparation. Then, to some degree it’s a measure of who had the best test prep.

            We also want to minimize the factor of test-taking strategies. Multiple choice tests seem apt to be gamed by good test-takers. Here’s where practicality may conflict with validity.

          1. I took a look. It looks just like every other exam I’ve been seeing lately: a series of discrete cloze test multiple-guess vocabulary and grammar items plus “guessing” comprehension based on authentic resources.

            What is the deal with the current OBSESSION for assessments with authentic resources???!!! For beginners, even intermediates, this means a series of “advertisement-style” authentic resources, which actually contain very little language, very little reading.

            Now, if any test is highly correlated with a “criterion measure” (a test already well-established to measure the construct of interest, in our case, proficiency), then criterion-related validity has been supported, i.e. the tests also measure proficiency.

            Even if this were so, even if grammar tests correlated highly with overall proficiency tests (e.g. OPI), then they are still NOT good tests. A kid who has acquired enough language, has developed sufficient proficiency, can also do well on a grammar test. They just won’t rely on conscious knowledge to respond. But what is tested is what is taught! Test grammar and grammar will be taught.

          2. Eric you asked:

            …What is the deal with the current OBSESSION for assessments with authentic resources?…

            We don’t want to know. It’s coming from a pretty dark place in academia, in the “Refusal to Change” category perhaps. In my opinion it is very much connected to professional ego. These people have been getting away with this kind of test for a very long time. We even ended up kind of imitating this kind of assessment in our own so-called cutting edge DPS CI based assessments that took us the past six years to create. That is very hard to admit but it’s true, I think. And I think Diana would admit that. So to try to come up with a serious answer to your question, Eric, I would ask why the people who write those tests should really pay any attention to the Three Modes of Communication and the 90% Use position statement and especially to everything Krashen has ever said? They’ve got a good gig going and doing that kind of introspection would really throw their train off the tracks. The Three Modes and the 90% statement read well on the ACTFL website, but they interfere with the way things have been done in the past and thank you Eric for your diligence in ferreting out this information. You will see that I contacted Vicki Galloway who is a former Project Director for ACTFL and maybe she can get in here and shed some light on the contradictions we have uncovered lately in terms of thematic unit instruction and the use of authentic texts and the general direction of ACTFL these days. Something has to be resolved at ACTFL and who better than Vicki to shed some light on this whole thing. Maybe she can bring Paul Sandrock back from wherever he is hiding.

          3. The obsession with assessment using authentic resources…and the obsession with assessment in general. Not to be a clanging cymbal here, but WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ASSESSMENTS IN SCHOOLS? Some states in New England (and also Arkansas I think) have just introduced YET ANOTHER standardized test called the PARC which is supposed to determine college and career readiness.

            Pretty soon kids will just get dumber and dumber, because all we’ll do is continually assess them. The only learning they will do will happen from reading the assessments. Because of this, the assessments will have to get easier and easier, because there is no learning going on. And eventually, kids will get worse and worse at their reading. And before you know it, they won’t even be able to read enough to take the assessments any more.

            Also, although I think about it A LOT, the ridiculousness and magnitude of something really hit me yesterday as I half-listened to an advertisement on the radio about some private school. Who determines what the millions of school children learn across the nation? Who decides what they are expected to know to pass through and exit compulsory schooling? Who decides what they will do for about 8 hours or their day for about 180 days every year for about 12 years? Not them. NOT THEM. They, 99% of the time, do not decide what they get to learn in school. Is this not the root of the learning motivation vacuum in students throughout the history or compulsory schooling? Is this not a glaring problem? Where is the “What would you like to know about? What would you like to learn how to do?”

            I know this isn’t a new thought, but it hit me in a deep way yesterday.

            I have to stop ranting now because I get to go do some reading and chatting with my students. Hopefully they will enjoy it. But if they don’t, I know it’s not totally their fault.

          4. It’s strange, and maddening, I agree Greg. Rant on, this is where we can do that, and understand our thoughts better by doing so.

            John Taylor Gatto says that compulsory schooling exists to create a more manageable population. The key word is manageable. How do you get people to do what they probably don’t want to do or may not see a value in, unless you train them from a very early age to do in anyways, or else? If one looks closely at it, it appears much more like a pyramid scheme than an optimal means of developing character and intellect. That being said, once they go profit-motive, I’m not optimistic we’ll ever get that community control (however weak it may be right now) of our kids’ education back.

          5. Thanks Jim. Funny…John Taylor Gatto was coming to mind when I wrote my comment above. I’ve been reading him lately, as well as reading about schools that run on the concept of “free schools.” I should probably stop reading Gatto and about free schools, because it just makes me go even more against the grain when it comes to educational ideas enforced from above.

            The theme for language classes for the current marking period in the school I am now is the environment, with the idea that teachers are supposed to be centering daily lessons around anything having to do with current environmental problems and their solutions.

            What if, by chance, I have a student who is not all that interested in current environmental issues, let alone how to fix them? Which might be possible since I teach teenagers who have, shall we say, other concerns vying for their attention. How many of my students rush out of school every day on to their next project to help the environment, or on to their favorite news website to catch up on developments in environmental concerns. And did I mention that all of these things are supposed to be happening in French, a language which maybe not a lot of my students have much intrinsic motivation to master?

            Who decided that the current theme for language classes at my school should be environmental concerns? Why? What say do students have in it?


          6. Yes Catharina! That’s one of the schools I’ve been reading about.

            Reading the testimonials of students at these types of schools who transitioned in from traditional schools is quite intriguing.

            I read of a few who said that their first few months at a free school were unhappy and they felt aimless (because no one was telling them what they had to do -go figure!), but after a transitional period, they felt like their curiosity to learn came back to life as they started exploring subjects of interest to them. Telling…

          7. Greg, my oldest boy Evan first went to Columbine High School where kids have no choice in curriculum design. But he and my son Landen transferred two years ago to a school where the kids in fact do things quite differently. It is called the Jefferson County Open School and was founded by a person whose national importance I equate with Krashen’s in many ways, but in the general area of curriculum design, Arnie Langberg. (Arnie is also a person I am proud to call my friend of forty years). Here is the school’s website:


          8. Thanks for this link Ben. And wow…I have yet to hear of a public open school. How do your sons like going there? I’d love to know.

            I’m checking out the school philosophy and the principal’s reading list and I kind of wish you hadn’t shared this link. I have three months to go in a maternity leave French job (After two months at the school I started the year at, I had to leave because NJ denied my teaching certificate, but then changed their minds and sent me one a week after my replacement signed her contract) and I’m expected to follow the curriculum for these three months. Which is rapidly (like from class to class, almost minute to minute) becoming very hard -PAINFUL! – to do as I question more and more the idea of compulsory education. So much is not working. So many teens are just going through the routine, keeping seats warm, when they could be spending their youth pursuing something more wholeheartedly. I have no answers, but I have lots of questions. And more every day.

            The best I can think to do right now for these three months, with reference to ACTFL, the subject of this thread, is to maybe do one story a week and write my own scripts using structures/words related to the curriculum theme (environmental concerns). How else can one do interactive CI (like happens in stories) within the confines of a thematic unit?

            Apologies for being way off task from the subject of this thread.

          9. Thanks Eric for looking into it! Your analysis, although very astute I’m sure, kind of went over my head, namely the third paragraph. Nonetheless, I totally agree and get what you mean by the grammar-focused “multiple-guess” approach to the tests. I’m kind of surprised my former student of 3 years tested into the 300 level. He was a C average kid. Maybe he just got lucky in enough guesses? I know that happened to me the first time I took one of these tests.

            How about spend 10 minutes with the kid and talk with him, maybe have him translate a short passage for you, and done.

            Does anyone know of a good primer on these entrance exams that I could read to learn a bit more about how they compare?

  8. After all of the discussion on thematic units and the numerous people who assured us that they do not use semantic sets, nor does ACTFL really countenance them, I find it interesting that the following was touted in a recent thread as a great way to teach vocabulary:


    It’s a worksheet with a list of vocabulary words (body parts, in the example shown) and four columns so that students can indicate the following:
    Vocab Word I don’t know it I have heard the word What I think it means Definition

    Bolstered by the “Learning Pyramid” (which is not nearly as reliable as most educators believe; see Daniel Willingham’s discussion here – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/06/why-the-learning-pyramid-is-wrong/), the author is quite happy with doing the following:
    1. Students look at essential questions and objectives for the unit, then receive the vocabulary list
    2. Students indicate where they are with each word (don’t know, have heard, think they know)
    3. Students work in teams to share their ignorance – oops, I mean to read the definition out loud and then share what they had noted on their papers working independently; students “feel empowered” because “they already knew something in Spanish class before the teacher taught them”.
    4. The whole class goes over the vocabulary sheet together, first repeating the definition together and then students sharing what they have written down, and the teacher need only “to fill in the gaps!”

    Here’s the URL for the thread that references this webpage:

    The semantic set vocabulary list is still out there.

    1. Hysterical!

      BTW, I can’t seem to post in the ACTFL threads this morning. It’s frustrating. Am I the only one who has had difficulty posting in ACTFL? Well, today I’m not able to post at all.

    1. Incredible . . . Holy textbook, Batman!

      I think I’m done with the ACTFL threads. Too many questions left unanswered. No one could have a sensible debate with us.

      Maybe some have read what we wrote and agreed, but they would still have no idea how to make that change. Perhaps it would be a good idea for someone to post “If you have been reading and want to know more about the teaching with comprehensible input approach, then visit these websites . . . , buy these books . . . , and attend these conferences . . .”

    2. I continue to follow these new “textbook-loving” threads on ACTFL out of curiosity. The most recent is suggesting Voces from Teacher’s Discovery. It’s semantic sets and incomprehensible cultural videos, just like any good online textbook 😉

      The complaint given of Avancemos is that it starts by teaching gustar and then “it messes them up for learning the regular verbs.” Hay un problema, clase. Oh no, oh no, oh me, oh my!

  9. Yeah I agree Eric. I had high hopes until that last post by Engracia but that made me see that no amount of goading by us (meant in a good way, to stimulate conversation on behalf of what is best for kids) will result in anything vibrant. I really wanted to continue there, as you know by my recent pleas. But now I see it. Sandrock, in particular, has failed to lead in response to our challenge.

    Bless you and Robert and Nathaniel and the others who took part in the fray, but honestly, we were talking to a brick wall that turns out to have been not five or six feet tall, as I thought, but hundreds of feet tall and miles wide. No blame. No blame. A good time for the Serenity Prayer, perhaps:

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.


    – Reinhold Niebuhr

  10. Authentic resources came up at a dept mtg recently. As I was sorting through my thoughts on this I decided that I should start referring to canciones (songs) and refranes (proverbs) as authentic resources.

    In class they will still be referred to by their Spanish names, but in dept mtgs I shall try to talk about “singing authentic resources” and “proverbializing authentic resources.”

    (My contention about authres vs readers was that CI is the only valid judge of the value of each.)

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