Story Listening – 1

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9 thoughts on “Story Listening – 1”

  1. To me NT is the original form of how input has always been delivered. We may speak Motherese to babies but they hear all kinds of rich language with a wide net. So dangerous, revolutionary but loving and truthful is our work. This has scared my instructional coach into trying to get me to write daily objectives with targeted structures for each lesson. Likewise, my principal has addressed the same concern as “Students should know what they are learning for each lesson.” This of course is malpractice but I need to move forward in this work towards my daily happiness because at the end of the day what else do we have? If we as teachers are in charge of setting up our situations, routines and environments then why not ground that in safety, celebration and love?

    Last week I remembered a science analogy. If a frog is placed in a pot of room temperature water, then slowly boiled it remains there and dies. If the water is already boiling and we toss the frog in, it will jump right out. Last week’s “coaching” reminded me of the former. At the end of the week I asked myself, “Are we ever good enough as teachers?” “When will the exploitation stop?”

  2. Right on, my brother. We can minimize their ignorance and exploitation by giving them what they want. I would rather give them what they want with a bit of fakery than fight them. I would rather fight a fight I could win. If they want objectives of specific targets, I have always capitulated with no loss of instructional minutes devoted to CI. Isn’t it odd that even when we don’t target a single thing our students end up with higher scores than kids who have been memorizing discrete grammar points and vocabulary all year? It is because the mind actually learns (vs. memorizes) the language when allowed to swim around freely in the open and sparkling and frothy beauty of free language.

    For those interested, we have some posts from previous years on this topic. The reader is invited to peruse the articles in this link:

  3. I know you are on the right lines bc since when has grammar instruction and exercises ever worked?

    Let’ say I tell my older ESL students “Today we will learn how to build and use the present perfect.” Then we do exercises and most of them will do very well. Next thing when they write a story the present perfect will be wrong ever so often. We can do exercises again and the results in free conversation and writing will be the same.

    I did a fair amount of conscious grammar for many years bc I didn’t know what else to do but I always had a bad feeling about it. Then I started reducing grammar teaching more and more until I did it only verbally and the kids could make up silly sentences which they quite enjoyed.

    Many parents want grammar but I get them on my side when I tell them “Of course we do grammar but only verbally bc it’s so much faster then writing. Then we will write down the rules. And with the time saved we can do more real language like conversations.”

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    A few ways of stating it that I like:
    1. We learn the ‘rules’ or patterns deductively (from a sea of linguistic data that we process in our sleep/unconsciously); not inductively (through direct grammar/rule instruction).
    2. We (T/CIers) prioritize meaning over accuracy. Accuracy comes over time with CCI (compelling comprehensible input.)
    Dr. Bill VanPatten just said in his keynote on Saturday, “Second language learners develop an implicit, abstract, and complex mental representation of language that bears no resemblance to rules in the traditional sense.” Then, “In short, textbook rules and pedagogical rules have no
    psychological or linguistic validity.”
    “• Language is an abstract, complex, implicit mental representation. Even during second language acquisition, not just in the end.”
    “The rules in the book don’t transform or turn into what’s in the learner’s head.”
    Lots of other great nuggets – here’s a link to his keynote presi from CI in the Mitten:

    If that link doesn’t work let me know and I’ll find a way to get it to the PLC.

    1. You’re initial statement is true, Alisa. In my grad work in linguistics, one of my professors said, regarding acquisition, “Grammar is language, and language is grammar.” This was in an acquisition class, how we as humans acquire language as babies, and he was saying that kids have no problem whatsoever acquiring grammar despite it not being explicitly taught till grade school. In fact, children have the syntax, morphology, grammar, etc. of their native tongue completely mapped out in their brains at around 4 years old. Pretty amazing.

  5. I’ve recently been unraveling a student’s invisible character as if it were a Story Listening session. Very little do I ask students for details to fill in the story. And if I do ask the class for a detail, that detail will not alter the path of the story. Like, Abigail, the apple ran away from home to live on a tropical island: This is what the author wrote. In class, I asked students if the island was big or small, if it had trees, and if there was any fresh water.

  6. Wonderful!

    So what you did in terms of the Star Sequence was to start in the Create phase – using the Category E process because it’s an ICI being turned into a story – and you ended up with a character and a story about Abigail.

    Then, with the character and story created, still in the Create phase, you then EXPANDED on the basic story, as you said, “as if it were a Story Listening session”.

    This adding in of details at this point was most clever. You didn’t want the story line to change because you knew from experience that stories where too many twists in plot and new characters coming in quickly becomes incomprehensible to the class.

    This is where Blaine made a mistake. I was in Las Vegas talking to him at least ten years ago and he told me – and you will remember this Sean because Sean after that conversation with Blaine I pushed it here for years and years – that when a story loses energy you add a new character or event.

    No wonder TPRS got so hard to do! Basically Blaine was advising us to create a related story within a story, kind of like how a big ugly and quite unmanageable relative clause has the capacity to gum up a sentence.

    Hmmm. That explains why I like the Invisibles so much as an alternative to those big TPRS stories we used to do in the old days that would go on for days and days and leave everyone confused. I’m not complaining about Blaine’s advice to add details into stories, only about his advice to add a new character or event. You have figured out a way to make sure the former is done while avoiding the latter.

    Your idea is simple and keeps the CI train small (i.e. doable and understandable) on the tracks. It can still carry lots of weight (the details you added in at the end of the Create phase), but the basic story line stays the same.

    It’s excellent. The kids benefit. Less early details, only a few added on once the story line has been completed. No story line twists. No new characters (best to save those things for higher levels!). I’ll throw this into the Q and A part of the book, of course as aLways with credit.

    Thanks, Sean!

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