Avoid Fossilization – Read Later

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15 thoughts on “Avoid Fossilization – Read Later”

  1. Does this apply to level 3 too? Level 1, yes, we are not reading (aside from reading and translating aloud mini-stories that we create together).

    But, level 2 and 3… After two weeks, beginning week 3, I brought out an easy reader for 3 days a week at these levels. I got the sense in level 3 that the “fast processors” wanted to be “learning something more”.

    Right now I am doing my own little schedule with levels 2 and 3 of:
    Mon – PQA weekend activities
    Tues – Read story from Monday, novel
    Wed-Thurs – Novel
    Fri – memrise.com Online vocab individually

    To clarify, on Mon – Thurs the students are getting 10 minutes or more of auditory CI, even if it is questioning around the novel (easy reader).

    Critique this!

    1. I apply this sheltering of reading to my Spanish 1 students. This is the first year trying it out. In the past, I’ve heard too much bad Spanish when they start reading, because they haven’t internalized the sounds as Eric alludes to below. I’m not sure when I’ll start having them read, but I know it won’t be in this first several weeks. That’s not to say that I don’t have the target structures written on the board, because the kids want to see these. I’m just trying to avoid bad pronunciation habits in this early stage, so reading independently. Some bell-ringer questions I’ve done, but nothing beyond this. I’ll let you know how it goes…

        1. It’s like ‘nails on the chalkboard’ bad pronunciation. Not from every student of course, but particularly from the ones who care just little enough to not want to try to sound authentic. Which is many in a typical high school setting as you all know. Because time is so limited with them anyways, I find the reading (and subsequent bad pronunciation) not only a waste of time, but bad practice.

          Eric, I think you’re right, the teacher reading aloud while the students follow might be the antidote to this. Could it be this simple of a solution for my classes? Perhaps.

          I’m guessing you find value in the text accompaniment Eric because you want to try and pronounce it correctly when learning a new language. Many of my students don’t care, or worse, want to sound like a total gringo. When they don’t get much of a chance, because they barely know what the word looks like, it’s nearly impossible to auto-acquire that bad pronunciation.

          I may be totally off on this. We’ll see…

          1. Sorry, I of course don’t think it’s “bad practice” reading with kids in the TL… that came off poorly. I meant it’s a bad practice for the kids to get into IF they’re reading with bad pronunciation.

          2. Sounds like you’re dealing with a sense of identity and an attitude more than a language acquisition issue, Jim. Makes me realize I’ve never had that with Chinese classes – they want to be understood, and you must pronounce quite accurately for that to happen (tones, vowels, and consonants). Sounds to me like you have hit on a good plan to overcome that in your students. It’ll be interesting to hear about over time!

            I can remember in middle school French classes that I took, that I felt “weird” making truly French sounds so I didn’t. Only 1 girl in my class dared. The teacher never addressed our pronunciation. I think if the norm in the classroom was to sound real, I would’ve been braver and spoken better.

          3. Reading Option A is what I use and that calls for the teacher to read a section aloud in TL and then for the students to translate into English while following a laser pointer. So my kids read a lot but never try to pronounce much of anything in L2 besides “yes/no.”

      1. Perhaps a phonological pop-up grammar question may help. E.g., the word for “to the” (al) is almost inevitably mispronounced. Properly pronounced, it almost sounds like “all.” Improperly pronounced, it sounds like my pal “Al.” After properly pronouncing the word I ask,
        ¿Es inglés o español? (español)
        Correcto, clase, [all] es español.
        Clase, [Al]… ¿es [Al] inglés o español? (inglés)
        Then in successive uses of “al” pause with the mouth wide open to begin the sound, waiting for the natural tendency to fill in the blank.
        I think that in so doing we help kids to distinguish and hear the differences between the languages, as well as establish a standard for what is Spanish and what is not, all the while pulling them into the decision process.
        If they have brat issues, though, this may not work.

    2. Leah,
      One question to consider with your level 3 is whether they are level 3s at the acoustical level. One of my questions on the end of last year’s feedback from students was “What did you learn?” One student said, “I learned that I was pronouncing all of the words wrong.” The issue was that in here first 2 years she had never had the opportunity to hear lots of comprehensible Spanish at a speed and rate that she could process it. So my job was to provide an environment in which they could become sensitive to the Spanish sound system.
      We did all of our reading together with me doing the Spanish and they the English a la Blaine Ray. So I used reading to treat their improperly developed sound systems by providing the missing acoustical component. In addition to the reading itself, we increase the acoustical input just as in other aspects of our week: tons of CI through continuous yes/no and either/or questions about the reading and the students.

  2. Reading, if combined with listening (e.g. teacher reads aloud as kids follow along) is different ?? If the kids haven’t internalized enough of the sounds of the language, then the voice in their heads won’t pronounce the words correctly. That’s not to say that reading won’t help general proficiency. Even with English interference, reading will contribute to some areas of knowledge of the word (written form, grammatical function, collocations etc.). If they’ve had enough auditory CI, then does the voice in our heads provide us with auto-aural input? In my own acquisition experience (and probably the same for many adults), I really like having the visual and auditory together. In fact, I kind of like the 3 TPRS steps in reverse. I go back and forth on this issue.

  3. I should clarify that with level 1 they are looking at the text in the target language and reading it aloud in unison in English. That’s the kind of “reading” I’m talking about. In semester 2 I will do the same thing with a few super easy level 0 readers.

      1. James, that sounds like a good idea. Not really necessary to have them do it for that expressed purpose. I would bet that nearly all students though, when reading silently or translating a text (alone or with partner) end up pronouncing everything anyways. Of course with Level 2 on up, and even Level 1 after enough input, they are able to do so with decent accuracy for the most part. It’s the real early stages that I’m currently thinking about. Reading Option A might be a solution to this as you mention.

        I’m experiencing this poor pronunciation in my head as I try to read Pirates in French during SSR. I’m butchering pronunciation, I know it. I haven’t had enough aural input to do it better, and I wonder if I am creating some bad habits for myself. maybe it’s a wash, or better, since I’m getting lots of visual input and still working on negotiating meaning, and since I don’t have the access at the moment to get the aural input I need. Best would be to listen to the text being read in French while reading, as Eric is saying. Problem with these audios is the speed, too fast. That is why we are such valuable resources for our students!

  4. Thanks for all the feedback crew!

    Perhaps I’ve overgeneralized a bit, and transposed what I’ve experienced with kids reading a text with a partner (or what I would intrapolate to them reading solo in their heads) to what James called Reading Option A. I’ll think about it a bit more and see if I indeed will be doing the Reading Option A, as I have always done in the past but which I was also going to shelter from my Spanish 1’s this year.

    My students are not unusually bratty or anything like that, but I can see how my comments might have inaccurately inferred that.

    You guys rock!

    1. And Nathaniel, the circling of pronunciation as you describe is a personal favorite of mine when experiencing tricky words and letters in words that we pronounce quite different in English. Thanks for the reminder for me and the group!

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