Best CI Training?

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16 thoughts on “Best CI Training?”

  1. Much of the “acquisition model” applies to other areas, in this case teaching and coaching.

    1. Meaning-based input first – be a student in a TCI classroom taught in a different language
    2. Output after lots of input – teaching
    3. Contextualized comments on form as they come up – coaching pop-ups, reacting to current teacher needs

    Of course, teaching is also skill-building, so the acquisition model doesn’t apply perfectly. Teachers will benefit from reading about the method and practicing in their classrooms. But without the student experience, it’s hard to make meaning out of the form. That’s a job best done by the “four percenters.”

    Too much talk about methods and strategies (too much form) without experience in demos (meaning) doesn’t work too well.

  2. I haven’t seen Language Labs (except just a glance so far at the iFLT videos shared recently by Diana Noonan). Been part of a War Room and have been in several different presenters’ more lecture-and-respond seminars.

    War Room advantages: you may get to be a student yourself (like me in Spanish – I feel the affective filter just knowing it’s going to be Spanish); you get to see many people’s personality and style come across naturally, which is freeing; if you teach yourself, you can use it to get over the fear of other people seeing how you teach, which helps give confidence back in your own classroom. This is a holistic way of teaching and sharing that is kind of a big deal. Plus there’s a sense of belonging to a team of colleagues helping each other out. That’s really great.

    Presentation advantages: people may really want some explanation of why’s and how’s along the way to experiencing it. The presentations I’ve been in did some of everything: demos of teaching, explanation, and giving participants opportunity to test out skills.

    What about another training option: using video from our own classes, then discussing/pointing out what is happening? I learned a lot from watching DVDs of Ben teaching middle school kids during a summer program. He had subtitles and some notes along the way. We do this here like when Eric Herman recently shared video from his class.

  3. I sat in on some learning labs at IFLT a couple years ago, and I learned the most from Linda Li’s lab. She was teaching a group of adults Mandarin, so it wasn’t quite the same as teaching squirrely middle schoolers, but I think the biggest advantage for me was hearing CI instruction in a language I didn’t already know. When I observed Jason Fritze Spanish or your own French sessions, I didn’t get the opportunity to hear EXACTLY how slow SLOW needs to be since I already understood what was going on. In Linda’s lab, I was hanging onto her every word so I could understand what they were talking about. And she made sure we were right there with her.

    I think that putting ourselves in the students’ seat is a valuable thing that we don’t usually get the chance to do.

  4. In my view nothing beats being a part of a demo in a language you don’t know, because teachers FORGET JUST HOW HARD IT IS FOR KIDS. When you are focused in on German or Chinese or whatever, you feel it in your bones the second the teacher goes too fast, is unclear, adds too much vocab, etc etc. I think this is absolutely essential.

    The language labs are “sorta” fake for Ben’s listed reasons but they are supposed to represent a class that has BEEN normed. Any teacher worth their salt knows as Susan Gross said “discipline precedes instruction.”

    My experience (1 evening) at IFLT war room was good– people got and gave really solid feedback– the only problem I saw was that it was way too easy to interrupt the flow of instruction. People have so many questions and comments that it’s hard to just let somebody go for 5 min. IMHO best practice in war room: set a timer and no interruptions (Ben 😉 ) for 5 min so “flow” can be established.

  5. I watched Jason Fritze 2 days teach elementary at iFLT and got a lot out of it. Jason’s style is powerful, and he shared many tricks and gimmicks that we can never have enough of, when teaching little kids.

    I agree with Chris. Nothing beats being a student in a language we don’t know.
    There is also teaching a new language to a skilled TCI colleague through Skype and getting feedback. Finnish for Feedback 🙂

  6. I agree so whole-heartedly with the idea of being a student in an unknown language as an essential element of our professional development. Seeing Linda Li in action really made a difference for me and is something I want our workshop participants to experience in Agen. Many old hats who have been around for a while forget how powerful this can be. Last year Daniel Dubois taught Breton for one afternoon, but I’d like to have him do it at least three afternoons, so that people can get beyond the “Oh, Wow!” and start analyzing and reflecting on WHY it works.

    We do the Language Lab a little differently in Agen, partly because of our smaller numbers. The Lab teachers don’t teach all the time. They begin the morning, and then we ask participants to step in and teach for about 20 minutes, with a clear goal in mind. Then at the end of the morning we started in 2013 with a 15 minute “chat” with students (who are adults or teenagers) and participants. Last year we asked each participant to do some one-on-one practice teaching with a student. It allowed them to practice circling or PQA in a very low stress situation. I liked the way it went and will definitely be scheduling it again this year.

    1. I like the one-on-one idea in a low stress situation.

      Bu Cathy and I have had a few chats on the Forum about teaching little kids. I was thinking about -maybe- skyping with Bu Cathy. She could teach one of us? me? Indonesian, and get feedback from one of us? me? as student and T/CI practitioner. Skype could be an option for our PLC members who would like some one-on-one practice and don’t have access to prof. devel.

  7. Due to several reasons, I have unfortunately been unable to access any training but would absolutely love to! So for me, the most powerful training has been talking via this blog to Catharina or through Skype so that I can talk with experienced CI practicioners about a variety of CI issues. I have also met through the moretprs list serve, another Australian language teacher who is also starting the TPRS/CI journey too. These personal connections are what has helped me the most. Reading books/blogs/research, watching videos etc are awesome and definitely have value but being able to make 1 -1 contact is what helps me the most.

  8. Well, Bu Cathy I have been trying to influence Catharina to write a book on elementary TPRS/CI, so if you can get her to do that please do so. As things develop for you, you can help her write the book. We need it.

    By the way, is your first name Bu? And your language is Indonesian, right? Is there some way we can set up some kind of conference Skype session where we get to learn Indonesian and you get coaching from us?

    And I love this new 1:1 coaching idea. People can maybe find more experienced people to work with via Skype or something. How do we set that up? Maybe get a list of people willing to coach someone privately online via email and Skype and people wanting coaching can contact them? How do we do that?

  9. One of the teachers from last year’s Agen workshop who is French and lives here, is giving French lessons to a Canadian teacher who knows TPRS. At the end of each lesson, the student then gives her teacher feedback.

  10. OK so how do we take that model and make it work among those in our group who might like to try it out. What do we call it? The Cathy/Cathy 1:1 TPRS Coaching Method? I like it! But specifically does this need a hard link? I think so. It could say 1:1 and have the names and information of people in the group who, like Catharina, are willing to do what you describe, Judy.

    Let’s restate the idea, then, and correct what I write here if it’s off:

    Teacher A (experienced) volunteers to Skype with Teacher B (inexperienced). Both are teachers of languages that the other doesn’t know. Here are the steps:

    1. Teacher A teaches her language to Teacher B using TPRS.
    2. When Teacher B feels that she has had enough exposure to Teacher A’s instruction, she then assumes the role of the teacher of her own language and Teacher A becomes the student.
    3. At the end of each session, both have a meeting to identify areas for improvement. This heavy coaching by Teacher A would come in at the end of the session and not during it, to avoid interruption of the flow of the work of the teacher being trained.
    4. When skill areas that need improvement are identified, Teacher B agrees to read the articles/Primers/watch videos that are available here as homework.
    5. After a week of homework, the above process is repeated.

    The commitment of both teachers would be a few hours per week, more during vacations. We could call it 1:1 Coaching.

    Suggestions are welcome. I am willing to create the hard link if anybody wants us to make this a feature of what we do here as a PLC. Anything that helps us get better at this should be explored. This is something that can be done during the year, without us having to depend on one week of training in the summer (for those who have the time and can afford it).

  11. Ben, my christian name is Cathy & “Bu’ is an Indonesian title akin to ‘Mrs/Ms’.
    I love the idea of the 1:1 coaching concept and considering how distance is THE factor preventing me from attending any training face to face in the near future, I think it would be incredibly useful to participate in a Skype coaching session with someone experienced. While I have only recently started TPRS/CI in my classroom (barely 3 months), the idea of ‘teaching’ Indonesian to someone like Catharina would be nerve wracking, but it would also be awesome and something I would leap at, so count me in!!

  12. “Nerve wracking” is how we feel. So true. Maybe 1:1 would ease that stressful feeling.
    Bu Cathy, I would love to try. Even just once. 30 minutes? whatever? I would be so grateful to learn a little bit of Indonesian. I already have berkata and bilang stuck in my head. How cool would that be to learn a little Indonesian TPRS style!

    I love Ben’s idea of each being the teacher/student. We could reverse roles. We’d split the nerve wracking part.

    I am going back home to Brussels in a few days and am a little short on time. Upon my return after January 1st I would love to try Skyping. Maybe someone else can do it sooner. I could still use a coach myself 🙂

    Not related… but I suggest never ever ever untangling holiday lights. (Isn’t that what husbands are for?) I could’ve watched 1000 videos instead.

  13. Language classes with adults are effective primarily for the reasons stated above: teachers actually experience what it is like as a student which in turn convinces them of the effectiveness of teaching with CI strategies. There is a big Ah Ha! moment. That has been and still is the format of NTPRS. I know because I was not only a student of Chinese with Linda Li for one week, but I also taught French at NTPRS and many teachers let me know how effective the class was for them as learners and as teachers.

    However…while the strategies are still the same, there is nothing like watching a teacher with a group of real kids. Not motivated adults who are also language teachers, but real kids. Ben…how dare you say that the classes are contrived and consist of “12 year old superstars with money whose parents see the class as kind of a trendy summer camp immersion for their strong Harvard bound memorizers.” BEN! this is not true!!! Sorry, but in San Diego our students were primarily kids from high poverty schools. In Denver, there were kids from the North High neighborhood who were certainly not from affluent families. Some were from middle class families but your description of our language camps is NOT accurate. I know because I enrolled all of the students and spoke with each parent as they brought their kids to the camp.

    Sure this is difficult for the LL teachers but our LL teachers, except for you, are always VERY positive about the experience during the conference. It is challenging sure, but rewarding. In fact, all LL teachers have expressed how great this experience was for them and the evals are amazing.

    iFLT will continue as iFLT if Learning Labs are central to the format of the conference. Thanks to Grant for stepping up this year. It will continue to be a wonderful conference.

    I am now writing so much more than I intended. One last statement – my teachers report that the Learning Labs are by far the BEST PD they ever do and far surpasses ‘sit and get’.


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