Bien Dit

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9 thoughts on “Bien Dit”

  1. Sorry, I can’t help. We use Allez Viens. Well, they’re in the back collecting dust.

    As far as keeping the “academic” component, I would be so brazen as to ask what exactly that means. Literately, I would ask who ever is in charge and ask them what does that mean? What do I need to cover, minimally?

    Of course, having your own plan before hand and bypassing the above is good too. Asking yourself, what are your mandates is good. I would choose targets, try and personalize but allow “shelter vocabulary” but not grammar.

    I had worked with some colleagues that used Bien Dit. There was a unit/chapter on weather. I would use one of those weather activities and add an activity from the book. For example, you have “It was sunny” so “_____went to the park” building from these two structures you can then open up to asking a story. You have to make it REALLY silly from then on. Putting the structures into compelling and meaningful context is the best you can do. The bad thing with my colleagues is that district-wide they had to use exams from the book. Really? That is so oppressive, it’s downright shutting down FL programs.

    That is the best I can offer you.

    1. “my colleagues is that district-wide they had to use exams from the book”


      I betcha that any of these FL teachers in your district that have gone through these exams for any significant amount of time would agree with you that they blow and would be happy to form a coalition, a cartel (funny?), a committee with you to change that policy.

      I just don’t understand how you could be teaching FL for more than a few years and not start to inquire about SLA theory and how to put it to practice. Anyways, the wind is at our backs. And times, they are a changin’.

      BTW: did Bob Dylan ever get back to Nobel? It’s like Bob Dylan is the CI teacher who inspired generation after generation and Nobel is ACTFL. Mr. Dylan is clearly telling us how little these accolades matter in relation to the human experience.

      1. Sean, to clarify, it’s another district about an hour away from my district, Fresno. When I found out when trying to have a dialogue during Regional professional Learning for FL teachers here in the valley. I tried to show him the Matava scripts but he said, that sounds cool but ALL teachers in my district have to take the same exam from the BOOK! This is so insulting to our profession.

        I on the other hand, want to convince my principal to go CI/TPRS for our dept especially when our dept. chair retires. The other FL teacher is friendly and could do a hybrid or implement some CI. That I am sure of. It seems possible to even put this into the job description because last year at another site they put in the description “Masters recommended. Must be familiar with Project based learning with a background in entrepreneurship.”

        So this is why I cross my fingers for the future.

  2. I’m a German teacher, so I can’t help directly, either, but I agree with Steven: what do they mean by academic?

    Do they mean that you should use “academic language” (i.e. technical terms) for your discipline? If your discipline were linguistics or even “the grammar of French”, then using grammar terminology would be appropriate. However, the title of the course is generally “French 1” or something similar, and the stated goal is ability to use the language rather than talk about it. That means that you are teaching students Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS – notice how interpersonal is part of what we are supposed to be teaching) rather than Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP). “Academic Language” is inappropriate at the novice level. Ask ESL teachers like Claire Ensor about teaching CALP before students have a handle on BICS.

    Do they mean the course should be “rigorous”? Then define “rigor” and “rigorous”. It is not assigning a lot of homework, which is often simply a waste of time and onerous or burdensome rather than rigorous. I have a five-part definition of rigor. The first four items come from the US Department of State (see here –
    1. Depth and integrity of inquiry – allowing students to investigate a topic thoroughly and not just “cover” the material. (I had a seminary professor who used to say, “You can cover anything if you leave out enough.”)
    2. Sustained focus – perseverance so that a topic can be studied in depth
    3. Suspension of premature conclusions – learn to look for things that challenge our ideas
    4. Continuous testing of hypotheses – check our conclusions in many and varied settings
    5. Personal challenge – strive to be better today than we were yesterday, and even better tomorrow
    According to those definitions, a TPRS/TCI classroom may just be the most rigorous course a student has ever had. It may also be the most rigorous course you ever teach because you have to teach and support students in all of those areas.

    1. Well put Robert and as always your positions are well backed. I plan on having a BICS/CALP discussion with my admin cause they wanted me to team up with ELA to share vocab about stories like plot, climax, conflict etc…

  3. This is our first year using TPRS (French and Spanish). I believe the idea was to teach verb conjugations, sentence structure, etc. I am finding it exhausting to go from TPRS to Bien dit!, especially with alternating block schedules. There is no theory behind this: I believe the chairperson did not want to abandon the textbooks just yet.

    1. Margaret wrote: There is no theory behind this:

      Exactly. Richards and Rogers maintain that there was no theory behind the Grammar-Translation Method, but that is in a sense false. It was the outworking of a set of ideas about the nature of language and the nature of learning. We now know that the ideas behind the method were not accurate, but there was a theory.

      There is, however, no theory behind an “eclectic” approach that tries to combine mutually contradictory understandings of the nature of language and language learning. If I am going to use the “tools in a toolkit” argument, then I need to be certain that all of the tools come from the same toolkit. Otherwise it’s like trying to build a house with tools designed to demolish that house. “Want to construct a second floor? Oh look! Here’s a nice wrecking ball; let’s use that!” “Give me that crowbar; I want to screw in this light socket.” Sure, makes lots of sense.

    2. Hey Margaret. I’ve been able to escape using the textbook since using the CI approach, but it seems to me from comments from others over the years that the more one has to use a textbook the more frustrating it is.

      Perhaps think of creating an assessment that looks traditional – one that your admin would approve 0f – that you feel like your students could do well on. Like a CLOZE where students either plug in the past or present tense. Hopefully you wouldn’t have to do this for long before you can abandon the textbooks.

      Also, you can argue that IB and AP have already revised their exams to be much more comprehension based than grammar based.

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