Blaine on Targets – 1

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4 thoughts on “Blaine on Targets – 1”

  1. “I look for break down and then practice the breakdown. So when I see breakdown, I then have a structure to work on.”
    This makes sense with what Blaine told me at ACTFL: He teaches one sentence at a time. I understand this to mean that he teaches a sentence until it is comprehensible to all (as opposed as to teaching it for output). Breakdown, or failure to understand must be addressed in order to have CI. This is also called staying in-bounds.
    So we start the conversation. (Or maybe a student does). Or we fish for a topic or we work from a topic and fish for something interesting about that topic. The topic may come from a picture, an event, the weekend, a MT, a story listening. (By topic, I mean the something that we talk about, since, if we are going to talk, we have to talk about something.)
    We follow the interest. We stay inbounds. We teach to the eyes. We look for breakdown. We fix the engine with comprehension. We advance the communication a sentence at a time.
    “The structure comes from seeing where the student isn’t confident.” Confidence lowers the affective filter as working on the structure increases comprehension.
    I am just trying to synthesize what all is happening.

  2. What you describe is the “what”, Nathaniel. It is focusing on comprehension and the exchange of ideas. What I think is happening, and has been for years, is a kind of subtle argument among us about the “how” of the what. One how is to use targets but that has been dealt a crushing blow by Krashen lately when he said that T1 does not align with his theories. So each of us gets to define how we want to do it. It makes sense – we each have different teaching personalities. My inner compass says to align with the research, however. That may have nothing to do with your comment above, of course.

  3. In the early 90’s I attended one of Blaine’s first workshops. Lucky for me he was assigned the same book I was. I bought his vocabulary lists and rights to his vocab tests. So targeting was big for me at that time. I also had the 10 minutes of Disney films on Fridays. The kids would write down ten words they understood. To get them to challenge themselves, they would generate a class list and I would create a mini-story from it. It was always more interesting if the words were interesting. My proudest moments were when they began to volunteer to create the stories as their classmates acted them out. The output was not forced for them and they enjoyed forcing my output.

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I was there when Blaine (afterwards) objected to the use of “got stuck.” But it was Winnie the Pooh trying to get into the tree/house, and he’s chubby – so the native speaker used, “got stuck” (se atascó) and though it’s super low freq, it felt completely appropriate…and comprehensible. She (the teacher) established meaning and had the word plus translation on the board. I think if the Ss got the meaning of it in the context of the rest of the lesson, then who the heck cares whether they retain ‘se atascó’ or not?
    It’s more respectful to use the word needed than to constantly circumlocute/dumb it down. This is where the art of teaching & decision-making enters in. She could have said, “Winnie the Pooh could not enter.” But she served it up more naturally and the kids understood.

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