From Ben Lev:
…as seen on at a bench on the Yuba river (CA) last week:
From Ben Lev:
…as seen on at a bench on the Yuba river (CA) last week:
Now that the problem has surfaced from beneath the waves, we are left to ask what we’re going to do, right?
Now that we are aware, now that we can see the scarred underbelly of our profession, will we just start treating all of our students in the same way?
I don’t think that’s possible. We can’t just change to include all of our students in the AP track so that brown and black kids are not left out as they have been. Psychosocialization is a very subtle thing and we can’t just rewire ourselves and solve the problem. [Click To Continue Reading...]
I just heard on the news that only 1 of 6 teachers are willing to go back into the classroom if it is done online. And yet, the news that it won’t be safe to return into physical buildings for at least 3 or 4 months – certainly not in 3 or 4 weeks – means that neither the online nor the physical settings will work. What to do?
Well, if we want a paycheck and if Trump fails to force schools to re-open next month (I don’t see how he can succeed at cutting off federal funding for schools that don’t re-open, as he has threatened), then we just have to figure out how to teach our languages online. [Click To Continue Reading...]
You may want to read this if you still use Circling as a TPRS/CI tool. It engages the mind in thinking about the pattern and CI is about disengaging the mind and making acquisition a completely unconscious process.
Circling was invented by someone in Blaine Ray’s circle (not exactly sure who it was, maybe Blaine himself) around 2004. I was in the front row of a training here in Denver that summer when he unveiled it.
It seemed to make sense at the time. The problem is that it conflicted with the research. [Click To Continue Reading...]
The agonizing over opening schools, those conversations, is usually explained as based on a fear that kids will get behind. I don’t know about other subjects, but there is never being “behind” in languages. Everyone is exactly where they are.
At the end of ten months of torture in traditional classes, the kids are en masse promoted to the next level and life is good. The kids and the teacher recover over the summer and the nightmare begins again in the fall.
The teachers at the end of level two take a deep breath as more kids drop out after each year to where 96% are gone from their program (what if it were a business? – with the real talent (read “white privilege” – no blame, but let’s get real and put on our big boy pants when we say things like that) go on to the AP classes to receive the blessing of the College Board in the form of “AP Spanish” or “AP German”, etc. on their transcript and everybody keeps pretending that the non-CI language program is not a piece of shit. [Click To Continue Reading...]
There has been a lot of recent discussion in the World Language teaching community about performance assessments that ask students to interact with authentic resources and integrate all three ACTFL modes of communication – interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational. This movement towards asking student to interact with the language in a holistic way, as opposed to memorizing dialogues from textbooks or learning decontextualized grammar paradigms and applying them to sentences that seem random to the students, is to be applauded, as it does contain some of the necessary ingredients for building true language proficiency, namely reading, hearing and understanding the language.
However, the authors have found that asking students to interact with authentic resources in the first year of language study becomes oftentimes an exercise in frustration for all but a few students , leaving their teacher to attempt to drag the rest of the class through a task that is far above their comfort and ability level. Our position is that authentic resources can be used in a judicious way.
Our suggestion is simply to employ authentic resources, when teaching novices, as a springboard for class discussion and not a heavy slog through a morass of words that are incomprehensible to the majority of the class. Thus, students can be exposed to authentic cultural products while under the tender guidance of a skilled intermediary in the form of their teacher who can feed them comprehensible language and help them to express their thoughts and reactions to the product through skilled discussion and questioning techniques. Thus, the interpersonal and interpretive modes of communication are easily addressed, even with novice students.
Preparing students for the presentational speaking mode, however, takes more time than the first year of language study allows. The authors strongly advocate delaying presentational speaking until the end of year two at the earliest, or even later, depending on your students’ confidence and readiness.
Delaying presentational speaking in this manner builds equity into your program. Our profession must wake up to the need for all students to feel successful, even – or especially – those who are reluctant or unable to produce speech output in a whole-class setting for the first two years. The embarrassment and sense of public failure and humiliation that can result from being forced to perform too-early presentational speaking in front of the very people who mean the most to them – their peers – can lead our students to a lifetime of negative feelings towards the language. It also has a deleterious effect on the teacher, who struggles to build a program based on positivity when the presentational aspect of their program is so negative. The authors’ fervent wish is that ACTFL would recognize the reality of being a teenager today in our country and reconsider the expectation that real, live young people will willingly stand in front of their peers and speak in hesitant, forced, memorized, practiced, and stilted/inauthentic isolated words and phrases.
In an almost-paradoxical turn of events, if teachers can delay this kind of presentational speaking task until years two and three, they will find their students eager to display their growing language proficiency. However, like a blooming flower, this enthusiasm for speaking the language cannot be forced. If we ask students to speak presentationally in front of a group too early in their language careers, they might never get to that point.
Therefore, we must embrace the paradox that not speaking actually leads to better and more authentic speech, but later. Speech can’t be rushed. This is because the emotions rule everything, more than the brain, more than our externally-imposed school requirements.
In addition, the research unequivocally states that language acquisition follows from hours upon hours of input. Until we have provided that rich base of input through enough low-stress listening and reading, which alone can lead to fearless authentic output, we really have no business asking our students to stand and deliver in their growing language.
This morning I was doing my usual a.m. routine of sitting at the kitchen table answering emails, the usual. My eye caught the mess on the sink and countertops of my kitchen and my brain said, “Clean the fucking kitchen!”.
But my other eye caught on my computer’s desktop the image Danielle drew in our Zoom group meeting yesterday of Krashen and Marko dancing on the beach in the rain in L.A.
The drawing drew me in, which is the entire premise of the Invisibles, that images attract people’s attention more than words, reflecting the recent POWERFUL insight I had when Jesus was teaching when I read his Phase 3 text and I actually almost could see that the words were not really words, but a pic. What does this mean? [Click To Continue Reading...]
We want to be like pitching machines, which, being robotic, do not overly concern themselves with the ideas part/where the story goes. It’s like a director deciding to develop the dialogue for a film around the personality of an actor (the class) and not on a script connected to targets (the “curriculum”). There is no curriculum. Or, the curriculum is the language. Pick one.
Developing a story line should therefore be in part in the domain of the kids. We need only deliver the ball in the form of slow pitches that they can hit, and asking questions that reflect what they want to talk about (what I have called emergent language and what Tina and I call non-targeted language) and not on what we want them to learn (target structures), because the latter bores them and inhibits the great potential of comprehensible input.
In our concern to make the method work, we often take away from our students, the batters in our daily game, the only thing that they can control in the room – their own answers. We control too much, often listening to the same few kids to the exclusion of others. This causes those others to feel ignored and the class begins to feel like an exclusive club. The images – Invisibles and One Word Images – halt all that because when they have drawn the characters all the kids can hit the ball.
Here we are discussing the equity piece again – The ignoring of the many in favor of a few. We pitch to the class in such a way that only the fast processors – the fast ball hitters – can hit it and the class gets taken over by the superstars. Hmmm.
Has that ever happened to you, where a kid comes up after class and says, “I really had a good answer on that one Mr. Slavic but you didn’t look at me.” And then they justifiably try to guilt us a little before walking out of the room, like in Le Petit Prince (Ch. 8):
…elle avait toussé deux ou trois fois, pour mettre le petit prince dans son tort/she had coughed a few times to make the little prince feel like he was the one who had made the mistake:
– Ce paravent?/the windscreen?…
– J’allais le chercher mais vous me parliez!/I was going to get it but you were speaking to me!
Alors elle avait forcé sa toux pour lui infliger quand même des remords/So she coughed a bit harder just to make him feel a little more guilty.
In our defense, it is an almost impossible thing to read one shy adolescent’s mind hiding in a group of 35 kids, but it doesn’t mean we can’t try.
When we focus on trying to be some kind of master of ceremonies, some besotten clown-like entertainer, we forget what our main focus should be in class of simply pitching baseballs that they can hit. We don’t overpitch, because then we wear out our voices/arms and the kids can’t hit those pitches anyway and we all lose.
Just watch Blaine – his delivery is relaxed, unanxious, over the plate, and easy to hit. Everybody who wants to play gets their turn at bat when Blaine is the pitcher.
Focus on the beauty of the language, and not on what your students can or cannot do with it. Beauty always draws people in.
So does fun. It also draws people in. Beauty and fun – don’t teach another class without them.
I feel as if the “New CI” out there is very much about making money for the new breed of purveyors of CI, who explore and pollute the purity of the research in what has become a new CI marketplace that uses social media and the internet to sell very mediocre stuff that has strayed from the purity of what Blaine Ray introduced all those twenty years ago, and does little more than confuse people.
CI is not about us and we shouldn’t bend it to our bank accounts and those who do are hurting the movement. Instead of making up a million cute CI activities that end up, by their sheer number, confusing teachers, the real CI teachers of the future need to focus more on what helps children learn languages in our classrooms, and only that. [Click To Continue Reading...]
Are Sauk, Latin, Myskoke, Chickasaw languages asleep or is there something more going on? It’s easy to say they’re dead or on the point of extinction (in five years 70 of the remaining 139 Native American languages will disappear). But are they really going to be dead? Will they just be asleep? What’s really going on with these languages?
In my view, Jacob (Sauk), John and Robert (Latin), Kate (Myskoge), Cherokee (Wade) and Josh Hinson (Chickasaw) may intuitively want to do more than just “wake up” or “revitalize” their languages. Maybe they want to hear them again, loudly and everywhere amidst the laughter and tears of life – fully alive again. But why would they want to do that?
Are their goals to revive the culture via the language? The culture has been destroyed, either by time (Latin) or intentionally (U.S. Government systematically from 1900 to 1950 – see http://www.culturalsurvival.org/programs/elc/program).
It surely is about keeping the culture on life support and bringing it back to vibrancy via the language, of course. But maybe there is more going on here.
It’s like on a long bike ride in the mountains I will stop and sit in the quiet overlooking the magnificent vistas we are blessed with in Colorado. I close my eyes for a minute or two and then when I open them I see a lot more than I could see before: single trees, valleys, lakes, snowbanks (even in August) appear as if by magic once I have given my senses a chance to open up to them, to see more deeply.
So also, I ask if it is possible that there is more to hear in the world of sound? Could we, if we listen closely enough, hear the echoes of words which still remain somewhere in the air from centuries past? I know, it’s weird, but it’s my blog so I get to say what I want, to think how I want.
Where do words go after they are spoken? Is there a kind of residue, an echo, of them left over somewhere? Do they get to be fainter and fainter echoes of themselves in some parallel universe of sound?
When Sauk land was Sauk land, do the sounds made there by those who lived there remain as an etherically faint echo (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzV9QExGFQs). Could there be a place where those sounds still live? Are those working to preserve these languages drawn by that echo?
If one accepts the existence of an invisible world, an active place where all sorts of things are going on that we can’t see and so don’t pay any attention to, maybe there is also an inaudible world, a place where sounds/words, go after they are made/spoken.
The point about being happy – everyone in the classroom being happy – is at the crux of our discussion, or should be. For many in the CI world, it isn’t. The work has been too much focused on student gains and how the teacher can focus on their own skills and wonderfulness to bring them about.
Those are superficial things, housed in the mind, in ego. They alone cannot bring about the transformation in our teaching that we desire. We must learn to listen to our students’ hearts, and the only way we can do that is to listen to our own. [Click To Continue Reading...]
If online language instruction fails, people will lose their jobs, because they cannot deliver the product being sought by the customer.
I wonder how many of us have thought about that. Are we indeed so entitled that we think we will retain our jobs after this crisis even if we don’t maintain order in and bring real results to our online instruction? Will the eventual return to the school buildings really save us?
Yes, the pandemic will be over one day. But, is not a possibility that our customers will find themselves, both parents and children, happier with online asynchronistic – Alisa’s term – educational products that don’t exist in real time, pre-made products like those made by Kahn Academy and the like? Doesn’t it feel like it’s all slowly moving in that direction? [Click To Continue Reading...]
Anyone into conspiracy theories will enjoy this post. It raises questions about whether Krashen’s work is original. It also completely supports my NTCI concept vs. “targeted” CI.
This entry is from 2007. One of my middle school students – “K” – wrote 21 posts here in 2006 (back when it was just “the blog”) about her experiences in going from my then-TPRS middle school classroom into an IB traditional high school program in Lakewood, CO. By the way, she had cerebral palsy and on the first day of school in Lakewood had been re-directed by her French teacher to the special ed room. (This was a level 1 class, where all middle school kids were placed, in spite of the fact that she had had the second highest score in the state of Colorado on the level 1 National French Exam the year before.) In this post, “K”, who was also in my Theory of Knowledge class and had gotten very interested in how people learn languages, found in her high school textbook a reference to Simon Belasco’s work that pre-figures Krashen’s work. She went to explore it. The actual report is not below – I lost touch with K before I could get it. So below is K’s “summary” of the report. Here is K’s observations on the Belasco committee article from 1963, something well worth reading by any teacher interested in how we have arrived in the 57 years since at where we are now in WL pedagogy: [Click To Continue Reading...]
These people use language differently. They don’t just use words to convey ideas. There is something more to it. Those who descend from these people know about it. We don’t. Maybe some day we will. Their gaze seems to be more inward. It seems like such a different time!
There are so many experts selling CI stuff – disjointed strategies and activities – online now that it has all gotten just too big. It’s like going into one of those huge 800 acre markets in India divided into big sections where there are 570 people who all sell chicken. How much chicken do you need?
Same thing with the out-of-control CI marketplace. Too many activities. Too many strategies that don’t quite work in the classroom (because they are not part of an integrated whole. [Click To Continue Reading...]
This is from Frank James Johnson, the first person to join the PLC back in 2005 when it was known as “The Blog”:
Russian orchestra conductor Valery Gergiev: “The conductor’s eyes convey almost all of it. His hands give the orchestra a rhythmic hint: ‘Play now!’ But how to play is not in the hands. It is in the eyes and facial expression. You can show ‘Take care’, or give an orchestra the opposite: ‘More Fire!’ It’s all facial expression.” [Click To Continue Reading...]
Becker sent us this link to my last Teacher’s Discovery webinar. Thanks John:
Here’s the Google Drive link – looks like it was all posted by Chuck Verhey of Teacher’s Discovery. The folder has a copy of the video, a copy of the seating chart, Star Chart, and a transcript of the video. Looks like you’ve sent some folks some reading based on the chat.
Here’s the link
It looks like everything is connected to the Voces Digital textbook series from Teacher’s Discovery, the link to the general page is here:
Link to Voces Webinar Series [Click To Continue Reading...]
The George Floyd killing will reverberate through every facet of American life, and from there, to the world. An entire system of oppression is being exposed. It will reach everywhere and the change will be unlike any seen in the history of the world. This is my belief.
That is why Trump had to get elected, to expose the dark underbelly of the beast of white-induced injustice in so many areas of life. It had to be exposed. It has been going on too long, so long that many of us, all God’s children, have forgotten what He wants from us, and how to behave. [Click To Continue Reading...]
Can you imagine the frustration there must be in trying to learn a language in the old way?
I got the email below from a front line worker in NYC. I include my responses – in bold – because they bear heavily on why your are a member of this PLC:
I am a family nurse practitioner based in NYC who is looking to acquire French primarily as a language requirement for deployment with Médecins Sans Frontières and other humanitarian aid organizations. I am aiming to be at least B2 level. My primary issue with all language learning is hesitancy with speaking and mental translation. This sentence contains bias against the research. People expect to be able to not hesitate when producing speech. This is impossible bc of the dynamic being thereby forced on the unconscious mind, which alone guarantees free and natural speech output ONLY AFTER YEARS, with no thinking/hesitation/conscious control involved. So all you have to do is listen and understand what you hear and you will gain a high level of proficiency naturally w/o effort. Simple. Magical. No effort on your part. Just exposure to lots of listening and soon thereafter reading.
You cannot think your way to your goals here. No one should ever have to experience the high levels of frustration and failure that you have experienced in the past. Is you job working in NYC not hard enough? I won’t go into this bc of time, of course, in an email, but I would suggest that you read the beginning parts of each of the attached books (no charge – we should be paying you for your service to humanity), Doing that will provide you with the intellectual conviction for the plan I express below for you.
In the introductory sections of the attached books, (you may only need to read one to get the idea of how language acquisition ACTUALLY works. If you can thus become aware of what process is actually involved in moving to deeper and deeper command over the language, and eventual speech, you will see something that will allow you to not look at your lack of fluency as a “problem” but rather as an approaching enjoyable and effortless journey of simply hearing and understand enough language input in the form of reading and listening.
Just this simple process allows you to BYPASS your “thinking about” the language in the conscious mind and instead bathe your deeper mind, the part that ACTUALLY ACQUIRES LANGUAGE AND OVER TIME LEADS TO SPEECH IN A SLOW AND YEARS LONG BUT VERY ELEGANT NATURAL PROCESS THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SLEEP AND THEN SUDDENLY ONE DAY, WHEN YOU ARE WORKING AFTER THIS INITIAL PERIOD THAT YOU ARE IN NOW, with les MSF, in the future, you will find that suddenly as if by magic you will have command of speech output.
SO acquiring a language is merely a function of time and effortless listening and understand and then you can automatically speak, sans effort. How grand, n’est-ce pas? How absolutely wonderful! but in each of my past I have some background in the romance languages also; I have also studied Italian. Yes you studied Italian w. the intent to LEARN IT, but we don’t do that in real language classes Just listen and enjoy. YUP! That’s it! I have 1-2 years in terms of time to learn to this goal (or indeed well beyond it– which would be welcome as well.)
I am wondering if you offer private lessons utilizing the TPRS method. TPRS seems a much better fit for me and a much more effective method than others I have tried. My lack of French fluency has been a block in my career toward helping people in crisis and disaster situations all over the world for some time. I would like to take a decisive step toward making that obstacle a thing of the past.
I may have an answer. Generally, my work is about teaching teachers, not students of language. However, you have given me an idea. I am currently training a group of teachers on Zoom in teaching a language online (forced due to COVID, which you may know a thing or two about.).
We have a meeting today at 3:00 Eastern Time. I am inviting you and if you show up I will teach you French and you can thereby get started on meeting your goals today. Then you can decide if what I offer is helpful to you. I think it will be. I will teach a lesson of the type I want my Zoom group teachers to eventually be able to do online in the fall. I won’t do any pedagogy if you are there, no teacher talk, no English. Just teaching you French so that you can acquire (not “learn”). No focus on your speech, just focus on the message, as per the introductions to the attached books. you will speak after you have enough listening input in the form of my understandable speech. Wait. Listen. All of the French you hear me say will form a pool in your UNCONSCIOUS mind and from it you will speak, but the pool has to be big. Speech too early is not speech.
This can be our starting point. I am committed to your goals. If I were not, I would be crazy, bc your goals are for the betterment of humanity in service to others. So look over these books – just the introductory sections to get the REASONS why we will learn in the way I am suggesting.
Go beyond. Go past the insanity of all of the old ways you have tried to acquire a language.
Ben (Peace Force Member) [Click To Continue Reading...]
Our reaction to the COVID crisis has so far been to frantically search the internet for band-aid solutions, activities that do little for us or for our students.
Our reasoning seems to be that if we can just find the right activity to keep our students at least minimally involved in our online instruction – and the research be damned – we can weather the crisis and keep our jobs, breathing a huge sigh of relief when we can get back into full forced control over kids, where nobody can see how ineffective much of our instruction is for the vast majority of our students. [Click To Continue Reading...]
Here is a link to an article in USA Today about kids creating images:
Nine years ago I met Kate Taluga at a conference on saving native endangered languages in Oklahoma. She also attended a National TPRS conference around that time and presented on building community with students – I believe that conference was in Las Vegas. I remember enjoying speaking with Susan Gross and Kate after Kate presented on how to engage students in class with jobs and with the simple principle of loving kindness. Kate is a Native American teacher of Creek language in Florida. After all those long years, when so much has happened, I got this message from her just today: [Click To Continue Reading...]
What do you do if you get more than 18 students or more in your Invisibles online classes in the fall? Don’t you need to see their faces in order for the Invisibles to work online, since grading them is based on seeing their faces?
I was asked this question on a webinar with Teacher’s Discovery this week.
I mumbled an answer about faking that you could see them, but then Corinne Bourne said, “Why not ask the school for a really big screen to teach online with?”
That’s the answer. [Click To Continue Reading...]
Up until now, after twenty years of doing CI or some other form of it like TPRS, I have always thought that the two ways of teaching were mostly mutually exclusive.
But now, I see no reason why we can’t mix the two, especially in level 1 language classes. That’s where all the oppositional sparks fly when we try to put CI instruction into our language classes.
Why not wait a year to put the pedal down on the CI, and do both in the first year? It makes a lot of sense. It gives us street cred with parents, admins and with our more traditional colleagues. It shuts out all the negativity from people who don’t understand the research and the standard. [Click To Continue Reading...]