I wanted to comment on what skip said this morning in a comment but I got that annoying security rule, so here it is as a post:
…I have been reminded a couple of times recently how common it is to try to use CI to TEACH the language – vocab, present tense, imperfect etc. I am re-posting something that Ben posted during our 2013 Maine conference. It made SUCH an impression on me. I have really been trying to live by that quote this year. I really think the quote describes TRUE CI teaching….
Here is the quote again:
“We must stop stop stop trying to teach content. See what content happens. Dance in CI with the kids. Grab a target structure and saunter on down to the river, the Lazy River, and just float down where the water goes naturally and quit trying to push the water upriver in the direction you want. Follow the flow of the conversation. Let the CI flow…. see where it goes…. ¨
Thank you Ben.
Thank you skip. The odd part is that the Lazy River does not seem to flow through school settings. It probably doesn’t flow through the workplace much either. It probably mainly flows through homes, as very little ones get to listen to the big ones around them talk as they simply listen, taking what they hear into the cells of their body and taking into them also the feelings carried in the voices of the big ones around them.
Mom of course is the most important big one. Her soft soothing voice at bedtime, when the little one gets to hear a story (if one is lucky enough to have such a mom) reveals to us not just ideas but also emotions. We learn to live through language. Yet we in our classrooms have available to us a fraction of that time. We have so little time to bathe our students in interesting and compelling input. The challenge before us is indeed major.
I was happy to read that Eric is shifting ALL of his instructional time to CI. In DPS Reuben Vyn is the only one who does that, and his scores are far higher than the rest of us who don’t use CI all the time. He probably mentions classroom objects as Diane describes above.
But the fact is that there is some unknown quality in schools that makes of a thing that is naturally joyful and slow and fun and absorptive a thing that is unnaturally joyless and fast and not fun and stuck in the conscious mind. So we end up forgetting the Lazy River and we are like that old woman who lived in a shoe in terms of too many children.
But skip, you remember the Lazy River, or try to (it is not an easy thing to do in a school!), and when you succeed in diverting it into your classroom, everyone benefits. It’s the closest we can get to home and our youngest years.
Here is a selection from a poem that speaks to that idea that language is about love and rest and happiness and family, and that the growing up process fully determines how we learn a language. If we don’t have that family element in our classrooms, that Lazy River, it means that something is missing and what is missing is flow.
This selection is from Demain, dès l’aube by Victor Hugo:
Oh! que de soirs d’hiver radieux et charmants,
Passés à raisonner langue, histoire et grammaire,
Mes quatre enfants groupés sur mes genoux, leur mère
Tout près, quelques amis causant au coin du feu!
J’appelais cette vie être content de peu!
Oh How many radiant and charming evenings,
Spent talking about language, history and grammar,
My four children grouped on my knees, their mother
Close by, a few other friends chatting by the fire!
This was a life of being happy with little!
Les Contemplations, Victor Hugo, November, 1846