If the first rule of the classroom is to maintain discipline so that learning can occur, we know that the four pre-TPRS activities described on the handouts link of this site work and effectively set up success with stories later, because discipline is maintained.
One may ask if these activities would work for older students or even adults. I know that they work for adults because I have used them at the university level both in for credit classes and in evening adult classes. I see no reason why they wouldn’t work with high school students. It all comes back to mixing comprehensible input with personalization. That is the formula put forth by Susan Gross and, as far as I am concerned, is the last word on the subject.
Anyone who can understand the language in a relaxed environment, in which the teacher is clearly not stressed about any perceived failures of the students, and in which the students are being talked about in a positive way, will learn the language. Whether a certain method will work or not is not about a person’s age, but about the degree of CI + P available in the class.
That raises another question – can methods that do NOT guarantee discipline and that do NOT deliver CI + P work at any age level? I think not. In that sense, grammar/translation methods (the book) cannot reach elementary school kids , but they can’t reach anyone else, either. The only people who pretend that they do work are the high school and university teachers, the foxes who guard the hen house, but produce miserable outcomes year after year with virtually no accountability by oblivious supervisors.
It is a sad fact that people who act knowledgeable about a subject, even if they are not, are accorded positions of power in society. It is a tragedy that this idea applies so thoroughly to our foreign language classrooms. We are not talking about merely losing money at the expense of these blowhards, we are talking about losing CHILDREN as a result of these so-called professionals who teach without any accountability!
I hate what those fox people are doing to our children. I don’t hate them, but I surely hate what they are getting away with. Like the blowhard Wall Street bankers who are merely criminals, and no more. I am sure that these teachers and bankers are nice people, but I hate what they are doing to our country. Like Jody said, we want to see real results with real kids.
Amd yes, thank you for asking – I am one that thinks that what millions of American children experience in part of their daily lives in our schools has a deeper impact on our nation’s overall mental health than those guardian foxes of the old ways of teaching have any idea. They have a gnarly case of hubris, in fact.
What about Rosetta and other expensive programs like that? Do they deliver the CI + P? In my own experience, they do not. Many people have tried to acquire languages from those programs, but have failed. The CI is simply not there – rather, there are a lot of confusing bells and whistles, but there is no clear flow of interesting and comprehensible language, and there is certainly no personalization. They are making a ton of money at Rosetta, but is there a moral side to this? Is their price of $300 or so for their lukewarm (at best) language programs justifiable? What is going on in our country?
What about the Rassias method and similar methods? I have discussed this topic on this blog and elsewhere. One of the points that I made was that it takes extremely high energy and extremely highly motivated college students to even begin to get that method to work.
The fact is that the laid back pace of the PQA done in the four pre-story activities mentioned above is by design. We have to learn to go slowly when teaching using TPRS-based methods, not just so that our students understand us, but to conserve our energy so that we can teach up to five times a day.
Why should I run around the room dressed up like Molière spouting out incomprehensible input when only the “best” students are able to hang on to the back of the fast moving train, with many students sprawled in the dust behind it, when I could invite the students into the TPRS club car, lean back in a comfortable chair, never the clown, and let the CI + P train take us where we want to go together as a relaxed and harmonious group? It sounds like a good idea to me, and, besides, I don’t have a Molière costume, although I would like one very much.
On the CI + P Express, we take frequent breaks from our enjoyable discussions to read or listen to music, or do some writing, as the train takes us slowly but surely to our destination of fluency. We end each academic year (each stop on our journey) liking each other as much as we did at the beginning of the year, or more, which can only be a good thing considering the current state of the real educational product in our nation’s schools.