If we are to truly grasp the magnitude of Dr. Krashen’s Learning vs Acquisition Hypothesis in order to fully implement it in our teaching, we must guide our students away from using their conscious minds in our classrooms into greater use of their intuitive faculties.
Mike Peto teaches this way. He knows from experience that when we teach without a tightly-scripted plan, we can open ourselves to the creativity of the class and free everyone from an agenda.
Mike says that when we plan the whole lesson out, we lose something essential to the process of language acquisition: the spontaneity and joy that come from following student creativity and serendipity. Lots of planning is necessary in other school subjects, but it can be a detriment in language classes.
Opening ourselves up to feeling not in complete lockdown control of the class is the only way to gain the peaceful feeling that comes from laying down the burden of all that extra planning work.
What would happen if we started to rely more on our intuition in class? Would things fall apart? Probably not in the way new teachers fear. They might be surprised! Our students actually do want to communicate with others about topics they find interesting, if they were given the chance.
This is a big shift for many teachers, and many may want to just use non-targeted input some of the time to see how it affects their classes. Good, just do that much. Do SOME non-targeted work. Many teachers have reported that the class attends better to the input when it is non-targeted. Why not try it out and see if that is true for you?
Attention is such a gossamer thing anyway. It floats here and there of its own accord. It really cannot be compelled by the teacher. We can force students to pretend they are paying attention, by holding their bodies in a certain way*, but in reality each person has to choose to lend their attention to the goings-on in class. The only way to get real control over the class’s attention is, paradoxically, when the class itself is controlling their attention, because they want to hear the messages we are imparting to them.
When we have everything planned down to the words we will use that day, we lose that possibility. The students are not stupid. They will see that we are really not there to converse in a relaxed way, but that have a hidden agenda.
Take a leap of faith one of these days, lay aside the targets, and see if there is a shift in the energy in your classroom. NTCI is really a system, and it is odd how structured a non-targeted classroom can be. Non-targeted does not mean non-structured!
*That is whey I got rid of Classroom Rule #5 about sitting up, shoulders straight, etc. We can’t dictate posture in a child.