In this new untargeted work, we must keep front and center in our consciousness that we still must absolutely shelter vocabulary and unshelter grammar. This TPRS mantra has been true for decades, though it is often ignored by practitioners, coaches and trainers, and it is still true in this vision of untargeting our input.
We cannot allow ourselves to become incomprehensible or we have lost the whole purpose of TPRS. Now, do we need to make sure that every single second, every tiny fragment and particle of language, is comprehensible? I have come to think not, and so does Stephen Krashen. Anyway, how can we really be sure that everyone is getting everything all the time? We cannot. Targets just make us feel like we are getting all of them all the time, because if we are so diligently sticking to them and pausing and pointing, it feels more structured, you can count the reps, you can even use a baseball counter like I used to do, you can feel the reps piling up in the kids’ ears.
But, and here is the crux of the question on untargeting: are your diligently-accumulated reps really making it from the kids’ ears into the kids’ hearts? Into the kids’ mysterious and all-important Language Acquisition Devices, which for all we know are actually located in the chest not the cranium?
Maybe God put those shrouded little black language boxes in there to lead us into the realm of the heart and out of the forest of the mind; maybe this is His gift to us language teachers.
How can we be sure that the reps that we are doggedly pursuing, even at the expense of ease and connection, how can we be sure that they are actually reaching the kids’ hearts, or to wherever their Language Acquisition Devices live? The kids must be attentive, preferably riveted to the messages.
But then how can we know for sure that they are attentive? After all, they can, if they are good little girls and boys, fake attentiveness by knowing what we are looking for. We tip our cards with jGR and they can, if they care to, just play the game and actually not be all that attentive deep down. Really, we can’t tell,
So anything, anything to up the ante, to move from ho-hum to compelling, in order to make those little attention cheaters forget to cheat and just ATTEND, because the message before them is so compelling – that is what I want to chase down. And untargeted, unshackled communication is that for me. What I have chased down after a decade and a half of tinkering.