I’m not saying that songs, games, and other micro-activities are not worth our spending class time on, but they are as mere shooting stars out of the galaxy that is CI. Why not just teach the entire galaxy with stories and turn stories into songs and songs into stories because songs are stories and stories are songs, so that the kids can see the brilliance of the whole language and not just parts of it?
I guess we have to define a song. I am calling a song anything that can be defined as a story is defined – a delivery system for interesting and meaningful comprehensible input. To me, a song must be as a story – steeped in CI and steeped in all of those things that we do in stories to make them meaningful and interesting and comprehensible to our students.
Languages are verbal galaxies, and they are what we are studying. They contain infinitely possible star/word arrangements, and they can spawn entire worlds (Baudelaire, Cervantes, Hafiz, et al), each one well worth spending at least a few light years in for sure, if we but could…).
As our students contemplate the wonders of the heavens by gazing at them, by studying how they are built (yes, grammar has its place on the language altar at which I kneel), and by listening to their silence, do we really want to handicap them by only teaching them about certain stars, songs that don’t make sense to the kids, games, grammar, the pieces of the whole but not the whole?
It all comes down to CI again. Songs as CI are perfect, and Michele and Corinne are pointing clearly to the future of TPRS when they talk about songs as CI delivery systems (see recent comment here by Michele on that point). We can certainly point to the galaxy of language in all its glory by teaching our kids songs as CI. I really want to learn how to do that.
I have compared CI to a comet, but I like the image of a galaxy better. Galaxies are far bigger. Each language on earth is a galaxy in the universe that is language-ness. I’ll leave it to the linguistics people, the astronomers of language, to study the specifics of the big picture. I’ll stick to the individual galaxies, and the one closest to my heart, the French galaxy, and my favorite world in it, Saint-Exupéry, who had a few things to say himself about stars.
But I certainly don’t want to shortchange my kids by hiking them up into the mountains to look for fire and rain (we love you John) and just pointing to the rain. Songs that don’t become stories are rain, the shooting stars, and grammar study is like looking at the geometry of the constellations, but doing stories as songs or songs as stories as long as they are delivered in the form of CI is to look at the entirety of the heavens. That is what our students want, and what, apparently, Michele’s students demand.
To compare it to music, studying grammar is like hearing one measure of a Bach concerto, doing a song sans CI would be to hear and study maybe two or four measures of it, but we can only hear and absorb the entire piece by the master unless we try to absorb the entire musical idea he has set forth for us from start to finish. I feel good that I have undertaken recently to come to an understanding of where, in an almost rimbaldian attempt (I just wanted to say rimbaldian), TPRS is headed, and it seems that these last blogs just all keep pointing to the same thing over and over – CI. That feels good and right to say that. It is a safe issue for my wonderings and wanderings.
An entire Bach concerto or an entire galaxy – why not teach those things instead of the individual pieces, the notes, the words, the songs sans CI, the phonics, the parts, the games, the activities. I did not become a teacher to teach my kids how to play games. I became a teacher to teach them about galaxies.