I took the “no blurting/talking over” rule out of my list of rules this year. I may need to add it back on there because I have one level 2 class that is just too chatty during stories.
My recent thinking about the blurting issue has been that maybe if I slowed down more, there would be less blurting. When I then asked Anne about how she handles the L1 blurting during stories, she wrote this (italics are mine):
“I have taken to fixing the laser pointer on the no-English rule on the wall, and staring at the offender.  Lately what I do with management is to just slow down and quiet down, and point at the rule that is being violated.  I might say, in German, “Bobby, don’t forget…” and point to the rule while gazing intently at Bobby.” 
So, slowing down, such a powerful tool in what we do, might also provide some insights into how to increase classroom discipline.
On that same topic, I have decided firmly now to stop the story the minute I hear a word of English. One word, and we will read and discuss some text for the rest of the class (level 1, so enamored of stories right now, is not the problem – it’s the level 2 kids).
Thus, slowing down, or just stopping and going to reading when I hear that first word of English – neither of these may work on the blurting issue, but I will try both ideas. (Reading classes, admittedly more boring but possibly more instructional because of the powerful back and forth between the kids reading for translation into L1 and then massive discussion of same in L2, are a very good way to keep the room focused on the target language. I could do that all day, and there is far less blurting because the humor level is way down. I could easily go on with the story, but why, when reading classes are so easy to crank up CI!
To recap, I’m going to experiment with:
going slower during stories to prevent blurting in English (may or may not work).
stopping altogether at the first English (may or may not work).
bail out to reading, which is what I want to personally work more on this year anyway.



12 thoughts on “Blurting”

  1. I am going to be right there with you. They have so much that they want to say, but the air pollution is annoying. Today I stopped and apologized for speaking English. My afternoon French 2s are a bunch of really clever kids. When I stop them and remind them of the rule, they do produce French and I make a big fuss over their efforts. I try to remember to thank everyone who makes the effort to stay in French. Maybe let the kid who makes the best effort to stay in the flow of language gets to pick the PA at the end of the week? As frustrated as I have been lately, I am hearing emerging efforts at production. There is hope. I wonder about the reading. It is a way to control the English, but they are translating into English so they keep to continue using English. I do get the frustration part.

  2. I also struggle with one class blurting in English sometimes. It is getting better, since I have been distinguishing the “rule-breaker” from “the entire class”. That’s an obvious one, but I wasn’t doing it all the time. Like Anne said, I now point at the rule (or not, they know it) and look at them and just say that English is not allowed while we are having a Spanish discussion/story. They I go stand by them for a minute or two, making them kind of nervous, while I continue with class.
    Actually sometimes I don’t even say anything, come to think of it, I will just go directly over to their desk, while not saying anything, but looking right at them, and just stand by their desk, and then continue. This works better in my opinion, especially after I’ve pointed to the rule enough times. And I’d like to say I do this for any blurting, because I should, but only sometimes I will whisper to them that I’d like them to stay after the bell for a second so I can talk with them, not wasting much time doing so because the class is there to hear me speak Spanish.
    I know this is a different venue and clientele, but I often think about what my Chinese class looked like in Denver 2 summers ago. There were side conversations, and a small amount of blurting in English (still a GREAT class). I was a little annoyed at the English blurting. But did Linda benefit by not saying anything? Did she let the blurters save face with her, waiting for classmates to “reprimand” if they felt that was important enough to do? I know, I know, completely different world (compulsory vs by choice). Just something I think about sometimes. I’m still a hard-ass on that rule in my classroom as I know many of you are, nonetheless.

  3. Chill I am seeing a lot of oral production – level 2’s who were fairly quiet, of course, last year. This shit works. The best part is they have no idea what is going on – their not thinking about it all, they just speak – it’s out of their mouths before they realize what happened. And, your other point about wondering about the value of reading in terms of too much English, the way I approach that is to read very simple texts. Let’s talk next time we see each other, next summer I guess, about this. Because there is reading and then there are embedded readings as per Laurie, and they have different pedagogical goals. The kids get pissed off if I read the text too slowly to them or if we do so chorally, and so I can read a whole chapter to them in English to start a class in a few minutes, setting up the spin CI to follow, then go back the five pages, and crank up the CI. I am becoming a fan of non-challenging reading for that reason. Fast translation work that just rolls, almost at an unconscious level for them, as with the auditory CI. Stuff that they don’t have to switch over to the left brain to decode. Krashen has addressed level of challenge in reading but I wouldn’t know where to begin to look – any ideas? Jim, nice on the walk-over-to-their-desk move. It works. I can’t wait until, like end of January, when they haven’t done even one story since now – even some of those killer scripts you have recently sent me. And then, when we start up again, and I hear that first word of English and whoops there we go back to reading, that’s gonna have to work for me. But it all makes sense, because these level 2’s haven’t read enough anyway, and I can use this time to make up for what I perceive as some reading gaps now.

  4. Hey Carol. Yeah it’s Pirates with me too – didn’t have it last year. They – my 2’s – will read and discuss the rest of the book by Friday – five more chapters. And I intend to do at least two twexted songs this week as well. It is comical how fast they can read it aloud, as fast as they can speak the words in English. I love this idea of reading at a level that is really easy for them. It’s so easy just hangin out doing comprehensible input about an easy book and a few songs. Who said this stuff is hard? Little quick quiz at the end of each class to keep em on their toes during class. Cake. We stress too much.

  5. I’m liking the easy texts, but here’s another interesting piece of the puzzle that I may have already discussed here. My AP kids have to read some very challenging texts to go with the online program that I usually review with them at lunches (like your grammar group). I started printing those out for the whole class and reading them together to save time in the lunchtime sessions. If ideas develop, we talk about them. The kids responded especially well lately when I did a structured approach: on the board I put instructions. #1: read through the whole text to get the sound in your head. #2: read a second time and highlight everything you understand. #3 read a third time and compare highlighted sections with the person next to you. #4: skim the text a fourth time to be able to answer some questions. #5: read the text and circle words you don’t know but that are frustrating you.
    The kids really liked that. They got more each time. They got all the answers right (I’d written up reasonable gist questions in English), and then I read the whole thing in English to them. They read a challenging text, felt confident that they’d picked up some new words, learned some content (about Peter the Great), and didn’t have any fear. We’re starting to do this with a text once a week so that they get facility with creating CI out of an unfamiliar, challenging text.
    Other than that, I am fully on board with the non-challenging texts. Kids can do a whole lot with new structures if the text they’re discussing is completely easy to read. It’s a way to let them soar. I am having a great time giving first-year stories to the upper levels for embellishment. If I had more than one easy novel for them to read, I’d be right on that.

  6. I love this:
    “…the kids responded especially well lately when I did a structured approach: on the board I put instructions. #1: read through the whole text to get the sound in your head. #2: read a second time and highlight everything you understand. #3 read a third time and compare highlighted sections with the person next to you. #4: skim the text a fourth time to be able to answer some questions. #5: read the text and circle words you don’t know but that are frustrating you…”.
    Now, I know this is for AP kids. Could these steps work with a first year class? What would that look like? Would it be as effective?

  7. No. It would be horrible. They don’t have enough background to sort through it. I suppose the only example would be if they’re really interested in X, and you find an article on X and say to them while rubbing your hands, “Who can skim this and find out exactly (for example) how much Britney paid for her new dog?” You would have found the article with a lot of stuff they could understand…I would do only that piece of it–throw it up on the overhead and then be done with it.
    But no…not the multiple re-reads. With the advanced kids (all the way down to a couple level 2’s in that class), I want them to start realizing that by simply re-reading a text, they will start to understand more and more. It’s an important skill in life, not just for AP tests. When faced with the language in a new contract, or a new job, we have to be able to persist a bit if the language is unfamiliar.

  8. I feel as though I’m hogging the blog, but I have a related thought process here and hope you’ll excuse me. We did a second extended story today in my mixed advanced group. My native speaker had taken a complex text and simplified it a bit, adding some repetition, and I cut it down further into two easier pieces.
    When I cut down the story, the bare bones were like this: An old man made toys for the neighbor kids. One day, Father Frost came and asked him for help. The old man agreed, and now every New Year, children wait for toys.
    After watching the kids respond twice in a week to what is still pretty complex reading by the third go-round, I had an ah-ha moment.
    It is much less traumatic for the lower-level kids to read an advanced piece with all the details when they understand the underlying structure of the story. I suspect doing it this way may help teach them to scan for the important stuff and not to worry so much about the details.
    It’s really just the same process that Blaine taught us: tell a story, then spiral down into it for all the details. But it feels a bit backward because you can start with the spiraled-out story and cut it down to where the kids can manage it. And then, I suspect, they will pick up the vocabulary with the details that they want to own.

  9. What an interesting exercise–for more advanced kids to take the detailed story and synthesize it into the barebone skeleton story! So many ways in and out of reading and stories.

  10. I’m getting ready to read “Emil und die Detektive” with my mixed-class 3/4/APs. Today I showed them a PowerPoint that was excerpts from the text with accompanying pictures that illustrated the bare bones of the plot. (I want to re-work this PowerPoint to make it even more “transparent”, but that’s for another time.) This is the first time I’ve done this and am interested in seeing how it affects their ability to read the book. At the end of the PowerPoint, one student asked, “But how did such-and-such happen?” I smiled and said, “We’re going to read the book to find out.”

  11. Michele, I’ve been doing this here and there as well (if I understand correctly). I like to share upper-level readings with students sometimes, because they end up seeing a lot that they DO understand (gaining confidence), and they want to know what happens if the older kids created it (interest), right? So they pay more attention to the new structures/words during reading and discussion, and thus their +1 raises during that experience. Too much new stuff or too often done this way will probably not sustain that increase in +1, however.
    Nice anticipation Robert!

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