If a cow is in the fields and you want it to give milk, you don’t talk to it about the various kinds of grass to eat, analyzing with it the soil that the grass grows in, and you also don’t try to make it create milk before eating any grass. You just let it eat grass all day.
In the same way, we don’t talk to our students about the language we are teaching them, we don’t analyze the structure of the language that the words exist in, and we also don’t make them speak before they have heard the language a lot. We just let them listen to and read the language all the time, and, soon enough, they produce good writing and good speech.



5 thoughts on “Cows”

  1. There’s perhaps one problem for FL teachers that someone has recently brought up here. They’ve (we’ve?! I,ve!!!???) been conversing quite intimately with students about what normally seems to turn them on the most , thereby largely neglecting mundane conversational vocabulary that tourists need in order to function adequately as strangers in such non-anglophone public places as the street, hotels, stores, restaurants, museums, etc.
    Of course, it’s always possible to build that vocabulary little by little, slowly, cumulatively, into our PQAing and storyasking. Also, just prior to students leaving and/or upon their entering a non-anglophone region, we then can most opportunely engage them in practice of essential FL vocabulary for getting-along-with-non-anglophone-strangers through such programs as Ben’s monkey-goes-to-Paris CD. Anybody have more ideas for an interesting manner of preparing FL students not only to interact regularly as apprentice FL comprehenders and communicators re mundane everyday needs in non-anglophone public places both abroad and, where possible, within one’s own local area?

  2. Ben is right, language learning is primarily a matter of acquistional process, not instructional methodology. And, of course, the acqusitional process works when the proffered communicational interchange targets the learners’ most personal interests in a way they find highly compelling or at least amusing. So it’s a new brainer for us TPRSers to engage them re those interests.
    Once again, the problem is that staight-on heavy emphasis on play-acting the necessarily non-intimate language of transactions in non-anglophone public places does not generally maintain high student interest, even though it is something they may later want very much to master– like just before a trip abroad that, at this point of time, they do not really anticipate as realistically foreseeable or,maybe, not even yet as desirable. So how do we get that language of mundane everyday transactions into the acquisitional process either without boring everyone to death or asking stories that are much too long?
    Notice that I don’t even mention the problem of academic and other so-called “more serious” content. I think we all generally agree that proficiency in this area is best left to 3rd or 4th year, or even later

  3. Another big problem for us TPRSers is satisfying the mandated emphasis on culture. That’s because the mandate is framed in terms of formal instruction and rote learning rather than experiential acquisition. Furthermore, in-depth instruction of culture requires either an unrealistic amount of FL use or too much use of English if we are ever to hope for both intensive and extensive FL acquisition. So it appears that the best we can do is use the students’ own culture to attract their attention to communication in an FL and then drag in from time to time some amusing or otherwise compelling comparisons. And those not directly experienced comparisons will be less memorable in Fl than the more personalized content in which we embed them.
    How do we, then, assess so-called cultural learning? If students are acquiring well basic linguistic fluency, are we going to lower their grades because they aren’t receptively ready yet for cultural aspects that we consider important. After all, the most important thing about another culture, often is it not the language through which is expressed?

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