Don’t Teach Too Much Language

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Teach Too Much Language”

  1. This is a good reminder. In my school, we have a 66% latino population. Not all are bilingual, but many have mixed backgrounds in Spanish, making them several ticks above the average student who has little to no exposure to Spanish from their childhood. I find that many of my students know a lot more Spanish than I thought, and so I feel tempted often, and have fallen into the temptation on a couple occasions, of teaching too much language.

    1. Unfortunately, that is the case with some students in my classes. They’re either faking being bored or just keeping silent. Reticence is a big issue with students at my school. Some though are interested in what we do even if they understand everything already. A couple were moved from the Heritage class because they “don’t speak” but have the understanding of a native speaker. I believe they can speak but refuse to because there’s some pain or shame there. Who knows though.

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Jake, I don’t pretend to know your situation but perhaps after the oral front-loading – stretching out the literacy phase, which many Heritage speakers need work on because their Heritage language literacy skills may lag behind English- would slow you down/keep your language narrower & in-bounds since often, when the language we’ve been working with is also visual/written, we Ts can glean a better sense of what is comprehended – by doing spot comprehension checks, volleyball /partner translations, pop up grammar, and other slowing it down strategies…
    I remember being shocked to observe a Heritage speaker trying to read a story – his decoding was very weak – some of my L2 learners could decode better (but NOT understand) though he understood everything when it was read to him… So perhaps more focus on write & discuss for majority Heritage learner classes, to improve their reading fluency. Not to beat a dead horse but reading fluency is composed of both decoding and encoding – (understanding what we’ve decoded…)

  3. It’s a good insight about using Write and Discuss to spark their dormant reading capacity. Would it be fair to the non-Heritage kids in the class? Probably so, esp. if the reading material was built from the Create Phase of the Star.

    I’ve not had too many heritage kids in French, maybe half a dozen. What I learned is that they won’t read on their own no matter what you tell them bc they want to build stories w the rest of us. So that is why I say that the reading materials are best group-created and chosen from Create Phase tableaux and stories.

    I really like the way the reading options go deep and do such a thorough job. There used to be 20 of them but now I’ve narrowed them down to 14 heavy hitters.

    One thing is certain – Heritage kids don’t need to be listening, nor writing, nor speaking in class. Heritage kids need to be reading, and probably as a member of the whole community.

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