This is from a comment made earlier today:
…they learn how to read because they are not really conscious of reading….
This kind of reading turns the focus from paralysis by analysis of reading to just experiencing the flow of the images created by the words being read. In the one, the focus is on the words, in the other, on the meaning of the words, exactly as happens in TPRS with auditory input.
When reading input is thus kept out of the left brain analytical hemisphere (focus on the words) and moved via the art of teaching into the right brain spatial hemisphere (focus on the meaning), the students do much more than learn about, they acquire.
Here is another passage from that comment:
…they are just pulling meaning from the text and the words are not really the focus of what is going on….
In the analytical breakdown of discrete item analysis of grammar, the brain kicks everything over to the left brain and it becomes a lot of effort to get what is going on. It is the nature of the conscious mind to almost enjoy this kind of academic struggle to figure it out.
If the locus of language acquisition were indeed placed in that part of the brain, the analytical mind would be happy. It would learn the language, albeit at an absurdly slow rate.
But Krashen has shown that the locus of language acquisition is far from the analytical mind, light years away, in the whole brain, in the deeper mind, in the unconscious mind, where things happen, language decisions are made, at a pace that is millions of times faster.
That number of “a million times faster” is not a product of formal research, by the way. Sorry. What I mean is a hell of a lot faster. Years faster. So much faster that it’s ridiculous. If the analytical mind could acquire a language, even if it could, that process would still be way too slow to prevent life from happening as we know it.
Sorry, that last statement is not a product of research either, but feel the truth of it anyway. Learn to trust the truth of things that seem to be true, because if it seems true, it probably is. Give up your need to prove shit all the time. The unconscious mind is the master in language acquisition. Get over the need to prove that or to have it proven to you, if you are going to book passage on the power boat that is comprehensible input. If you want it to not be true, don’t teach this way.
In fact, if language acquistion were indeed a process that could be accomplished consciously, it would take so long that we would all be well along into life before we knew the language and we would then be able to do so much less in life. If you were to have to analyze that last sentence to make sense out of it, it would take you hours and hours. But all you did was read it, like you are reading this one, and you are making perfect sense out of it at a pretty fast pace, thank you very much. That is your unconscious acquisition process in action.
We can’t afford to analyze a language to learn it. This goes back to primitive man. If someone yelled to everybody in the group to “Run!” because an out of control elephant or other pachyderm, or a baboon, was about to run over the camp, and the people had to think back to what their language teacher taught them as to whether that was a verb or not and in what form (“oh it’s the imperative form” and” oh, it’s in the second person plural form”, before getting the message, it would not bode well for the longevity of the group.
We understand what we read and hear unconsciously because it is the fastest way, the easiest way, and because everything is instantaneously taken care of, the message communicate by the most powerful unconscious mind. Unless you want to take six days to read this post. So fuggetaboutit.
Here is the part of that earlier comment about making reading unconscious:
…they can read it, but only if you read it enough times. You can’t read it just once and go do something else. It’s like doing anything well – you have to go over and over what you want them to learn many times so that they don’t notice it. That is a whole new topic. It’s like in stories, where you repeat one thing like 10 times in a row but they don’t notice it, it’s almost the same sentence, but the way you say it, using slight variations in meaning or different emotions, causes them not to notice the repetitions – we should also do that in reading. I act like I lost my place and so have to go back to the top of the page for the choral translation work, etc. I’ll do a one question spin out in L2 and then sneak back a few sentences to get a few reps on their reading of those two sentences one more time. I just try to trick them into not noticing that I am getting lots of reps on the reading. It is precisely in that repetitive reading, broken up – importantly to give their brains a rest – by those L2 spin outs, that they learn how to read because they are not really conscious of reading, they are just pulling meaning from the text and the words are not really the focus of what is going on. John commented on this last night. It is what Susan Gross calls creating a movie in their minds while reading. That is why we call listening and reading input. If we slowed down the flow of the reading and picked apart minute grammatical details like people used to do in the old days, we would hand the process over to the conscious mind and it would no longer be unconscious input. There is a real delicacy to reading. Reading in FLOW is in my view far better and efficient to acquire a language than spoken stories….
I might add that the auditory piece – the stories – is a pre-requisite for the reading piece to happen. It can’t happen the other way around.
[ed. note: the logical next blog post on this would be the enjoyment piece. Language has to be enjoyable if the deeper mind is going to be involved, just like other important things in life that really count in the safety and survival of the species. That is why that guy who was hopelessly dyslexic and yet won a Pulitzer for writing is so cool. I’ll try to write that up soon. Right now it’s all about So. Carolina vs. Arkansas. ]