Gems from Agen

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7 thoughts on “Gems from Agen”

  1. Thank you, Don, for recalling things I have been reminded of, too.
    Apart from our learning community on this blog, the Agen conference is of greatest importance to my professional developement because in my relatively isolated position in Germany it is the only real possibility to get to know other CI teachers, to have a one-on-one exchange with many people, and to make new friends.
    Having been to Agen three times, I am absolutely blown away by the atmosphere of trust and confidence created not only by the great human qualities of the organizers, but also by the open-mindedness of the participants, no matter if they come for the first or the second or the third time.
    My greatest take-away has been to watch, this year again, the joy and the depth made possible in our work when both the students and the teacher show up as real persons in real conversations.
    So thank you to Judy, Sabrina, Teri, Chill, Robert and all the others I can’t mention here.

    1. Ben, every year it gets better and better. Not because of anything the organizers do but because of the wonderful people, like Martin, like …. I’d have to list 46 names here, who show up. And Martin is very special to me, because he believed in it from the very start.

  2. Don’s takeaway from Sabrina’s presentation is so important: in mixed level classes, far from being “held back” the more advanced students are the ones who really benefit from the quantity of CI in a relaxed atmosphere.
    BUT, here’s the catch, in terms of my “achiever” demographic. How to convince the superstars that they are learning when it doesn’t feel like what they associate with learning?
    This came up during Katya’s workshop. When students are not aware of how much they are learning, they can go home and tell their parents that they “aren’t really learning anything” in our classes, and this comes back to admin, and can get us in serious trouble.
    A few possible solutions:
    Posters on the wall such as James Hosler and others have, describing what acquisition looks and feels like. Explicitly stating that it does not feel like hard cognitive work.
    Taking time at the end of class once or twicee week to explain, in grammar terms, what students have been learning, with or without reference to a grammar textbook. I know this can threaten to undermine acquisition for some kid, but it may just save our jobs, by lending an air of legitimacy in the eyes of our potential critics.
    Bob in his 4th year classes has students take grammar notes, which they can then use “open note” during written work/assessments in class. But this is 4th year.
    Any ideas?

  3. Another way to deal with students who think listening in class is too easy is to confront them with authentic resources, such as films. Take a short scene with very simple dialog and give them the script in a cloze form. The missing words should be words that they already know. They will have to listen to it several times to be able to fill in the blanks. Than they will understand that just because they know what the written word means doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to understand when it’s spoken by a native speaker who is not a teacher going SLOW.

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