Targetless Instruction – 8

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5 thoughts on “Targetless Instruction – 8”

  1. I don’t know the “magic” number of how many new words (I don’t think in terms of “structures”) can be put on the board, mainly because that number does not exist. Too many variables to nail that number down. In fact, that number is likely variable class to class. Certainly it’s a variable kid to kid.

    I personally like the 2-words of English answers allowed, which allows us to bring in bounds the words the kids are then likely to remember, since they came up with the suggestions! A great way to expand the input.

    And I do end up, sometimes, with a lot of new words on the board. That’s okay to me. In fact, different words will “stick” to the minds of different kids.

    And if I do this day in and day out, then the words that are meaningful to my students will keep coming up. I cannot communicate anything without those 50 highest frequency words, so those words are common to every class.

    It’s not like I am putting up a new word for every utterance I make. And I’m not translating sentence-by-sentence on the board.

    The only question I care about answering is: Did the kids comprehend my input during class?

    And we need to put stress on the word “input.” The question is not “Did they comprehend?” because there are lots of ways to comprehend without ever having to process the input.

    You may have seen Krashen write before that he is against translation (like the idea of “plowing” through a text), because apparently there are studies showing that when teachers speak in L2 and offer translation after in L1, then the kids don’t attend to the L2. They don’t have to.

    Gestures and pictures are aids to comprehension, but at some point, we gotta get our kids comprehending based on the words alone. That’s “rigor” for the kids.

    1. I have stopped translating in reading (unless there is a new word, I’ll explain what it is in Spanish first to see if they can understand. If not, I’ll give them the translation). I have found that reading has been more meaningful and more quality input. I hated translating because it was just so much English. However, I teach Spanish year 2 and 3, so I’m not sure how I’d do it in Spanish year 1. Maybe just super simple readings and reading very slowly in the target language.

    2. That is a key point, Eric. Not that they understand, but that they understand the L2 input. And it is a battle when students come from teachers who are all about understanding with little regard for input.

  2. Kyle I sent Krashen my Reading Option A and he pointed out at least five of those 21 things that are in there (ROA) that are not consistent with his findings. Of course he was right. But, I didn’t change anything I do in that sequence because the translation piece is something that I find works in my classroom to get through the class even if it is not consistent with SLA best practices. I don’t think Krashen’s ideas are 100% applicable to school classrooms. BUT I applaud you and agree completely. There is no need to translate the text and they way you are doing it is the best way. The reading is definitely, as you say, “more meaningful [with] more quality input.” When I do that (always in the chapter books/novels but not in Step 3 readings since I prefer ROA, which eats up so much time), I am always happier with the class. So thanks for pointing it out. One might ask if it doesn’t lead to gains and lowers the quality of the class (too much English) then why do it? I don’t know but it has something to do with the herding cats concept. It gets them focused and from there I can point out grammar and kind of schlep along through the class with my mental health being considered first and their gains coming in second.

  3. “you feel like a new structure is needed”

    So true. I would also add what Tina has said to me about making it “High Frequency”. This way we are building the fundamentals of the language. Truly this is living in the moment where we are conscious of about what the students want to communicate and simplifying it and making comprehensible BUT not compromising the compelling nature of the input.

    It is a delicate balance.

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