IPA – 1

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11 thoughts on “IPA – 1”

  1. What you describe sounds similar to the sample lessons that are posted on the 21st century standards website. They are not possible for most HS students. Authentic resources must be made comprehensible or they are unusable.

  2. In the recent copy of ACTFL’s Foreign Language Annals, it seems that a group of ACTFL-supported researchers have discovered that many students reach only an average Novice High level over all modes of after four years of Spanish instruction.
    I wrote the researchers to ask whether they controlled for the different modes in L1 as well as in L2; my SpEd kids and heavy absentees go nowhere as far as typical students, and including their scores would bring down my average. No one has answered yet.
    Knowing that kids are not operating en masse at an Intermediate level, one might assume that assessing them at that level is going to fall flat. I’m not even talking CI-trained kids.
    And…writing an elegiac couplet? Please! That’s for the advanced or superior-level kid. Oh yeah. That’s the teacher.
    I am stopping here. Didn’t have a chance to find the sample, so might be reacting strongly.

  3. Here is a follow up that I sent to Chris:
    Yeah, in terms of interpersonal tasks, I can throw that shit in stories. But the readings are full of unfamiliar vocab and the IPA actually expects them to guess from context, which the research indicates that they cannot do unless they know 90% of it. Plus it isn’t compelling at all.
    I think my arguments are 1) Even the IPA makers don’t think they should be used until the learners are at novice high level because they can’t negotiate for meaning earlier. 2) The research on reading and vocabulary 3) I really want to take on the idea of “authentic” texts because it bothers me so much. It is very similar to Latin where there is an idea of a “classical cannon” that all students need to read, ready or not. Why do we expect this from 2nd language learners when we don’t from 1st language learners? (i.e. why are graded readers appropriate in English/language arts, but not in FL?)
    (In response to Chris’ idea to let them take them at the end of the year to show master) My problems with doing the IPA’s at the end of the year are simply that they are not proficiency based. I can prep a kid for basic role play or to do a dumb reading or a scripted presentation. It is prepared work and has very little to do with proficiency. (For that reason I don’t want to do them in the first place!) But if the kids just take them at the end of the year (not end of unit) they will suffer for that very reason. More or less I am trying to protect the kids from the damage wrought by these idiotic assessments (while also increasing their proficiency), and that matters much more to me than whether or not the kids can fake it on one of the assessments.

    1. What, in my mind, is worse than the actual IPA, which can be manageable for a good portion of the students, is the implication that we need to backwards plan from them. The implications there are:
      a) you need to present them with “authentic” texts in class so they can practice reading things which they can barely understand (and are bored by).
      b) you need to practice dialogues with partners in class, so they have “interpersonal” practice.
      c) you need to give them time to script, and rehearse a performance task.
      All of this is time away from CI in my opinion. Ultimately, I think, that is where I draw the line. If they let me teach my classes using CI principles, I believe that I can get the kids more or less ready for these assessments. However, if they tell me I have to do the things listed above instead of CI… time to start looking for a new job.
      I just got done training for modified oral proficiency interviews (MOPI), which are one-on-one interviews to determine proficiency levels, and I think that coincides much more with the strength of a CI program. We practiced interview 8 different ESL learners, the majority of whom were at the intermediate low or novice high level (despite decades of living in the states in many cases), and I was struck by how well one could get by at those levels with only a very basic vocabulary of high-frequency structures, and with a limited control of language (i.e. grammatical accuracy). If the learners can talk in full sentences half the time about themselves and very familiar contexts, even without conjugating verbs correctly – that is a novice high speaker. That is what CI is aiming for, and I think that is what we can achieve better even than “communicative” approaches.

  4. Robert Harrell

    As far as reading is concerned, Jason Fritze often reminds people that language learners are emergent readers, so reading, whether “authentic” or not, needs to be carefully selected to match the needs and abilities of emergent readers, not capable readers.

  5. David – you did a great job of listing all of my concerns! We have to come up with curriculum, units – which we backwards plan from an IPA, syllabi based upon those units, etc etc. What bothers me also is the “Can-Do” statements — how do I *KNOW* just how much my kids CAN do at the end of a “unit”. If I list them I know that many of my kids will just do the minimum, when before I listed them, they did so MUCH! and these IPA are just a glorified name for projects in my book, because as David said, “they will just script and rehearse” Life is not always scripted and given time for dress rehearsals!!!
    @Michele….do you have info from your workshop on the “Can-Do” statements? I really wanted to go to your presentation (because this frightens me), but I wasn’t even able to make it to Chicago! thanks.

    1. “Authentic resources” scare a lot of us, because we’re worried about our kids’ confidence and the potential to use those resources as bludgeons.
      I don’t want to give anyone free rein on authres, but consider this: an ad is an authentic resource. I love showing ads to kids, especially when they use structures we’ve just been studying. During free reading, if my kids want to look at a magazine, I tell them to start with the ads, and figure out what they’re selling and whom they are addressing, plus whether they agree. I also tell them to look at survey results and decide whether the results would be similar in the US. If you research “infographic” (in your language; ??????????? in Russian) plus the topic or vocabulary structure you’re using, you’ll find some awesome stuff. Is it Robert H who does the football scores? Those are infographics and authentic resources. Do you go to “top 10” music pages? Those are authentic resources. So if you’re in some control of the testing, remember that you can use those easily. They lead to great beginner level conversations and even to storytelling, if a famous footballer wants to learn a trick from a kid in your classes, etc. and the fact that it’s up on the projector when your admin walks in is proof that you’re using authres. (And for self-satisfaction, go read about “authentic resources” on Martina Bex’s site: http://martinabex.com/2014/01/20/authres-are-overrated/)
      @mb, I do have that Can-Do stuff, and I’d be very happy to talk you through it if you’d like, in much less time than the hour and a half we took at NTPRS. Because I share the presentation with Mira, I can’t post it on line, but I love sharing it. I just did a presentation for a group of Russian teachers, and they were thrilled to see me using Can-Do statements and still being “so much fun.”
      Send me a note to whaley_myfirstname,spelledtherightway@asdk12.org … maybe we could connect this weekend.

      1. Thanks Michele for the reminder on ads and infographics. I tend to think of authentic resources as articles and literature (thus my comments below). Proverbs and songs also count for authenticity.

  6. 2) the insistence on the use of ONLY “authentic” resources
    The problem that you noted was that we would have to use “authentic” resources. If only there were a broad body of research which supported the use of in-comprehensible input (II) for the acquisition of language.
    Nothing like a lot of II to convince a student they have made no progress.
    Then we have to abandon the II theory of acquisition and resort to the EI (English Input) theory of language acquisition, that students understand the “authentic” II resources.
    Thanks for alerting us to what else is lurking out there.

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