Jennfer sent me this interesting email:
I have always been a 4%er, and now I may know why. I’m wondering how this can impact my classroom…
I picked up my Russian copy of Bednaya Anya (Poor Ana) and have been happily reading through it as my bedtime reading. As such, I have been re-reading passages since I don’t remember exactly where I fell asleep the day before, and I remember Dr. Krashen’s advice that repetitive input is still comprehensible input, so it’s ok.
So on to my epiphany. Yesterday, I woke up with a Russian word (strashnyo) running through my head. Just the word repeating and repeating itself. And I realized, my brain may have been providing me with hours and hours of repetitive and comprehensible input all these years. Whenever I learn a new language I find myself just repeating the words over and over in my head. I do the same thing with grammatical features, I just run sample sentences over and over and over like broken records of input only I can hear. (I never realized I do it in my sleep too!) I’m wondering if I am the only one who does this, and if I can harness this for my students.
Maybe , this is a skill we can coach students on, much like we teach students to visualize in the target language, to read in chunks, etc. Of course, it may just be a sign that I tend towards obsessive compulsive…. LOL
My own comment is that I certainly don’t think this is OCD. In Jungian thought, dreams and alpha state information is sent as letters from the unconscious mind, and you were getting your mail in the form of repetitive CI. You are definitely a 4%er when that happens, in my opinion – your deeper mind/psyche definitely wants to learn some Russian. Harnessing this ability to want to open these letters from the unconscious mind in your students, however, may be a challenge. It implies that they have a conscious mind. Just kidding. But the thing I get from your email, Jennifer, is how much of human WILL is involved in what you describe. I think that so many of our kids have little WILL to learn what we teach them – they are too young to see the value in it, and that is why it is so incredibly hard for us, so much harder than anyone who doesn’t teach a foreign language, especially the language theorists, can ever know. You have to want to do stuff, right? That said, there is one area I have studied and actually used in my teaching that in my view does in fact lead to great gains even if the student is not that interested, and that is Suggestopedia. In it, there is a reaching down into the alpha state (14 brain cycles per second) which is the transition area between the active awake state (22 cycles) and deep sleep (8 cycles) and, when in that state, the acquisition via repetition is like a blotter. I have seen it. To me, that is where the interest lies in what we do with Krashen’s ideas – can we find a way to create a kind of alpha/blotter state in our classrooms via the ideas we find in Suggestopedia, which is a highly Jungian? I stopped exploring all this, though, when I realized school buildings aren’t exactly meccas for new ideas that are that weird. What Blaine and Stephen have created is weird enough already, apparently.



2 thoughts on “Jennifer”

  1. I recently attended a Carol Gaab seminar and she mentioned some thoughts on recent brain research. This is an approximation of what I recall. While sleeping our brain organizes what we have learned during the day – kind of like a defrag. It keeps the information that makes sense to us and discards the rest. She asked if anyone had the experience of studying for a test and going to bed thinking we still had not mastered the material, but the next morning having the feeling of being ready for the test. If Carol reads this, she could probably explain it more clearly. Interesting.

  2. This demonstrates another reason for using songs. My students listened to those songs over and over, providing many hours of repetitive CI outside of class!
    They often complained that the songs were like earworms (constantly running in the back of their minds) — heh heh! More CI!
    And yes about what Carol said: the categorizing, connecting, pruning done while asleep is ESSENTIAL for good learning to progress.

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