Krashen on L1 Use

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104 thoughts on “Krashen on L1 Use”

  1. This article is about teacher L1 use, but we can apply some of the recommendations to student L1 use. . .
    Bottom line: how much CI do the kids get.
    L1 use: give background info and explain and translate in the middle when necessary
    L1 misuse: too much L1 such that kids don’t have to use L2 to understand, excessive explanations and translations that cause the message to be lost
    So . . . L1 blurting is to be avoided when it makes it possible to understand the message without needing to process the L2 or causes the message to be lost.
    “When translations are excessive, the spell is broken.”
    I still wonder then, if the L1 blurt furthers the message, furthers the story, rather than detracts/distracts from the story, whether that is harmless. Or does the message need to be processed almost entirely in the L2 in order for the spell to not be broken?
    I told my kids today that excessive use of L1 hinders them from thinking (processing) in Spanish. I prefer the message be entirely created in L2 and the L1 be a support for comprehension, but not a way to distract nor further the message. In other words, no L1 blurting or L1 neighbor chatting! Kids can ask and be granted permission to use L1, especially to clarify the L2 message.

    1. “Kids can ask and be granted permission to use L1, especially to clarify the L2 message.”
      I started this last year with a group of 9th graders, and it became a fairly constant way for the few 4%ers to ask about grammar and talk about a somewhat-related experience they had. I ended up having to say “no” more than “yes”, and felt that was perhaps creating some resentment between us (even as nicely as I said it). I will in the future make space during our breaks or at the beginning/end of class for this, so as to not “break the spell”. Other ideas?

      1. That’s exactly why I spend a few minutes before, in the middle of, and at the end of class each day for a bit of L1. Just talking about stuff that’s happened to them. My classes are 80 minutes, though, and feel very long, especially this time of year.

        1. But I know that’s controversial. Not bell-to-bell, anyways. Well, I would argue it is bell-to-bell, just not L2 the whole time. Those times in L1 allow me to connect with the kids during L1 and reading and the rest. That’s just me, though.

    2. …L1 blurting is to be avoided when it makes it possible to understand the message without needing to process the L2 or causes the message to be lost….
      Eric I take it further than this. I think there are things we can’t measure beyond what is described above. Blurting of any kind, in my view, throws a whole bunch of little monkey wrenches into the process that are too small for us to see. They disrupt flow or measure. That’s my opinion and why I am thinking 98%-99% these days.

  2. I really like this article. Here’s a quote: “It [L1] is also misused when teachers provide so many brief explanations and translations that it is difficult to keep track of the message. If this intervention is considered to be necessary, the topic may not be right.”
    Or, the topic may be fine, but the level of discussion needs to be simplified, and/or the reading needs to be much simpler for the students to comprehend. I feel like this was the big lesson from my first year of teaching with CI. Accept where the kids are now, and work at that level, plus only a tiny bit of new that gets used comprehensibly and repeatedly so it’ll stick better.

  3. …the reading needs to be much simpler for the students to comprehend….
    I totally agree. I think most of us ask our kids to read at a level that is, at best, uncomfortable for them. The novels encourage that; the stories don’t.
    The same applies to speaking, of course. Whenever I speak in a way that is painfully slow and labored for me, the kids seem to be right on the message. Normally I can’t get there. I just cruise along too fast, thinking I’m cool. Unfortunately, since they aren’t taught to self-advocate in schools, they encourage me in my folly.

    1. Yes, and in saying it was the big lesson of the 1st year with CI, that didn’t mean to suggest I’d got this down since then! It’s constantly a battle to stay where they understand.
      I have just discovered the weakest Chinese 4 boy hid out in class this week and bombed a short comprehension check quiz last class. I’d asked some of the same questions on the quiz as I had during class, and found out he didn’t understand the questions — it wasn’t the new vocab that was the problem. His classmates were all 5/5. Going to need to go slower and check question meanings more often for his sake. Bless his heart. He doesn’t want his classmates, or me really, to know.

      1. I have a few kids that won’t self-advocate and who also can’t meet the rigor of sustained focus. They don’t listen or engage unless I make the CI about them, but of course I can’t always do that. They are reluctant participators, hiding in the choral response. They are dead weight. Since I want to truly teach to everyone, it’s hard to accept that sometimes the student gains are out of my control.

        1. The hardest thing for me to accept is that student gains are often out of their own control as well, Eric. I had to work hard to remember what it felt like to be in high school myself. When I succeeded, I realize now that I could not have been a superstar in a CI classroom with a great interactive teacher than flown to the moon.

          1. Ben said, “The hardest thing for me to accept is that student gains are often out of their own control […] I had to work hard to remember what it felt like to be in high school myself.”
            This is the #1 thing that has helped me to develop “Stop, breathe, smile, and calmly reference the broken rule” when a kid has momentarily (or less momentarily) chosen a behavior that does not correspond with the behavior I had envisioned. The idea that students’ behavior is also sometimes out of their own control. Not out of their control in the sense that they aren’t responsible, but out of their control in the sense that they haven’t learned how to control a little aspect of themselves, which is causing them to act like a total _______ in the moment.
            It’s a very quick little moment, before even reacting to the offending behavior that rewinds about ten or twenty or thirty or thirty years (or minutes) and says “I remember exactly what it’s like to feel out of control and act like a jerk, and I’m choosing right now to respond with the love that I was given when I, too, was acting like a total _______”.
            I know, I know – cue the inspirational music.
            Just thinking out loud about sliding into our students’ skins, academically and emotionally, before reacting…

    2. The novels do not create a situation where the reading is too hard. It is the CHOICE of novels that we use that does that.
      For example, Esperanza and Felipe Alou are billed as “Level 1” novels. I use them in Level 3. Why? Because in Level 3 they can actually READ them fluently, feel successful, create a visual i their mind and discuss the issues involved.
      We often choose novels because we want to be able to say that “our kids can read X by level Y”.
      In some respects, and with a great deal of guidance, they can. But to get the gains we’d like to see we have to back off.
      with love,

      1. Laurie what would you say would be the simplest (therefore best as per the above) choices for levels 1 and 2? What should new people do in those two years?
        1 – Brandon wants a dog? Pauvre Anne? Houdini?
        2. – ?
        There is a kind of “teacher gets to choose the novel” approach out there when many teachers don’t really know what is best in terms of the link Eric provided. If Krashen says that we need to find the simplest novels, then which ones are they?
        My own feeling is that I would read mainly stories we made in class w/ Brandon Wants a Dog being the only actual novel we read in level 1 and then in level 2 read Pauvre Anne – first three chapters only bc the rest of it sucks – and then do Houdini and that would be three books in two years and that’s it.
        My own experience is that I can teach reading better and faster from readings of stories than from novels bc the kids themselves, one could say, actually wrote those “novels” instead of someone else who is not a teen.

        1. As I’m only about three months into my TPRS/CI journey as a first-year high school Spanish teacher who didn’t come from an education background, I haven’t had my students read a novel yet, nor do I plan to this year. I simply don’t have the time to ensure that they have the structures that they will need to reach the 90% comprehensibility goal that is needed for them to understand the text. However, they have enjoyed the expanded versions of the story that I write up for the next class period.
          I have two sections of Spanish 1 and four sections of Spanish 2. I typically combine elements of the asked stories from my Spanish 2 classes and write an expanded story. I’m not sure that I would always have time to write six expanded stories in one night to have ready for the next day if I had to individually write one for each class. Two of my classes really become ecstatic when they see that I more or less went with their plot and details. My first class of the day complains that I don’t use what they suggest, but they’re the ones who I have to pull teeth with to get “cute” answers. Students who have friends in my other classes sometimes ask me if so-and-so suggested a certain detail.
          As a side note, Ben, I joined this blog a little over a week ago and my wife wants to know what I’m reading for three hours at a time on my tablet on the sofa! I dipped my toes in the water by reading every blog entry on Chris Stolz’s T.P.R.S. Q&A blog. A month later I purchased “Stepping Stones to Stories” and “TPRS in a Year”. Both books helped me leave the grammar grind and communicative methods behind (hey, I didn’t know any better/it was the way that I was taught). This blog is definitely coming on vacation with me this summer for a lot of pool/beachside reading!

          1. I agree that the class stories are the most compelling. Remember how Jim Tripp made his class stories into a classroom library? I kind of did this ( not as elaborate or intentional as Jim, with the illustrations)…mine was basically copies of all the stories in various binders and folders. Kids could read and re-read any of them. They love reading about each other or about what the other group came up with using the same script.
            I love using Las Aventuras de Isabela as a first “novel.” Also Brandon Brown Wants a Dog. I typically use them as “read alouds” so that I can interact with kids and ask questions, predictions, have volunteers act out the silly parts, etc.
            Sometimes I do the read-aloud and then a few days later give them the written version. That way they already know the basic plot but the written version has other details that I don’t do in the read aloud. I’ve done this chapter by chapter (or 2 ch at a time) and also randomly…mostly reading aloud and then just reading certain chapters together, or having them read it as SSR after the read aloud.
            I wish that the novels did not have written labels on them “level 1” etc. because it really messes with the kids and their egos and they cannot let go of the “shoulds” and so they read something “at their level” and then feel badly when they don’t really understand it.

        2. Ben, I agree. 98-99% L2 during any PQA, Story, MovieTalk, any aural chunk of CI is necessary to not “break the spell” – I really like that expression!
          Then, like James, I am okay with some “I-Care English” at the beginning, during some transitions, brain breaks, and at the end.
          . . . I’ve also seen how shier, attention-challenged groups, especially of younger kids, can’t handle all the listening required of TPRS and MT. In order to get them to process my input, they need something more like TPR (an image is not enough).
          Now, on novels, I have attempted to level all the Spanish readers into 6 categories, using word count to categorize when available (headwords in parentheses). Here are the first 2 levels in approximate order from easy to hard. It seems that a book with 200 or fewer different word families has generally been considered a “level 1” book. Of course, the 100 words from 1 novel are not the same 100 words used in the next book.
          Level A (<150)
          1. Agentes secretos y el mural de Picasso by Mira Canion (100)
          2. Berto y sus buenas ideas by Magaly Rodríguez
          3. Brandon Brown quiere un perro by Carol Gaab (100)
          4. Las aventuras de Isabela by Karen Rowan (200*)
          5. Isabela captura un congo by Karen Rowan (350*)
          6. Fiesta fatal by Mira Canion (140)
          7. Brandon Brown versus Yucatán by Kristy Placido & Carol Gaab (140)
          Level B (<200)
          8. Tumba by Mira Canion (170)
          9. Carl no quiere ir a México by Karen Rowan (350*)
          10. Felipe Alou: Desde los valles a las montañas by Carol Gaab (150)
          11. Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto by Mira Canion & Carol Gaab (200)
          12. Pobre Ana by Blaine Ray
          13. El nuevo Houdini by Carol Gaab (200)
          14. Esperanza by Carol Gaab (200)
          15. Don Quijote, el último caballero by Karen Rowan (200)
          *I think these books also count cognates as new words
          I'm gonna throw you another bone, Ben, and say we need to back off the novels, especially if it's "independent reading." Maybe older kids and adults can handle more ambiguity, but my kids need 95+% known words in order to read independently and extensively. And really, that is what Krashen is pushing: free voluntary reading, aka lots and lots of independent reading done for pleasure. I think that message is more appropriate for intermediate language acquirers, which I believe Krashen. We just don't have enough easy novels to make that work with beginners. In many ways, our whole-class novel reading is a way to get more aural CI. Certainly, what we do in Step 3 is give them the written form and then use it to give more aural CI.
          Now, in the absence of a TCI-trained teacher, then yes, FVR with novels is the next best thing for beginners. And if kids never get the spoken form of the written word, then it's unlikely it ever becomes part of a students' oral fluency. Depends on your goals and "oral fluency" is mine.
          My left leg tattoo says: Krashen writes (2013) that beginner level classrooms are to be filled with AURAL comprehensible input. He says that methods such as TPR, Natural Method, and TPRS give kids "conversational" language. Intermediate methods include: sheltered subject matter teaching and self-selected reading, which are methods for getting kids to "academic" language proficiency.
          I've shared this before: Beniko Mason says she delivers aural CI, until students can read independently at the 200 word level. According to my list of the novels we have in Spanish, if we did this, then there would then be 15 TPRS novels available to our students.

          1. Sentence edit: “I think that message is more appropriate for intermediate language acquirers, which I believe is what Krashen supports.”

          2. An important step in moving into FVR or Sustained Silent Reading is Read-Aloud. Read-Aloud builds on existing spoken language ability and makes an emotional bridge to the written form.
            Since our job is to get students to the point of spoken language, we are trying to build a bridge to the bridge. Of course, if the student comes with an affinity for reading in L1, some of our work has been done for us.

      2. Laurie, I’m glad to hear you say that about using “level 1” in level 3 classes. I have been finding that out with what’s available for Chinese. Book says “level 1”? It’s at least level 2, maybe 3.
        I think that the fact that a novel isn’t familiar to the kids before reading in the way that moving from oral work to reading also adds an element of the difficulty with novels.

      3. Jeffery Brickler

        May I quote you here. Lately I am wondering if I am still doing just what you say. I am having them read things beyond their level. We make it work, but they don’t get the gains because they can’t understand without scaffolding. I am longing for a time when students could actually read the text without me having to pre-teach everything.

        1. You can quote me anywhere. :o)
          In my level 3-4-5 classes, I will do reading that requires scaffolding as a class activity, but I’m learning to give them a greater dose of reading that is easy (ie enjoyable!!!!) The readings that need prep are almost always articles from the internet…and we only do segments.
          In years 1 and 2 I think that 99.99999999% of what they read should be “pan comido”. (“easy as pie”…or bread in Spanish…but it is Pi Day!). I must give them an occasional challenge read so that they don’t throw things at me when the state-mandated final shows up….but I’m clear about the fact that there are several kinds of reading and “test” reading will not make them better readers so we will not be doing much of it!
          In my experience (personally and professionally) there are only three things that make reading interesting: 1. Great pictures 2. Interesting story-line / information 3. Easy to read. If the text doesn’t have AT LEAST 2 out of 3, it isn’t going to get read.
          For beginning or unwilling readers, the other issue is length. Reading stamina is a real thing. Emergent readers and reluctant readers usually don’t have much. We can help with that by allowing them to build up the amount of text and the amount of time applied to text gradually.
          Slow but sure. The turtle should be our mascot rather than the blue elephant. :o)
          with love,

    1. James I had an insight that the reason you had a good day was because you just spoke to and enjoyed their company in the way we have talked about here so much over the years. Am I right that it was because your conversations in Latin were more human than connected to a computer? Huh? Huh?

      1. You want to know what I think it was, practically speaking? I think it was because I started my level 1 classes officially in L2 and then continued straight into our spoken L2 stuff for the day, trying not to stop until after the quick quiz some thirty minutes later. Good stuff!

  4. I love how Krashen’s writing gets right to the point. My observation lately is that the stories I write for the students are just as engaging as the stories we create together, and I can use the same story for all the classes which makes the extension exercises simpler to prepare. It makes a good rhythm…a co-created story followed by a couple of teacher-written stories and then maybe a MovieTalk… Lately I just make sure we are reading something every day and if I don’t have anything handy I just think about what we’re working on and write something. I keep the Novice readings to a page of 14-pt type at 1.5 spacing and that seems to be perfect for having them read/translate in pairs and/or as choral readings on the screen. The “novels” are really not much longer than a few stories anyway. Even the students who struggle with aural comprehension seem to be doing fine with these short daily readings. They miss a little here and there but they don’t seem to realize that, which is great because they get most of it and feel successful.

    1. Angie, I’ve begun to think about a little bit of reading every day, too. Something short & familiar on days when I’m introducing new words. This week I used edited student fluency writing for that purpose.

    2. Hi Angie, It is nice to be reading your input again lately.
      When you say, “I can use the same story for all the classes” I would like to underline that this can refer to different levels to a certain extent. I.e., I can use the Sp I story for all my classes. I can use the Sp 2 story for all of my classes. I may not be able to use the Sp 3 story for Sp 1. I may not be able to use Sp 4 for 1 or 2 but I can use a Sp 1 story for 4.

  5. I saw Eric’s comment about backing off novels. I’m with him. Here’s why: Novels read by the whole class, no matter how you spin it, is a teacher’s agenda-driven task and is therefore synonymous with “work”.
    I’ve been reading a lot lately about how Brazilian footballers develop. I’ve been thinking about the continuum from:
    Free play (kids just go play b/c it’s fun. Gratification is immediate. they develop critical skills w/o knowing)
    all the way up to
    Deliberate Practice (serious players make the decision to intentioanlly practice certain skills/aspects with the express goal of long-term improvement – think Larry Bird or Michael Jordan staying hours after practice is over to shoot free throws)
    The parallels with lang. acq. I think are there to explore. Krashen has said our goal is intermediates who know how to learn on their own.
    I want my level 1s to play. to jam in the language with a pro (me) and to develop critical skill (implicit linguistic structres) without realizing or trying.
    Any time I try to force a novel down their throats I lose this feeling by the end of the third day.

    1. “I want my level 1s to play. to jam in the language with a pro (me) and to develop critical skill (implicit linguistic structres) without realizing or trying.”
      This is my tattoo, typos and all.

      1. Now you are tattooing stuff on your arms? They do that in Iowa? I figure Eric can tattoo research on this arms but his is over there on the East Coast. Y’all are weird. I want to see that tattoo this summer Jim.
        Wait… you both work in Minnesota, you and the potter. How can I get from that point to reminding people that Grant is doing a fantastic job in working with Carol and Diana to organize iFLT 2015 in St. Paul/Minneapolis together and we all should go?
        Thanks for asking! Here is the information:

        1. Thanks for the reminder, Ben. I just turned in a professional development request for iFLT; I’d asked an admin recently and she encouraged me to apply for funds. We’ll see what happens.

  6. This thread has taken several fascinating detours – sorry for my expansive post but I’m very interested in all of the branches…
    Here’s what we’re doing w/novels:
    Last year we did Brandon…Dog (BB) in 4th grade for the last several weeks of the school year – it was a tremendous success – the Ss were so proud to read a whole novel in Spanish ‘practically with no help.’ The fabulous teacher’s guide help plug up the new structure holes – words like “pick up” [the dog] and “return.” The Ss prolly didn’t leave having acquired those – they are more like the +1, but they certainly understood the new stuff in context. They just didn’t hear/get as many reps as the other stuff we did all year. This year my 1-4 colleagues and I are trying to better backwards plan and insert those structures prior to starting BB.
    We (1-4 elem teachers) feel limited not only by the ease/difficulty/word count of the novels, but also the content. Stories about high school, romance, driving cars and others are not appropriate, so we limit ourselves to the elementary ones: BB, Aventuras de Isabela & Berto. This year the plan is for both 3rd and 4th to read BB, then next year it will become a 3rd grade novel, and we’ll introduce (prolly) Berto (or Aventuras de Isabela) in 4th. Interestingly, this year we are actually teaching BB in 3, 4 and 6th (5th had it last yr in 4th) before it moves down to 3rd.
    As for FVR, I am bumbling through a trial an error journey that so far looks like this. I have a huge collection of TL picture books. I pre-sorted and display (I have 3 kids’ display bookshelves) the ones w/the most accessible text. The others are set aside – I may level/adapt later/as needed – on a regular bookshelf.
    I have experimented w/just allowing my 4ths to grab a book from the target books on display and read for the last few minutes (+-5) of class. You can hear a pin drop. They absolutely LOVE it. Some of the books have been pre-taught under the doc cam (Book Talk), others are translations of English-language classics (i.e., Good Night Moon, the David books, Fly Guy). There is no follow up or accountability. I am trusting the process! My French colleague, Carla, calls it FVP – Free Voluntary Perusal!
    As I scan the books in my vast collection, sometimes I find content that connects to a story we’re spinning, or the repetition of a structure we’ve been riffing, so I pull the book and start the class w/a Book Talk that includes lotsa PQA. It happened this week when a 1st grader announced it was her b-day, and I had a cute little beginner book about a hippo named Tomás who was celebrating his bday. Once he distributes his cupcakes to all his classmates and teacher, there are none left for him. So… the teacher cut hers in half. All the characters are silly cartoon animals.
    We ‘read’ the book – and I deemed it’s contents good enough to share with all the other grades since all my Ss bring in a B-day snack on their special day. It’s silly and lends itself well to dramatization. Most of all it’s very simple. When we’re done with it, it’ll go back on the FVR shelf for the older Ss to choose if they want.
    If I were to start e/class w/a FVR shelf story (or at least once a week), then Ss would see the inside of many of the books….and perhaps be able to enjoy FVR or FVP at lower grades, too. Is FVP worthwhile? Our anecdotal info across the district is an emphatic “YES!” Ss feel empowered when they recognize words they know, or read the TL words to familiar English stories… even if they don’t know all 95-100% of the words. Does it qualify in Krashen’s FVR model? Prolly not…yet.

  7. Shoot! I forgot to post one more lil thing. When we were in iFLT last summer, Jason F. mentioned being mindful of L1 use in class. He reminded us abt the importance of both behavior and logistics/management in the TL. He was reading/referred to this book:
    I am trying to respond to blurts etc. in the TL (when I’m not pointing to the class norms). ‘Por favor, no interrumpe.’ Or ‘Levanta la mano,’ ¡En español! etc. (Please don’t interrupt; raise your hand, etc.)
    Practicing in-class routines in the TL has become part of my conscious target set, i.e., Written/reviewed on board:
    1. Reparte/Toma una tabla, un marcador y un borrador (Pass out/take a board, a marker and an eraser) [bins are labelled]
    2. Señora S habla y la clase pinta/dibuja en silencio. (Ms. S talks & the Ss draw silently)
    3. Muéstrenme [Show me] su arte.
    When it just isn’t working out, I say, “afuera por favor.” and the S takes a break on the bench right outside my room, and I go talk to him/her if I have a sec or after class…

    1. I’m trying Catharina’s English Blurting Management Trick and so far so good.
      I told kids today that if I or the students spoke English that wasn’t to clarify the Spanish (translate), then they would have to get up and touch the door. They could also tell me “touch the door” if I got caught blurting. It worked in 6th and 7th grade and the kids took it very lightheartedly, i.e. they didn’t resist or protest. Kids were happy to police their peers and me and tell us to “touch the door.”
      Now, I’m thinking every week, I can have a different consequence (I think they should get the kid out of his/her seat). Other options:
      – jump 3 times
      – dance to the wall and back
      – stand and reach to the ceiling
      – stand and spin
      I just say in L2: “If you speak English today, you will . . .”
      I do allow some L1 during transitions or during brain breaks.

      1. “Every week a different consequence.” Such a great idea !! I LOVE it. The magic door gets old pretty quickly…
        Fun, lighthearted, tons of reps, gentle ways to coax the kids back on track – so clever- as always Eric! My students will love it.
        I’m still working at finding the right balance of L1/L2. Not sure. What I do know is that -I- want to have fun. I cannot do it otherwise.

        1. Love this! Build novelty in with intentionality!
          Ever play any card games? I play one called Asesino – assassin. It’s like a game kids play called Frogger (not the Atari 2600 version)
          In Asesino each kid gets a card. I use the Spanish deck. There are 2 special cards, the king and ace. The king is the police and must discover the assassin before all players are “killed”. The Ace is the assassin and must wink to “kill” a player and not get caught.
          When I present that game, it always takes a full period. I wait till a dead time of year.
          I present the ace – the as in Spanish – and it sounds a whole lot like ass. So, my 8th graders Can’t. Get. Enough.
          With kids in a circle, I walk toward the toughest or most obnoxious kid and say somethin glike, “Mira a mi as / Look at my ace” Then, we TPR it a bit – touch the as. is it your as? No. It’s my as. It’s a nice as.
          it’s fricking hilarious and it dances right on the edge.
          Anyway, After reading Eric’s idea of changing punishments, i immediately thought of taping the ace to the wall and making some jump up and touch my ace.

          1. I can totally picture you in that scene after watching you teach last summer, Grant. Very funny.
            This is one of the things I love about this PLC — while reading about SLA research and discussing how to manage to communicate in another language with semi-forced students in an artificial setting…. I get to laugh about Jim’s stick-on tattoos and Grant’s class’s obnoxious kid having to talk about his ace.

  8. We want to make reading as easy as possible. We work hard in PQA, we work hard during a story, so that during the reading they can understand everything easily. Kids will check out so fast when they can’t understand a reading.
    We forget how intimidating it can be to have a novel or reading in front of us in another language. A lot of my discipline issues come out with slow processors during a reading.
    I say read maybe one elementary novel (Brandon Brown) at the end of Level 1.
    Level 1 novels throughout level 2.
    I do the Susie Gross snow plow method for my novels during the last week of every quarter. My students love it. (and I love it.)

    1. David what are the demographics of your student population? I am trying to see if there are links between teachers’ choices of reading preferences (ROA, R and D or the snow plow method) in varied (urban vs. white suburban, etc.) populations. Does Eric have that on his arms?
      I do appreciate what you imply about putting off the heavier lifting kind of reading to the later years.
      James I will send you an attachment of things involving reading that you probably already do to eat up time in your block classes. The fact that you have four blocks each day has been of concern to me, and we do know that Reading Option A (stories) and Read and Discuss (chapter books) and Snow Plow (chapter books) are major TEAs – Time Eater Uppers.

      1. its 98% White. 45% Free and Reduced.
        I don’t think it has much to do with demographics, more with teacher preference. I want my kids to love to read in Spanish.
        Right now its the end of the quarter, I have to turn grades in and do other quarter ending crap. For my Spanish 2-4 I have to do no planning, and we spend the hour reading, discussing and laughing. Kids love the break from the norm, and they can easily understand 95% of the novel.
        A related question to Ben and the group. How can I make reading stories more fun? PQA, MT, Stories kids mostly like, but a lot of kids groan with readings. Anything I can do to make them more compelling? I know reading is the most important step, but it’s also the least energy….
        Also, congrats James! You are a Latin King. You reign.

        1. That’s the big question David. The standard answer is that we make reading more interesting by comparing and contrasting characters’ lives with our kids. If Brandon drives a blue T-Bird then our student John drives a red one, or so he lies to us. But the problem there is that’s not reading. That is why I say read more stories, which the kids at least created, using ROA which I prefer to the other two ways of reading. Kind of a lame answer but there you go it’s a Friday.

          1. Reading is some of the most on-task and relaxed time in my classes lately. My weakest students seem to feel most successful when translating a reading. On Friday I experimented with a new way to process reading : I handed out a page-long story – 14 pt type, double spaced. They read silently. I agree with Laurie that for my Novices, having the paper not LOOK daunting is key. When most were done, I had my timer kid set the timer for 8 minutes and I slowly talked with them about the reading and topics related to the reading . It was not a story they had ever seen before, but it was comprehensible. It went really well and felt amazing to (a) – have that quiet, peaceful reading time in class and (b) – discuss something in Spanish that had never been translated for them. I felt like a real teacher! I’m hoping to build all of our stamina by slowly increasing the Spanish-only processing time.

  9. James you are to be congratulated. If you think about it, it’s an incredible thing. Here it is again:
    …more students at my school are requesting Latin 1 next year than Spanish 1….
    That is not a typo. I guess people would rather communicate with Romans than Hispanics. Either that or they would rather be treated with respect in the classroom than told to memorize shit.

  10. James, Congrats on the enrollment! What a testament- the Ss are abuzz cuz they love your class!!
    Btw our French #s are up for the first time in years- it’s not offered until Ss are in 6th and have had 5 yrs of Spanish- which is a big obstacle to clear for the French Ts. But our 6th grade T/CI French teacher, Carla, is so fabulous, that word has spread here too!

  11. TCI Latin taking over Missouri!! Well done James, and what’s the saying… haters gonna hate? I hope you can find the wherewithal to brush it off and keep focusing on your students’ Latin fluency.

    1. Well, I suppose you didn’t mention any kind of animosity, yet, I guess I’m just having “Latin enrollment up” flashbacks from the other Kings’ battles I’ve read about here.

  12. Thanks for all the nice words, guys! Some more news: They have decided (at least as far as I know, which isn’t far) not to hire another Latin teacher and just to say “no” to a lot of students who want Latin 1. My upper levels will be full and they will probably just cap Latin 1 at 2 classes. This is good news to me. Y’all can probably relate with the statement, “I’d rather remain the only teacher of my language at my school if I can help it.” Or maybe I am just a bad team player. 🙂

  13. congratulations, James. We all know how serious you take your task and how hard you work at it. You’re doing fine, your kids are doing fine, and some day you might mention that there are quite a few Spanish teachers out there using CI.

  14. I meant to post this little observation about L1 use and this thread has reminded me:
    I recently finished a three-month maternity leave replacement with 9-12th grade French students. Going into the job I decided to try a little experiment. I promised myself to not speak a single word of English to the kids, inside or outside the classroom for at least the first few weeks. Even when writing translations on the board I would make frequent intentional mistakes in my English spelling or ask the students (in the TL) if my English was correct. When kids tried speaking to me in English I would just look at them with a confused face. I just wanted to see what would happen.
    The thing that amazed me the most was that kids would often start saying something in English, then stop and try to say it in French. Overall, it felt incredibly easy to keep things in the TL.
    Then, things fell apart.
    One day PQA got off track and for some reason we started talking about who in one class was not born in the U.S. Then one girl caught me off guard and asked me where I was originally from…and I couldn’t think quickly enough in the moment to answer the question without a lie. And then I had to tell them I was born in New Jersey. And then I said something in English. And then word got around. And then from that point on there was LOTS and LOTS more English spoken in every one of my classes except for one class of seniors which had a lot of students in it who seemed self-motivated to learn French.
    So my little experiment got me thinking about how the need to negotiate meaning in the TL really influences the extent to which the TL becomes the lingua franca of the classroom. Once my kids knew that English is my native language, I think they felt less of a –real– need to use the TL. Even if there are things in our classes only available in the TL (getting to go to the restroom, a funny event in story, a cool song, etc.), how much of a weight do these really have? Of course if teacher-student rapport is poor, then the choice of lingua franca will be the one kids need to interact with their peers in class. But what happens when teacher-student rapport is built in the TL and only in the TL?
    I do know that after only five weeks of 100% TL, every time afterward when I said something in English, my kids would laugh and/or yell for me to stop speaking English (“Stop! It’s so weird!”).
    So, what about taking this experiment further than five weeks??? I don’t know how much longer than five weeks I could last, but next time I’m teaching I definitely want to try…

    1. Not exactly, but when I can get a class to the point of all Spanish there is usually at least one person who will take on the role of “no hable inglés, señor.”

  15. This is very insightful and gives me hope that we can get up to 98% and stay there if we but try. Of course, we would all be outed for our English, but the general point you make Greg is, as I read it, that if we have a stronger L-2 core in our interaction with them, we can get them to output more of the TL. It makes sense to me. We just can’t break back into English. That is the part of this thread and the general discussion over the years that I relate to. In a word, we are too lazy to do what we know is best for our kids.

    1. Ben, you said “if we have a stronger L-2 core in our interaction with them, we can get them to output more of the TL”.
      This was definitely true with my experiment.
      Up to teaching in that school, it had been hard for me to stay in L2. But during my 4/5 weeks of no L1 use (I literally spoke not a single word of English except for proper nouns), it was actually very easy to not use L1. However, after the day I revealed that I speak English and made a remark in English, I got increasingly careless and would sometimes break into English for things like announcing a brain break, chatting with a kids at the beginning of class, explaining a translation, etc.
      After breaking the damn of L1 use in most of my classes grew little by little every day. For every few extra words I spoke in L1, my kids spoke a few more themselves, which led me to speaking even more L1. I would say that when I started the leave replacement my classes were about 98% L2 use (students) and by the time I finished three months later my classes were about 90% L2 use (students). Which isn’t a huge decrease percentage-wise, but does add up to a lot of lost time in L2 long-term. Even daily, that’s about 10 minutes less time in L2 for a one hour class!
      So I now know that sticking to nothing but L2 is easier for me than allowing a little L1 here and there. Next time I teach, I think it has to be all L2 or nothing.
      An impatient part of me does not want to do 100% L2 because I want to build rapport with my kids as fast as possible at the beginning of the year, using L1 to do so. But I think the slow route spent building relationships in L2 (especially slow with beginners) would be well worth the wait if I end up with a strong L2 culture in my classes by the end of the year.
      And even for a complete beginner class with major behavior issues, L1 could still be easily avoided with very basic L2 rules via point and pause with translation of rule. And then follow-up contact with a parent or admin requesting help with the behavior issue and letting them know that even behavior corrections in my class will be done in L2 and that if the kid has a question about what I am requesting, the kid will have to request clarification with a gesture or by using an L2 clarifying question from a poster in my classroom.

        1. Greg, when you did this experiment, did you not speak English outside of class either such that students never knew you could speak English?
          Lately, the “touch the door” has been effective. It’s a pain to get up and walk over to the door, even for me, so we all try a little harder not to use L1.

          1. Yes Eric, even outside of class I was very careful to not speak English within earshot of one of my students. The Latin teacher and I would walk with each other after lunch to our classrooms. As we got close to my students waiting outside my classroom to get in I would keep chatting with the Latin teacher but respond in French. So this class thought I could sort of understand English but not speak it. And I also greeted and chatted with my kids in French when I ran into them in the hall. It was fun trying to keep up this act for 4/5 weeks!

  16. Didn’t Vyn do this in DPS?
    I can totally imagine this Greg, nice to read it. I can seeing it working with my elem students, since they are often surprised when they hear me say I was born in IA (vs Peru or Mexico)… funny for me to imagine as a very caucasian gringo with not the finest of accents.

    1. Same for me Jim – I was surprised my kids didn’t catch on sooner, especially the upper-levels. I do my best with pronunciation, but it’s still majorly lacking. And then sometimes I don’t care at all and the words come out however they come out!

  17. This is such a crucial thread I don’t like seeing it scroll out. I am copying it here just because I feel like it. As I read it and reflect on it, I realize it is a message of extreme and great importance. Every word is nuanced. He says we can clarify using L1 but not too much. I hope we read that carefully. The key points for me I put into bold letters – they reflect our recent discussion about L1 use. It was a good discussion. Each of us got to come to our own conclusions about how we want to interpret it, which is as it should be. For me, this article puts me much further in the “severely limit L2 use” camp. To be honest, I feel that the two sentences that I put in bold are not strong enough and would allow for misrepresentation. It gives too much room to push the L1 use to a deleterious level.
    Is first language use in the foreign language classroom good or bad? It depends.
    S. Krashen
    International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 2(1): 9. 2006.
    Contrary to semi-popular opinion, the Comprehension Hypothesis does not forbid the use
    of the first language in the second language classroom. It does, however, provide
    guidelines. It predicts that the use of the first language will help second language
    development if it results in more comprehensible input, and will hurt second language
    development when it results in less comprehensible input.
    Providing Background Knowledge
    The first language helps when it provides background knowledge that functions to make
    second language input more comprehensible. This can happen in several ways:
    It happens when the first language is used to provide background knowledge through
    discussion or reading. When teachers know that a topic needs to be discussed in class that
    is unusually complex or unfamiliar, a short presentation or set of readings in the
    first language can be of great help. A few minutes or a page or two on relevant aspects of
    the history of Mexico, for example, can transform a discussion of Cortez from one that is
    opaque to one that is transparent. This kind of background is, of course, most useful when
    teachers know that all or nearly all students will require it.
    Bilingual education relies on the same principle: In bilingual programs, students are given background knowledge in the first language in order to make subsequent instruction delivered in the second language more comprehensible (Krashen, 1996).
    The first language can also help when it is used during a lesson as a quick explanation. Comprehension difficulties can arise in unpredictable places and students differ in their need for background knowledge. The first language can be used as needed for quick explanations in the middle of discussions when some students are having trouble, and
    when it is not easy to paraphrase and use other means of providing context.
    There is also nothing wrong with providing a quick translation for a problematic word that is central to a discussion. Providing the translation may or may not contribute very
    much to the acquisition of the meaning of the translated word, but it can help make the entire discussion more comprehensible.
    Misuse of the first language
    The first language is misused when teachers provide so much information that there is no reason to continue the discussion in the second language.
    It is also misused when teachers provide so many brief explanations and translations that it is difficult to keep track of the message. If this intervention is considered to be necessary, the topic may not be right. It has been hypothesized that the acquirer needs to be so interested in the message (or “lost in the book”) that he or she temporarily “forgets” that the message is in another language. When translations are excessive, the spell is broken.
    Krashen, S. 1996. An overview of bilingual education. Bilingual Basics. Winter/Spring:

    1. One thing we do is answer blurted questions in L1 far too readily. We can tell the blurter to write the question down in L1 and ask it at the end of class in English right before the bell rings. I am convinced as I reflect more and more on this egregious – in my own opinion – use of L1 all over our classrooms I see how bad it is. It really is bad. It messes with what Krashen describes at the end of the above article about how the student must forget that they are hearing another language. Blurting destroys that delicate process. We can’t let it happen. I am also convinced that at least 80% of blurting originates in pure teenage ego, in some kid’s need to draw attention to himself. We need to man up on that stuff and most of us don’t. I never did. We really need to shut down the blurting. Sorry for the rant but why are we even saying we do CI if we don’t? Because CI is really about almost a total absence of L1. OK I’ll be all right. Maybe. But really – we are not staying in the TL in the way Krashen describes above.

      1. The Krashen article was about teacher use of L1, not student use.
        It’s hard for me to see a student’s use of L1, if the teacher only uses L2, as harmful for acquisition. When students use only L2 does that “result in more comprehensible input”? Student peer input is of poor quality and student output doesn’t further the acquisition process.
        It becomes a problem when student blurting leads to discussion in L1 that could be had in L2. It’s a problem also because when kids use more L1, the teacher’s tendency is probably to use more L1.
        There is a separate issue here: L2 environment. We want students to want to be a “member of the club” and we create that “club” by requiring students only L2.
        Both languages can be used to further the “message” (further the story). If teacher L1 TRANSLATIONS and EXPLANATIONS are too common, Krashen warns us that we can lose track of the message. What about a student’s cute answer blurted in L1?
        Personally, I limit student L1, because of above reasons – I want an L2 club/environment and then I use more L2.
        Then, on the other hand, I do think there is that experience the layperson refers to as “thinking” in the target language. When I spend a lot of time surrounded in Spanish, I then find myself using Spanish word order or Spanish expressions, e.g. saying in English “I have fear” because that is the literal translation of “tengo miedo.” Or I come back to the US from a trip abroad and all my “automatic responses” (especially politeness) are in Spanish. It once took me a long time to stop saying “gracias” when I paid for something in the US. True story, I once said to someone “stop molesting me” because “molestar” in Spanish means “annoys.” Haha. And there are cultural things as well that I forgot. In Honduras, people are very polite when it comes to greetings. I literally forgot how to greet and say my farewell to someone when I came back to the US. Do I shake their hand? Do I wave? What do I say? I still feel awkward with greetings and farewells in the US.
        There is also something to say for “fluency.” When I go back to Honduras for 2 months every year, I do pick up my output speed so that I can express what I had already acquired much faster. But this speed fades – you don’t use it, you lose it. I don’t lose what I’ve acquired, but I do lose some “skill” or “speed” of output. So, by requiring students L2, we hope to also increase their fluency (speed).
        Lots of student blurting is the teacher’s fault. There are activities that encourage blurting and encourage students to want to express more than they’ve acquired. The Special Person, when done with beginners, is one of these such activities. My adult class has participants that have acquired less than some of my middle schoolers and so when I tried the Special Person with the adults, there was lots of L1 blurting (from paying, motivated adults!). I don’t know that even Bryce can deny this one – have you ever seen the quantity of vocabulary at the top of his lessons or his Special Person poster?!
        And lastly, I don’t know when a firm stance on no L1 starts to border on teacher bullying. There are kids who have needs to express something and cannot do so in L2.
        As you can see, I’m conflicted and still trying to think this through. Since I’ve started to require a physical consequence (touch the door, jump 2xs, etc.) for any L1 except for a translation during “L2 times” I am more aware of my own L1 use (consequence applies to teacher as well) and students are policing their own side comments, so I see how much more prevalent L1 student use is.

        1. Matthew DuBroy

          Some very helpful considerations Eric. Do you find it disruptive for students to have to get out of their seats and go to the door and jump twice? I would worry that would give us a longer stoppage of class than a brief call out about the blurting. But maybe it is worth it if it eventually severely limits the blurting.

          1. It’s one or the other. Walk to door on some days. Jump twice on other days. I don’t find it disruptive – it gets done silently (I keep teaching through it).
            The kids don’t want to get up and it makes L1 blurting very visible to me, so it has limited the blurting as well as make me more aware of it.

        2. “teacher blurting” is the problem. It certainly starts with the most proficient speaker in the class setting the example. Apologizing for using English sends a message to students.
          “when student blurting leads to discussion in L1 that could be had in L2” This is so important. L2 is for communication and L1 is for clarification. We set the bar higher by insisting students do what they are able to do in the language. It is so easy to slip out. A few strategies for responding in L2 to the use of L1:
          1. ¿Cómo? This is commonly used in Spanish for something like “How’s that again?”
          2. I don’t understand “Hi”.
          3. How do you say “Hi” in Spanish? (or whatever English word was used). When the student say in English “How do you say…? it is fun to respond with “How do you say ‘How do you say’?” (¿Cómo se dice, ‘How do you say?'”
          Something I have noticed myself doing lately is taking an L1 utterance and rendering it in L2, playing / circling with it a little and moving on and circling back. That way, my love of the language keeps us flowing forward independent of the ability or attitude of the learner.

  18. Ben, sounds like you’re still feeling that pure L2 is the way to go. Whether or not sometimes mixing in L1 (glossing, translating, blurting, pop-ups, etc.) messes up L2 acquisition does not have research evidence either way. . . Interesting to me is that James Asher is very anti-L1 use.

    1. You got it Eric. Everyone has to make their own decision about how much L1 to allow in in the forms you describe above. My conclusion is that it has to be pure CI. It doesn’t meant we can’t use English in other times in class that we agree upon, or as in those little “English Pop-Ups” during the CI, but in my experience when the kids know that they have the right to use even a small amount of English it ruins the quality of the class in a very subtle way and makes us scratch our heads about why our classes weren’t better as we drive home that day. L1 use in an L2 classroom just doesn’t work for me in my own CI world. Hence the strictly timed periods of TL only and my functioning as the adult in the room who is not there to seek approval but to teach the language.

      1. “in my experience when the kids know that they have the right to use even a small amount of English it ruins the quality of the class in a very subtle way and makes us scratch our heads about why our classes weren’t better as we drive home that day.”
        Feels like you were reading my mind. I hate that feeling you describe. I always feel like a better teacher when the L1 was less or none.

        1. L2 is a polluting agent. Language is sublime, or at least can be (Hafiz, Shakespeare). French to me is a sublime language. Why would I allow it to be polluted with dirt from children who know no better? How can I keep it from being polluted? I must become the adult in the room and enforce my rules. There is no other way, not in a society where everything is completely upside down. We must always be aware that what we see happening in our country in school classrooms, esp. the data collection piece, reveals a society that is completely upside down. We must somehow teach with the awareness that we must flip our classrooms over, to what is normal and right in they eyes of goodness. Then we will see the results we want.

    2. …whether or not sometimes mixing in L1 (glossing, translating, blurting, pop-ups, etc.) messes up L2 acquisition does not have research evidence either way….
      Eric your question signals perhaps a critical moment in our years long discussion here about 100% L1 use vs. mixed L1 use. Since we have no research either way, and since I prefer to go with my gut anyway, and rely on research only as a secondary indicator (I don’t do things because research tells me to do them but because it feels right to me), I have firmly concluded that I must not allow any mixing. I just think it does things to the language acquisition process that is adulterous.
      What does your gut tell you Eric? Others? For me, my sense is that the language needs to fly without weights on its wings, and if allowed to do so, over time will lead to highest quality CI flight that mixing/weights on wings can ever reach.
      Few know what can happen because everyone mixes, is it not true? If no one has every gone with 100%, and have therefore never been studied (Reuben Vyn perhaps as an exception) how can we know what my gut tells me is true? Purity is so rare that we don’t know about it, what it might bring to our instruction. I think of the passage with Lisa and the nightingale in Tolstoy’s Two Hussards.

    1. Lance it only seems like a contradiction. We rule with an iron fist when we are in the language and for me that takes the form of 20 to 30 min. strictly timed sessions devoid of English except when I want a time out when English is allowed. But those time outs must be short. They are like “Pop-up English.”
      Then, when we just go splat or if we indeed make the stated goal of however much time, we then hang out in English. The key to this deal about blurting, and it has taken me fifteen years to figure this out as true for me, is that I must find in my gut a strong teaching personality to stop in the instant of its creation ANY AND ALL BLURTING that is not in a legal time out or in a time when we are not officially in the language.
      At one point I thought a light would work but I didn’t even try it. I just knew intuitively that this blurting deal is about making what I want to happen happen in my own classroom as the adult in the room, stopping them if necessary with a strict look and even saying “Stop!” in every case every time with no exceptions.
      This blurting thing in my view has taught me a lot about finding my own personal power in life in general. It is about not having to get them to like me. About teaching my class in the way I feel is best. About self respect and instruction that doesn’t take the form of waves of unchecked talking where people’s voices get stacked on top of each other in a very unpleasant way.
      It’s all about Classroom Rule #2. And the kicker is we have to do it with a smile on our faces. That’s why few people can be teachers.

    2. Your timing procedure makes sense. It places the accountability on the students to not blurt in English, to stay in the TL and listen. It provides an environment for all students to learn.

  19. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    For little kids, it’s so hard for them to defer a connection comment to the end of class. You see their little faces deflate when you remind, “Al fin de la clase.” (‘At the end of class’). Any comment can inspire such L1 urgency – as in, “¡¡Octubre!! My cousin’s birthday is in octubre!”
    I have been trying to reiterate the whole, “Support the flow of Spanish” rule whenever the L1 blurt happens. (It’s on my norms poster), but it’s hard, and it’s developmentally normal for these interjections to happen everywhere!
    Other than these random interruptions of the L2 train, and the side conversations that ensue, or crop up during any transition – like when I finish the beginning of class banter and I’m walking to my doc cam or computer, or when the 1st graders move from the rug to the chairs – I can’t see why there’d be any excusable interruption of the L2 flow. I try to precede transitions with a reminder to stay in L2 or move silently from here to there – just because I feel that there’s a buildup – a growing snowball or house of cards, and that the careless toss of English into the structure contaminates it. But I realize I need to chill out.
    During story spinning (at least for me at this novice & young level) most of the fished answers are proper nouns (people & places) and an occasional one-word object.
    Of course we are human and we do tell some extended info in English here & there – but as for real interruption of the flow – I’m a hardliner.

    1. I’ve gone to almost entirely TPR and storytelling with younger grades (actually, I love this with older kids, too – I would think it’s more boring, but 1-2 kids at a time are doing the actions and no groaning yet).
      The teacher is way more in control. Rather than questions, you get comprehension checks from their physical response. Way less L1 seeps in. And when L1 does get in, I just point to the back row and the kid moves momentarily. Been working better than anything I’ve used before.
      I also realize that this is the first year I’m especially in tune to every infraction and responding to them all (gently). It may be that in my 4th year, the TCI/TPRS is to the point of automaticity such that I can now devote my attention to behavior.

      1. How can this hurt? The kid blurts and gets a seat in the back where they can observe only. It can’t hurt to try. I’d love to hear back on this in a few weeks from those who go ahead and test it out.

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