Krashen on the Grammar-Based Syllabus and Non-targeted Input

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19 thoughts on “Krashen on the Grammar-Based Syllabus and Non-targeted Input”

  1. Below is my comment on the following:

    “SK offers some pointers on providing richer NT input:

    (1) Use readers that do not target certain vocabulary and structures. (Tina here – I wonder what the implications for this are, on the TPRS novels that are written with 60 words or 120 words and such.)”

    It is important to maintain the distinction between targeting and sheltering. It may be that the results look the same. Targeting is a focus on certain words to maximize the number of reps in a given amount of time. Sheltering is limiting the number of words which are unfamiliar.

    In the oral part of TPRS we may be able to increase the number of unfamiliar words. These words which are “out of bounds” are brought in bounds by clarifying the meaning.

    In the reading part of TPRS we can do something similar by glossing the words. But the greater the percentage of unfamiliar, the smaller the percentage of known words. This means that there is a smaller number of context clues with which to construe a meaning for the unknown words.

    Ease of reading is important for increasing the amount of reading. It is the amount of reading which leads to the benefits of reading like improved spelling, writing ability, grammar control, and vocabulary.

    Between ACTFL and TCI Maine I took home some 35 of the new titles. Having now read most of them now, I would say that there is degree for providing compelling CI.

    It is the desire of the authors that these books be read independently as well as in a setting which scaffolds the meaning. The readings need to be both compelling and comprehensible for maximum benefit to the learner.

    I would sum up the connection between sheltering and compelling thus:
    It is compelling which pulls us forward; it is incomprehensibility which holds us back. In bounds removes the obstacles; compelling drives it forward.

    1. I might have time to delve on this topic… Anyway, Nathaniel real quickly here is what I see with sheltering. You said, “Sheltering is limiting the number of words which are unfamiliar.”

      I used to think this way. When doing the invisibles, I would write A,B,C for any unfamiliar verbs/expressions–not necessarily nouns.

      With the advent of SL and seeing the invisibles videos, I notice that this kind of sheltering wasn’t needed. Though, I speak for my situation.

      What I see as sheltering is adding context and making words/messages comprehensible. Translations, gestures, actors, props, facial expressions even old school tpr.

      Targeting to me was always “mastery” in disguise, a chance to say “got yah!” to students.

      Anyway my two cents.

      1. With reading, I would always want to read to my students with a story projected on the board. They also do SSR with those same stories on their own–though I would like to mix it up and create other ones based on it. Maybe if I automate everything else. I agree about reading, it should be very comprehensible BUT graphic novels are actually a main hit with my heritage speakers and there should be a lot more for novice learners– where the text is right there with the pictures to add context.

        1. Steven on the graphic novels I’m beating the bushes to find and eventually publish the work of writers of graphic novels at an extremely simple level and about kids who may not have white skin, are somehow different, etc. with the goal of them being able to not feel so different. Such kinds of novels could help them. Let us make no mistake about our work. We may be the only adult reaching a kid. Just today I got an email from a member of the USAF – a former student – who wants to speak French w me over the summer. We have the institutes so I can’t. But his sense of “I’m good at French!” carried him through middle school as a victim of much bullying, I remember. We can’t play around with any method that might shame a kid. We have to teach in ways that build self-esteem. Our house is on fire and many of us are standing around playing our Realidades violins.

  2. Sean M Lawler

    The idea that if we are sincerely trying to communicate, then we will, “without thinking about it, make 100 or maybe 1000 alterations in your speech and action.” This really gets to why NT is such a relief. We don’t have to stress about nor consciously think about making sure we are representing unfamiliar vocabulary with realia or visual support. It will happen unconsciously.

    It’s also a twist on the approach, taught in ESL methods class, of sheltering vocabulary. My understanding of what is meant by sheltering vocabulary, in the ESL world, is limit use of vocabulary.

    That all said, can we train ourselves as CI, second language teachers, to get better at using “alterations in your speech and action”? I’d think so. Probably mostly through practice. Going slow (though it is possible to go too slow, I think). Pacing. Walk and point to words. Repeating in various ways. Pausing. Gesturing. Drawing. What else?

  3. To your second paragraph Sean: Yes the famous line from Susan Gross was always “Shelter vocabulary and not grammar”, meaning that grammar (i.e. properly spoken speech – not the kind of “grammar” that most old school teachers teach), when heard enough in the form of properly spoken language, seeps in but if we try to teach too many words in the process of speaking correctly to our students (use good grammar) then it raises their affective filters and has a generally deleterious effect on the process of acquisition. They don’t need more words from us, they just need more properly spoken speech that they want to listen to and then it all gets absorbed just as you describe in your first paragraph above.

    1. I had an awesome story about a student and batman getting the joker in Year 1 French. Now that was compelling!! So compelling that students wanted to know what happened next. My board was full of words with translations. It never finished. . It was a to be continued… But then of course, came the reading… The thing is that many of these students are fast processors and are great at paying attention. The problem is that they overshadow some of my other students who may need more SLOW.

  4. To your third paragraph Sean: You asked “what else” besides the skill set things you mention above. I would add an attitude of just wanting to communicate – just like you said in your first sentence above. Alterations in speech and action will naturally occur if in fact we are genuinely trying to communicate with our students in the real way simply because what we are talking about is so interesting to all of us. How can it not happen that way? Language is a dance….

    1. Yes. You do this well Ben, dancing with the language. It’s like when we have these inflections or even humble ourselves in a “allez, vas y” or “andale” or simply looking at the kids eyes and nodding saying “yeah, that’s your idea and it’s badass”

  5. Hey Ben I have been watching your “Tall Hat” story from your old training videos. It’s pretty good and I think you were Non-Targeted even before your were non-targeted.

    I can definitely see the seeds of the Invisibles system there. One improvement that I like about the Invisibles is no need anymore for the three locations. I think that can get tiring.

    1. Yeah I rarely did the three locations and I never targeted. I always felt that the TPRS Police Force would get me but they never did.

      I just didn’t “know” that what I was doing was better for me. I thought I was failing bc I couldn’t keep all those lists straight.

      Tina has pointed out the same thing about those old videos. One thing about them is that I remember the FEELING I had when creating those stories. It felt good. It was fun. I was still scared but it was fun.

  6. Alisa that Tall Hat interview is on a CD program that I no longer produce. I thought it was dated but Greg points out that even in 2007 I was doing almost entirely NT but just didn’t know it. Weird days. I’ll see about transferring the old CI program into a computer.

    1. Hi Ben. I remember one of your videos with commentary. It was a “too lazy” script my Matava. I remember you kept feeling bad for going out of bounds and introducing too many new words. Really, though you were using your intuition rather than your trying to adhere to the TPRS rules of drilling towards mastery. How is it that we are told to communicate genuinely and still stay in our analytical brains with targeting? C’est pas possible! So by staying NT, we are focusing on genuine communication to reach our students.

      Personally, those instructor commentary videos were gold because they emphasized what is important in this work.

  7. Steven I almost threw them out bc they went out w the DVD format, but decided to take them and Bucky Goes to Mexico/Paris (CDs) to a place that transfers them and soon I will have them all in an external hard drive to go onto my site when I get it updated (hasn’t been done in over ten years). Yeah the commentaries were good. Thanks for saying that. People doing TPRS can benefit.

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