Letter to VanPatten

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



32 thoughts on “Letter to VanPatten”

  1. Michael Coxon

    What a great message. I hope he writes back. I love that you explained so much and stroked his ego all while being kind and informative.
    I would love him to discuss anything about what we are involved in. Positive or negative I would love to hear him discuss tprs/tci. I think the acknowledgement would go a long way.

  2. Great idea. Krashen’s not going to be around forever, and we need some representation at the Uni level. Who’s going to ACTFL? Krashen told me that VP is the nicest guy in the world and that he agrees with basically everything he says/does (with one caveat: he says that while the effectiveness of processing instruction is there, he questions its usefulness given time constraints in instruction).

    1. “Krashen’s not going to be around forever”
      So true.
      Got me thinking, Chris: VP made some reference to his grad students. Perhaps this contact opens up a lot more contacts through his grad students and research assistants.

  3. Eric,
    Since you are such an excellent spokesperson!! perhaps you can next educate VanPatten about how ACTFL and AATSP are old guard (no SLA experts or interest), and how iFLT and TPRS much better reflect his own research and philosophy regarding input.
    I know you invited him, but maybe send him Carol G’s Language Educator article so he can connect the conference organizer with a true SLA expert/trainer.
    Also since he’s an important guy on the go, maybe he could catch a 3-day mini Blaine Ray workshop…have Blaine & Carol invite him to attend a workshop for free?
    We could definitely talk that up to both after the conferences this summer…fall/winter is prolly a slower time for their business.
    Bringing him into the fold would be great as he’s on the university thang big time. Maybe show him the lame response Lance got from the dept at UMass when he forwarded the open letter to deans?
    Just some ideas…that he wrote you back right away holds great potential for all of us so interested in these changes.
    Thanks for using your gift of words so eloquently for the cause!

  4. Beautifully written letter. Hopefully some continued correspondence will develop – it seems like VP’s initial response was nice but that he’s not yet willing to step outside the normal teacher groups.
    Michelle Whaley was talking with him about speaking at the Alaska FL teachers’ conference. Is that going to happen?

    1. “he’s not yet willing to step outside” – I also got that feeling. I wonder if he does not want to tie himself to an approach/method. I want him to want to learn more about TPRS.
      I think TPRS conference organizers should be inviting VP to attend AND to speak.

      1. Van Patten IS coming to Alaska for our conference this year! September 18-19, should you wish to come. We’re experiencing all sorts of technical difficulties with payment issues, so no one can register yet BOOO but he’s agreed to do the keynote and a follow-up workshop. I’m hoping we can let him see a coaching session.

  5. Like Diane I sense that VP is not ready or willing to publicly embrace TPRS or CI. There is no passion in his response. It almost feels political. It doesn’t matter. We don’t need him to tell us we are doing things in the right and best way for kids.

      1. Yeah, he doesn’t fear being controversial. Take his article “against rules” for example – mind blowing. There are NO rules (as described in FL textbooks)! (Although, it is my understanding that UG is a popular theory of L1, but highly debated as a theory of L2). And now this article with the letter for deans. TCI aligns way better with his philosophy than anything else I know of. When he critiques the state of things, I’d eventually like to see him advocate our approach as a solution: TCI/TPRS. We’ll see. . .

  6. Eric, this is fantastic and I’m so glad you contacted Bill. If I can make a couple of observations, his main emphasis is higher ed and it has been for 30 years. It’s what he knows best, and let me also say there is nothing like this blog that I know of for higher ed teachers of languages, which speaks volumes about what VP is saying about the pushback at the higher ed level. The cultural level of human behavior is sometimes the most persistently impenetrable of all, and there is a lot of magical thinking in academia; science, especially in the humanities, is a young interloper. I’ve also seen on this list that VP is associated with ACTFL, but when I was a grad student in his environment 30 years ago, he was a very virulent critic of ACTFL. ACTFL has changed since, and VP has perhaps changed since, making that platform more suitable for his message. But I don’t believe he’s prepared to swallow all things ACTFL, hook, line, and sinker. I could say much more, but I’d like to end with this thought: Krashen won’t be around forever, neither will any of us. The time is now, and we can effect change mostly within the environments we inhabit. But if everyone on this list becomes more vocal, if the K-12 world lights up even brighter with Van Patten and CI passion, and if you can reach the language coordinators or the deans (but especially the coordinators) at the university level, then and only then will we in higher ed start to take notice of the changes in our midst. We’ve been calling for articulation for what seems like ages, and when I first started in this profession, I thought higher ed would be the change agent. Krishna, VP, and Sandra Savignon gave me that feeling. Following their examples, yes, that might be true, but they were three in a sea of traditionalists. Articulation with leadership from the K-12 sector is the only way this thing will work.

      1. Hari Krishna. Harry Krashen. Pretty close! But his name is Stephen. Let’s call him a great soul nonetheless, for what he has put up with for all these years in academia. He’ll always be at least a saint in my book.

    1. Thank you for that, Mark. For those who haven’t yet met Mark, he represents a bridge from secondary to university language education as Director of the Anderson Language and Technology Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
      I especially appreciate this insight:
      …articulation with leadership from the K-12 sector is the only way this thing will work….
      So there it is. We all need to take a little of what Eric does, find out what he has for breakfast or something (Research Puffs?) and continue to take the fight to academia. As I read what Mark said, I got the image of a dull mirror that needs to be wiped clean. We can do that. We have the CI Glass Cleaner product going on.
      So how many people actually wrote about the VP Open Letter to some university? I thought we were going to focus maybe on UMass. Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?
      Dig it:

  7. Right on! If not VP, then his grad students could conduct all kinds of qualitative research (or quantitative?) on us warriors here! Those grad students could write their thesis projects or dissertations based solely on Ben’s thousands of articles. Not only that, I’m sure they could get some meaningful feedback in a matter of a couple of days on any one of their research questions.
    Gotta be like Mike — I mean — Eric!

  8. Good question, Angie. I wrote the following and then had second thoughts about what whether this is what Mark was referring to.
    One way to think of it is that there is a coordinated effort in planning how students will progress from year to year.
    From a classical point of view the question may be, “do we start with nouns, pronouns, articles and adjectives or do we start with verbs?” Or do we go back and forth? The idea is that the teacher of Intermediate Latin can assume that students from Beginning Latin have a certain level of knowledge and ability.
    From CI point of view, we are asking questions like Should we be starting from output or should we be starting with input? Should we start with 20 expressions for greeting people or should we start with “there is a frog named George? Should we do semantically similar lists first or should we do high frequency words? Do we expect complete sentences right away or do we expect one word answers?
    These are questions of vertical articulation, that is, or coordinating student progression from one grade to the next.
    There is also horizontal articulation in which students at the same level are getting similar experiences. In a program with poor articulation, one teacher might be expecting students to fill in blanks while another is expecting them comprehend a story based on classroom story-asking. In a well articulated program, one teacher is leading the students through a story in which, it turns out, Mary lost her tooth and ends up at Teeth-R-Us, and in another teacher’s class, John lost his black dog and ends up at the mayor’s house in catland. I imagine that a program could be well-articulated but out of touch with the research, in which all classes are reviewing the 8 irregular affirmative familiar imperative forms, so that next week they can learn the 5 irregular negative familiar imperative forms, so that next year they can review them again at the beginning of the year, so that they can then move on to the…

  9. Yup, Nathaniel hit the nail on the head. Now note that while we can depend upon research coming out of higher ed à la the leading lights in SLA, the directionality of the articulation might best be understood as originating in the grass roots and growing upward to the so-called top.

  10. Alisa Shapiro

    We annually deal w/horizontal articulation (across the 3 elem schools in the district – grades 1-4) by identifying the key verbal structures to be taught/acquired before the Winter & Spring Cornerstone (common) assessments. So for example we might use (i’m not looking at the cornerstones right now – but will be glad to send this year’s version to anyone interested): There is, is, is named, has, likes, goes, eats- for say 3rd grade mid-year cornerstone; then all those plus, say, makes/does, walks, sleeps, wakes up, drinks…for the final assessment.
    Now when we go back we can be sure that the kids in our district across the 3 schools all had lotsa exposure to those sets of verbs, at those levels. For some reason this is now important to admin. I guess when the kids all transition to the next school after 4th, we can hand off a list saying, “the kids all know this list.”
    It works the same way horizontally – we ID a set for 1st; spiral back on em and add more in 2nd, 3rd and 4th. The kids ARE the curriculum; the structures are what populate the curriculum documents:}

  11. OK the cornerstones, report cards and other such docs will all be on our T/CI for Newbies website – linked to our iFLT presentation. We have last year’s version but we’re in the process of updating – and we did create new cornerstones. As soon as it’s all set I’ll put up a link to this venue, K?

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben