Linda Li Observation

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18 thoughts on “Linda Li Observation”

  1. Wow…nice description.
    I wonder what opinions others have about teachers speaking consistently SLOW versus going from slow to medium to fast reacher speech?

    1. I’ve always tried to vary my speech: I’ll say it one time slowly (emphasis on the key words). Then again, the same idea from a different angle, but a little faster–the fluency adds to the “conversational” tone and doesn’t feel contrived. Then circle and repeat, each time varying my pace.
      This helps in a classroom where my ELLs vary dramatically in their abilities (some have been in the US for several years, some for a day). But pointing definitely works. I’ve started pointing my [laser] religiously since joining this group and I’m amazed at the difference.

  2. This is great stuff to read! Thanks for sharing it. A question: in the writing time, they had the questions & lists of possible answers on the same sheet of paper where they wrote? And, did they write in characters, pinyin, or some of both? I think it’d be a smart way to teach them to write characters by hand after they’ve thoroughly heard & discussed those same words, and are actually writing sentences that mean something to them. Far better than the traditional way Chinese teachers do handwriting: usually a sheet with boxes & you write each character 10 times (or more) without any context. My students used to do that my first 3 years of teaching. They sometimes didn’t even know the meaning of what they were writing, and it sure wasn’t about communicating.
    “weird authentic grunting pronunciation”? Ah, I see that the incredibly wonderful sounds of Mandarin go unrecognized by another French teacher, Ben. Sigh…

    1. I was hoping you’d not let that go by Diane. Yeah, grunts to me and beautiful sounds to you! It’s why we love our own languages. And when those Latin Kings start talking, it’s like I can hear the clang of the Roman swords. An aside: People always seemed shocked that the Kings are teaching Latin by speaking it. They say it’s not spoken. Well, my insight is that it WAS spoken at one time, and by trainloads of people. So what’s so weird about speaking it?

  3. “So how does Linda, so adept at CI, end up seeing so much output from her students? She just told me as she walked by, “I am convinced that the reason these kids can speak and write like this is because of all the input over the past year in level 1 and now up to this point in level 2. I NEVER make level 1 kids speak or write. It’s all input at level 1”
    Yes. Forced output is bad. Does BVP advocate pair-activities in level 1?

  4. This is the next best thing from being able to learn Chinese with Linda in person. Thanks Ben for taking notes.
    Re #17 (I just had to pick one to comment on because I want to comment on it all but that would take a long time)… I think I know what you mean here Ben. Doesn’t it make the accuracy so much sweeter when it does come? I had a 2nd year girl throw out “yo fui” (I went) the other day, just rattled it off without even thinking about it, she was so caught up in the moment of telling us about her trip to DisneyWorld this summer and clarifying that she was also going back this Winter etc. I wanted to stop her right then and there and tell the class how amazing it was that she just used the correct form without even blinking an eye or really having to stop to think about it. But I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t. Then they’d be trying to retrieve conscious knowledge during a process (interpersonal communication) that is optimized by fluid expression of thoughts (whether 100% accurate or not)
    I tongue in cheek wonder if we could we get one of those CIA operatives into some CI rooms sometime and then have them go into some trad classrooms and analyze the responses and where (what part of the mind) they are coming from.

    1. I know what you mean jim.I asked the class why I was sad, and a quiet student said “because you dont see beyonce” I laughed so hard with the class but ran with it… the story goes that I ended up not going to her concert.

      1. That kid deserves something like an A at least. Those quiet kids with great cute answers are worth their weight in gold. And yeah, when they give you gold, run with it into a story, or take the story in that direction. Storyasking 101. And then whenever the Beyonce line comes up in the story or the reading, you look with appreciation and respect to that same kid. You let him know how valuable he is every chance you get.

  5. I just observed Amy Roe and Gisela Schramm-Nagel in Minneapolis. They did a story asking with grade 3s where they had pictures and words on a screen, asked questions, and made the kids act. These kids could do basic Q&A. Very cool.
    Their “story” was about a man who does not like bad weather (neither does his dog). At one point one of the kids started petting the other kid who was playing the man’s dog.

  6. On rate of speech – others have posted here and/or on the MoreTPRS listserv about the rate of regular speech and adapted speech (is the target 100 words per minute for caretaker speech? I can’t recall). Anyway, I’ve noticed that since I have the same students year after year for 4 years running, I’m much slower with the younger ones, but by the time I’m seeing them for the 4th year, my speech is much faster. Of course I mindfully slow down when I’m ‘targeting’ and circling new chunks, pausing to make sure they’re attaching the sound to the written word, and/or the TPR gesture.
    As for your surprise at seeing how fast Linda speaks, maybe this has to do with the Chinese language itself, and it sounds faster than it is? Or it’s so ‘foreign’ sounding that it feels fast? Or it’s much simpler and she’s being so repetitive that as she’s speaking, she knows (observes) their comprehension and can proceed at a normal rate of speech.
    I’ll bet when observers who are as scrutinizing and reflective as you observe you, Ben, they are also blown away by what your kids can process.

    1. I had an informal (surprise!) Observation by my principal. He enjoyed the “fast” pace of the lesson. I was really just circling and circling with diffferent students… the meaty Roa step. I slowed when I saw a student use the stop signal. Etc…

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