Targetless Instruction – 13

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11 thoughts on “Targetless Instruction – 13”

  1. CWB is amazing, no doubt. However, I am wondering what you do with a small class of 15 beginning French students, where 1/2 the class draws a football and the other half draws something involving playing on the computer? How can I possibly personalize/circle that when, literally, all I have is “plays” something?

    1. Hi Brigitte, I think we all have a smaller version of your dilemma in that students duplicate. In one class I have four footballs, three volleyballs and five soccer balls to deal with. While it isn’t as severe as your problem (I do have 42 students in that class), it is an issue.

      The solution is to move into the realm of the imagination. None of your students plays in the local club or on the school team. They all play somewhere else with someone else. One of my soccer players now plays at the Olympic games in Tokyo with Godzilla; another one plays in Tatenhausen, Germany (a family connection); we haven’t gotten to the others yet. There have been some comments recently about the power of working with “where” and “with whom” and refusing to accept dud answers. McDonald’s, the school, home, etc. are all dud answers because they are not creative. Wait patiently for the creative answers or feed them possibilities by asking “Do you play in …?” “Class, does Emily play in …?” Keep asking until the student or class says yes. Don’t get frustrated, don’t get tense; just smile and keep asking until you get a response (or, use the Personalized Statement and Answer technique in which you simply tell them where and with whom they play; if they don’t like it, challenge them to come up with something better).

        1. And don’t forget what skip says about pets. And really what Robert said about going into the imaginative. I personally keep myself in bounds when doing that (going into imagination) by limiting my questions to “where” and “with whom”. And my six soccer players are, in my mind, a team, but not a normal team and they may show up anytime this year. This is what Anne Matava does for the first few months. She makes up crazy scenes until they are ready for stories. Let us know how it goes after your Monday classes. Just be open. When they tell you that Emily plays volleyball on the moon say no and make it a local place and then listen for the voice of intuition that guides you into something slightly silly and guide the class along to weirder and weirder stuff by listening to that little guiding voice in your head and never taking the first answer and kind of dance along like that. Just see what happens. Follow the energy. You’re not in charge. The Art of Conversation is in charge.

    2. I have had positive luck with giving students 3 choices in each level…. I will continue doing this, I think…

      adding your pet and your favorite possession at level one has offer a lot of variety (and student choice)

      works for me

  2. I agree about the non-targeting, or rather, letting our target words be determined by student cards, which are based on what THEY like. Students can smell a rat, the rat being our agenda for them, our targets and scope and sequence, and our stories which are only there for exposing students to our target words. In my classes, because of the cards, I heard about a kid from a rival school who insulted my students at a game. Damn right that brat is going to be at the center of our story, and a lot of Latin insults will fly. In another class, I learned that one kid had a big birthday party over the summer, but not everyone in our class was invited. But one of the non-invitees had a party of his own. There’s the story for that class. It’s still hard to have the patience to allow these details to emerge, but it’s worth the wait. Two years ago, or even last year, I would have given up after one or two classes, and just imposed my own crappy story, and no one would really be interested. It’s just a constant struggle to remind myself that taking the time to get to the students’ target words is more efficient than rushing into something the students won’t connect with.

  3. Could someone comment on the whole non targeted CI at upper levels? Is there a distinction? I find myself targeting and I am not sure I am completely comfortable with it. I feel a bit hesitant to “not target” – it feels a bit scary to me at that level…

    Thanks for any thoughts

    1. This is no small question and unfortunately one easily overlooked. I don’t know because I am only teaching my first level 3 CI class ever this year. My feeling skip is that you have to be more professorial at this level. It’s just a guess. They think they know a lot of French and they don’t. They are only a few hundred hours of CI into the 18,000 they need, or however many thousands it really is. So I am reading more, doing a lot of Movie Talk with my 3’s, and generally working them. Not one kid even comes close to putting a head down. These are seniors and their message is about getting the credit for college since their counselors told them they needed three years of French for college. So I counter with aggressive targeted CI (targeted to the MT or novel or song or whatever we are doing) that in no way has that quality of dreamy inquiry and slow motion fun that we have going in a level 1 CI class. We can keep talking about this skip. That you recognize that doing CI with upper level class speaks to your being in touch with yourself as a teacher. If it feels scary don’t go there. There is nothing like a kid at 17 who on even a small level is trying to test you in a level 3 class. Those kids need to be horse collared, some of them. Like this:

    2. My ideal upper level classes are basically one big R&D session But, of course, maybe we can actually read and not laboriously translate. Just hanging out around an interesting short story or novel or simplified reading about something cool.

      That along with discussion of video and pictures that strike my fancy.

      I don’t know, but I think I might be done asking stories TPRS-style after the first two year because I sense the kids are. This is probably worth more discussion.

  4. In a way, the course I took for 6 weeks in 2012 in China was non-targeted CI. I was in a class with 6 other Americans who likewise are Chinese language teachers in the US. Our teacher used a textbook as a reader and to select topics that she expected would interest us (modern China, social issues, etc.). In class, we usually just began to discuss those issues. Sometimes a student or more often, the teacher, would use a word that some of us didn’t understand. We would either check a dictionary – we had internet in the classroom, and used online dictionaries – or we’d ask her to explain. She explained in Chinese, wrote it on the board, maybe used it in a sentence or two for examples. We could all definitely understand at that point but might forget it again. Definitely not enough reps for that. She was, however, a great teacher.

    I took a lot of notes during our class times. I think that I actually only rarely really acquired those words, but I do know that my overall ability in Chinese (listening, reading, and speaking at least) improved a lot. I couldn’t have exactly said “this is what I learned.” If I had been asked, for example, to take a test on words she introduced, I might have done poorly. But if I were asked to hear a speech and then summarize it, or to write an article, or see how far I could read in a novel in 15 minutes, all of those skills were improved.

    Seems to suggest methods of assessment need to be considered.

  5. The neat thing about upper levels is that if you pick a topic, the language chooses itself. In levels 3 and 4 we (teachers) choose what we want to talk about…and the focus language emerges…..just like CWB.

    If you are reading a novel, and discuss the novel, the language from the novel becomes the focus.

    If you are watching a movie or using Movie Talk and discussing, the movie and the discussion will provide the focus.

    Songs create a list of structures, as does poetry.

    Does that make sense?

    It’s the same leap of faith that we had to make in the lower levels. :o)

    with love,

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