Ohio May Have a Problem

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16 thoughts on “Ohio May Have a Problem”

  1. I agree with your assessment of the situation here, especially with the choice of the verb “thwart,” as though TPRSers are subversively trying to undermine world language education. I had to read that part twice because I was sure I’d misread. I also get concerned with his use of the term “performance-based” because when people don’t understand comprehensible input, they forget about the all-important interpretive standard and go straight for presentational, so that “performance-based” means speak and write, neglecting read and listen. I can tell you from personal experience that as a French teacher adopting a child in Guatemala, I could make myself understood in Spanish (thanks to Fluency Fast classes) but I had a hard time understanding what was said back to me and then responding appropriately. Not so “performance-based.” Hope this guy gets downsized.

  2. “a balanced approach to communicative, performance-based teaching and learning” = gag me
    BTW- in TPRS and the CI methods that “we” use, negotiation of meaning by the instructor and student are constant:
    Teacher asks question. Students answers correctly. Teacher checks for comprehension anyway. Student answers confirming comprehension.
    Teacher asks question. Student gives sign for “low/no comprehension”. Teacher modifies speech, gestures, explains, clarifies, etc. to increase student comprehension. Student responds. Teacher checks for comprehension.
    Teacher asks question. Student responds with incomprehensible or incorrect answer. Teacher uses variety of “meaning-centered” responses to student to increase their comprehension and give them more input.
    TPRS/CI methods depend on some sort of “output” from student to continue conversation–or target language would just be noise from the teacher. Output from student stimulates the next Input from teacher which leads to output from student, etc. It’s called a conversation. By listening to the output from the student, I (teacher) know how to modify/engineer the next input to guarantee best comprehension scenario. If not, what’s the point?
    There is a complete paradigm disconnect between them and us in my opinion. Both sides hear the same information and interpret it correctly within their paradigms. For instance, I have observed (on a daily basis in my shared classroom) a teacher who uses the 90% target language goal. Unfortunately, students comprehend almost nothing except for the very top kids and they miss a ton of stuff–but she’s using the TL.
    I also notice that most trad teachers believe that they are completely following the ACTFL standards. They interpret the meaning of those standards very differently than we do and will argue their interpretation to the death.
    Paradigm difference: input leads to output or output leads to output? Huge difference. I have a difficult time arguing the standards or anything else when the philosophical foundation of how language is acquired is so different between camps. It seems like a waste of time to me.

  3. I have to agree with Jody. Most programs ignore the importance of the conversation, i.e. the interpersonal component.
    I also question whether Chris’s correspondent understands Krashen. From what I have read and heard, Krashen is not against output, nor does he consider it unimportant. He is against forced output – and that is a significant difference.
    Recently I came across a TED Talk that provides, among other things, a time-lapse audio of the presenter’s son transitioning from saying “gaga” to saying “water”. Imagine if the poor kid had had to wait until he said “water” perfectly to get that first drink. The comments about modifying language are also significant for us as classroom teachers. The presenter points out that it was when the caretaker’s speech “dipped” to its simplest form that utterances (output) were elicited from the child. (Voluntary utterances, btw.) I’m sure this is what Krashen is going for when he talks about “transparency”. I think the first half of the speech is most relevant for us as foreign language teachers.
    Here are the URLs:

  4. Robert,
    Thanks for sharing this video. I also found it interesting that it mentioned how certain words are associated with a location or an experience. I starting thinking of ways to get these locations and experiences into the classroom. Great video!

  5. Grant Boulanger

    Robert, I also saw this TED talk recently and it blew me away.
    The particular detail you mention – the caretaker “dipping” to maximize the comprehensibility and to model the correct form really resonated with me. That’s something we need to flesh out here. I need to watch it again, but I recall he said that there was a spike in the dipping right before the child started to audibly approximate the correct form .
    What does that look like in a beginning TCI classroom? Or, perhaps more appropriately, in a year 2 classroom when real language is beginning to blossom? I feel confident that a camera would also catch us dipping.

  6. It’s already in the queue here to be published as a separate blog post for easier reference here in a few days. I’m glad you validated my reaction, Laurie. It blew me back a few feet from the computer in the power of the point made, in such a simple and impossible to argue with way.

  7. OK this is the proverbial swing into action time. I will make this a separate blog post and ask people to get right to the survey.
    I was wondering where you’ve been, Chris. Now, we just have to find Brian.

    1. Sorry, been busy with family and trying to take it easy. I’ve been lurking and reading all of the blog posts but haven’t found the time to comment much, even though there have been A LOT of posts that I’ve wanted to join in.

  8. Chris, do you need action from us on this? And if so, what are some “text bites” that you’d like in the comments? I started the survey, but the important part seems to me to be the “comments on strengths and weaknesses.”
    Without even getting into the language of the proposed standards or whether I could possibly agree with them, the first thing I can say is that there are too many! Our English standards here in Anchorage suffer from the same issue, and we’re trying to cut them into manageable pieces (the group is; I’m staying out of it for once). There is just too much there for teachers to be aiming at. We’re finally realizing that we need to get more global, just as these standards need. It seems to me that the first list they offer (before stating the standards) would have been plenty. Like most things done by committee, the written piece has been honed perfectly, but everything in the world is in there, and it becomes a totally urealistic document for any teacher, parent or student to really use. I fear that there is no help or comment of a reasonable nature (in my case, yelling, “STOP!!”) that can halt this. It’s like they asked what food is nutritious for children and then started listing every food from every culture, instead of offering the food pyramid and giving some hints on how to use it. I was thinking our state standards were too bare, but at least they’re manageable as a list: http://www.eed.state.ak.us/contentstandards/World.html
    So give us some guidance. I was able to open the survey, start it, and then jump out before the end. I assume that keeps me from having my comments recorded…hope so! The end date on the survey is either the 6th or the 9th of this month, so if you want action, it is necessary now.

    1. I was just looking through them to realize that they’ve done an overview, and then they have – samples? – of the activities that could help show standards are being met. It doesn’t say that, though, and there are very high expectations. ACTFL standards say that students aren’t able to defend an opinion or describe at length until they are Advanced-level proficiency. Are students in a K-12 sequence in Ohio coming out at Advanced levels of proficiency? Do they expect that sequence to be typical? Or are the kids usually in the standard 9-12 language classes? In that case, could they really write and perform an original song, poem, or play for “audiences near and far”? Does that mean a TPRS story for those in the classroom? (doable) or do they mean a real play, on stage (and so on).
      That’s just one little example of what bothers me in the document, not even to get into it. I am so glad I’m not trying to write standards. It is a job for people much brighter and on-task than I am.

    2. Hi Michele,
      I’m not sure of what types of “text bites” could be used to argue our point. I’m very new at TPRS and the research behind TPRS which is why I’m coming here for help because I probably wouldn’t be able to do a very good job of defending TPRS against the Ohio Dept. of Education.

  9. We need Harrell and everybody with experience to provide one text bite, one comment that will make those who wrote the survey think about comprehensible input and the 90% statement of ACTFL in a positive way. I suggest that all of us go to the category here called “TPRS vs. Traditional” and read just one blog post and turn the main idea of it into one text bite. Then when we have all the text bites submitted we will make them available in list form right here to all. Deadline on this is Sunday at 2:30. Take that survey. Please don’t blow it off, I know it is a busy week. Find the time. Ohio has at least one of two people running the show there who have clear, expressed to Chris, animosity about what we do. How long are we going to let them be wrong? If they don’t get this feedback from us, where are they going to get any meaningful feedback from? Cleveland?

  10. There is a huge issue here. The Ohio survey will only be available through January 6, 2012. That is two days from now. So get on your ponies and get something in there. The links you need are in the sticky past above. Here is what I wrote on the survey:
    The document aligns with ACTFL in terms of the crucial three modes of communication, which in my opinion must be brought into better focus by all WL teachers than has been done in the past. My concern is that the ACTFL position statement (revised 2011) that states that the target language should be used at least 90% of the time in the classroom doesn’t appear, or maybe I missed it, in the revised standards. That is a serious flaw in the revised standards because it allows teachers to go on using English in the classroom a lot more than 10% of the time, which, let’s not sugar coat this, is happening every day in almost every WL classroom in Ohio, which clearly cannot continue if the three modes of communication are indeed going to be addressed and mastered by Ohio WL teachers. Why publish standards that in fact DO NOT align with the ACTFL 90% use statement? Either Ohio will align with its national parent organization or it won’t. Putting the 90% use statement much more clearly into those standards than it is now is, in my opinion, crucial to the reaching of the goals set out in the three modes, which dominate the standards. If that statement is in there and I missed it, I apologize profusely.
    I like the Cultures section. Well done!
    But, again, why revise the Ohio standards if there is no clear cut and simple and easy to find statement about the ACTFL 90% use statement?

    You are welcome to use any of this stuff that I didn’t write in my Ohio comment:
    Why act as if the 90% use statement isn’t there, when it is there, and when it is an integral part of the national position? Either it is important and it receives the attention it needs, or it is ignored. Ohio seems to be ignoring it. It certainly isn’t pushing it. The result will be business as usual in Ohio classrooms. 20th century business. How long will that go on? It can’t go on much longer, if Ohio is to keep up with the current national changes and all the current research and, most critically, the three modes of communication that are the centerpiece of the new standards as they currently read here on these web pages.

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