Output in TPRS

We have been building up to what Eric says below for years. Finally, the statement is made and we can all go forward with this knowledge when we plan our instruction using CI, and we don’t even have to discuss why because that has been a developing point here now for years. Let’s just stamp this file “Case Closed”:
…TPRSers have HUGELY misunderstood Krashen’s hypothesis that we only acquire from CI to mean that in class students should only listen. WRONG….



10 thoughts on “Output in TPRS”

  1. Krashen (clever man) titled his CI theory to contrast with the Comprehensible Output/CO theory, which involves forcing speakers to speak or use other means of communication before they feel confident…the theory was the embarrassment/awkwardness of forced communication would make the resulting conversation “stick.” Not kidding: this theory is too stupid to make up.
    Instead of CO, Krashen advocates CI to prepare students, who would then CHOOSE to speak. That’s actually why TPRS kicks other methods’ butts: you can’t force output, but kids WANT to speak in the target language when they are as engaged as TPRS makes them. Output is still part of the end-game in conversational speech.

        1. No prob. Like Ben said, your point holds.
          Little more background. The CO Hypothesis (1985) was put forward after Swain observed poorer grammatical acquisition (especially with verb inflections – 57% accuracy) than would be expected of students who had been in an immersion school for 7 years. Yet, immersion kids can obviously comprehend the meaning, since their academic scores are on par with non-immersion schools. So, it was reasoned that the students needed more output. Meaning-based comprehensible input was not enough. Wikipedia has a good article on CO. And read Krashen’s article: http://www.sdkrashen.com/content/articles/comprehensible_output.pdf
          In this context, I think that Swain proposed a hypothesis with little actual scientific support at its time of proposal. In fact, the support for the hypothesis is still very shaky.
          We could take VanPatten’s line of thinking and give an input-based explanation of the immersion school results: “processing” is exact linking of form to meaning. You can get the gist of the input (semantic comprehension) without exact linking (syntactic comprehension). Therefore, we could manipulate the input (e.g. processing instruction) in order to force people to have to process the input and not just comprehend it. Force people to use form to derive meaning.

  2. Maybe true chronologically Eric but Claire’s point holds – forced output has been a bane in the classroom existences of millions of children for a very long time. That single fact of being made to feel stupid (a person can’t become a professional tennis player with one week of instruction either) has fired my engines and my anger in this profession for some time.

  3. …and as the universe would have it, tomorrow on Tea with BVP the show is “What does output do, if anything?”
    Without truly knowing the chronology of anything, I learned a few weeks ago on TWBVP…”behaviorism” which seems to be fully alive and kicking still. This is the “method” (theory? who knows?) that learners should never make an error. Yeah! Way to just bludgeon us all and stifle our innate urge to connect with others! Awesome!
    That is my (likely distorted) interpretation of what I heard. On the other hand, as we all know, when we create an atmosphere of trust, safety and joy the output will emerge.
    Angie posted in another thread about acquisition happening despite the constant blurting. “On the side” I think she said, referring to Robert’s story about Swiss German. This is happening in my room too. A student just yesterday spontaneously grabbed my chime and called the class to “atención.” She then proceeded to lead us through a short relaxation exercise that she only could have heard in class. I was astounded bc this girl is one of the chattiest. So…something is getting in. I can’t attest to her technically “acquiring” but the way she led the little exercise was pretty cool, including breath cues. I have no data, but I can only imagine that if I had walked into class and told her to lead the exercise it would not have been the same. She initiated the whole thing. Unplanned, unscripted.

    1. The theoretical underpinning of the Audio-Lingual Method is B. F. Skinner’s Behaviorism. In its most radical from, it teaches that everything is
      1. stimulus response
      2. learned behavior
      Taken to its logical conclusion, a person will only reproduce language. Sure, it might be re-combined, but the behaviorist understanding is that students will not create totally knew utterances but only regurgitate what they have heard. Basically it’s GIGO (Garbage In Garbage Out). Beyond that, learning occurs only in response to a stimulus, and what is learned can be controlled by the nature and content of the stimulus. This has one basic flaw: research has shown that this is not how we acquire language; language acquisition is constructivist in nature (i.e. we construct language freely) and not behaviorist (i.e. we are controlled by the input). Just one example of this is the creation of one of the newest languages on the planet: Nicaraguan Sign Language. In the late 90s the Nicaraguan government brought deaf kids from around the country together. These kids, who had been isolated in their home villages because of their hearing impairment, soon constructed for themselves a full-blown language that is now known as Nicaraguan Sign Language.

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