Question About Presentations

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32 thoughts on “Question About Presentations”

  1. My initial reaction is to think that people who have become teachers because they were good at grammar and other four percent skills in high school and college (most of us) would probably not even want to try it out for a test drive when they first hear about it. It seems that they must first get over their natural tendency to reject something with the kind of wow factor that CI instruction brings.

    That said, I like the idea of giving experienced people a chance to practice during a presentation. What happens to me, I have found, is that it is very hard to stop the session and get to some coaching, as you well know skip when I failed to break out of a session on reading in Maine once when the time had been promised to you for some coaching, for which I apologize.

    Will look forward to hearing others’ opinions on this important topic. For me, if they haven’t had experience, they can’t walk into coaching, but in the FLAME conference you will in fact have lots of experienced people, so I think you should do it, the only question being how to set it up. We all have our own coaching styles.

  2. I think people would like to practice skills, but sometimes they feel self-conscious about practicing in front of other teachers, or a large group … nobody wants to feel observed or graded, especially when you are practicing new skills. I was at a Carol Gaab conference a few years ago, she put the attenders into small groups, and we practiced some specific skills with each other. She did a good job of setting it up, I think people benefitted from the practice. It felt very supported. She walked around from group to group. It was not the final thing in the workshop, but at a mid-point. So there was time to discuss what had transpired in the small groups with the large group afterward, as needed. And it was not at the very end, when everyone would probably be brain-tired.

  3. #1. WOW! I didn’t know you are presenting! AWESOME!
    #2. I *really* like when I just re-read Ben’s comment about “coaching”. First, he is right: newbies will NOT want to get up to practice. This method is so darn ALIEN to grammarians – they won’t know how to question, and then they will feel like a failure and give up, and AGAIN say that TPRS/CI is a bunch of malarkey.
    #3. SO….#3: back to the “coaching” verbiage of Ben. Have some experienced CI teachers there, have them teach your kids, and you stand by and coach the EXPERIENCED teacher, like Laurie and Sabrina did. This will open up to the newbies that it’s OK to not be perfect at this from the starting gun. they will see veteran CI teachers make mistakes and be corrected, and be corrected in a LOVING way, and ACCEPT the critique with open heart and mind!!!!
    #4. This will show that it is NOT a one-size-fits-all method/technique; and there is no easy way to do it ….. you just have to DO it and TRY it and be willing to be criticized.

    HEY….Jen is going to be “free” then — get her to come to Maine as a co-presenter!!!
    Those are just my dos centavos for now – this late at night! (we still need to take baby steps up here and show a lot of love….and that the beauty behind this method is to be able to make mistakes and learn and grow!!! that it is a constant ongoing process…that no ONE person is ever perfect at it!)

  4. I agree with what the others have said. There are a lot of reasons NOT to “practice” at a conference, and I believe that the true coaching needs to be done in a real-life situation. Some day we will have coaches who visit classrooms to encourage and coach TPRS/TCI teachers. In the meantime the small groups that are springing up are doing a lot of that work. The whole setting of most conferences does not lend itself to the kind of vulnerability necessary for a coaching experience.

    I think mb’s #3 is good. Perhaps you could advertise this as a “master class” where someone (you) coaches an advanced practitioner and also explains what’s going on to the audience. My COACH team did that at a series of workshops during 2012-2013: Jason Fritze coached me as I taught the whole group in German. Participants were kept busy switching roles between students learning German and teachers taking note of the technique and strategies. I learned a lot from Jason’s coaching, but it was a lot of work and meant that I was “on” for most of the time. If you do this you won’t have time to have individuals get coaching time. When I went to Carol Gaab’s conference in Punta Cana, there was some time for coaching within various sessions, but there was also time set aside each day for anyone who wanted coaching to get it. Not very many people took advantage of this, but those who did received excellent coaching.

    In this kind of setting, it’s important to limit what you are coaching and to let participants have input on what they want to have coached. Also, you will never get to everyone. There simply isn’t enough time for each person to be the “teacher” and be coached and still have an audience. That’s part of the reason why I think the future of coaching lies in visiting actual classrooms. Another part of the equation is that teachers are on their “home turf” and feel more comfortable having someone come in; the setting at a conference can be very intimidating.

    I think it’s excellent that you are presenting, skip. Whatever you do will be good. Just think through what is feasible in terms of time, participation, resources, etc.

    1. Excellent points to consider Robert, and I will…. I think mb’s suggestion of having Jenn, or somebody like Jenn collaborate with me (to set up a team like you and Jason) is great…

      Thanks so much for your thoughts/ideas…


    2. I just thought of another question/consideration….. On the conference proposal/title/write up should I bill this as a workshop for only people that are currently trying to teach with ci and are interested in practicing? or should I bill it for a “general audience?”

      Based on the input I need to make sure we can cover the full time even if NOBODY wants to practice…

      I do think that watching somebody being peer coached is VERY powerful, effective and helpful. I watched for two years at nationalTPRS before finally jumping in last year…. I think it was the previous two years of watching that lead to my eventually feeling comfortable to try it…. I almost think that watching may be more helpful to me than actually being coached myself.


  5. Probably the best experience I had at a conference was sitting in on Linda Li’s Chinese class as she taught us Chinese this past summer at the iFLT conference in San Diego. The experience of learning a foreign language like our students do in level 1 classes had escaped me until participating in Linda Li’s class.

    1. The problem I have is that my language (Spanish) will be the language of the vast majority of the group. The experience IS much more effective when the language is the most foreign – like Chinese is for the majority… I was hoping that having a group of students would address this issue. My students would be the ones “learning”

      Sean, what do you think of this as a “second” best option given that my language is so common?

  6. If you know a German ot whatever tprs teacher maybe they could do some pqa to demo te method. You introduce, comment, etc, and s/he does demo.

    I think that if you have like 3 hrs total– it’s not clear how much time you have– I wouldn’t go through the entire method. I’d just do a demo, some basic ideas– theory, pqa, basic story asking, basic principles– and use it as a “teaser.” My exp with these is that– IF you show them the method successfully in a language they don’t know– about 1 in 5 will be curious enough to want more info right then, and another 1 in 5 will get super stoked when they see a second presentation.

    Thrre’s a reason why Blaine Ray needs 3 days to teach the method.

    Ben suggested just demo and brief explanation of basics for my Alberta demo and that was right: people who really found it interesting emailed and tweeted me later, then signed up for more in depth workshops from Blaine and Kristin Duncan.

    1. chris,
      the fact is that our TCI group is mostly made up of the two common languages here in Maine:Spanish and French….

      Do you think teaching to a group of 6-7 level 2 students would be a second best situation – if I were unable to get an experienced TCI teacher of a lesser known language? (I really need to become proficient in a lesser known language….

      1. I’ve never demoed the method by showing it to people (except to observers in my class). I would ask Ben or someone who has presented at IFLT or whatever the “lab format” CI conference is called.

        In my view the demo is essential…because think about how much pro-D people go to that’s in one ear and right out the other. If you (or your co-presenter) can spend say 30 min in TL– doesn’t even have to be a story (at my first paid gig, I asked and circled two. Geran sentences –Katarina wants to buy a house in Paris with George Clooney, and Mike wants to drink beer with Vladimir Putin. You gotta make people FEEL the power of CI/TPRS if you want them to try it. Otherwise it’s just wacky ideas.

        The Pro-D proof will be in the C.I. pudding

        1. Oops sorry, that should read “I’ve never demoed the method using students as “example learners” and teachers as an audience.” I’ve always just used my audience as my “class.”

  7. Hi Skip, if you’re looking for something to demo that would look/feel more possible for new people… I suggest Look & Discuss and Read & Discuss as possibilities. Those are easily implemented, I think, at first. Stories are not so easy to start (in my opinion).

    I started doing Look & Discuss and more CI-type reading things a few years ago, and got so excited about my student’s progress and my ability to stay in Chinese comprehensibly that I kept moving in the CI direction.

  8. Anne Matava did that at FLAME 2 years ago with the help of Skip and Alice Yates. She did it in German (I was one of the students! haha) Everyone there had an “ah-ha” moment I believe!!! But they are still afraid that CI = *only* TPRS. Many people here in this state see it as a 4-letter word for some reason.
    The state has mandated that we move to standards-based instruction and assessment and grading. I think everyone is now a little more open-minded as to how to get there, since they HAVE to toss out their grammar instruction with the proverbial bath water. To that end, there was a dramatic increase in the number of attendees at our Maine TCI conference. It was a GREAT success (I think! -at least for me it was!!! My DH loves TPRS now and wants to learn more. He is fully on board with just giving input for Year #1, and start writing Year #2, but do reading both years, and then in Year #3 ASK them to start to speak, and Level 4 will be ‘Honors” and they will have to speak. He wants to make it a graduated progression so the kids don’t run away!!! ) I have to thank Laurie and Sabrina for doing such a GREAT job!!!!
    So, I think there will be more people interested now at the FLAME conference. I don’t think I will be able to attend ($$$) but I think you will be met with a more willing audience now Skip.

    1. Yes! but i wonder i keep thinking that Chris is right about the importance of giving the “audience” the experience of seeing how effective repetitive comprehensible input is…by having THEM be the students….

      1. I really am not experienced with this but it seems that teachers at PDs like to be engaged and participate. The more you can do that the better. Teachers do have to put in their effort to figure out how to make these things work on their own too, you know.

  9. close enuf…it means would you like to speak (Haitian) Creole? ( ou = you / ta renmen = would like) I will be assisting Skip in Maine and thought of doing a demo in kreyòl since it is the only “lesser known” language I am capable of demonstrating. We’re tossing that idea around. While a large percentage of vocab is related to French there are still a lot of very unfamiliar sounds / expressions and the syntax is quite different so it could work. I have done super short demos for parent night using kreyòl, so thought maybe I could push the envelope a bit & give it a shot 🙂

    1. Hi Jen,

      Just curious – Do you think the Creole/French comparison would be similar to the “Italian/Spanish one? I think the Italian gave me an edge, but I couldn’t say that I really “understood” what she was saying….


      1. That is a fair comparison. I could choose some that really do not sound or look French at all. That would actually be pretty easy to do, bc the words for “likes,” “a lot” “there is/ there are” “now” and the tense markers are very different from French, so it could be pretty slick even if some of the regular action words are similar (dances, eats, drinks). I can brainstorm and find more fun actions that are non-French cognates.

        That said, I also totally see Anne’s point about showing that CI is not just for beginners. This is your gig, though, so make sure you work from your heart and what you have dug into the most in your classroom. It will not be as effective if you try to do something because you think the audience will like it…if it is not rooted in your own teaching practice. I am at your disposal for whatever you want to do. So excited to participate in this 🙂

  10. Hi Skip, so glad you are doing the presentation, you will be great.
    I like the idea of bringing the students. Here’s why: while I think it is important for people to experience what it feels like to learn with CI, often people see it as something to use for just beginners. Do you remember when we had the German 4 students in Lewiston and did an advanced story with them, I think that got a lot of people’s attention. Your second year students would demonstrate to people that you can go all the way with this methodology. I think it’s important.

  11. Thanks Anne, I appreciate your thoughts….

    Do you think it would work to have French teachers in the group “practice” TIC with French with my students?

    I am not sure that anyone will volunteer to practice but just in case….

    Thanks Anne



    That is absolutely BRILLIANT. The teachers will get the occasional cognate from fr/sp, so you could even do a mini-story or spin a scene; it will be weird enough that they HAVE to listen to get it, and they will really FEEL what it’s like for their kids. A word like “renmen” is a power word– add a creole verb like to dance (“with George Clooney/Angelina Jolie”) and I guarantee you rapt attention from you audience.

    I think it would be much better to use creole on teachers than to bring kids. If they feel the power of CI, you’ll sell them on the method. This is an amazing opportunity I urge you to seize.

  13. I’ve often not benefitted from the coaching that happens within the presentation/session. I think the coaching that Lizette and Rochelle and Teri have pioneered is the way to do coaching. And that would fit well into Robert’s vision of classroom visit coaching. I like that idea!

    Personally, I like to just sit and experience it, or watch someone else teaching it well to others. I would personally teach the Creole to other teachers if I could. Diane’s advice is solid… do Look and Discuss or something real simple PQA. I think the simple Linda Li format ‘someone wants something that someone else has, so they look at it’ is best for short demos.

    Skip, if you need/want some ideas on how to format the CI Basics presentation, I am happy to share what I used at MCTLC this past Fall.

    1. Hi Jim,

      I emailed you off expressing interest in your MCTLC conference presentation but I am not sure I found the correct address? (I couldn’t find it on the list of group members)

  14. All very helpful – Thank you everybody

    So I am hearing that peer coaching while the coach is “teaching” the audience a language that the audience doesn’t know would be the better option (than having the Audience watch someone coach jen while she “teaches” my students?

    I think I agree especially if we give a listening quiz and a writing so they can see it….

    It would also give a GREAT opportunity to do what Laurie did and invite the group to “produce” all the language Jen “taught” and remind them that “production is years and years an
    years and years behind listening”.

    Thanks everybody….

    Jen, I will call you…. When would be good (I am free tomorrow 1/7 – how does tomorrow look for you? times?

  15. I think they are both useful in different ways. Even if the teacher is teaching the students, a bit can be picked up by the learner if the language is in i+1 area. Unfortunately if it is Spanish, and your teachers know Spanish it won’t be in the +1, and if it is too stretched it won’t be in the i.

    At iFLT, even though my Spanish is very limited, I picked up some from Jason Fritze’s 2nd year elementary class. Additionally, I was able to see what he was able to do with real students, something we rarely see. He had to redirect some and keep a few on task.

    They then had Katya break down and run a discussion of what Jason had done for just the teachers.

    I do think Creole would be fascinating.

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