Quiz Question

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19 thoughts on “Quiz Question”

    1. It’s too bad so many of our public school admin start their engines with liters of ego-power juice. One of the best principals I’ve ever met never wanted to be a principal but did so only out of dedication for the blighted community she taught in.

        1. You’ve been lucky in having a supportive administration, Kathrin. My experience, and I acknowledge that things are changing fast, has been that an ignorant principal often punts on the entire WL issue in their school and gives tacit approval in methodology to a teacher – usually it’s one very dull person with feet firmly cemented in the last century – and that teacher, often a department head, uses that lack of involvement by administration to perpetuate the textbook model on any new arrivals to “their” department. This has ruined careers and driven talent out of the profession. Those who remain suffer intensely. There are so many of us working right now under this sort of usually unspoken intense pressure from the old guard. There are far too few principals who get it. One principal attended a session I did in Chattanooga last summer – our PLC member Cherie Thomas’ husband Jay who is principal of a high school in Albermarle, VA. Jay models the kind of WL building leadership of the future. Meanwhile, for those alone in their buildings who are under the scrutiny of people who don’t really get how human beings actually acquire languages, hang on. We’re in the middle of a big shaking. Just hang on.

          1. This is so interesting to me. I have always had the impression that my admins got it, because they looked at it from the language learner perspective and once we do that we see that it makes absolute sense. I have had this situation in my last MS outside of Philly, as well as in my International School in Germany now.

            I have to add that I got the jobs by being very open about what I do and was hired for that. So obviously I found supportive schools. My colleagues in Philly quickly adjusted in the MS, because, well their numbers dropped and mine steadily went up. The French and one of the Spanish teachers switched to TPRS.

            At my school now though… well, one colleague said today: “Well, my class just doesn’t know much.” Me: “Uhm, you teach beginners…” Colleague: “Yeah, but you know some kids just get it and others you have to repeat everything 100 times for.” I had a hard time not saying “Yes, that’s called ‘your job’…” But they were probably not learning German articles fast enough, so what do I know.

            What I find really scary is the inflexibility to learn about something new from some teachers. The inflexibility to meet the kids where they are instead of saying: “They are supposed to be A2 (European reference frame), I know they are not there, but I’m going to use the A2 book anyway, because that’s the label of the class and that is what I am going to do. Afterwards I am going to complain how they just don’t get it…” Anyway rant over.

          2. Rant away, Kathrin!

            I was at a conference last weekend (6-9 October 2016), but it wasn’t a language teachers conference; it was a business conference. During the course of the weekend we had several times that we were asked to interact with other participants and tell them about what we were doing. Every time I explained how I teach German, my conversational partner responded that this made absolute sense and wished they had had a teacher who taught this way. Intuitively, they grasped what TCI and TPRS are all about.

            Now I am working on a new blog post (after far too long away) about the history of foreign language teaching methods. In short, we are still haunted by medieval thinking, which was essentially a bookish culture with an intense love of system. The inclusion of Grammar in the Trivium, the basic curriculum, was a reflection of that because language was viewed primarily in terms of system, and grammar was considered the most systematic level of the language and therefore useful for teaching logic and critical thinking. The teaching of “foreign languages” was in reality the teaching of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew grammar as preparation for teaching Logic and Rhetoric, not for communication. Although we have ostensibly changed our goals, we still use techniques, strategies, and even methods derived from a completely different mindset. One writer even pointed out that the sentences and exercises were intended to be nonsensical, disconnected, and even repugnant so that students would attend to form not meaning. (And you always wondered why those textbook sentences seemed to have no context, rhyme or reason.)

            What no one is telling you is that the real acquisition of foreign languages took place in the home (nannies and tutors), on the street (friends and travelers), and in the business (partners and co-workers). Until the late 19th century, “foreign language” courses in schools and universities were not intended to teach communicative ability, and we have continued the practices long after abandoning the purpose for them.

            Schools are not innovators but institutionalizers.

            Okay, that’s my rant.

  1. And they will reap what you sow as a second year teacher who gets the research. Soon it will all be in the rear view mirror for many of us who have thought for so long that this change will never get done changing. We got this, my brother. Peace and faith and trust will guide us to the goal. It’s a guarantee.

  2. answerer: Nathaniel
    questioner: jen

    Though, this is a hard one to guess cuz we don’t have much writing from either one in this passage to sense their writing voice.

    1. Catharina wins! Although Sean your guess of jen and Nathaniel is very good because jen is always asking the right questions and Nathaniel shares a lot of Dr. Krashen’s intellect, as we have learned here over the years.

  3. Dr. Krashen talked about targeted vs. untargeted CI at ETPRS and very clearly said that if you’re mirroring a textbook, you’re missing the point. He said targets can work when they evolve from the stories but not from an external source (curriculum/textbook/syllabus/etc.).

    I wish I could remember the whole thing, but people took video and I bet it’s posted somewhere.

  4. Well Kathrin thank you for listening so well at that European conference. That is going to upset more than a few apple carts. So many TPRS/CI programs are currently tied to curricula that is in some direct or indirect way a reflection of some kind of district common list somewhere, which (thematic/semantic) lists are based to some degree in fear that the students won’t learn it unless it is targeted and listed. This of course is simply not true because we don’t learn languages by memorizing lists or by any conscious involvement of the mind on the words at all. Robots and computers could do that, but not humans. We don’t have instant access to the deep memory files like robots do. We are not robots. There is so much more at play when humans communicate, and we have to include all that human stuff – so hard to measure but no less important because of that fact – in our instruction or cease being fully human. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Something has to give now.

    1. This is why I fear about teaching in a CI/TPRS district or school. At first it may seem cool but then I imagine the concessions that the institution had to make to have it there. Will it include HF lists, themes, skill-building, optimization a la audio-lingual method?

      Though I am not 100% on it. I am liking having the autonomy that my current admin allows me to do. TPRS/CI in a friendly environment without targets or lists.

      I have currently gone deskless for my French classes along with tables for my heritage classes!

      Next is to start building a library for FVR (for my heritage classes).

  5. Another way to say the above:

    What is so challenging in this work is not the skills part and the conceptual part. We can learn the mechanics and put them into place in our classrooms. The challenge lies in getting the class to become aware of and listen to each other and to the instructor so that the entire group is aware of each other during the creation of the story. Doing that, listening to each other, brings the best stories.

    1. I would add to listening Ben, trusting and believing each other. Being new at this work, I just realized that I get my French students for 2 full school years. The other Spanish teachers only get them for one year and they are gone.

      Even though my current second year students do not chorally respond 100% of the time, they trust each other, they have FAITH in each other to be an actor, artist and to drive the PQA (of course, targetless and spontaneous). There are still some students warming up — because I am still learning to be human myself and having that warm, non-judgmental “air” about me.

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