When Should We Focus On Writing?

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10 thoughts on “When Should We Focus On Writing?”

  1. Ben, I know this and I appreciate it and it would be wonderful in a perfect world (i.e. DPS); however, WL is an elective in our district, very few kids take a WL, and most run away after their college-bound imposed criterion of 2 years. So, the argument that I would get is: they are only in the language for two years, so we HAVE to get them writing, otherwise they won’t be prepared for college! (they are not going to be prepared anyway)
    So, what is a CI teacher to do with getting them “ready” to write in a severely limited time (and that time has now been reduced to ONE year — one semester now equals one level!!! — it used to be one year = to one level)

    1. Ben, Couldn’t the EXACT same thing be said about speaking? Couldn’t you take the word writing out and substitute it above with the word “speaking”

      We don’t assess our student’s speaking until the end of level 2….

      Could you speak to speaking? 🙂

      Thanks Ben

      1. Hi Skip, Yes, the same thing could be said about speaking. After all, we need to acknowledge and allow for the Silent Period. I’ve just taken a look at some ELL/ELD/ESL (whatever the current acronym is) sites. Several of those sites reference Krashen and the Silent Period and highlight two important items:
        1. The length of the Silent Period depends on many factors, including age, personality, home culture, and exposure time. An English Language Learner (who has far more exposure time than our students) may have a Silent Period that lasts up to a year. (Think about the ramifications of that for our teaching.)
        2. Every time a new topic and new vocabulary is introduced, a new Silent Period is initiated. For example (my example), a student may be able to say something about “I play football”, but as soon as we introduce “I like . . .”, we have to accept that a new Silent Period has begun for each and every student. This, btw, is true in our native language as well whenever we move into a new field. How many of us would need a Silent Period before we could talk about quantum physics? Infralapsarianism vs supralapsarianism? Fuzzy associative matrices? DOHCs?

        Just some thoughts.

        1. Very helpful Robert, thank you.
          I realize that part of the difficulty are all of the variables, but if we as a WL Learning Area decided not to assess speaking until level 3 and to wait for writing until level 4 would that be reasonable do you think?

          That would exclude most of our students from any summative speaking and writing assessments because most of our students quit after completing their graduation requirement of 2 years. (I have 50 students signed up for our multi-level 3/4 class this fall….)

          1. Oh, and I meant to mention that the entire Scope and Sequence article has now been posted on the FLAME list Serv…

            One of our TCI teachers wrote to me and asked if we could discuss the article during our peer coaching session on Thursday… I will let you know how the discussion went…

            I am really hoping to start an honest dialogue on the FLAME list serv…. something that I have NOT been able to do thus far 🙁

  2. Yes. It’s amazing that we try to pull such complex things as human thoughts into form in words before the mind is fully ready to do that. We don’t do that to people in real life when they are growing up. They start to stutter if we do that. We don’t pull seeds from the ground and tell them to bloom before they are ready. We don’t tell twelve year old athletes to perform at a professional level. We really have it back assward. We are full of pride, thinking we can teach writing and speaking so early. Those things, those output skills, can only come about in a natural way after thousands and thousands of time hidden below the surface, out of sight, in the way of:

    …l’arbuste cessa vite de croître, et commença de préparer une fleur. Le petit prince, qui assistait à l’installation d’un bouton énorme, sentait bien qu’il en sortirait une apparition miraculeuse, mais la fleur n’en finissait pas de se préparer à être belle, à l’abri de sa chambre verte. Elle choisissait avec soin ses couleurs. Elle s’habillait lentement, elle ajustait un à un ses pétales. Elle ne voulait pas sortir toute fripée comme les coquelicots. Elle ne voulait apparaître que dans le plein rayonnement de sa beauté. Eh! oui. Elle était très coquette ! Sa toilette mystérieuse avait donc duré des jours et des jours.

    Et puis voici qu’un matin, justement à l’heure du lever du soleil, elle s’était montrée….

    …the shrub soon stopped growing, and began to get ready to produce a flower. The little prince, who was present at the first appearance of a huge bud, felt at once that some sort of miraculous apparition must emerge from it. But the flower was not satisfied to complete the preparations for her beauty in the shelter of her green chamber. She chose her colors with the greatest care. She dressed herself slowly. She adjusted her petals one by one. She did not wish to go out into the world all rumpled, like the field poppies. It was only in the full radiance of her beauty that she wished to appear. Oh, yes! She was a coquettish creature! And her mysterious adornment lasted for days and days….

    Then one morning, exactly at sunrise, she suddenly showed herself.

    Antoine de St. Exupéry
    Petit Prince, Ch. 8

  3. The more I read on here the more I see what an idiot teacher I have been. 🙁 BUT the more passionate I become about studying and applying what true language acquisition really is. Thank you again for another inspiring post and comments.

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