Scope and Sequence 23 – Robert Harrell

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6 thoughts on “Scope and Sequence 23 – Robert Harrell”

  1. This is a good place to make a point that is related to what Robert says above. There is a bit of misinformation going around, for many years now, that we who use comprehensible input don’t let the kids talk, so in love are we with the Silent Period.
    However, drawing now from Trisha’s synopsis of Robert’s articles, we read this in summary point #4:
    …each student will progress at his/her own pace, and each skill will progress at a different pace….
    The entire point #4 is:
    …[a language program should] recognize that receptive skills precede productive skills, so that listening comes before speaking, and reading comes before writing. The natural order is: listening, speaking, reading, writing. Each student will progress at his/her own pace, and each skill will progress at a different pace….
    So let’s rectify this misconception now. As per Robert’s clarification about speech output and the inability of the teacher to exercise enough patience for speech to be tried about by the student who is ready to do so, we see that neither Krashen nor Blaine nor my teacher Susan Gross nor any of those experts ever said anything about preventing students from trying to speak in class. What we do is allow attempts at speech and richly reward such efforts in the flow of class, but we do not force speech. This is another example of the incredible inaccuracies that have been attached to the term TPRS over the past twenty years largely through teachers who claimed to be doing TPRS but in fact were not. This indeed is an age of babble, and our field is no exception.

  2. “Nothing motivates like success.” – S. Gross
    Making kids feel confident, comfortable, and capable (anything good starts with a “c” – haha) goes a long way to breaking down those defense mechanisms. Hence the importance of “transparent” input (establishing meaning for everything and not going out of bounds) for beginners or upper level students with grammar-induced PTSD.

  3. YES!! I actually map out a similar list for my students so that they can see a) how much is really involved here and b) they may be farther along than they realize!!
    Often with new vocab I’ll give a listening quiz when I think that they are ready. I say the structure out loud and they write the Spanish then the English. Each structure is worth three possible points: 1 they hear something and attempt to write it. 2 they hear it, can write something that would sound recognizable and 3 if they also know the meaning. Students who struggle can receive grades in the 70’s INSTEAD OF ZEROS….because they really do hear it, recognize it but don’t yet know what it means. It offers a much clearer picture of where they are in the process.
    with love,

    1. I’ve been looking more closely at what goes on in a dictation and I’m thinking there’s another way to do it that may be more acquisition friendly – gives us a better idea of what kids have acquired and encourages a focus on meaning. Maybe it depends on the purpose you have for the dictation.
      It is pretty much impossible for students to process meaning and form at the same time. (The teacher can make that easier to do by speaking slowly and repeating the statement). Still, writing first in L2 what was dictated in L2 focuses them first on form (though also understanding the meaning will help to get the form right). And then many students will look at what they wrote and try to make sense of it, but for many students it will be misspelled, so they’re trying to make meaning out of poor form. I propose we reverse the order: Teachers speaks L2. Student writes meaning in L1. Then, student tries to rewrite in L2.
      For more on a similar procedure:

  4. I agree Eric about their minds not being able to process at that level and this is exactly why my teachers Susan Gross expressed reservations about it. I’m pretty up front about it. I use it when I don’t like the way class is going. The kids think that they’re learning, I get a great bail out out of what was failing or just not feeling right, and the five to ten minutes spent doing the dictation give me time to regroup back into some meaningful CI. I suspect that when I get those boxes – idea I got from Diana – up in the back of the new three volumes of Stepping Stones to Stories – I can regroup faster, but for now, dictée has always been a good high focus bail out and that’s about it, with little to no expectations about gains except perhaps to spur curiosity in structure. Of course, dictée should be limited to five to ten minutes per week tops. The freewrites are the big boys on writing gains.

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