SF Giants

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17 thoughts on “SF Giants”

  1. I don’t know if this is worth posting as a comment in the current debate on ACTFL, but I was already thinking about thematic units at the beginning of this year because the school I started at in the fall uses them (but discourages reliance on text-books, interestingly). Happily, our WL supervisor is open-minded and didn’t care whether I followed the thematic units or not, so long as my kids were at the expected place level-wise by the end of the year.

    Here are my thoughts on why thematic units became, and are still, popular, albeit the apparent lack of research for their use:

    1. They make teaching a language seem neater and easier (although I think they make teaching more difficult, since they don’t encourage retention or deep interest).

    2. Those that use them think that thematic units make assessment easier (since their minds have not yet been opened to TCI instruction and how comprehension precedes production, assessing for comprehension does not make sense to them).

    Question: what do you get when you take away thematic units, a grammar syllabus, forced/premature production, and semantic sets? If those are gone, what is the teacher left to do with his/her students? When those things are gone, interaction using simple language, with disguised repetitions, centered around their interests, becomes the order du jour, doesn’t it?

    I.e., when you strip away something such as thematic units, and other contrived things that have been heaped onto the shoulders of language teachers since the dawn of compulsory schooling, do you not get one step closer to returning to how we all learned our first languages? (Through highly interesting and personalized interaction?)

    1. Dude. Greg. We need that post added to the ACTFL conversation.

      One thing we have to remember is that ACTFL is against the textbook and its semantic sets, at least in talk. I don’t think they walk the walk – just look at that steaming sack of AAPPL.

      ACTFL is also not saying anything about how many words have to be included in the theme.

      Alisa wrote me today as we discussed the 5 C’s – she thinks that was Curtain’s doing. The 5 C’s really only give communication 20% of the time – is ACTFL really even about language acquisition? We agree that ACTFL wants way too much from us – language teacher, linguistics teacher, and social studies teacher.

      And if you haven’t, go read what Terry and Carrie posted to moreTPRS. I hope Terry was able to enter the conversation and post it. She takes no prisoners. And it’s good to hear Carrie say that the thematic units is a way for more traditional teachers to transition to TCI. A thematic unit gives them structure and familiarity and some of us need more than others.

      1. Terry Waltz and Carol Gaab both had wonderful posts to the conversation at ACTFL.

        I agree, Eric, that people “approved” by ACTFL, ex, those who lead specific language teacher associations and those who write and review textbooks, seem only to use topical, semantic sets of words. But those posting from the ACTFL perspective in that series of posts talk mostly otherwise — that themes are broad topics that cross semantic sets of vocab. Why do all textbooks I’ve ever seen group in that way, then?

        I posted today too with short comments on topical set-type “themes” and authentic resources, finishing with comments on language being acquired in an unconscious process based on compellingly interesting, comprehensible input.

        1. Excellent posts by Diane N. and Jen.
          The thread keeps getting even more interesting with Diane N., Jen, Terry W. and Carol G. adding their strong voices to ask for change.
          What a lousy post by Robert Ponterio. I thought he was a big player. Where is Bill Heller?
          Dr. J. Phillips? Terry Caccavale??? And all those award winning teachers whose names I’ve quickly forgotten…

      2. Eric,
        Thank you for your relentless work. So good to talk with you in Maine.

        You stated that “The 5 C’s really only give communication 20% of the time.”

        I would argue that the 5 Cs expect communication 100% of the time. Referring to the Readiness Standards in the link below, please note that there are two parts of the 5 Cs, even though they are specifically divided this way. First, are the three modes, which constitute the communication standard. These are ways that we communicate. Second are the eight purpose standards. Of these, five specifically begin with the words, “Learners use the language to…” The two connections standards say, “while using the language” and “information information and …perspectives that are available through the language…” The last standard talks about setting goals and reflecting on progress in using languages. It does not specify that this intrapersonal communication used for goal setting and reflection occur in the target language, but it does not say it should be done in L1 either. See this link for a copy of the chart:
        http://www.actfl.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/World ReadinessStandardsforLearningLanguages.pdf

        This perspective is also present in the MA Framework, although one has to dig a little more. For each of the 4 Cs following Communication, there is a disclaimer for classical language classes that discussion will take place in English. The obvious implication is that these 4 Cs must take place in the target language. These language purposes, thus cannot occur in the classroom until there is sufficient language to do so.

        I think that it is important to realize and argue that ACTFL has given priority to language learning, and thereby a mandate to go against the grain of doing comparisons and connections before acquiring the language.

        The implications of this with regard to common practice and peer pressure is as powerful as the “more than 90%” recommendation.

        1. Thanks Nate! It was great to meet you!

          I remember you said some of this to me. I guess I needed another rep 😉 It’s a great argument that we should be using L2 for everything.

          I guess it still feels like the 5C’s are overwhelming. I’d really like to do what is best for developing Communication, which doesn’t necessarily mean communicating in the L2 about culture, linguistics, and other disciplines.

          1. I agree. And the message I get from reviewing the 5 Cs is that the other stuff is great once there is fluency to make it work. Until we get to fluency, we can relax because we are first of all commissioned to build a communicative foundation for the students. Until that is in place there is nothing to build the other stuff on.

  2. Wow, I did not know that Carol was the Giants language teacher. Very cool! I’m imagining the players in some kind of a classroom with Carol at a makeshift whiteboard leading a TPRS story. Awesome!

    1. That is exactly what happens, Ray. Carol shares some of that video at her workshops, not to show off, although I would because that is quite an honor, but to make her points about how instruction should be compelling. She teaches small group classes using stories and readings with them. In most of the footage, their excellent senses of humor are obvious. She uses the game of baseball as her primary authentic resource. I guess she could do a thematic unit on the weather, but she seems to prefer going the baseball route. I don’t know, though, maybe they would enjoy doing a unit on rooms in a house. It’s amazing to see how Carol bridges the cultural gap with humor so that there is virtually no affective filter. Everything she says and does is geared to appeal to their interests and I would say that she is a master at diverting her students’ attention away from the language into content. She camouflages reps in speaking and reading with great expertise. Once focused on the content, the unconscious minds are engaged, and off goes the class. It works!

  3. Ok, totally unrelated, but today in class we took unedited video of my teaching (I have a student with a lot of video experience who borrowed equipment). I’m going to present about Listen & Draw, Look & Discuss, and Read & Discuss at ACTFL so I hoped to get video from class time.

    This is a Chinese 4 class of 4 guys (the only girl in the class was absent!). I expect classes to grow over the next few years…. but these are great kids who are transitioning from textbook instruction to free-flowing CI stuff, and they’ve been troopers. Later I’ll add subtitles in English for those who don’t know Chinese. You might get a sense of it anyway because of pause & point on new words and a few English store & restaurant names.

    Here are the links:
    video 1: http://youtu.be/q1la7H23RQ4
    video 2: http://youtu.be/J7MCyvpkO3k
    video 3 (moving into reading) now still uploading: http://youtu.be/urhZXJtP4LA

    Until I get the subtitles added, these are “unlisted” so you need the link. I made my previous videos public. I’ve become more brave.

    I aim to get video of Chinese 1 doing the same activity for comparison’s sake.

  4. I’m in northern Californian and so discussing the Giants is a big part of the beginning of each of my classes, especially which player is cuter: Morse or Crawford or Bumgarner…the girls seem to like the bearded players.

    Carol told me in an email that she gets tickets to home games for the World Series! She said we should look for her — she’ll the one be waving an orange towel 😉

    More Carol trivia: she teaches CI Hebrew! Amazing!

    ¡Arriba Carol Gaab!

  5. What an exciting weekend of baseball in SF. I can’t wait to talk about it with my students Monday morning. And a lot of girls are following the World Series, so it’s not just a boy thing.

    ¡Arriba los Gigantes!

  6. Ben if you think about it give us a report back on how it goes. I remember that without the safety of just one or two target structures I never felt as confident, so I didn’t do much Monday morning free wheeling discussion. I was too afraid of going out of bounds. Just if you think about it, I am sure there are teachers reading here who would like to hear someone describe this more free-wheeling kind of comprehensible input. It’s not really PQA because it’s about the Giants so it is an interesting form of CI to me, and a challenging one. My main question is about how and when you notice things going out of bounds and how you react. It’s like blowing a bubble up too big and it pops. That process of keeping the bubble from bursting is what I am interested in. Only do it if you remember to do so with your inner vision. (I know that it’s hard to be aware of your inner vision of how the process is going when you are also focused on the outer discussion at the same time.)

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