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Ben Slavic

Spark Plugs

The following blog post was written in 2008. I don’t know if I still agree with it. Maybe I should make more of an effort next year to teach those first 100 words, as Diana suggests we do in our DPS TCI group. I present some of them, but not all, in the form of word lists. Here’s what I thought in 2008 about this important topic for beginning the year:
The most common three or four hundred words occur a staggering percentage of the time in a language. I don’t know the research, and the specific numbers don’t matter – I think we would all agree that the statement is true.
Therefore, why target words, unless we are doing so to set up a story or a reading or a song? Why target words in PQA, when we are just talking to the kids? I never target words in PQA.
We don’t do that, because we don’t need to. If we just speak to our students constantly in the target language, those common  words will occur over and over, and our students will learn the language, because of the frequency of those common words.
I once taught a college class where they expected me to teach like 100 words per week, words like steering wheel and spark plug. That was just stupid. Those poor students received no training in comprehensible input (this was a while ago). They couldn’t understand French because they never heard it, let alone be able to string anything together in a coherent sentence. Yet they had to know words like spark plug.
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