The Every Time Project

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7 thoughts on “The Every Time Project”

  1. Ben, thanks for this. I need it. I am really struggling to stay in L2 enough. Especially if they’re being “bad”. This site is such a shot in the arm every day, reminding me that I’m not alone!
    Kit aka Glitter from the Maine workshop!

  2. Ben-
    “The Everytime Project” was a great posting that you did..I TRY to stay in French the whole time..But the student’s always get off track and speak in English–constant blurt outs in English..What is one to do? Maybe I just had a bad day…I talked about the weekend—Qu’est-ce que tu as fait? And then someone says “I went to the mall.” So I put that expression on the board–to circle and get some reps..But I feel like giving up..Do my rules suck—they are on the board…
    No English–limit 2 wds. If not consequence is for the first time discussion after class, second time letter of apology–third time Lunch detention…Do these suck??It’s sooo hard to reinforce these time and time again. Maybe since I have a hard time at this, that is why the can get off task…Any feeback..??Tony
    I asked you a while back if I could send you a DVD of my class..Hope I can still do it..Thanks
    Mr. Anthony Scott
    BCMS French/Spanish Grade 6
    Room 203

  3. Tony your comment just makes me stronger in my belief that this is THE problem in TPRS. Your comment speaks for many. It is an honest comment, devoid of anything but a sense of “this is really what is going on in my classroom.” I really have no solution and I don’t think anyone else does.
    When people observe me none of my students speak English, but in the familiar daily routine they do. It happens to all of us and we never talk about it. We’ve never come up with some kind of formula against the use of English, and I don’t think that we will.
    Certainly, the improper use of English by our students is not seen by them as rude. But to us it is catastrophic. They seem to be so used to being “wrong” in their classes that when we express our displeasure about it they take that as a standard part of their day.
    Little Joey Krashen at Thomas Jefferson High School told me the other day that English can be used to build relationships with the kids and of course that is true. But how to do that and keep English out of the class?
    Maybe somebody who has it really together will suggest something. There are so many variables at work against us re: our kids’ use of English: our moods that day, their moods, the presence of some kid who just doesn’t get how rude he is, interruptions from outside – it is all just one big confusing thing, and yet it forms the foundation for the quality of our CI.
    Those kinds of consequence rules like you described don’t work for me. I just have to get stern and mean it. But it is so hard to be stern and nice at the same time. The more I do this TPRS stuff the less I get it. I only know one thing – the less I fret, and the more human (read “relaxed”) I am, the less English there is and the better the stories are.
    If we assume that the kids CAN observe the no-English (or two words of English) rule, and that they are consciously being rude, which I believe is true, than we must assume that the invisible world vibe that we are putting out there, and the feeling we send to them in class, will determine what we get back.
    That is why there can be no “method” for discipline. It is our invisible world message that determines their reaction. We must be loving, yet clear that we won’t tolerate the first little bit of English at the wrong time. We have to do all that with a laid back feeling (as implied, TPRS doesn’t work, in my view, when we are uptight – the kids sense our discomfort and reflect it back to us).
    It’s just crazy. And yet, like I said above, in my view, none of the other rules or skills can be effective without this one thing about English.
    Today, I was asking one class about why they seemed so distant with Karen there, and they said that I always listen to two (very clever) students’ suggestions and, since they (get this…) “don’t like” those two kids, they shut down. So I had no idea, but the fact that there was an internal turf war on cute answers between two factions in that class made the whole thing even more complex. Not that that has anything to do with the discussion about English.
    Hey, February is a kicking our asses, isn’t it? It’s kicking mine! What am I learning here? I am learning patience and forebearance and to accept and love myself no matter how shitty my stories are. One cannot put a price tag on that, so I’ll just wait for someone to come up with the total answer to the English thing and post it here. Thanks in advance, whoever has the answer!

  4. Call me old fashioned but I never allowed a word of English when asking for input from the students. They could only give me the French words that they had acquired. If they wanted to speak English, they had to ask French.
    This worked for me but the novel responses weren’t there due to the fact that they did not have exciting answers en francais. Nevertheless, it worked and the English “talk” was kept at a minimum.
    Not allowing English is key to keeping the classroom input in the target language…not only from the teacher but from the students. Kids will do what you expect….

  5. Like Diana, I don’t allow English during input activities. The kids ask permission. I always say no or we joke, “OK, sólo un poquitico–una palabra nada más.” If someone tries to be funny and speak a whole slew of English, I literally wave my hand rather dismissively, walk away, and immediately ask someone else for an answer.
    Their stories turn out just fine with their acquired Spanish. I often combine several of their “beginner Spanish” answers into a funny mouthful. For instance, when asking for a character’s name, I might get the answer, “Juan”. Boring. However, if I take several of the “boring” answers and put them together, I might get “Juan Mano Verde de Elefante Guapo”. That cracks them up. (Yeah, I can hear you laughing on the blog.) I write it on the board and have the best time, taking an exaggerated deep breath every time the name comes up, pointing to each word of the name, while I say it in some funny voice–speeding up some words–elongating others. You’d have to be there. 🙂 They know that they are responsible for coming up with words in Spanish, but that they will get some help from me to make it interesting and more fun.
    Many of them have become experts at circumlocuting (probably not a real word, but certainly an important language negotiation skill in the real world). I teach zero-level beginners starting in 4th/5th/6th grades.
    Helping them to curb their blurting out in English is the most difficult part of the process. Patience, consistence, resolve, belief that it is important to my students’ success–just a few of the teacher qualities necessary to make it work. Yes, it takes a long time for some kids to see the need.

  6. “Not allowing English is key to keeping the classroom input in the target language…not only from the teacher but from the students. Kids will do what you expect…”.
    See that is the voice of a district language coordinator. And then Jody, the TPRS professional’s professional, says she does quite fine without two words of English allowed. Maybe I should give up the two words. I only did it because I felt it gave more humor and energy to my 8th grade classes when I made up all of those rules. But yikes, maybe it is contributing to an English feel in the room. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that and would welcome ideas from people who have done both.
    Tony below are just some random thoughts about when the kids use English. Our hope lies in good clear communication on this and all of the thorny things we experience as we learn how to do CI. We are in new territory in teaching and honesty is going to be absolutely required in all of our discussions about how to make this stuff best work for our kids. There is no room for fuzziness and we can’t be making stuff up right now. Too much is at stake.
    In that vein, I love the way Karen wrote so openly and honestly about observing my classes. Being an observor or an observed teacher in a TPRS classroom and actually communicating for real in an honest waya about it is turning the tables on everything that I personally have ever experienced in foreign language education .
    Now, Tony, about those kids speaking English: I have six ideas that I think may have value. Use any one or none or all six. I am going to try all six. Here goes:
    1. Slow down. This is the obvious no-brainer regarding all aspects of discipline. When they understand, they behave. When they don’t, they become unruly. It’s the obvious place to start with kids who don’t know when to stop with the English.
    2. Move them. Right before Karen came over, a girl asked if we could sit in a circle that day. It felt like a plan so I said yes, because we needed a break from the rows we had been in for a few months. What I didn’t think of there was that I didn’t have a seating chart for the new circle yet. Problem! The kids sat with friends that day. In one class a flock of about six kids made a class within a class. In another a Romeo sat next to three or four girls, impressing each one during the class. These are not bad kids, but where they were sitting strongly effected the quality of the class. Seating charts are required in a TPRS class. They keep kids who tend to clump together apart. You want some English? Don’t use a seating chart. Divide and conquer when it comes to where they sit. I have been known to work for up to an hour on one seating chart. Every minute was worth it.
    3. Little Joey Krashen at TJHS (I don’t know to spell his last name so I call him that – plus he is famous too) told me that English is necessary to build relationship with the kids. No doubt. If my 14 year old Leanard comes in with a bandaged hand because he hurt it on the rim in last night’s game (we have four 9th graders who can dunk at East), I am going to talk to him in English about that injury. BUT, if we go into some CI about it, that is when I cannot go into a “side conversation” in L1 with Leanord. CI should be sacred time for L2, and too many of us mix relationship building in English with L2 CI. So that is something I can work on.
    4. Just say no. This is a tricky one. As teachers, we are often afraid of our own anger, so we stuff it. We think we have to be nice all the time. But what if we choose to nice, like, 95% of the time and then, each time the kids use English, we do a five second bark “No!” at them? What is wrong with that? Of these potential ideas here, I like that one the best. I am going to do it.
    5. Most of the time it is me inviting them into some kind of English because of my own use of English at the wrong time. I suck at that. That is because I am in love with the thoughts that come into my mind during class. Hmmm. I interject shit like French poetry into classes and they don’t get it. I need to stop that and be with them where they are.
    I just can’t speak English during CI and expect my kids not to do the same.
    6. This last idea has good potential. It doesn’t happen often, but when the entire class starts to bail into English, I will just say in English, “Get out your composition books” in a very serious vein. I am signaling them that we are not going to do CI anymore because it isn’t working. AND THEN I DO IT. I don’t falter when they beg for another chance. I just tell them to get out their pencils and comp. books and I grab whatever Blaine book we are reading and I give an immediate in your face dictation (see resources/handouts/workshop handouts for more on dication). When it is over, they correct from the book. I like this because dictation MUST BE DONE IN SILENCE or every former teacher in France and every other French speaking country in the world over the past 100 years will roll over in their graves. You just don’t talk during a dication. To illustrate this point, in a ninety minuty block, they had just finished translating the last chapter in Pauvre Anne (which they did as a class without me and each kid was so strong and loud that they applauded for themselves afterwards) and we began something that they had looked forward to for months now, the creation of their own East High School version of Pauvre Anne, and they couldn’t even stay in French long enough to decide on a name for the heroine. They argued over La Qui Qui, La Dash Qua (La-Qua), La Shontay, etc. and after three or four minutes of that nonsense I just told them we were going to a dictation and we did and the room got quiet and it was all business. Dictee as a method of punishment – it has always been so in France and so it will be in my classroom. Ten minutes of that and they left with their tales between their legs and one kid begged to go on with the new book next class and I said “It depends on you.” Honestly, I will NOT do this new parallel story to Pauvre Anne next time after the first English blurts. I just won’t. I am a teacher and I am a good person and gosh darnit people like me and my students respect me. But, I must make it totally clear that if they use English when we are trying to build CI, we will stop immediately and go into dictation (the modern version of the French penal code).
    Anyway, Tony, maybe some of this will help you. I am certainly going to try all of them in the coming months, as spring approaches and, with it, the promise of greater appreciation and implementation of this wonderful way of teaching languages. I will put this comment up as a separate blog and tag it under “classroom discipline” when I get the chance.

  7. Hey –
    This has been one of those big turn-arounds for me once I realized I was the “Angel Heart” (as in Mickey Rourke in the movie) in the classroom as per using English. I don’t do it anymore because it’s not worth it, pure and simple. It happens a little the couple first minutes of class, but during class, no. It just messes everything up. In the end, the kids are happier, too. Perhaps because they hear the same kids talking all day in their other classes and are quite frankly sick of listening to them! 🙂
    I thought of another idea as alternative to hearing English: have them write the word/suggestion on a dry erase board and hold it up for you to see. Best of both worlds?
    PS: Little Joey Krashen (LJK) is at GWHS 😉

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