The Research

We don’t need any more research. In academia that would be a frivolous comment, but as a classroom teacher in languages I support it. Yes, perhaps we need more research in other fields. No in languages; we already have enough research, at least for the foreseeable future. What we need to do is IMPLEMENT the research that we already have. It’s been very ignored, and we all know it. Why?

First, because of the textbook lobby that doesn’t want us to implement it for obvious reasons. They don’t want us to know that Krashen’s original work, Mason’s support, VanPatten’s as well and the others POINTS DIRECTLY TO THE FACT THAT comprehensible input is the key that unlocks the door of good language instruction.  So why look around for other keys and other doors?

My 16 year old son took his driver’s test last week and passed with 23 of 25 questions. Why? It is because he wanted to drive and so he studied. He pays attention when I am coaching him as he drives on the road. It is because he wants to drive.

Over all the years as a teacher, I think that most of my students, perhaps as high as 90%, didn’t care to learn French all that much. It was a course someone told them that they had to take. Even in the upper levels, those college bounds had to take it because they “needed three years to impress colleges”.

No blame. They are children and don’t know about the cheeses, wines and meats of France. They don’t know about the artists and writers, the thinkers, the Loire Valley, the French soccer team. There is a lot they don’t know. It’s our job to make it interesting, but as long as keep flirting with the old ways of teaching languages, they will never appreciate what we hold so dear to our hearts.

But as I look back, I wonder. Maybe there was a profession I could have done where, when I worked my butt off to get better at it, my efforts would have been more appreciated.

Share:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

13 thoughts on “The Research”

  1. “But as I look back, I wonder. Maybe there was a job I could have done where, when I worked my butt off to get better at it, my efforts would have been more appreciated.”
    Hi Ben,
    Have you read any of John Hattie’s work? He has an interesting TED Talk here, in which he explains why so many teachers end up wondering whether their efforts ever are/were appreciated.
    It’s too bad that there is virtually no incentive whatsoever for teachers to “advance” in the teaching profession. The step-based salary model isn’t all that enticing (especially since there isn’t a very strong correlation between years of teaching and teacher effectiveness and the pay raises aren’t that great), and the idea of teachers getting such little respect in our borderline anti-intellectual society is frustrating for those who want to be seen as legitimate professionals.
    Hattie refers to the need for a “ladder of excellence,” distinguishing low-performing teachers from high-performing teachers based on evidence of success. Just for the sake of asking the question, what are the parameters by which we should measure our success as language teachers?
    In terms of the research, I think that for teachers embracing NTCI, the next research might involve elements of storytelling, character and humor. Maybe even some general research on linguistics. Game theory could also be useful. Personally, those will be the next topics of research for me!
    Regards,
    Taron

    1. Well certainly we are inching our way forward away from the idea that language acquisition and teacher effectiveness can be measured via the assessment tools we have now. They have never brought much accuracy. (What don’t they understand about the word “unconscious”?)
      Taron you asked, “…what are the parameters by which we should measure our success as language teachers?…” and really that is the question to ask and your suggestions of “storytelling, character and humor” are welcome.
      This would imply that the old model of what a language teacher even is would be shown by any research to be a complete farce and we all know that that is happening anyway because we are the ones crushing the old mold via our bravery and refusal to let bozos run our profession.
      I have a question for you, though. Can the intangibles that NTCI type of instructors bring to the classroom, where love and humor exist in abundance, be measured? I don’t think they can.
      So what does this mean in terms of formative and summative assessment in this new work that we are doing? To me, it means lots of formative assessment* while they are in school but only to feed the grade book and get intrusive control freaks out of our faces. What about summative assessment?
      In NTCI, any accurate results would only occur after years of input, where our NTCI students would show themselves to be light years ahead of anyone else and far ahead of TPRS trained students, and I have spent almost 20 years parsing out that topic so I feel that those words are accurate.
      So maybe we could go up to our admins, put them in a much needed headlock, smile at them, give them a few noogies that hurt, and say, “Hey dude, can you back off for a few years and I guarantee that in a few years your trust in me will be rewarded tenfold when you see what my NTCI trained kids can do?”
      *mainly (1) quick quizzes, up to three per class period to fill the book in the first semester to get the admins off of our backs and then less and less to end the year, along with (2) lots of interpersonal skill evaluation via the rubrics**.
      **I know we have a new rubric in ANATTY, but if you search “jGR” here you will see the parent of the rubrics we have now, for any new people interested….

  2. I’m currently reading Michael Davis’s book, “THE Book on Storytelling.” A few quotes that have stuck out to me so far:
    “Research has proven that our brains are ‘wired’ for stories. They help us create deeper emotional connections, make it easier for us to remember lessons, and they entertain us.
    “‘If you want to make a point, tell a story. Make another point, tell another story.’ With this in mind, why do most people ignore stories, and instead resort to statistics and figures (i.e. traditional grammar instruction models in the context of the world language classroom) to sell their messages?”
    “Somewhere along the line … purveyors of statistics and data forgot that stories are the best way to learn.”
    “Your audience will not remember what you say, but what they see in their minds. Tell stories.”
    “Facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered if they are part of a story.”
    “Storytelling ‘recreates in us that emotional state of curiosity which is ever present in children, but which as adults we tend to lose. Once in this childlike state, we tend to be more receptive and interested in the information we are given.'”
    If what Krashen, Davis, you, and so many other people are saying is true (and the research tells us yes, it is true), that means anyone who has listened to a good story knows what is meant by “unconscious,” regardless of if they are conscious of whether they know it.
    At the end of the day, public schools are faced with a lot of pressure to provide “measurable” data, even if the said data is farcical and contrived from archaic instructional practices which are, by and large, incompatible and at odds with modern-day theories of comprehensible input and language acquisition.
    It does take a lot of courage for CI language teachers and stakeholders to step up to administrators, department heads, parents, and whoever else necessary in order to explain what CI is and what it should and should not look like in the context of a classroom, especially when it does break the mold of what “school should look like” in the traditional sense (I’m sure you’ve seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk: Do schools kill creativity?).
    To answer your question about measuring the intangibles … I reckon that’s why we call them “intangibles.” You cannot measure them and therefore any attempt to do so often feels inauthentic, forced, and futile.

  3. …public schools are faced with a lot of pressure to provide “measurable” data….
    This is so unfortunate in light of the quotes you pulled from Davis. The solution is right in front of us! And think of the dollars saved….

  4. In reference to the comment about measuring the unconscious, I had a great conversation with a parent today. A little background information… This is a highly educated woman who is a writer. They arrived at our school last year and her daughter began taking French with me in seventh grade. Her daughter is a reader and is a highly motivated student. At our first set of parent conferences last September, I explained the how I was teaching and showed some examples of how much the children understand after just six weeks of school. She was amazed and very curious about this way of teaching language because it’s so very different to how we were taught and how many school still teach language. By the second round of conferences last year in the spring, she was blown away by her daughter’s progress.
    So today I bumped into her and she was telling me how this way of teaching still fascinates her. This is assessment week in my class so she was going over some of the documents that I have shared on Google Classroom with her daughter to help her review. She was asking her what some words meant in English from the vocabulary list that we keep a running record of and her daughter couldn’t remember a lot of them. So she told her daughter she better start learning these and getting them under her belt. Then she started asking her about the stories in about some of the characters and she was blown away by how much her daughter understood within the context of the story. So the girl knows what the words mean in a context but out of context, in a vocabulary list, she doesn’t know. I find it fascinating how the brain works and how we acquire languages and this way of teaching language, with nontargeted comprehensible input, is such a rich and valuable way for people to acquire the language. She said that she had to go back and apologize to her daughter because she was wrong. And she just loves the way that I teach the language.

    1. This is epic Dana. But since our group is small, how many people will read it? And the beat goes on….
      (I will at least feature it as an article and give it a category of “Vocabulary is Learned in Context”.)
      I miss India. A lot. It seems like a big stink pot when one is there and then later the smells turn into the wonderful aromas of a culture that in my view houses the marrow of life.

      1. It gets into your veins. We’d lived in Lahore, Pakistan and the Colombo, Sri Lanka. When we left the subcontinent, I was ready to go. But after 10 years of not being here, I was ready to be back. I love the people, the colours, the culture. I don’t love the pollution but thankfully, we have good air in the school and our apartments.

      2. Ah, the colors of India! Did you get over to Rajasthan? Red turbans, red everywhere. It’s like they have a regional color! Man! I think the embassy family takes a fall retreat there.

    2. Most placement and AP/IB tests do not ask for “What does _____ mean?” And yet you see it on assessments in classes today. It is not aligned. If we try to assess like these te$ts in level 1, we see that they can’t do it. How do we do it then? Easy. We in this PLC know but many are still in the dark.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

CI and the Research (cont.)

Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could

Research Question

I got a question: “Hi Ben, I am preparing some documents that support CI teaching to show my administrators. I looked through the blog and

We Have the Research

A teacher contacted me awhile back. She had been attacked about using CI from a team leader. I told her to get some research from

The Research

We don’t need any more research. In academia that would be a frivolous comment, but as a classroom teacher in languages I support it. Yes,

$10

~PER MONTH

Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben