I wrote this as a comment in response to a point Alisa made earlier today, but am moving it here as a post because of its importance:
This work is all going to CALP. Yes, we want BICS (basic interpersonal communication skills), and that has been my main focus over the years, but now working with Tina, who has a tremendous background as a social studies and literacy teacher, I am beginning to see how, once a class has been trained in BICS (the Invisibles NT approach works best for me to bring those skills), then the road is wide open to develop cognitive academic language proficiency in the kids, and that is what Tina is doing with great speed these days. It is the new frontier and we needed the CI move to NT to trigger the release of CALP. Tina and I are still wrestling with the last bits of the latest book on A Natural Approach to the Year, which is basically BICS (there is only one section that I would call CALP), and Tina goes and interrupts me with all kinds of CALP talk. Here I am exhausted from writing and she is excitedly preparing to get the CALP book going. I am amazed how her thinking is exactly on the pulse of wedding the need of secondary school teachers to “teach thematic units” with her CALP training. They can teach the heck out oft thematic units now. Bless their stubborn hearts – all they needed was to learn how to communicate in the TL with their students and not with silly stories, which made them all so nervous and half of them if not 90% went to a conference and tried and failed and went straight back to the book. NO BLAME! So the Invisibles were cool but already now I see them as merely a pathway to this new CALP work. I am amazed at Tina’s vision. I presented with her all last summer and am now just beginning how she is taking it to the next level. So this summer in each two week institute in three cities the first week we will present and coach on BICS and the second week will be all about CALP, and teachers can come to either one or both. I’ve been waiting 40 years to see it all finally get to this level, and it’s all Tina.
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
32 thoughts on “Tina and CALP”
This is very intriguiging, especially for those of us in divided departments.
I am super excited to learn more about CALP. I teach Spanish to the monolingual classes in a school that also has a bilingual 2-way immersion program that uses CALP. I’ve seen the benefits of CALP with elementary students directly, but haven’t thought of using it in my classroom (with the older students -4th and 5th graders) until just recently. I think this will be a fantastic tool to be able to teach some aspect of culture or geography without switching completely to T1. I have heard teachers complain they are not able to teach culture or the “fun stuff” due to time. With CALP, you can continue to teach the language while teaching that “fun stuff!!”
Jenny the way you describe it above, in terms of what I understand, is spot on. It’s something we’ve always needed. In particular, your comment about the effectiveness of CALP with elementary students and how we can now move it up – finally – to higher levels, including the much-needed area of high school, is appreciated.
A great benefit for having to teach native speakers of Spanish for developing literacy. Now, if only we can fix our placement issues at my school.
The beauty of CALP is that it relies on the human need to communicate by sharing information because the teacher and students enjoy it, and not so much in order to learn the words for a test. Our goal for the kids is that they can just sit around and enjoy the conversation, learning new things. (Memorization is so much more efficient for the way things are set up now in schools, but it is all robotic and so quickly forgotten by all but a few students). CALP seems non-targeted in that the teacher skillfully introduces the new vocabulary unnoticed by the class, as I understand it. To the kids, it’s non-targeted, and that’s all that counts. But, while they are enjoying focusing on the meaning of our CALP lesson, we are slowly articulating them up from middle school to success on the IB exam, without targeting words. I’ve had enough of that.
A caution is that teachers new to CALP will need an orientation period to BICS so that their CALP instruction doesn’t turn out to be overly dry. What makes CALP work is BICS. Tina has a five point, 35 strategy plan for CALP which she will share in the second week of the summer institutes.
Ben the 35 points are from Project GLAD. Google GLAD Strategies PDF and you too can have them!!!
I’m doing a unit using the Project GLAD strategies that Tina shared with us and it’s going amazingly well. It’s with your former students, Ben, and they’re soaking it up.
Honestly, these kids are learning vocabulary and concepts like absolute monarchy, munitions, the Estates General, protests, death sentence, suspected, etc. I’m so surprised by what they remember from class to class.
I’m so glad Dana. The American Embassy School made a good decision to hire you. I am glad that those kids are not being shortchanged. It will come soon enough in the high school. Sorry but it’s true.
My high school peeps were TAMED as you said Ben by CALP strategies. Now can you refresh my memory about what we were saying regarding equity and CALP while I was “supervising” my class playing Quizziz?
I say this Dana cause I hope that you’ll take those Hs peeps too. I don’t know em but todo es posible. Also I think we can come to India in January. Maybe around Jsniary 30.
I want to be there on Jan. 31 anyway.
Tina you said:
…can you refresh my memory about what we were saying regarding equity and CALP…?
Tina you said that some people view CALP in a way that is different from the way we see it and the way we are planning to promote it in 2018, esp. in the second week of the summer institutes. What you said made me think that what those people are doing with their version of CALP excludes non-readers, and yet so many kids are non-readers now, either as new Americans or victims of the screen culture. So I pointed out in our phone call that the new BICS/CALP tandem plan that we espouse in both of our current books is about equity, because when all kids are equally included in the community they naturally flow along at the rate of everybody else, esp. with all the literacy support we have built into BICS (current book). So the equity piece is honored, and not merely a buzz word, and when it is so honored, and the equity is guaranteed bc it is built into every lesson, they all read better, all of them and not just the ones who were readers to start with, because they come from families where there are books, from privilege. And so I think the reason we both want to start in on this new book on CALP and why you see me pushing you to do it is because now we are thinking about a foreign language instruction program based on NT/BICS/CALP that honors every student in the classroom and brings them along together in a much more cohesive and inclusive way, with more equity, than the more limited way CALP may be seen by some of those folks we were talking about when the subject of equity came up. I think that’s what I said. Sure sounds more confusing in writing.
A teacher in Portland, Shawna Wheeler, told Tina that she has a kid who likes to read better in French than in English, that he hates to read in English. This is profound in the light of the above comment. When you are sitting in the same classroom with so-called elite kids, but the subject of the class is all new to everyone in the classroom, the playing field is evened out. But it can only be evened out if the L2 language teacher makes the kids feel smart, which is done via community building/BICS.
BICS before CALP.
“Mama pick you up!” is what I remember my kids saying as baby/toddlers, from hearing us say, “Do you want me to PICK YOU UP?” Also “You want more!” (from, “Do YOU WANT MORE?” These are laid in before, “Through the use of molds and stencils, colorful sawdust carpets are created in the streets of Guatemala during Holy Week….” (followed by an opportunity to rattle off colors & shapes then make a craft….)
It took me like 20 years to figure it out; I blame, among other factors, ACTFL’s 5 C’s and the confusion that still proliferates – that teaching content to ELL or Bilingual Ss is the same as teaching a foreign language to novices….
…it took me like 20 years to figure out…that teaching content to ELL or bilingual students is the same as teaching a foreign language to novices….
Every now and then you say stuff that is, like, explosive in the best way. What you say above in that sentence needs to be shouted out from the top of the Sears Tower, or made into a song, or whispered into the ear of Paul Sandrock. It’s kind of a Eureka! moment for a lot of us. It puts us hand in hand with our ELL brothers and sisters from whom we have been curiously separated for the past 40 years. It took Tina to find that tunnel out of what we were doing and lead us over to the CALP world. We shouldn’t feel too bad. We had to develop a way of communication (BICS/the Invisibles/NT accomplish that best for me) with our students THAT WORKED first. So we did that and now we can switch it all up into CALP. That’s the way I see it anyway. The highly touted TPRS method was a 20 year long staircase to get us here. Then we started seeing REAL results w NT starting two years ago and now we are mean and ready to take it to this new CALP world. I don’t think that many people would agree with that statement, but it’s the way I see it and makes me appreciate yet again how this group remains small and private and therefore safe.
Hey Ben I have a question.
I just got this e-mail from this company that is doing a supposedly “comprehensible” version of a Telenovela: https://www.edunovela.com/
As department chair I’m trying to transition the department to CI. Full support of admin. It’s been an uphill battle though. People know what I am doing with the Invisibles is working and that the kids love it but they (the ones that are nice about it) just look at it like, “That’s just Greg, he’s really passionate about it, I MYSELF can’t do that. I need the structure of a textbook and I just don’t have the time to change.”
The new hires coming in we can work with to a certain degree (since they are starting off with that expectation of CI), but even they are not the same as someone who came to the conclusion of TPRS/CI on their own . I am also finding that many people who are hired to teach CI (without being totally convinced of SLA first) tend to approach it as immersion rather than CI. There is also a lack of real initiative. Heck for me, I was reading your blog on Christmas morning. It’s my career but it’s also become somewhat of a hobby. For new hires they tend to want any training to be done during contractual hours- although I have convinced one to go to Saturday events.
What do you do in this situation? TPRS/CI (even non-targeted) teachers would have full freedom (if they wanted it!) but we just can’t find the right people and the people that are already there won’t budge. They definitely won’t do TPRS or the Invisibles. The most I can hope for is they just make tweaks to their thematic or textbook teaching and get them to focus less on grammatical accuracy in their own classes…. all the while I have freedom to do what I want.
So is a program like the Telenovela above a good option say, for the Honors track? My plan is to focus on CI for the regular track (the majority of the kids) for levels 1-2. That way we set kids up to want to go on in the language. The other option I was thinking is have even the traditional teachers teach one novel per semester.
I know you are against the class reading of novels, but I am looking at this in terms of not what is best (because that would take buy-in) but as far as damage control.
I’ve heard of a school that implemented Blaine Ray’s “Look I can Talk” curriculum by force, but I heard some of those teachers that teach with that curriculum actually just teach with it because that’s the mandate (some even secretly hate CI but need to keep their job).
I really don’t want to force people to teach with CI because the kids know when the teacher is not into it and the “CI” done by a reluctant teacher actually works against us.
Has anyone had success with any such online “CI” programs as the telenovela above? I know that Senor Jordan recently contributed to an online “CI” curriculum that also seemed like an option for these reluctant teachers in a CI department.
Can we make this an article post? Greg is at the forefront of chaning his department but there are some challenges. I would be interested in learning more.
Greg, We will be hiring a new teacher. What questions would be good to ask? I’ll be sitting in on the interviews.
Just a thought- I had no problem implementing CI in my elementary school classes- I am more relaxed in the elementary school and the kids eat up the Invisibles. The participation is high and I feel very successful in that environment. I also teach a class at the high school. My first semester, I had a very challenging class who did not want to participate. I struggled to be able to implement the same type of CI that I could do at the elementary school. I found embedded readings and “Special Student” to be a way that I could implement CI and still have control of the classroom, something concrete to teach or talk about, and not feel too far outside my comfort zone (I struggled with both TPRS and the Invisibles in that classroom). Perhaps bringing in one tool at a time that doesn’t require someone to make such a drastic change in the beginning might help those that are struggling to see themselves doing CI? (They can even pick a story that targets a certain grammar point as well to help inch them along their way…)
I’m with Ben thinking that Tprs was a twenty year staircase to get us to here. And for me, here is a place where I’m seeing many many points of entry into what I’m starting to call “proficiency based” teaching (SECRET. what builds proficiency is CI. But shhhhhhh. CI is – like TPRS before it – tainted goods by now cause of the perceived “attitude” of some of its promoters). There’s a way for EVERYONE to enter this work. There’s no one right way. The underlying principles are simple. Too simple. They are based in the heart and human nature so therefore many people discount them cause they’re inprisoned in their brainiac ego driven quest to look smarter than they need to be.
It’s time to make our fire sale clown tent bigger. With signage that clearly communicates THERES ROOM FOR YOU HERE TOO.
I agree Tina. It’s a fun thing to say, and refreshing. Equity for all, including teachers. What we have had so far for all these 20+ years, all these years hanging on arms akimbo to that weird ladder and those people who kept making it longer and longer so that it stretches now far into the sky, was a simple thing made complicated and inaccessible. Time for that to be over. SHORTEN THE LADDER.
My other question was this….is there anyone on this blog that came to TPRS/CI because their department chair asked them to and THEN they became convinced of it? Or anyone that learned TPRS/CI after they were hired for that purpose?
Or is everyone on here a person who became convinced totally on their own intitative?
I’m here because I was told that TPRS was how we teach languages at our school. Since Ben worked here before, the principal directed me to his website. Before joining this PLC, I’d never heard of TPRS or Blaine Ray. So I only knew of what Ben promoted. I got his books and was convinced by the research and the non-targeted approach.
IMO, in order to convince people, you need to ensure that your department’s goal is language acquisition. Then, all the research you present will support it. And I’d emphasize non-targeted instruction as well (maybe just to the newbies). With Tina and Ben’s new book out, it’ll give newbies everything they need. CALP will be what woos the HS teachers.
…in order to convince people, you need to ensure that your department’s goal is language acquisition. Then, all the research you present will support it….
That’s what I’m seeing right now. Many people still want to teach for production and they see results so they think it’s fine. When you’re head of department and have backing from admin, you can make that shift more easily than those of us who are teaching within departments who don’t have a common baseline.
I think you are right Greg that no-one wants to be forced and many in that situation push back…. though I have seen those who are led to the well actually successfully drink from it – depends on the person and the support/ pressure from above.
As for ‘accepting the SLA research and rationale,’ I think it makes us look ridiculous as a profession to flout the research as though we know better than Krashen and the gang; as if we’ve designed and conducted the peer reviewed PhD research and reviewed others’ work 8+ hours a day for decades…
I think much of the variety and ‘eclecticism’ in teacher practice comes from differing concepts about the purpose of our classes. Some still vehemently hold onto the importance of the 5C’s – maybe because they’ve done a ton of work and have developed lots of curric and programming and see the shift as a rejection of their investment…they don’t wanna feel like frauds….
Others believe it’s not rigorous unless the CALP-content-based instruction is immediate – from absolute novice on up the ladder….
I keep saying this again and again (cuz of my keen eye for the obvious – which I’ve mentioned previously) but any dept or institution willing to look at its WL offering has to start by vetting the purpose of the classes – and building consensus around it. Are they geared toward cultural enrichment – so we can experience ‘peoples, perspectives and products?’ Are they in order to place out of the college language requirement? Are they to inform religious/intellectual studies – which have more academic capital in that setting? Are they to impart communication skills?
You’d be surprised to learn how different members of the same dep’t see the role of their instruction!
Finding out how each teacher articulates their purpose can definitely get us more clear about goals, how we view our.jobs and attitudes. My Dept wants to be low key. I want to just have students to understand communication skills and.maybe acquire some Spanish or French. Proficiency is not my goal because when people evaluate students, they lose.
…I have heard teachers complain they are not able to teach culture or the “fun stuff” due to time. With CALP, you can continue to teach the language while teaching that “fun stuff!!”….
This is kind of profound statement if you are traditional teacher. It says that the walls are really closing in on you now. Those people that tell Greg, “Well [you are] really passionate about it, I MYSELF can’t do that. I need the structure of a textbook and I just don’t have the time to change.”
The biggest excuse they had, now no longer valid (not that it ever was) for not teaching the “fun stuff” was lack of time. They couldn’t justify teaching culture, etc. in the L1 and that reasoning allowed them to continue teaching grammar worksheets. It assuaged their consciences. But now as Jenny points out w the BICS/CALP sequence they have no more excuses to teach grammar – they CAN now teach the “fun stuff” in the L2.
It’s mind-boggling if you think about it and I will continue to watch how this new wrinkle in the cloth plays out. I think it will turn into a tidal wave.
Greg can you bring a trainer out to your reluctant peeps? Sounds like they need to be shown the light. I bet I know some people who could show it to em.
“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest places if you look at it right.”
Could not resist that 😀