Trend Noted

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18 thoughts on “Trend Noted”

  1. Yes. I think that allowing time to identify/sympathizing with the instructor is important. There is a human element that cannot be sacrificed in the name of CI (notice the capitals).
    This is what I feel might have to do with or may even be separate from what we call the Affective Filter.
    A die-hard commando CI teacher will surely scare away some students from day 1.
    For me the problem would be: drawing the line between effective classroom management and developing good relationships with my students. Only last week (our 8th week) did I start using a timer during PQA.

  2. I got some perspective at the beginning of this school year by reflecting on how much CI my kids get from 1 class. It’s so much higher than other approaches to teaching languages.
    The teachers on this PLC are “super teachers” who probably all want to do everything their best and always better. Glad we can also look big picture, e.g. the amount of FL time is minuscule relative to the amount the kids need to reach advanced proficiency. And what our kids need most for the NOW and for the FUTURE, is to feel confident, comfortable, accepted, enjoy learning, and inspire future learning.

  3. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    In elementary this is huge, as I’ve noted before. Students constantly share what’s happening in their lives – Birthdays (selves and family members), trips, toys, outings…they are so direct about this need for connection!
    From raising a current 15 and a half yr old I can extrapolate that high schoolers prolly fake or have buried that need for connection in the classroom. How awesome that you/we keep it close to the surface, so that the students feel known & appreciated.
    Some days, half my class is a riff on a tidbit of info a kid offered upon entering!

    1. Alisa said:
      …students constantly share what’s happening in their lives – Birthdays (selves and family members), trips, toys, outings…they are so direct about this need for connection!….
      Just yesterday in one class the kids had some kind of swim competition with the British and German Embassy schools here in New Delhi and I couldn’t figure out how the teams were categorized in terms of age groups and lane assignments in the pool. It took us at least 30 minutes of the kids going to the board and drawing pictures of swimming pools and trying to explain it all to me. I really didn’t get it – I wasn’t faking to get more French out of them. (Yes, output is happening more and more and more in my classroom – don’t tell Ben from 2014.)
      The point being that if it is compelling to them and about them it’s going to bring BOTH connection between instructor and student AND gains in acquisition, and we don’t have to spend the time doing it in English. Of course, this was a group of 8th graders who put to shame any 3rd and 4th year high school kids I have taught in the past because we have a strong elementary program here that makes my middle school kids rock stars. (I’ve got it good in Delhi, y’all. Just sayin’. The teaching assignment building gods have been good to me.)

  4. I don’t want to sound like an old curmudgeon, but I would like to make a distinction. The English those of us here allow, is NOT comparable to the English most other teachers allow. Those teachers have very few skillz and systemz to result in such an environment. As such, I try to provide balance to the TL-use force and encourage ways to remain in TL almost all the time. There’s no way to dial that one back if you never crank it up in the first place.

    1. I say funny things to students in the target language. During La Persona (or Discipulus Illustris), I pay attention to what they say. The questions seem to build quite the rapport themselves.

  5. This a very great time for me to be reading this message. I recently got into a little tiff with a family because a student’s behavior was getting in my way of providing CI. The truth of the matter is if I were giving this child more personal attention instead of trying to get my TPRS results at the end of the year, there would not have been a “tiff” at all.
    There have been a lot of adjustments for me going from large public high school to middle schoolers in wealthy private school. I am realizing no matter the situations all human beings want to feel like they are cared for. Without this piece being a constant in our TPRS classes we lose some effectiveness of our teaching.

    1. Mike, we can learn a lot from people who are not as process/product oriented as many of us on the blog. I am still learning to relax; I still require students to focus, still enforce the no private conversations rule, etc., but I’m learning not to internalize the infractions and to enjoy the students while realizing that getting in that last little bit of CI is not the most important thing.
      I believe I mentioned in another thread that yesterday one of my classes ended with students asking me about my time at Medieval Times in English. I could have tried to enforce the German rule, but the whole dynamic would have changed for the worse.
      Today, the weather forecast was for 99 degrees in Garden Grove. We began class with the usual conversation about how are you? what day of the week is it? how did the games go yesterday? (some wins, some losses) what is your plan for the weekend? what’s the date? what’s the weather like in … (Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Dar es Salaam, Garden Grove). Because the weather was 99 Degrees, I then segued into the song 99 Luftballons (English Version: 99 Red Balloons). In German 1, we just enjoyed the song; in German 2 we talked in German about what was behind the song; in German 3-4-AP we reviewed what we already knew about the song. Then I moved on to other things: another song, Bingo, a PowerPoint – whatever I had planned for instruction. At the end we stopped early, and I asked what everyone had planned for the weekend. Just a nice day of basically hanging out with the students. In my fifth period class (totally different group from the infamous fifth period of a few years ago) we ended with the “Fliegerlied” and students up and moving. (For any German teachers who may not know this song, it’s a perfect TPR song with fliege, bin stark, bin groß, springe, schwimme, nehme die hand, mag and a good round of “La-la-la-la-la”.)
      At the start of first period as I was shaking hands with entering students, a girl who transferred into my class three weeks into the year (and so has only two weeks of German) said, “I saw you yesterday at the Wasserpolospiel.” Several nice things there: my presence was important to her; she felt comfortable telling me; she slid right into German without missing a beat – I’m not sure she even realized that she was code switching.
      BTW, I find greeting my students at the door extremely important. It means we make personal contact every day. It gives me a chance to make comments to them about things I notice (new haircut or color, clothes, activity they do, etc.). There is skin-to-skin contact with students (and studies have shown this to be vital in life and relationships). Students are introduced to using the language as they walk in the door.
      Also, the relationships carry beyond the classroom. Students constantly call my name as I walk across campus or show up at sports and other activities. Even my very quiet students will smile and say hello when we meet in the hallway. When things are this good, it makes me wonder if I’ll just keep on teaching a while longer rather than retiring in 3-4 years.

      1. I got a high five from a sixth grader who ran out of his way down a hallway to give it to me. This is a kid with whom I usually talk about American football before class starts. Would I get the high five without those little discussion? Would that kid not be 100% engaged in my class all the time every day if we didn’t have those discussions. I know we all know the importance of relationship building, but how many of us actually practice it? I think many of us think we do it but we are too busy wearing our teacher hat to really do it.
        Thus, what Robert writes above about allowing the heat outside and then a video about balloons to drive the conversation is something that some of us allow and some don’t. Robert’s comment that he is learning to relax with the kids in the classroom points in my own mind to a brand new concept of what a teacher even is. Not a friend, but neither an uptight fool focused one pointedly on the instruction. I think of Hosler whenever this comes up. I know he’s doing it. I’m doing much better at it. BUT when I say we are in the TL, they know what that means. Can’t wait to try out my new Two Strikes plan.
        Who said teaching is not hard? We have to smile in one moment and be ready to kick a class out of class on their second blurted word of English. Hey, I’m gonna try it. Report will be coming back in two weeks.

  6. Potentially but not necessarily, “bel to bell instruction” goes against the very roots of teaching and learning, which is the relationship. If there is no relationship, there is no teaching or learning. There may be a force feeding of information or whatever, but that is not teaching and learning. I know that there are lots of folks on here who can do both at once very skillfully. I aspire to that level someday. But I can’t do it right now. So I have to weave back and forth between intervals of L2 and breaks.
    I’m learning this on a deep level right now, as it has taken me a month to realize that I need to put a lot more energy into the relationship building, which I thought (mistakenly) I could do in L2 but I can’t. In the moments I recognize my “CI death grip” strangling the relationship I let go and it’s always better. For me right now I’m re-teaching myself along with the kids. Establishing a new routine because the one I tried to establish didn’t work. Distinguishing clearly between our “on the clock” (pure L2) time and other times when we do mindfulness practice/ attention practice or a community building game or just a fun game w/ the group where we can laugh together. I try hard to remember that “the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.” The community I’m working in is as a whole, traumatized, and so most of the kids are operating on a pure survival level physically and emotionally. While I “knew” this going in, I was not prepared for the realities of it. So much learning.

  7. Stolz mentioned on his blog that he does culture units in L1, not the TL, because, as with getting to know kids, sometimes there’s too much to communicate, and the TL is too limiting. These kind of breaks from intense CI TL work also allow opportunities for casual interactions to happen, between students, and with us. A strategically placed grammar or culture unit (even a worksheet!) here and there could open up these kinds of opportunities, while still showing admins that we are going bell to bell.

  8. I agree Michael. We seem to finally be starting to grasp the reality of the situations we are in in our individual buildings. When Dr. Krashen responded to all of those ROA points I had sent him a few weeks ago (still not posted) even he said this about our not doing full-on CI all the time in schools:
    …suggestion for now: In your paper on lowering the affective filter, say which activities are done for show, and which are for real language acquisition. Of course a little conscious learning is OK, as long as it is consistent with what we know about the limits of conscious learning….
    Michael I appreciate that we finally need to have this discussion. It is going to take a huge load off our backs. We can finally now accept that in schools CI is not even possible for an entire class period. Think about it. Wiggly kids? I’m really seeing it clearly now. How nice to be able to go into a class without that feeling that I have to be doing input input input all the time, and can stop class and just hang out with them in English.
    One important caution on this: when I am in full-on CI in a story, PQA, ROA to process the story, or R and D on a novel, I am most certainly going to stay with no English allowed. But, as Hosler pointed out once, if we use the TL entirely all the time in class, the students will begin to detest us. (I think that was the verb he used and it is not too strong.) NO kid sitting in a chair in a box on this particular planet for hours every day can take input as occurs naturally outside of our classrooms and we need to embrace that fact and act accordingly when we plan our CI instruction.

  9. Ben you said it. It takes a load off our backs to realize the situation for what it really is.
    It is possible to be in this magical CI zone but it takes some work to get there. In my last teaching position I was able to get there much easier because I believe I had some street cred with students. I had an established reputation and it put students in a certain frame of mind when they came to me. It is not the same in a new place.
    I am going to make a bizarre analogy…I have heard various recovered drug addicts on TV discuss their addictions. The reoccurring story that sticks out to me is that they are always trying to chase the first “high” they reached when they were introduced to the drug for the first time. I think this is very similar to a TPRS teacher. We always want to get back to that MAGIC we once had. The problem is, is that we can’t force magic…it happens on its own and can often be out of our control.
    Like Ben said, we have to plan our CI intruction accordingly, go easy on the students sometimes, and most of all go easy on ourselves when we don’t have magic on a daily basis.
    ps don’t do drugs either! 🙂

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