Trying Hard on the Videos

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12 thoughts on “Trying Hard on the Videos”

  1. It seems as if in our world of TPRS, translating is A-Okay. I was taught in my undergrad methods classes that translating is a no-no, but I’m not sure why. I see the importance because how do we know students comprehend if they can’t translate it? But still…….maybe the universities should stop telling us that translating is evil, it creates too high of expectations in new teachers who eventually have to go back to the textbook because this false idea of a “good FL teacher” was instilled into their brain that they can never live up to. My 2 cents

  2. Can you clarify Ben – do you cycle through silent reading, pair work, and choral translation for each paragraph? That is, with each new paragraph do the students go back to silent reading again for a little bit, then pair work, etc.?
    Also, in the video you pretty much keep a slow paced, steady momentum during the choral translating – translating WITH them…do you always do it that way, or do you ever go silent and see if they can translate it on their own? Is it just better to translate with them in order to not lose the class with students translating in all different directions?

  3. …with each new paragraph do the students go back to silent reading again for a little bit, then pair work, etc.?….
    Ideally, they would do so. But we get rolling along after their initial look at the text and forget the sequence. Also, the pairs work is largely a waste. It is a new idea that I have only tested for a week. The kids start talking within 30 seconds of the pair work. So that’s out. So the way it looks this week is that the silent reading is done for a few minutes only at the beginning of the sequence, the pair work is now out, and the big deal of the day is the third part (C), where we chorally translate, spin in L2 at a simple and limited kind of yes/no level, and discuss grammar. That’s the meat of it.
    On whether I translate with them – I think it is best to translate with them, but this kind of thing depends on how we feel. There are no rules, as we constantly say. I knew that they could read it. I could feel their confidence and that video was the first French text that they had ever read.
    One trick from Susan Gross that I always forget to do that you might like is to tell the kids to put their finger on each word being read and then you stop unexpectedly in the translation and single out a kid and say, “Joel what word is your finger on right now?” But I don’t do that because kids forget to put their fingers on the words.

    1. I have used the Susan Gross trick, and it really is helpful in keeping students focused on the text. If I am trying to get the sound of the language into their ears I will have them put their finger on the text and follow along as I read. When I stop, either the class as a whole or a small group or an individual must tell me the very next word in German. I always stop on a word I know that they know well and can pronounce and that has appeared at least once in the text immediately before I stop. It’s simply an “on-task check”. It helps to go through the text beforehand and highlight the word(s) that you want to stop on.

  4. Of course, since my rule is nothing on the desk, I project the image onto a screen via an LCD or a document reader, as used in the video. So they don’t even have a text to put a finger on. I do that because I can just look at the group and see if a kid is not focused, and I am a bit of a taskmaster on my rules. I read very little to them, therefore. We read together. But again, we all have our different styles. Comprehensible input is flexible enough to fit our different styles in many ways. We all don’t have to be Jason or Blaine. We are who we are.

  5. Thanks for posting these, Ben. I had a few unexpected free periods because of student/class photos, and it really helped me to watch a few clips, especially the choral translation and your Pan story work. I launched into my Latin 1 class ready to stick to my 4 new words/phrases, nothing more, and it was awesome! Then, a helicopter was flying overhead, and I decided to talk about the helicopter (in Latin that’s helicopterum, really, there’s an inscription at the Vatican’s helicopter landing pad to prove it!) and soon we were arguing over how many seats were in the chopper and where it was, using no new words other than helicopterum. Chris’s comments cause me to remember that I am just coming out of the “immersion backlash” against the old grammar-translation method, wanting everything to be in the TL. Trouble is, you waste a lot of time trying to establish meaning with drawings, acting, paraphrase, etc. thinking that simply giving them the meaning is somehow cheating. But this is to fall back into an intellectualist approach, treating communication as a puzzle or challenge rather than just being human together. But the teacher I was 5 years ago is still in there saying: you can’t just tell them what it means! but that’s because I used to think arriving at a translation was the end point rather than the beginning. Also, I know what you mean about pairing and group work, how it almost immediately degenerates into visiting in English. I’m not doing any of it, and my class is way more student-centered now compared to when I had them do group work. I am trying to see what my school’s policy on videos of classrooms exactly is, but I’m not hopeful, unless I could convince them that the videos could be posted on a super-restricted access site, available only to us professionals.

  6. Ben, could you give a few more details on your procedure during the French choral and individual accent work time?…in particular, how do you work the individual accents? Take volunteers to read out loud? Or…?

  7. John I look forward to your videos. The Latin push you are giving, even though you are doing it with less support than anybody in the history of the world has ever had in trying to do anything, is something that I am very interested in.
    Brian I don’t want to get too California (with apologies to Le Chevalier de l’Ouest) on you, but I really don’t follow a plan on that. Usually they just appreciate the chance to open their mouths and taste the language. I am like a baker saying “Hey kids, try this donut, try that donut…”. We just play around with the sound and it happens naturally. If there is a formula we do the choral accent repetition first and then one kid will be really into reading it by herself (the 4%er) and she reads and I tell her that hers is a wonderful French accent and does anyone else want to try and they really get into it. It can last about ten minutes or more, but the problem is that you have to leave room for the sacred reading and the quiz later, if you are giving a quiz. Look what happens with the sacred reading – I get to do what I love most, read French and try to do my best to imitate real native speakers because I love it so much, so very much because it is so beautiful. And then they get to read because they love it too – everybody loves French! And life is good in those moments.

  8. Thank you Ben – I appreciate the ‘wing it with passion’ approach! It’s how I work most of the times as well. Thank you – I was just wondering if there was any more to it – I am in major ‘sponge mode’ right now, trying to learn everything I can.

  9. And the best thing to do the sponge thing is for as many of us to put up as much video as possible and just watcch it knowing that it is probably not going to be the best class in the world. It’s the seeing of the method, of the technique for getting into and staying in L2, that counts.

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