Two Recent Studies

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9 thoughts on “Two Recent Studies”

  1. Thank you, guys. What I remember from my own studies at university was that you were happy when your results for p were below .05. A result of .0001 means it is MORE than highly significant. That is a good indicator that your results are good and not due to other variables. In teaching research this is even more important as you have many other variables, such as social structure of a class, the point of the day that the class is taking place, different teaching personalities, etc. So, this is really a study you can show around.

    What you can also see through the standard deviation, as far as I remember, is that in the traditional classes students’ results spread twice as much. I have the feeling this is true across the board, as I also got that impression from my first big class test after switching to TPRS. We kind of “streamline” the students and we might, which is very important for Germany, actually help to CLOSE the social gap.

    How cool is that?!

  2. Yeah,
    I just saw on the tprs listerve this link to a recent study comparing Bill VanPatten and Blaine Ray’s ” input-rich” methods . It supposedly compares the students ‘s “receptive and productive abilities in using case markers and pronouns with the verb gustar”.
    Any Spanish teacher interested in reading it , (it is about 80 pages) and letting us know if we can learn anything from it to take back into our practice? That is of course because you have nothing better to do during the break right (haha)?
    Here is the link:

    The interesting thing I read though was a response from Krashen saying that he is been repeating this since the 70’s , i.e that the best CI does not have target structure in it b/c i+1 is there and that “nontargeted comprehensible input will defeat all rivals on tests that probe acquired competence (not consciously learned competence”. BIG EYE AWAKENER FOR ME, DID NOT KNOW THAT!
    Hope what I just said made sense, got to run.

    1. That study compared VanPatten’s PI with TPRS and basically concluded that while both are effective methods, PI was more effective in their study. However, their study was focused on grammar and PI explicitly focuses on grammar and then proceeds to provide structured input. So it of course outperformed TPRS in that regard. I think it is a narrow study given that it only is comparing the two methods’ abilities to help students with a certain type of grammatical formation or whatever. I apologize if my sentences aren’t making sense, I’ve been reading dozens of research articles and writing this Master’s Paper of mine.

      PS – I know I promised some people some of the research that i’ve collected. I know somebody just recently emailed me and somebody else emailed me a while ago. You’re going to need to occasionally email me to remind me about getting that stuff to you. My days right now basically consist of waking up, going to work and teaching, going home and working on my paper. I don’t have much time to respond to emails attaching all the research I have at the moment. I’m sorry if I’ve kept some of you hanging, just understand that I’m swamped at the moment. And please email me reminders every few days or whatever. My emails easily get lost.

  3. Yes, the subtle, but not so subtle, distinction between “focusing on form” or “focusing on meaning”. That’s were we have to be clear.

    When I think about the kind of instruction we do, I know that the reason I “limit” structures (a practice which might be construed as “focus on target structures”) is to maintain comprehensibility and not overwhelm my students. It gives me a better handle on whether or not most students are comprehending. If my practice starts drifting into “focus on form” territory or just plain memorization of a structure, I’ve missed the point. This study looks like it definitely focused on “a particular form”–problematic from the start.

    Addressing Krashen’s point (with which I agree wholeheartedly but see difficulties with in real classroom settings): Non-targeted CI is only effective if it is truly “C” – comprehensible. That’s the rub. Most teachers, who do non-targeted CI, end up over their heads in “Incomprehension-ville” pretty quickly, kids tuning out, etc. TPRS-type instruction gives me the best of the current instructional worlds: personalized, compelling, comprehensible natural language–even though it is “mothereezed” (somewhat simplified and slowed down) for easier digestibility and uses “targeted structures” as a way in to language.

    Hope some of this makes sense. Articulating this stuff makes me crazy–but I’m really trying to order it all in my head.

    1. Yes, Jody. I understand perfectly your point . We have to limit the language or it becomes as you ‘ve pointed out in the past, submersion. So using targeted sentences gives us a direction also. I just love this i + 1 notion though. To me it means that so much is outside of our control, although we want to control it all, naturally. If they are ready to catch it( the net), they will. May be it is the natural order of acquisition or may be it is chemistry , or even alchemy as I like to think of it. I see this in my classroom everyday. If the structures or words are input-compelling, input rich, or if they appeal to their pschyche, they will acquire them effortlessly, with hardly any repetitions !

  4. True, true about how kids can more quickly acquire interesting items!

    I know, that no matter how much I think I’m controlling input to make it comprehensible, it’s always i + 1–for many reasons for each learner: speed, concentration of new structures, background knowledge in first language or lack of, etc. Different kids are ready to acquire different things at different times. I don’t believe that total transparency even exists. So, I don’t worry that I’m overdoing it any more. The net is there. I can’t hide it even doing stories with target structures. I do know that I can lose students in the blink of an eye if I don’t attend to comprehensibility.

    I think it’s interesting how each teacher of language forms their own construct for understanding how theory works–and I like hearing about yours very much, Sabrina. I realize what I see is a kind of infrastructure that grows over time in their brains and creates a kind of underlying web. I don’t think it’s made up of or depends on disparate interesting expressions–although I think they are present on the periphery. It’s made up of “gut structure of the language”–that natural order thing–that thing we can’t change, correct, or refine until it’s time. It gets more and more dense as language orders itself in the brain, fewer things falling through over time.

    Unfortunately, most of the “gut structures” are NOT fascinating and interesting. They are extremely useful, however, and the brain finally catches on. As that infrastructure grows and becomes more dense, “new” gut structures and more of those “disparate vocabulary items and expressions” stick to this infrastructure. They are more quickly accessible for output–coherent, connected, meaningful output. They become refined (verb endings, academic language, etc) when the acquirer is at a point to be able to do that and sees the need to do so.

    I really see a huge difference in speed and ease with which my “zero” level students acquire at the beginning of the year and how they acquire toward the end. Some kids are faster than others, but over the three years I see them, it starts to settle out. It is like muscle memory–the process of acquiring I mean. This is all fascinating to me. Blah, blah, blah.

  5. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


    No I m not playing rookie today but my kids are reading and doing essential sentences (Thank you Robert) b/c I m just exhausted so I can write back to you now. I too love reading about how you understand the theory and it is always very enjoyable for me to read what you have to say! As you guess I too love the theory!
    I forgot to mention that I suspect , on a very intuitive level that kids acquire structures faster when a sound is more appealing to them ( may be the musical learners). What makes it more appealing or musical , I do not know but I can tell you from my own experience not being a native english speaker of English that the music of sounds definitely impacted my acquisition of this language. So there is another level of interesting input based on sound that I never even considered until you and I started this conversation.
    Do you know how I knew that I had finally attained fluency in English? When I started dreaming in English. Then I knew I wasn’t struggling anymore. Talking about unconscious process!
    Yesterday I had a fun experience with my kids. I was explaining to them what “doit” meant in French ( means must or has to) and I asked them if they remembered what that sound meant b/c the same word also means finger in French ( spelled doigt). They did, so after telling them it was a homonym ( I wasn’t doing grammar or showing off here but I just liked the sound of that word and thought they ‘ d too), I pointed my finger to show them a doigt ( a finger). Naturally and instinctively I started to move my finger in an up and down motion b/c that is what we do when we say you must do this or that . And I said wow, now since you remember that the sound “doigt” is a finger , when I start moving my “doigt” towards you in an up or down motion you will remember that it also means “must”. I just was so proud of myself and they started clapping thinking it was very clever indeed. All this long story to also remind myself that we can definitely acquire language and sound kinaestetically ( sorry if I mispelled here) . I have a feeling they will remember what it means when they see me do it and hear the sound again.
    There are just so many levels and ways to get to acquisistion, it s just awesome!
    Thanks for listening to me figuring this stuff out….

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