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11 thoughts on “Update”

  1. alexanderegorovich

    Hello, Ben, hello, chat. I’m sorry if my problem subject will come as out of blue.
    This is nearly the end of the semester in a community school where I teach English to a mixed language level students. Their level has often been of two polarities. In one class, I may have the very beginners along with those who spend a bunch of time playing Counter-Strike or any other video game of that sort – they are really advanced!
    My problem is this. On the one hand, I have a feeling that the Five-start sequence is still applicable in my case; however, the whole picture is still in a fog for me.
    Do, you, dear colleagues, have any idea for a good teaching strategy, or, maybe some of you have had a similar experience. Anyway, the difference in language competence of one class session is often the case, isn’t it?
    Also wanted to add that I join to all the praises of what you, Ben, and the team is doing!

    1. Including those “advanced” students in class is imperative. Otherwise, why are they there? They undermine the integrity of your instruction and degrade the respect you deserve. I solve the problem of how to engage them in class via the student jobs, some of which, when assigned to those so-called advanced students, involve them in the classroom process in a way that forces them to improve the skills they need to work on, namely reading and writing. You have to understand the student jobs to solve this problem.

  2. This is the crux isn’t it. I teach Spanish in an elementary school and every time I have a new kid, the level has to move to accommodate. The same rules apply for low kids as it does for new kids. I never make them speak, never make them perform until they want to. When I sing they have to do the movements and gestures with me. They learn the signals for understanding and they can have a partner who can translate. TPRS talks about a barometer student; not your highest and not your checked out kids but your kids who need the extra time and reps. Use those as a guide as your pace. These are the kids who are eager but don’t catch on as fast. Having this focus helps me really go the pace to help everyone. If I only go with the fast processors then most of the class falls behind. Its a dance really.
    Jobs help, they keep the advanced kids busy, the lowest kids motivated and when they work they help the class feel like a community.

    1. …when they work they help the class feel like a community….

      How do you think a kid coming from another school where CI hasn’t been used feels walking into class and hearing all that target language ? And how would they feel if you recommend that they leave the class bc they can’t handle it? Or how would they feel if they were allowed to stay but just couldn’t understand?

      Jenna has written a very thoughtful response above. She talks about including the kids by paying more attention to the barometer kids, and by giving them as much time as they need before they are expected to respond in any way, including on tests.

      We have shown over the years over and over again that when we just welcome new kids into class, say at the semester, and that if they are given the months that they need to JUST SIT IN CLASS AND LISTEN AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND, then when the next year starts, they succeed. I say that based on a very intense discussion of this topic that spans many many years here in this blog community, back to around 2006 or so. We have REALLY gone deep with this topic here.

      Of course, Jenna may not have been here for those discussions from over a decade ago, she may have still been in high school, but she clearly grasps the basic and best strategy that we have come up with here, which is of being as non-judgemental as possible for as long as possible with such newcomers to CI.

      One student from Holland came into my level one Invisibles class at the semester. Her mother suggested point blank that she just wait before taking French 1 the next year (to protect her grade), but the child wanted to be with her age group friends.

      I put two of my best students on either side of her. They were to whisper what was going on in class throughout the class. Each day this continued. By June the child was 80% integrated. Her face was where I got my data. After the first two months, by March, it was so obvious that she was understanding at a much higher level.

      That’s how it works. But don’t take my word for it. Susan Gross explained this all to me fifteen years ago. When it comes from Susan Gross, you know it’s accurate, since she and no one else is the gold standard.

  3. alexanderegorovich

    Thank you, Jenna. I got another two or three variables: students age range (15 to 20) and their interests respectively; they chose the technical school where.. they get excited having CI teacher on one hand, yet, they hardly believe that they would ever use the language in their lives – they (the majority of them) are unmotivated deliberately.
    In fact, I experimented with an average student but I didn’t hang on it for a long as the overall scenario got blurry.
    Today I thought of trying out a ‘natural flow.’ A context is always there, isn’t it? So, why not, instead of spotting an average student, to pick up an average context-origin topic for a conversation – at least someone would benefit from it. What do you say?

      1. alexanderegorovich

        I thought a barometer student in Jenna’s reply was what I paraphrased for an average one. By experimenting, I meant taking that student to whom I should have been adjusting my speaking level.

        After I sent my last text here yesterday, I thought of another variable for my CI teaching style: I teach international language, in which every other kid knows what ‘I love you’ means. All I’m saying is that as a default, English language competence has its privileged position globally. Many young men spend tones of time practising authentic English playing video games. So, for a conversation starter, I may pick the word ‘Long’ for an explanation or One Word Image – that’s what I meant by contextual topic to hang on.

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