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13 thoughts on “Update”

  1. I am about to begin my teaching career in a little rural high school in Vermont and am in my first summer of Masters study at Middlebury College. In methodology class we are learning about the importance of contextualization and interaction and the theories of Long and Krashen and Chomsky. I am very relieved to learn all of this because I never liked the grammar-translation method and when I was a long-term substitute I was about ready to quit before I read Blaine’s book. Even though I barely had any idea what I was doing, it brought my classroom to life so that I could carry on. I also get very inspired when I read this blog, and I look forward to being able to contribute once I get some experience. I read Krashen’s book about FVR and I wonder if you could write or direct me to a blog entry that explains how that works with novice levels. You mentioned recently that you use 10 min. at the start of class for FVR. What are your students reading? At what level? How did you facilitate that? Also, I notice that there is no category for Homework on the blog. Is that on purpose? Do folks have good ideas about meaningful homework?

    1. Angie, where do you teach? I am in Norwich and teach in an elementary school, but would love to get together! We are working at having some TPRS sessions at our convention in the spring!!

  2. Welcome Angie. I have to get on a plane soon but here are some short answers. Maybe others will respond as well.

    …there is no category for Homework on the blog. Is that on purpose? Do folks have good ideas about meaningful homework?….

    In my view the student must want to do homework. Otherwise, it becomes a burden and doesn’t work. So, re homework our job is to get the kid to want to do homework. Then, when that happens, it should be something that is comprehensible input, like listening to a song in the language or listening to an grandparent speak the language, with output by the kid only when it is appropriate and noat forced (i.e. only after a lot of input). Yes there are posts here about homework. Search Nathan Black – he is expert at designing homework that aligns with Krashen. Also Drew Hiben and there are other homework kings. I’m not into it personally bc the problem in my urban school is in getting students to attend.

    There is a lot on FVR here as well. We in Denver Public Schools were lucky enough to get $450,000 to buy FVR books for all 100 of our WL teachers – Diana got that done and I believe it was Gates money that made it happen ($32M to DPS).

    I don’t have time to find the links on this but maybe someone else can. Have you searched the Reading category? The thing is, we must resist standardization of all things in our teaching with comprehensible input. It is too easy to say “This is the way to do it.” We should rather say, “This is the way I do it and you are welcome to take what you want from it and use it.”

    For example, I don’t like FVR in the first year. I never came out and said it but many first year classes are really big and comprised of ninth graders and the maturity level is not there. Diana disagrees. So I asked Krashen last week at iFLT. I had been waiting months to ask that question.

    He said that it is up to “you who are in the classrooms”. He said that we have his research and it is now up to us to apply it. He told me he doesn’t know bc he is not in the classroom. So I thought that was a pretty good answer.

    During the academic year these questions would start a flood of discussion but everybody is snoozing, and rightly they should be right now, so you may not get many great answers. I will try to do some searching when I get back from LV. Those are excellent questions that demand good responses.

  3. My name is Sarah Downey. This upcoming year will be my 5 th year teaching. This will be my 2nd year teaching with TPRS.  I teach middle school Spanish in Savannah GA. This will be my first year teaching eigth grade. (I had these same students last year in 6th grade, they were my TPRS guinea pigs)

    I have used Blaine Ray’s book the last two years. I am really looking forward to using TPRS in a Year and PQA in a Wink and Anne Matava’s Stories. TPRS has allowed my students to comunicate and create their own sentences. Students are really excited about speaking and creating stories. Their parents are surprised at the amount they learn and are able to read and understand.

    I will have to plan and turn in lesson plans with the other 8th grade Spanish teacher, since I work at an IB school. She and my shool’s Spanish department are slaves to the textbook and grammar. I am a native Spaniard with a CLEAR nonrenewal certificate in Georgia. Not having a teaching degree has hindered my being able to convince my department that CI and not grammar intensive lessons need to be the focus of our teaching. I have just used my experience of learning 2 languages as a child ( I did learn them at the same time) and what I have seen occur in my class in the last 2 years.

    It has been very difficult watching some of my creative and engaged students visit me from their seventh grade ( textbook only) Spanish class holding a report card that states they have a C. Now all of a sudden the student thinks he is not smart enough to learn Spanish and is loosing interest. (I hope that I and not the other Spanish teacher gets these students.) I have spoken with these teachers about the TPRS method and thought they feign interest at the end of they day their reason for not using this method appears to be laziness. They have told me that it is ” too much work”. Of course I can’t compete with a textbook that has word list, workbook pages, tests, audio,…. already created and all one has to do is walk to the copy machine. ( sorry for my little rant)

    This blog has been extremelly helpful and I check it multiple times a day. I am looking forward to using a lot more personalization this year. Thanks for creating this great community and resource. I have a tough road ahead of me this year and I plan on being very active on this PLC in the future.

    Any help would be much appreciated. I will say my administration is supportive.

  4. Cranky teacher writes:

    For me, the bottom line on FVR is: “Is the reading material comprehensible and somewhat compelling?” If not, “ACQUISITION” will not occur–which is the whole point, right?

    If reading starts to be a painful experience because it is difficult to understand, a normal person will STOP reading. This seems logical to me. So, if you can find enough comprehensible and compelling reading material at the very beginning levels, go for it.

    My personal feeling is that it is better to wait on FVR until reasonable success can be reasonably guaranteed for the student. The one thing I don’t want to cause is an aversion to reading. That decision should be made by each individual teacher who should know the reading capacity and comprehension levels of her/his students.

    Many students like the FVR period because it is a break from the “exquisite attention” required by the rest of the activities in a CI classroom. Know that they may just need a break, but that they don’t need to hide that fact by pretending to read books that are so high above their level.

    The question I always ask myself, when I plan, is: How much CI will likely happen from this activity?

    I may choose to do other kinds of activities to give myself and my students a break from CI, but I won’t “pretend” that kids are getting CI when they are not. If reading is not really providing CI, then know that. If it is, great!

  5. What do you mean when school starts up again… some of us are down to a mere 2 weeks until first period starts at 7:25.

    I can’t wait to hear about Vegas. Have fun, everyone.

  6. Hi Ben,
    Should I send you my bio, post it as a comment, etc.? I didn’t hear that you wanted new ones until this post (though I found the older ones in the Group Members category).

  7. Thank you, Ben and Jody, for your replies to my questions. I appreciate what Jody said about FVR. If only the lesson plans I’m struggling to fit my brain into for methodology class could be so straightforward and sensible. It’s great to feel like the support of a professional community.

  8. Corinne Bourne

    Well, I’ve just joined this group, primarily because of the assurances by Ben himself and also by my dear friend Michele W. that this is a Safe place. I must be super shy or maybe internet2.0 phobic, because the conversations I’ve read so far have been so honest and open and intense, it’s scary. I’m the sort that lurks on moretprs and occasionally posts a little comment, usually trying to encourage with some experience from my classroom. But more often I’ve composed a post and deleted it because I don’t think it will be of any interest to another teacher.
    Several deletions later … (see what I mean?) so in joining this group, I’m hoping to grow as a teacher in many ways. I may even pluck up courage to submit a bio 🙂

  9. Hi Corinne,
    Welcome to the group! You are the first person I’ve had the chance to welcome because I just joined a couple of days ago. I’ve been thrilled with all that I’ve learned and the supportive atmosphere so far. Don’t be shy- I look forward to collaborating with you and many other teachers who are working to be better at what they do! I emailed my bio to Ben yesterday…Your turn! 🙂

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