Use of L1 for Cute Answers by Students

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14 thoughts on “Use of L1 for Cute Answers by Students”

  1. I found this a very delicate matter, indeed. As Ben describes, I don’t see how you can play hard-ball and absolutely refuse all cute answers in L1. It’s like being Catholic and your priest telling you, “No sex before marriage.” It’s just going to happen, even with the most well-intentioned students (granted, I only have 1 year experience with this now so I can’t speak with authority).

    I need to be sure to not simply accept the cute answers from the most expressive students in the class, but to calm them down, let them wait, and accept answers from other students–the introverted or quieter types–from time to time. I think this will help with some of my classroom management issues.

  2. Thank you Sean. I know that this work is not for everyone and I admit that most teachers – in my view 98% of them – look at it and immediately judge it as not a good way to teach before knowing what it actually is that we do (not a good quality in a teacher if you think about it). But you and many other new teachers in our PLC display a position that is completely opposite – they feel a pulse in it that most don’t. So kudos to you for feeling the largely hidden brilliance of this way of teaching and then acting on that intuition to painstakingly start peeling back the veils that hide it. Your work, the work of everybody in our little community, will bear fruit over the coming years in ways that we could never anticipate right now on a Monday in the middle of January. Traditional teachers who speak about the language in their classrooms instead of speaking it cannot look forward to exiting futures professionally, but you can. So you are to be commended for “bringing it” there in Chicago in that tough neighborhood you are in. You are a hero and that is a fact – you are too young to know, but I think it is true enough to say again – you are a hero.

      1. Don’t worry about the admins. We will soon have them covered with facts that we will teach them. We can start with the information on the Primer hard link above on this page.

        Our writing team had its first Scope and Sequence all day meeting today. It will take more such meetings (Saturdays into April) but we will emerge with a SS that is impossible to ignore by any DPS administrator or teacher new to the district who doesn’t yet get what we really do. It is based on the readers, and so takes the “I’ll use whatever materials I want” card out of the hands of those few in our district who still want to play the game the old way. I think this fledgling document represents a step up, a level up, on the Colorado Standards and ACTFL as well, because we play down output and play up input, and because Scope and Sequences are more concrete and specific than state and national standards, which can be and have been twisted to align with a textbook or whatever, to meet the needs of the teacher and not the kids. So Sean as we continue to be able to articulate what we do in these kinds of ways, slowly admins will get on board. They have no choice. As soon as they figure out that they are starting to look uneducated on issues of second language acquisition, they will learn. I even have a visual image I am working on to just hand to those admins who don’t like to read because they have “another meeting to go to”. No excuses. A clear description of what we do in terms of the Proficiency Levels and the Three Modes of Communication and how much time should be spent on each of the three modes (can you guess the big one for us?). It’s exciting. Sabrina is on the team but had to go to Boulder to teach French to that group of CU professors, some of whom are language professors, who LOVE LEARNING FRENCH with Sabrina. Now, of course the SS will be DPS protected intellectual material, but Sabrina and I can share here what we are learning about how to design a Krashen based SS in an informal way. What am I learning? I am learning to say to younger teachers like you who got hammered by uninformed admins in the form of a “brutal year of negative comments” last year and this to have hope and stick to what you think is best for your kids. Si se puede.

        1. Ben, can Diana get this material to other district-level administrators somehow? I understand intellectual property issues must be respected, but it seems like there should be some way to get more schools able to benefit from all the work you all are doing there in the world’s hub of CI.

  3. This is a tough call as I have only just begun TPRS this semester. I have let more English fly than if probably acceptable, but then again the kids have really embraced this new method and it’s hard to “squash” their enthusiasm. I try to remind them that when doing stories I would prefer 1-2 words of English max as we really are trying to focus in the language. I have a hard time denying them new words if they want to learn them. I realize that not all of them are going to retain the new vocal, but I am surprised with what some do remember. I

    I think you have to do what is comfortable for you, but remember not to overwhelm them with tons of new words on the board or they probably won’t remember much. I am going to try to get tougher next year, but I am giving myself some time to figure this whole process out and to recognize that it will take time. This goes against my type A organized personality, but this method is so much more natural and relaxed that I can’t help but love it.

    Good luck!

  4. Sabrina Sebban_Janczak


    yes we had an incredible day yesterday and I am honored to be part of this wonderful group of talented teachers. That is why I moved to Denver, in hope of making a change somehow, sometime.
    I think this document will be like a stepping stone (sorry couldn’t help it!) and really helpful to teachers, novice and seasoned, who like to have something concrete to justify how and what they teach.
    And although we won’t be able to share the document for the reasons you described, we will certainly be able to discuss the process and the outcomes with people on the blog.

    I have a feeling we are starting to see the shore, although very distant from us . We are able to slowly discover some form and shape, far in the distance. Slowly but surely all the hard work we (Krashenites) are doing here and everywhere in the country is starting to be noticed. Our voices can no longer be muted.

  5. And what you said there Sabrina:

    … our voices can no longer be muted….

    makes me want to say that it is not just our own voices as teachers who believe in a different way altogether but also the voices of our students, who long just to count for something in class, who long to step up and be able to laugh and show themselves as humans and not just objects of instruction.

    And what else can no longer be muted? The thing that is foreign language education itself, or the withered entity that it has become over the past 100 years. For it never died, it just looked dead. Real and effective foreign language education was just sleeping, just like the languages being revitalized right now by Jason in Scotland, Kate in Florida, the Sak and Fox teachers in Oklahoma, the entire Latin team that is so vocal here, and the stuff going on with native languages in Alaska right now*.

    Our work was to find a pulse in foreign language education. Now we have found one. Now what will we do? These are exciting times indeed!


    1. You guys are like the Catholic Cardinals of the Vatican secretly conspiring in a papal conclave to elect a new Pope. I’ll be on here on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica watching for that white smoke.

  6. Before you read this comment any further….STOP! Go follow the important discussion on thematic units happening here on the PLC, and also go to the source of this discussion, which is the heated debate happening on ACTFL’s website re: thematic units and whether or not they are supported by research and, if not, why ACTFL encourages their use. Go there now and comment! That’s what I should be doing, but I need to think of something to add that hasn’t already been said by you geniuses.

    For reading after you have caught up on that discussion, I offer a link to an article entitled “America’s Distrust of Foreign Languages”, which is maybe not as important for our teaching-refinement purposes here on this blog, but still critically important in the grand scheme of things, especially given the current topics of contention in our nation and world. For example, I wonder why more school districts in the U.S. have not started offering Arabic?

  7. Sidenote: the author, Frank Breslin, recently retired after 40 years of teaching German, Latin, English, and Social Studies and now writes articles on education. Although I never took a language class with him, I did have him as a teacher in high school for senior English, about ten years before he retired and consider taking his class the single most influential event of my compulsory schooling (aside from learning to read and write in Kindergarten).

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