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22 thoughts on “VanPatten”

  1. What I got out of it that makes me hesitant to share in the “mainstream” is the ‘practice’ part. Those unaware of how SLA truly works will latch onto that and dismiss the need to respect the ‘silent period’ and hold on tight to the need to assess ALL of ACTFL’s three modes!

    1. We’ve discussed this monumental article from VP before. I think the video did a good job explaining it, really, just giving us the spark notes. I caution us when getting the research second hand, because we have to wonder how objective is the account. Teachers bring their own biases to interpreting research.
      These series of videos are from Sara Elizabeth-Cottrell and 4 other teachers. Sara E-C’s blog got attention last year when she posted what she loved and hated about TPRS.
      And then Carol Gaab got involved.
      And Sara E-C made the first video of the Black Box series about that Michael Long article we recently mentioned here on the blog in a series of 3 posts titled “focus on form.”
      And guess who is also sharing that Long article? Helena Curtain. Rather than respond to my critique, HC sent me the article on May 2nd. When I critiqued the article, HC never responded.
      Long is perhaps the strongest advocate for Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT). I think TBLT is a “trend” among SLA researchers because it allows focus on meaning & form and I bet it gets talked about very positively in FL teacher education courses. It has a lot more in common with TCI than textbook teaching. Long’s argument destroys textbooks.
      But Long comes up with 10 “methodological principles,” (MPs) some which TCI would agree with (e.g. MP4: provide rich (not impoverished) input, MP8: respect learner syllabuses/developmental sequences), some we would disagree with or at least have qualifications about (MP2: promote learning by doing, MP5: encourage inductive learning, MP6: focus on form, MP7: provide negative feedback), and TCI would have its own principles not listed by Long.
      Long’s MPs are those which underly TBLT. That is ONE approach to language teaching. These MPs are not the result of a consensus among SLA researchers.

      1. Glad to see this come up. Just yesterday I saw the link on moreTPRS to, read the contributors’ bios, and watched the Michael Long summary video… the idea that all methods are doing about the same things seems so unrealistic, a severe blurring of reality. Output-based versus comprehension-based really is different. I don’t see how he can say that it’s virtually the same. I didn’t know the connection to TBLT yet.
        However, I like his idea of working off of methodological principles. I think we could come up with a nice list of them (not his list) and we’d define CI teaching right there. Ex: student comprehension of massive % of TL at all times; personalization in content with the class; moving from establishing meaning to auditory input to reading input; unforced, unrehearsed student output opportunities…. if a teacher has these things in practice, great. The family of CI approaches have these things in commonality and we evaluate any ideas for teaching based on those core principles. I think that’s already being done, certainly in this PLC.

      2. Wow. Gramma Gaab rips Cottrell a new one.
        This article reminds me of a basic thing. There are two kinds of teachers: people who want stuff in neat ticked boxes, and people who like the fluidity of something as complex as language acquisition and the complexity of 30 people in a class.
        Cottrell is the former. She likes and advocates for her lists, standardised assessments, proficiency yadda yadda, target output bla bla. Ben “Mr. Free Your PQA and Acquisition Will Follow” Slavic is the latter. Blaine Ray is closer to Ben (but way more into stories) but is a looong ways from Cottrell. Me, I’m closest to Blaine.
        Cottrell does not explain why output matters, how to keep “Can do”-focused teaching interesting (a textbook by any other word is still a text), how obsessive practice results in “skills,” etc.

      3. I’m not exactly sure why learning by doing and encouraging inductive learning are antithetical to TPRS. Also, when I first heard about pop-up grammar, it reminded me very much of my understanding (perhaps outdated) of Long’s focus on form. As far as working off of methodological principles goes, that’s not something I would reject out of hand, but I would advance cautiously because the more principles you come up with, the greater research you need to demonstrate their reliability and validity. This may be obvious, but one of the reasons one might have issues with the “provide negative feedback principle” is that there are many way of providing negative feedback and the deployment of a reliable and valid teaching strategy using negative feedback might be dependent on one or several doctoral dissertations built on rigorous experimental methods.

        1. My reaction was similar to Mark’s, but I think it depends on what we mean by some of these terms.
          For example, what is “learn by doing”? To some people it is “learn by doing worksheets on grammar points.” Like, Gag me with a spoon! That’s so last millennium. On the other hand, what if an intermediate learner takes a class in the target language on cooking? Wouldn’t that learner acquire more language by doing something in the target language? What if I worked in as a dishwasher in a restaurant where all of the help spoke Spanish? Wouldn’t I acquire language by doing my job? (I happen to know someone who did acquire Spanish this way. When he speaks, you would think he was straight out of the barrio – blond haired and blue eyed though he be.)
          I think acquisition has a lot of inductive reasoning going on, whether it be conscious or unconscious reasoning. After manipulating the language a lot, a student responds to the question “What does that -o on the end of hablo mean?” with “It means I.” That’s an example of inductive reasoning; no one told him that specifically, he simply reached that conclusion based on the examples in class and the difference between being told that “hablo means I talk” and “hablas means you talk”.
          I also agree that stating a lot of methodological principles can simply overload and overwhelm the teacher. Stop and think about all of the things we already are supposed to take into account in our teaching: National and State Standards, ACTFL Guidelines, 21st century skills, Common Core Standards, district and local mandates, differentiation, Best Practices, etc. (Fortunately, TPRS and T/CI provide me with simple structure and goals that happen to cover all of that.) Then add in the non-insructional demands: IEP/504 meetings, adjunct duty, accreditation-visit committees, club advisor, etc. Is it any wonder that most classroom teachers just sort of ignore all the research and the things that we discuss in depth on this PLC?

          1. I said we would have to “qualify” those MPs, e.g. what was meant by “doing” and the purpose of the “induction.” Comprehending messages is “doing.” Inductive learning taken to mean consciously figuring out a rule is a conscious process and it results in explicit knowledge (learning), not acquisition as Krashen argues. A grammar pop-up can be considered a type of focus on form, but the purpose and role TPRS gives it may differ from Long. I don’t think Long distinguishes from explicit focus on form and implicit focus on form. I think Long believes the knowledge given when the learner is ready would lead to acquisition of that element. Well, if it’s one more repetition of a message at i+1, then that fits with TCI. Of course, if everyone is at a different level of “i” then we’d need to also throw a net of “focus on form” in order to give everyone what they needed. In TPRS, as I understand it, a pop-up will serve learners to make messages more comprehensible and to give them some explicit knowledge to apply when conditions for monitor use are met.
            I like the idea of a principle-based approach. Like Mark notes, they need substantial research evidence. I’m not convinced error correction does anything for acquisition and would be considered a “best practice.” Negative evidence isn’t required for L1 acquisition (I believe that is fundamental to Chomsky’s poverty of stimulus and UG theory) and if we propose the mechanisms for L2 acquisition are the same, then why would we have to point out what is ungrammatical for L2 acquirers?

    2. The skill getting thing? I agree MB. My understanding about the many ways to deliver CI has been well answered in the Introduction of “The Big CI Book” which I have just downloaded! Good stuff, Ben.

      1. “I caution us when getting the research second hand, because we have to wonder how objective is the account. ”
        Great point, Eric. That’s why the Musicuentos thing caught my attention.

  2. Terry Waltz responded to my above comments on FB with this:
    TPRS is intended specifically to get structure (grammar) into heads through comprehensible input (=acquisition). It’s not suitable for people who have already acquired the structure. But there are not any well-defined methods in CI, really, other than TPRS. Not for real CI as opposed to kinda-sorta CI, I mean.”
    When she says there are not any “well-defined” methods in CI, really, other than TPRS”…
    I am thinking that there are other ways to deliver CI without the classic story ask – Movie Talk, vPQA, Readers Theater-are these methods “well-defined”? Have I missed something or are these just semantic differences? I know we have discussed moving from the term TPRS to TCI but delivery of targeted structures in an interesting repetitive way followed by reading is CI while not being labeled classic TPRS. It’s all good. There is variety in the delivery, yes?
    My joy in Krashen’s comments was rooted in the public way he stated that TPRS was the best thing out there at this time. I felt like the unwanted step child that for the first time had been invited to the family gathering!!
    According to the podcast, VanPatten does not wish to endorse a certain method. That’s his preorgative but his latest writings seem to have evolved and come closer to the Krashen end of the spectrum than his “Destinos” textbook series from 1991!

    1. I have also read that VP in his breakout article with Cadierno (1993) – also one of the most cited articles in SLA – interpreted those results more along Krashen’s theory, but hasn’t done so in more recent publications. I do not have access to that 1993 article, so I can’t say anything for sure.

  3. Michael Coxon

    The woman behind musicuentos does seem to often offend my SLA pedagogical beliefs. She often shares things on Twitter that leaves me scratching my head. That being said I appreciate her dedication to trying help others.
    I asked her to share some of the results of student learning and she posted typed essays from heritage learners while TPRSERS are now sharing handwritten free writes from first year learners. We all know that speed writes and TL essay writing are NOT the same thing.
    One important thing I predict will happen this next year with this particular blogger is that we will see her much more heavily advocating TPRS because she is going back to teach in the classroom. Armchair quarterbacking gets little street credibility with me. She mentioned teaching level one students in the fall.
    I love that other types are spinning the research that we see as important…sooner or later they are going to have to practice what they preach.

    1. Agreed Michael, and I only had a quick look at their website yesterday (first visit; like the idea that they want to make SLA research accessible to WL teachers – great). On that first glance, I bumped into a comment she made based off a reader’s comments that suggested there was Krashen material already out there by language teachers, but that their website discussed “modern research” which she said made her smile. That kind of dismissal of Krashen’s work is irritating and strikes me as anti-intellectual. Mocking to discount ideas instead of give serious consideration and response to them. I get the idea that it seems “cool” to do that among a subset of people interested in SLA.

      1. Michael Coxon

        You see my point about how that blogger can be offensive. In many ways she has no credibility…she ain’t in the classroom…but she sure knows how to pick one apart. Our retired friends and researchers that aren’t in the classtomach setting at least have credibility as they have put a life time in to teaching and learning.
        Even though this woman and her type is condescending and can be bullies I am not going to go there with them. All they have to do is show better results with equal or less work than I am already doing and I am all in on the practices that they preach.
        They can’t and never will be able to find a short cut to the way we optimize the TL in our classrooms while teaching TL literacy.
        I hope nobody is bated by this bloggers’ gimmicks. If you see her Twitter feeds she has tried to call out Krashen…yup he is on twitter too.

    2. Michael the Amazing!
      This: important thing I predict will happen this next year with this particular blogger is that we will see her much more heavily advocating TPRS because she is going back to teach in the classroom. Armchair quarterbacking gets little street credibility with me. She mentioned teaching level one students in the fall….
      I REALLY APPRECIATE this point. If we are not in the classroom what do we really know? We can knock ideas around in our heads all day, but the heart quality affects the research HEAVILY but can’t be measured so now what? (The heart quality can only be found in the myriad twists and turns of daily L2 interaction with our students and which in my opinion has an immeasurable effect on what the reseachers say but which can be found nowhere else but in a classroom sorry the run on). And that is one reason I have chosen to go back into a classroom in the fall, Michael.
      So I agree with this gem from Michael in the above comment:
      …I love that other types are spinning the research that we see as important…sooner or later they are going to have to practice what they preach….

  4. TBLT or “pédagogie de projet” is the officially reccommended method here in France. Two years ago I had actually organized Blaine Ray coming to Agen to give a demonstration to English teachers through the local school district and the woman in charge of the English program in primary schools, with the blessing (and financial support) of the American consulat when it was cancelled because someone in the Ministry of Education said that TPRS wasn’t TBLT. I asked to meet the person who vetoed it and discuss it with him, but he didn’t answer my messages. It was really comic because he had visited one of my classes and gave me rave reviews, citing my project of getting upper level students to give a guided tour of Agen to English visitors as a good example of “pédagogie de projet”. Of course my students had had lots of comprehensible input, including tours in which they listened to guides present the local sites in English and reading documentation in English. Sigh.

  5. Sara Cottrell, the woman behind musicuentos, has made a few irritating comments about me on Twitter. I could care less if people criticise me but I won’t be straw-manned, so I blocked her. She LOOOOVES output but has never explained why it works, and she will also not explain her position that all methods are equal.
    To be clear re: VanPatten: he specifically says practice in a 2nd lang class is DECODING STRUCTURED INPUT. Practice is NOT rehearsing dialogues etc. I asked him in an email what the “right amount” of output was, and he said “whatever is necessary in the situation,” and he also writes (source on my blog) that speaking puts the cart before the horse.

    1. Musicuentos has also advocated playing entire “authentic” songs from Latin American pop culture to first year students who probably could only understand the meaning of a few very basic words and guess some cognates.

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