Voces 3

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7 thoughts on “Voces 3”

  1. It’s a great opportunity for teachers to make some extra income, all while incorporating 21st Century ski..um, technology, into the classroom! All the premade grammar lesson, culture lessons, AUTHENTIC videos and audio, it’s frickin’ sweet! Although the politicians don’t get it, at least Teacher’s Discovery has our backs!

  2. Teachers Discovery has become very slick, and they do offer some things that are useful (like Rob Williams’s “All About Me” stories and readings – German TPRS-based stories). But they, like the textbook companies, know their audience. They are not trying to sell to CI/TPRS teachers; they are selling to grammar teachers.

    Here’s the appeal:
    1. It’s easy; everything is already done for you. In a world of over-worked teachers, this is a strong appeal.
    2. It uses “technology”; the Internet makes it all accessible. In a world blinded by the glitter of technology, this resonates with people who want to impress the administration – another strong appeal.

    However, it is all grammar driven. I listened to and watched the entire presentation. Here are some things I noticed:
    – “No matter what the topic is, there’s always a game”; this is typical of grammar teachers – since the content is so deadly dull, you have to have bells and whistles to spice it up. Games to the rescue.
    – “I wanted to teach ‘ser’ and ‘estar'”; could there possibly be a more grammar-driven statement than that? It shows an absolute failure to understand what the Standards are about; it’s just more “learning about the language”.
    (BTW, these were quotes from actual teachers)
    -“real stories of real people”. This is pseudo-personalization. The teacher responded, “They’re like my stories that I want to tell my students.” Why not tell your own stories? Students will find our own stories much more compelling than the stories on the videos for at least two reasons: 1. the personal element (they know us) and 2. the interpersonal element (they can interact with us). Of course, students will find their own stories most compelling of all.
    -The examples of cultural lessons that were shown were all in English; so much for 90% target language.
    -Every “topic” was grammar based: -ar verbs; “estar”; clothing; vocabulary
    -The videos are all grammar and vocabulary videos

    While the salesman does make a true statement, that language learners need a lot of repetition, he falsifies the statement because he doesn’t give the complete statement: language learners need a lot of meaningful repetition in context. I own the Teachers Discovery film “I Like It”, and I will show it on occasion as a fun break. The problem is that it contains huge amounts of English, and the repetition of the phrase (“Ich habe es gern” in German) is pretty much like someone simply standing there and saying it over and over. Once my students have acquired the phrase, it’s fun to watch the video because of the film footage that accompanies the video, but I doubt that any student has ever acquired the structure because they heard it x number of times on the video. Sometimes they’ll ask to see the video, but they never ask for the “Ich habe es gern” video; they always ask for “the weird video”. Somehow, I doubt that the new videos improve much.

    *sarcasm mode on* But we shouldn’t put them down for this. After all, everyone was extremely enthusiastic on the video, and the salesman was so sincere. How could they possibly not be helping thousands of students learn Spanish? *sarcasm mode off*

    They did clearly state their goal: to have this program in every Spanish classroom in the country. Even at $99 per teacher, you don’t have to have an MBA to know that this will result in profits of millions of dollars for the company – and you, too, can be part of this cash cow. *oops – now sarcasm mode off*

    You do realize that the CI/TPRS movement is the bane of textbook companies because so much of what we do is teacher and student created; we don’t need the textbook companies. When the movement is big enough to truly threaten their hegemony of the education establishment, expect them to strike back with a heavy hand. Of course, if they were truly forward thinking, they would be doing what Ben has talked about in another thread: providing a variety of well-written readers at all levels. Wouldn’t it be great to have a plethora of e-Readers that students can access at home? That would be a truly beneficial use of technology.

    BTW, I also appreciated the comment elsewhere about how even a TPRS-based manual can become “the textbook” and put us back into the old mode of teaching from a textbook. I think it was Chris’s principal who was so perceptive about that.

    1. Yep, that was my principal. He’s really great and he gets it……..because I educated him on SLA.

      When you mentioned “games” I thought about Susan Gross. I remember at her workshop here in Ohio in March she talked about how before discovering TPRS she invented hundreds of games, did games all the time, had so much fun, put in so much work creating games, but then…………………realized…………….the students didn’t acquire anything…………………….nothing…………..nada.

    2. We are indeed the bane of textbook makers or anyone who wants to get in on the cash cow of language teaching.

      This reminds me of what happened this week in school. We have a new trainer for New Tech who almost “gets” it. She was an ESL teacher in Brooklyn for 7 years, but when the school went New Tech last year or so, she fell in love with the projects and became a trainer. She knows Vygotsky and Krashen; it seems that even New Tech is wising up enough to language acquisition enough to start offering “CI simulations” in their language training sessions.

      But then she started talking to me about trying to find textbooks that would be New Tech and CI-friendly and was a bit put-off when I said I don’t use textbooks. Then she talked about “theme-based projects” and I said I don’t like them either because it is more useful to concentrate on high-frequency vocabulary. She said we’ll talk more later.

      I do agree that having e-reader books is a great idea–would sure save me storage space in my classroom!

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