What is a Four Percenter?

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8 thoughts on “What is a Four Percenter?”

  1. Acquiring the language with the students is exactly what I’ve been advocating for Latin teachers (hell, it’s what I’ve been doing myself!). And the PQA is perfect. A teacher who prepares some basic PQA type notes and then spends the day asking the same questions over and over again finds by the second or third class session that the notes are no longer in hand. He/she actually is communicating without notes.

    It is hard work. But, it’s doable, and since it’s the ONLY thing that works for everyone sitting in the room, I think every teacher willing to take the pay check owes it to him/herself and the students in their room. Roll up the sleeves. Prepare to sweat–and, surprise, have great fun.

  2. This acquisition multiplies significantly if the teacher actually accepts the idea that acquisition occurs. This is why, if it’s possible, it’s great when our 4%ers can “buy in.”

    My personal experiences with kids, and even more so with adults, is that when the student ACCEPTS that a CI environment/classroom will allow acquisition to occur, and that acquisition trumps learning (to quote Susie), the acquisition is faster and deeper. Students who insist on learning a language with their mind, instead of acquiring with their brain, can be in a CI-rich environment and make far fewer gains than anyone else in the room.

    I keep trying to get them to let their mind relax and let their brains take over so that they can really see the magic….but as we all know…it is a process. :o)

    with love,

  3. One kid who rebelled all year, he just rebelled in that way that they refuse to do the hard work of listening, told me in March, “Hey, no offense, Mr. Slavic, but I’m not any good at French and I won’t be taking it next year.”

    This was obviously one of the many who just don’t learn the game, can’t make the switch, can’t train the mind to flow with the language. He even missed the story creation (first part) of the final exam. He then came to the reading (second half) of the final, and I chose to start class by reading the story we created out loud just to warm the class up for the reading. He sat there, clearly understood a lot of it in spite of himself – I was watching him – did o.k. on his translation of the reading, and came up after class asking permission to take French 2 next year, even though he failed the second semester. What is significant are two things here:

    1. He clearly understood French on the final exam in spite of his low focus in class all year (go figure, he is a 9th grade boy) simply because he had heard a ton of input, and, language being language (the Net), he had acquired more than he thought he had.
    2. HE gained confidence while really focusing on the L2 during the final, and that confidence is far more important than any grade.

  4. Hell yeah!!! You go, 9th grade boy!!! You go, Ben Slavic, woot, woot!!! Fantastic story about this powerful experience you are creating in your classroom. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. I’d add a #3 to your points, Ben.

    #3 He wants desperately to be in YOUR class again next year. Being a 9th grade boy, he cannot let on too much that this is an essential part of why he has acquired some French and why he wants a second year, but it is. Even that quip in March about –sorry, I’m not taking a second year–was unconsciously designed to see if you would toss him out–good riddance. But, you didn’t. And, he’s back. Wanting more French and more Mr. Slavic. Why not? They go together like white on rice.

  6. Actually I told him that he couldn’t take the class and that I just didn’t want his lazy unfocused ass in there for another year….

    Just kidding! Gotcha! One of my biggest awarenesses, maybe the biggest, with all of this CI stuff is how it really does reach all the kids, and how powerful that is. Ahh, I got you both!

    But I have to say thanks for your insights here jen and Bob. I hadn’t thought about that. I need to accept my value to that kid. I’m not good at that, especially, when, as jen said, the entire system is built to make me feel valueless, and prefer those who achieve over those who don’t, as per that other comment you made here earlier today, jen.

    1. “I need to accept my value to that kid.” Whoa–this is such a big one! I’m kind of still crying about something that happened yesterday that pulls some of this idea into perspective for me.

      I went to the Carnaval parade here in SF in the Mission District. It is our “people of color” grass-roots community response to yacht races, marathons, and other rich, white people, hipster activities in our beloved city by the bay. After the parade had passed by, I was walking with my friends down the street (a street most SF residents do not walk down for fear of things happening that could happen, but are really not likely to happen). I passed a young, tall, black man in a baseball cap and felt a swift hint of recognition, but kept walking. Suddenly, from behind, I hear him say my first name a couple of times. I turn and we both recognize each other. He was a student I taught in first grade in the first Spanish immersion class in San Francisco–many, many years ago. In that school, in this neighborhood, kids called teachers by their first names. We gave each other a big hug and the memories rushed in, a giant tidal wave of sweetness.

      I asked about his mother, a strong-willed single mother, with one focus in her life: that the neighborhood would not gobble up her children into a life of crime or death. I always remember our first parent conference so long ago. When I asked him about her, he told me that she is stage four cancer and dying. I was stunned and bereft. We hugged and hugged, and cried for her.

      We talked a lot there on the street yesterday. When we parted, he told my friends that I was the best first-grade teacher in the world and how much he loved me still. I was deeply moved. After he left, I couldn’t stop weeping–first for his mother, knowing how much she has loved her children, that she is suffering and will soon be gone, and that this sweet young man will soon lose his rudder in life, his mom. They still live in the “projects” here, and he is taking care of her until she dies. Secondly, I wept for myself. His and my bond was a good one, but did not feel out of the ordinary to me. Now, I know it was. He was a really quiet kid and just a six years old. I remember that year. It was a tough one. Now, all of these years later, I find out that our relationship was very important to him and to his mother. Just shows me we have no idea. I have a tendency to believe nothing much is occurring in this respect, especially when a kid is difficult. Yesterday’s event made me rethink some of that. Man, this stuff is so much deeper than we think.

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