When Discussing Data

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9 thoughts on “When Discussing Data”

  1. Where can I get the ” relatively new research” that shows that we can’t assess the fours skills concurrently? I’d like to get my hands on it as soon as possible to show some people. I have a meeting with our curriculum director tomorrow. I’ve read a lot of Krashen’s research, but administrators like to see new, recent research and while I love Krashen’s research and contributions to the WL community, his stuff is all from the 80s.

    I’d like “the current research: that “has changed all that”. I find Krashen to be entirely relevant but I can hear the arguments already that his research is outdated.

    1. I was referring to Krashen in that yes, it may be from the 80’s, but it never got a chance to find expression and therefore a kind of field proof until Blaine Ray came along in the early ’90’s, whose TPRS idea then took another twenty years to grow some credibility.

      So I used the term in that article “relatively new” to express that idea – that for most people it is relatively new. Still, it always be what works for me, a lush rich bed of findings that support every intuitive idea I’ve ever had about what is best for kids in a classroom.

      I am not going to argue with those who oppose Krashen, nor should you. Do you really think they would listen? Of course not, to them, his work is outdated.

      Fine. It’s outdated. Go for it.

  2. Very good points Charlotte and Chris!! Thanks – I didn’t think of that. I too have been asked for “data” and proof that this works. Gosh – the kids are UNDERSTANDING Spanish!!! A parent told me the other day that her son’s math teacher relayed that he asks to go to the bathroom and to get water in SPANISH!!! I would say he was “acquiring” Spanish! When I ask them in the halls, “¿Qué tal?” they answer right away. I caught one boy in the hall yesterday raising his hand and saying to his friend (who I don’t know!) , “¡Chócalo!” 🙂
    They didn’t that before last year — or could it be I just very “good” kids the past two years? (I do – but I think the talking all block in Spanish helps!)
    Why can’t these little snippets of success count as “data”?

    1. mb asked, Why can’t these little snippets of success count as “data”?

      They can and should. The problem is that they are “anecdotal” rather than “quantifiable”, and our society tends to discount anecdotal evidence in its reverence for “statistical data”. However, you should adduce these incidents as evidence (data) that students are meeting the Standard of “communities” by using the language outside the classroom and also conforming to the ACTFL policy statement on use of the target language. ACTFL therefore recommends that language educators and their students use the target language as exclusively as possible (90% plus) at all levels of instruction during instructional time and, when feasible, beyond the classroom. (Emphases mine)
      http://tinyurl.com/actfl-90

      You are on especially solid ground when you compare what “average” students did with the language in previous years with what they currently do. Even though it remains anecdotal, you can argue that it is “random sampling”.

  3. I checked in with my old language professor at university. He retired three years ago but is still quite active in the field. I asked him about Krashen directly and he said that Krashen was still very important and a leader in his field. He said Krashen’s theories weren’t even seriously criticized, apart from the backlash of the anti-bilingualism hardliners in the US. The only criticism he came up with was that the individual i+1 hypothesis wasn’t very practical for the classroom. We can deal with that, can’t we ?!

    1. I think the whole “targeted structures” conversation is really about this point–how to arrive at i = 1 for an entire class of individuals.

      i + 1 is manageable for the individual or, perhaps, for small groups, but very difficult to do for large groups. We tend then, as do traditional teachers, to teach to the top of the class. It becomes i + 100 for those slower processors.

      Personalization is our best ally as it is difficult to arrive at “compelling” for a group of 35. We do our best.

      My curiosity about transparency is this. IN A CLASSROOM SETTING, are we not charged with reaching the shyer ones and/or the ones who have less tolerance for ambiguity and vagueness. I dont’ believe there is ANY CI classroom in which ALL is transparent. It’s impossible in a class of 35+ individuals. There will always be room for negotiation of meaning. The more assertive student will be doing that negotiation aloud. The shyer one may be doing something like that inside. We don’t know.

      Krashen says that transparency MAY encourage a focus on form. I don’t think that is very likely to happen in a “meaning centered” story (even if I’m pointing and pausing). Things are still probably moving so fast that the brain cannot get very focused on form for very long.

      Since I saw my kids over a three-year span, I was able to observe how these things change for many kids over time. There have been students who I thought might not have a “language gene” or something–not kidding. Nothing, nothing, nothing appeared to be going in. They were shell shocked, free falling, having a very difficult time focusing on anything–including meaning–even when I would point and pause, asking them to read aloud what I pointed to in English. Nothing. Tongues frozen. Zero short or long-term memory. Anxiety in action.

      When I changed (more patient, less fearful that they wouldn’t get it, s-l-o-w-e-r, limiting the amount for them), they got better at “getting it”. It wasn’t a matter of focusing on form. I’m not sure what makes that change: attending to and accepting individual personality? helping them “hear” things in the jumble? them receiving enough exposure to meaningful language to begin to focus on meaning? I don’t know.

      I do know that many of these low, slow, checked-out processors changed during year two and three–dramatically sometimes. Some didn’t. They were always slower than most of the pack.

      I am glad to hear that Krashen has not been thrown out with the 80’s bilingual ed-bashing bathwater. I continue to examine my beliefs and practices because of the work he has done and continues to do. Thank you for the discussion. I love theory a great deal. Meshing it with real classroom practices is another art/science project we’re all involved in. Cool.

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