When They Don’t Participate

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11 thoughts on “When They Don’t Participate”

  1. This is quite timely! I’ve had a couple of difficult classes this semester and have gone back to the textbook a couple times. This option was more difficult in that the students would just refuse to do the worksheets and then complain about it. Only one or two would ask to go back to CI. The rest didn’t seem to care. ‘m happy to see there’s a more middle-ground option. I’ve been looking for this as I

    One question about the translations they do. When you put something on the board to be written and translated, and since there wasn’t any auditory CI that preceded it, I assume they have to look up the words first? Or do you do a quick run-through first giving them a basic meaning of the text?

  2. alexanderegorovich

    CI is still the King! I teach in a community college where roughly 99% of my students’ audience is unmotivated (traditionally because of the specificity of an educational segment in my country). My students’ age range is 15 – 20. Can you guess what they’re doing in class? Yet, they’re checking and playing games on their smarts.
    When I got this revelation that all I want to do is experimenting with CI (luckily I can afford it as all grading reports are a mere fake es in my school system… shhh!) I do this: I choose a random kid lost in his gadget and start setting up a very basic communication one-on-one. I believe you know why! Because for him his video game or Instagram is his context at the moment which predetermines the CI.

    1. Sounds like a good plan, but what about the confidence factor? They have the interest (the content from the phone) but do they have the vocabulary? And how do they get the vocabulary?

      And we thought things were messed up here in the U.S…..

      1. alexanderegorovich

        My preliminary goal is to use a ‘situational’ or ‘mental’ context as a ground for student’s comprehension. The interacts are very basic: I go, ‘what are you doing?’, he/she goes, ‘????????????? ? ?????? (texting to my friend)’; I go, ‘on Facebook?’, he – ‘???, ? ???? ??? Facebook (I’m not using Facebook)’. This gives me the chance to ask his desk neighbour if HE has a Facebook/ Instagram/VK account, which, today, lead me to acquire the whole class, whether they have a group-chat and who’s the admin. (At that point, already 70 percent of the class were involved). Then I asked if they wanted to add me to their chat. Reaction? – They are thrilled. Now they can guess what I’m driving at – I’m gonna be a spoiler to their privacy out there in the chat!?… By now, almost 100 percent of class is on alert.
        All what you do now is to feed them with the language.
        Isn’t it real-life compelling context?
        Like I said it earlier, a context is always there, and the art of a Game Master to take it and upgrade it a bit to become compelling.

  3. Interesting approach, Alex. Instead of confronting the kid to put the phone away, start to engage them or announce to the class in the TL that so-and-so is using their cell phone. This could launch into a good tableau/story! They all love their phones anyway, so why not talk about them? I appreciate how you seize the moment. I’d get annoyed that a student was on his/her phone and tell them to put it away, which should still be done, but then turning it immediately into a positive thing by making light of it AND making it the center of instruction is brilliant!

    So, even at the community college level, the students are unmotivated? So, the 15 year olds that are there, are they there for college credits and then return to their high schools? Are the CCs set up differently in your country? How long are your classes and how often do you meet?

    1. Regarding community college kids. I once taught a community college class in which a girl was enrolled in my beginning French class with a background of four years in high school, in which she was an A student. That was in Chatfield High School here in SW Denver. That teacher should have been investigated for fraud and fired. But we don’t do that. It’s only education….

    2. alexanderegorovich

      Only a very small number of them, Jake, return or just apply for taking the final state high school exam as they can take it independently.
      Does the CCs stand for Common Core State standards?
      My classes are double periods of 45 minutes each with a ten or 20 minutes break in between. Almost every group has one double period a week.

      1. “CCs” is community college. I didn’t feel like typing it all out 🙂 Interesting situation you’re in. Either way, I’m inspired by your embracing of CI at the college level. I’ve been kicking around teaching night classes for extra money, so it’s good to see someone doing CI at that level.

        1. alexanderegorovich

          All CCs in the country must comply with the letter of Federal Educational Standard; however, nowadays we’re all in the agony of schools rating contest which brings in a lot of transformation, yet only outwardly.

  4. Bryan N Whitney

    It depends on the text. You could read the text aloud first, and then write some of the key vocabulary words on the board or even have them write them in their notes.

    You can also have them do illustrations of the text, and simplify/summarize the text in the target or first language.

    I actually feel like it’s not even necessarily a “punishment”, it’s just what they can handle at this time.

    You could also just tell a prepared story, or describe a picture, a map, a infogram of some sort, etc… then write a text together, then have them translate, do a quiz/dictée, etc…

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