The Listening Skill

I have posted these words from Blaine at least ten times on this list, and I apologize for that – it should have been a hundred times:

“I believe people who are the most effective at TPRS don’t tell stories. They ask questions, pause, and listen for cute   answers from the students. The magic is in the interaction between the student and teacher. TPRS is searching for something  interesting to talk about. That is done by questioning. Interesting comprehensible input is the goal of every class. If we  are there to tell a story, we will probably not make the class interesting. We will be so focused on getting the story out  that we won’t let the input from the kids happen.”
 
There are countless ways that TPRS differs from the old method, but to me the most significant one is the way kids are pulled into the class at such a deep level. 
Where else but in TPRS does the teacher get to listen to all sorts of wise cracks (cute answers) and stupid noises (sound associations) from the kids in a framework that supports learning and best practices? 
 
Clearly, in foreign language education, listening is the key and among the four skills should be pushed the most, especially at  the beginning levels. First year teachers who don’t really push the listening skill are missing a golden opportunity to hook kids up to higher levels in large numbers, like happened to Lynette Lang in Chicago when she took over a program there.

The listening skill. Have you ever heard anyone say, when flustered by noise, “I can’t see myself think?” No, they say, “I  can’t hear myself think?” Listening is a very high form of learning that, as I once heard Susie say, has been “beaten out of many  of us by visual instruction.”

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