Archive for the ‘output’ Category

Reading and Spinning

February 8, 2008

Spinning stories or asking PQA when we read Blaine’s novels is easy. We just get some target language discussion going after each paragraph is translated into English.

If the book says, “Anne se réveille à sept heures,” we then ask a kid at what time he or she gets up. It may move into a scene, a story, or not.

The only thing then is that we lose reading practice. So we might have to curtail interesting lines of discussion just because we don’t want to lose a reading day. Tough call!

But Susie told me once that they need to be reading at least 40% of the time, or enough minutes to fill two full classes a week.

Finding the proper balance between fun discussion with kids in the target language and reading for fluency in the target language are problems traditional teachers wish they had, not to mention how to fit songs and poetry into stories.

Dancing Bears

December 8, 2007

Dancing Bears

Have you ever seen those old photos of dancing bears from European circuses? They usually have some kind of impossible collar around them and are always at the end of a prod. Some dancing! More like torture and subjugation of great beauty to man’s need to control nature.

Whatever it is, I am reminded by such photos of foreign language teachers who force kids to speak before they are ready. Asking a student to speak a language too early, before it occurs naturally after hearing tons of CI, is similar to forcing a bear to dance. It just isn’t natural.

I believe that teachers who force oral output aren’t aware of what they are really doing, and that if they thought about it, they wouldn’t do it. If they could just see a TPRS classroom, where kids aggressively shout out their cute suggestions for the story, completely unaware of the fact that they are speaking the target language, they would know that it is possible to cultivate output in students without torturing them.