Today, I was telling the students the paradox of learning a language by not paying attention to it. I explained that the brain lays down the patterns of L2 only when the brain is focused on the topic i.e. meaning, rather than the form or WAY something is being said.
Earlier, a girl had said she had done her homework but her mother had wanted to check it and never gave it back to her to bring to school. So after my discussion of the paradox and close to the bell, I said to the girl, “Mater tuam chartam habet aut tuus canis chartam habet?” (Does your mom have your paper or does your dog have your paper?).
The girl thought a moment and then said, “Mater, because if my dog had it, I’d beat him.” Then I asked her what she had been thinking of when I asked her the question and she replied she had been thinking of her mom keeping her paper and the idea of her dog getting it. I offered that as an example of where she was focused on meaning rather than form and simply blurted out, “Mater” and shifted into English to maintain communication.
Keep in mind, VanPatten points to the hopelessness of requiring output before a model of L2 has been ensconsed in the brain.