Response to MovieRead – New Idea

I read Kyle’s response to Lance’s admonition. If Kyle is indeed giving students reading that is at i and not i+1, then there should be no problem. The lure of advancing vocabulary knowledge is always there, though, and my concern would be that the teacher only thinks all the students know all the words. In his desire to advance their vocabulary, the teacher may “push on” despite leaving some students uncertain or even behind. That is the beauty of tprs: everyone is brought along and the teacher can see when students are not following.
But that requires very thorough processing of language which slows down the learning process even as the acquisition process is in operation. Students will adjust to a classroom expectation of learning the words and “figuring them out”, but that is not how i+1 operates. i+1 means the students comprehend everything perfectly except the carefully scripted and introduced items, the ones on the board.
Of course, Kyle clarifies that he uses this only as a change-up and as long as it doesn’t set expectations that interfere with the acquisition process, it most likely will not derail the process. But be careful.

3 Comments

  1. Kyle Carr says:

    Cool, thanks for the response. So would you say, to make this activity effective, use language at the level of the students, and the only language that is new is language that is introduced (via TPRS structures), and then carefully gone over/ circled throughout the reading? Trying to see how I can adjust this activity effectively. Thanks again.

    -Kyle Carr

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      If we are going to do pure CI, pure tprs, then yes. Here is my concern, going a little deep here:
      Language is acquired when messages are understood. Now let’s refine that: language is acquired ONLY when messages are FULLY understood. Can learners figure out meaning from context, cognates, common sense, fund of knowledge, etc.? Yes. If I show the learner a picture of the Eiffel Tower and say “we are in France” you have the context, cognate status, and fund of knowledge brought into play (altho I once had a student who did not know what the Eiffel Tower was ). And it can be lots of fun, figuring out what is going on. And many would no doubt argue that that is a good path to acquisition, forcing him, the learner, to think about the word.
      But what if acquisition is a process in which figuring out is a distraction and the ONLY path to acquisition is through direct comprehension of the input? This is the hypothesis. IOW, what you are doing with “figuring out” is what Krashen calls the Monitor. One of the most controversial elements of SLA is whether monitored language can ever become acquired; after all, if you puzzle your way through an expression meaning “at home”, i.e. you figure it out, then shouldn’t that make it stick, i.e. become acquired in the Krashenian sense? It “seems reasonable” and “makes sense”, as many SLA writers put it, but is that what really happens?
      So that’s why I urge caution; there is no proof that ONLY FULLY comprehending produces acquisition but many research projects and many anecdotes back up that hypothesis.
      IMHO, what many teachers want to salvage from legacy methods is the notion that learners learn by analogy. If I put -o on the end of a word and it means “I”, then I should be able to analogize to other words ending in -o and that may happen, but it is the expectation that it will happen that so often leads to disappointment among legacy teachers. It is frustrating for them to show what to them is a very simple thing over and over: that -o = “I”. (besides the fact that -o also appears in Spanish as an ending on nouns and variably on adjectives). Yet if you think about it, how many times in a natural environment will a participant hear -o? Thousands. With properly structured tprs, perhaps thousands are not necessary, just enough, a few hundred, to establish the pattern UNCONSCIOUSLY.
      I recently read that one of the objections some philosophers have to linguistic theory is that it posits unconscious processes and they don’t like that. They expect people to rely entirely on habit formation and what Krashen calls the Monitor. And so we are back to the legacy methods.

  2. Kyle Carr says:

    Pat,

    So if I understand you correctly, the big question we need to keep in mind is if the only way to acquire the language is through direct understanding of the text, versus guessing at input. I appreciate you teaching me this concept. I will work harder at providing direct comprehensible input vs. input that is comprehensible, If that makes sense.

    In this activity specifically, I can focus on the structures, do pqa, story and maybe use this as some sort of novel activity to normal reading on rare occasions.

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