Invitiation

I have no problem with anyone wanting to continue the discussion on my blog (http://Barrett.Lang-Learn.org).
Personally, what interests me most is “meta” aspects of this, i.e. how we discuss issues like this. I think several marvelous posts have tried to show not just Tina but others how to more effectively describe what they want us to understand. Sadly, this is labeled criticism and we all know how the word criticism has been distorted in our culture to mean “being mean to someone”. In my own comments, I think I met Judith’s measure of acknowledging Tina’s expertise. My response to Ignacio may have nettled some people but it is hard for me to paper over the fact that Terry is talking about the acquisitional moment and Ignacio is talking about listening to a text and being able to reconstruct it afterwards. For Ignacio, that is evidence of comprehension but for Terry it is not evidence of acquisition.
And that goes to an observation that goes right back to that initial post of Mike Coxon’s about how many CI teachers are we. I think any number of teachers interested in using tprs, in fact, perhaps experienced tprs-ers, believe that if you can talk to a student in the TL, i.e. deliver text, and the student can show that they have understood, then that is acquisition. Not to me and, apparently, not to Terry nor to a number of other list members. When we then try to point out how it is not, we are accused of criticizing. Well, yes, it is criticism, the sort that educated people should be familiar with as part of their educational. We talk about developing skills, but then we have to paper over things we see need attention. So if I call attention to this slippage between what Terry means and what Ignacio means, I am not being positive.
OK. But that leads us right back to how we define a CI teacher, a tprs teacher, and teachers using other methods. Tina herself says CI is the crux of the matter. Agreed. CI, according to Krashen, leads to acquisition (pace BVP and the intake distinction), so if someone says they use bubble gum wrappers in their class and their students are doing great, we are supposed to say Way to go! and encourage them even though we have no clue how CI is being delivered. Over and over we have said tprs is flexible,is always changing, is not the only method, and we are happy if teachers tell us their students are doing well. Bu when what they present deviates from CI, IOHO, it seems reasonable to ask questions. Some of us are just less felicitous in our phrasing, more pointed, and wind up upsetting people.
Our moderator has shut this thing off – he may not even post my link to my blog and I understand that – but I find it interesting that he said SL was no longer a welcome topic. I would hate to see the listserv turned into nothing but tprs-ers high-fiving each other. I understand there is another forum where tprs is discussed in a way that bores in on practice. I wish Brian Barabe could have sent a post he wrote to the listserv; it had to do with how we present evidence. Without such guidelines, I’m afraid we will fall into another pit with teachers claiming all sorts of things and expecting us to just accept their claims for fear of not being encouraging enough.

4 Comments

  1. Lizette Liebold says:

    Thanks Pat for your ongoing efforts for clarification. I had my turn but out of frustration, turned away. Educated adults should be able to have an informed discussion to further their knowledge and understanding but we need to listen and respond to the other side without getting involved emotionally. My issue has always been motivation behind certain posts. I liken it to the student who behaves in a way that will get him/herself attention. It distracts from the task at hand. I would be delighted to leave the SL discussion behind. Then perhaps we can get back to a TPRS/CI list that supports teachers that are interested in CI in its many forms. Pat, that you for all of your attention and efforts on behalf of the CI community.
    Regards, Lizettee

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      I find the whole enterprise of teaching and learning fl to be fascinating.

  2. Judith Dubois says:

    Hello, Pat. To continue the discussion and to take my own advice, I’ll begin by asking questions. How do you define the acquisitional moment? The moment in which acquisition occurs? How do you identify that moment? Isn’t it different for each student? Isn’t, as Tina said, one student’s noise another’s 1+i ?

    1. Pat Barrett says:

      As I understand it and intuit it within my own language learning experience, it is when I hear/read an item – be it a word, a pronunciation, a morphological element, word order – and apprehend it without mediation of thought and certainly without looking something up, using the monitor. Nor is it a matter of remembering it; I either know it or I don’t. I don’t have to “remember” ‘keyboard’ in English; it’s just there. As I read in a language (and I don’t know any language other than English so well that I don’t get a couple of words per page that are unfamiliar), I use the monitor to figure out what a word means from either context or cognate status. In order to do that, I use my monitor, my memory of anything that might tip me off to the word’s meaning. Perhaps the next time I encounter that word, I may grasp its meaning without any of this mediation and that would be the moment I acquire it.
      To me, what tprs does is provide the meaning outright to start with and then see to it that that word is heard often so that at some point that acquisitional moment does occur. That’s why stories of compelling interest are important. I’m simple minded so I enjoy the little stories in my books b/c I want to know what happens. As I keep reading, more and more items pile up that I don’t need to think about as I read. I know this b/c I do have to think about – monitor – a good deal of what I read. And that moment for any particular item will occur at different times for different learners. Sometimes I catch myself reading past a word and going back to it and asking myself, “When did I learn that?”
      What Ignacio and others seem to be saying is that if a student can recapitulate a story in a way that shows they understood the story, then that shows acquisition has occurred. Is that right? In that case, learning may be going on but perhaps not acquisition and the calls for some evidence of acquisition seemed to provoke upset.
      It may very well be that SL and other techniques people are using to deliver CI are working. But when someone puts out one on the listserv, it does not seem odd for others to question the technique. In some cases, they seem to be urging list members to try something new. Fine, as long as the list members aren’t asking for help with tprs and perhaps skipping some important steps. Procedures, like I said. So it is even more urgent to ask those presenting novel techniques to show how it does what tprs does, i.e. acquisition
      Please question this. I find it hard to put into words.

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