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CI & TPRS

Moderator: Tempo Gain

Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 16 Apr 2012, 05:46

Tempo Gain wrote:
ironlady wrote:Whenever I use a question word that I am not certain all my students have acquired (at that moment in time), I pause and point to the word on the wall. Done. Made comprehensible. I don't have to translate or gesture or whatever. It's always there for me to use.


Indeed, that is what I meant.


Excellent! :thumbsup:
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 16 Apr 2012, 09:33

ironlady: I don't have any sentence patterns on my wall. I will also probably get rid of most of what I do have on my wall and replace it with the 100 highest frequency words in the English language.

I also think you misread part of what I wrote. I wrote that they should be able to work things out at an unconscious level (i.e. they wouldn't have to think about it).

There is one thing that I find frustrating. There are certain weaker kids in every class who are kind of gaming the system, so to speak. They know that there's a high likelihood that I will check them personally to see if they understand. When I ask if anyone doesn't understand, they put their hands straight up. In theory, that's great. However, I suspect that with some kids, they're doing it to deliberately slow the class down and actually do understand because some other kids give them grief about it, and they amazingly get it the first time I go over it again. In the most egregious examples, right at the start of the lesson, I introduce the three new sentence patterns for that day. There is Chinese next to them. Some kids claim not to understand them. I'm sure they're taking the piss. Or, it's often preceded by them not paying attention. Likewise, there are kids who don't pay attention, and when I do directly question them to see if they understand, they openly admit that they don't know (and don't care). I'm not talking about kids who are paying attention and really do want to understand. I'll give those kids all the time in the world. However, in all of the real problem cases, there's absolutely nothing I can really do to discipline them so they don't screw around while everyone else is paying attention. The most I can do is move them elsewhere, but then they either distract other people or it becomes very confrontational and they deliberately don't pay attention and seek to undermine me at any opportunity.

I know that in theory, they should be engaged in class and classroom discipline should deal with all of this without having to take it beyond that to other discipline, but some kids simply aren't engaged, and I doubt whether they can be. Whether it's poking the kid next to them or having a chat about something, that's much more engaging, and probably always will be. This seems to be a point at which the theory of CI/TPRS and the reality of some students simply run up against each other. I can beat myself up about not engaging everyone. I can blame the kids. I can blame the administration and their former teachers. I can blame their parents. I can blame society. None of that solves this really fundamental problem though. Last year, I used to really get stressed about all of this. This year, I have simply let go and I'm all the less stressed and much happier for it. I'm still trying to get everyone but the most disaffected 10% of the class, but I just don't think I can get those guys and will only drive myself to an early grave trying. Maybe I really am a pretty mediocre teacher at best (and maybe I'm just really bad). I've gone through a fairly long period of introspection, and I've come to accept that. Maybe this is defeatist. I think this grave dilemma I have (which I discussed last year) is an insurmountable problem that is endemic to compulsory, mass education though. I think it also leeches a massive amount of time away from those kids who are willing or capable of learning. As such, I wonder if, after a month of classes, once you've figured out who the bad kids are, it's better to just work on sidelining them so they take as little time away from everyone else as possible.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 16 Apr 2012, 11:58

I've taught classes with "special kids" who were to be allowed to put their heads down on the desk during class. They still acquired, because they heard the language over and over. They will get something out of it in spite of themselves. They would get more if they cared enough to pay attention, but what they do take with them may surprise you.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 16 Apr 2012, 12:55

ironlady: Yeah, you're probably right. I just find it incredibly disheartening sometimes. Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing you again later this year. I hope we can organise another seminar and do more coaching this time. There's still a massive amount I need to learn about TPRS.
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. -- George Orwell
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 16 Apr 2012, 20:53

It is disheartening, because you care (as do most teachers who care enough to totally change their method mid-career). But TPRS is a method, not a classroom management program. Success does tend to make behavior better, as many kids act out because they can't succeed or believe they can't be successful and it's better to be the "bad" kid than the "stupid" kid. But lots of kids at that age have already had so many awful experiences with English that you're swimming upstream against a whole lot of baggage that you had nothing to do with in the first place. They "know" what English class is all about, or think they do.

I think there are kids these days that will continue to act out in the face of almost any classroom management system, because teachers are increasingly being rendered toothless and without authority. Why should I do what you say if you have no power whatsoever to impose consequences on me? If I'm 8 years old, I'm unlikely to be motivated from some desire for a better world, my ultimate educational attainment, or whatever. In the "old days" if you got in trouble in school, you would get in trouble again when you got home, because people viewed education as a privilege. Attitudes seem to have changed a lot these days. I'm not advocating having kids smacked once in school and again when they get home until they behave well in class, but having admin and parents who are willing to back up the teacher's authority would help.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 16 Apr 2012, 20:56

GuyInTaiwan wrote:I hope we can organise another seminar and do more coaching this time. There's still a massive amount I need to learn about TPRS.


I hope we can. Unfortunately, the Government Information Office job is ending at the end of this month, so no more financial reason to come to Taiwan. :( Guess I need to find an agent in Taiwan to book me stupid little translation or editing jobs all year so as to build up enough to pay for transportation and a month's lodging.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 17 Apr 2012, 12:01

Yeah, I'm largely a toothless tiger, and the kids know it.

ironlady wrote:
GuyInTaiwan wrote:I hope we can organise another seminar and do more coaching this time. There's still a massive amount I need to learn about TPRS.


I hope we can. Unfortunately, the Government Information Office job is ending at the end of this month, so no more financial reason to come to Taiwan. :( Guess I need to find an agent in Taiwan to book me stupid little translation or editing jobs all year so as to build up enough to pay for transportation and a month's lodging.


This is another massive issue with things here. The government simply doesn't want to spend the required amount of money on PD. They're not willing to bring anyone out here. Yet who are they going to get then? They might be lucky and have an expert living in Taiwan, but honestly, how many experts are going to live here? It's a career dead end. So, what they do is hold PD sessions that amount to the blind leading the blind. There was supposedly going to be one in February (which never happened), where various teachers were going to get up and talk about their experiences teaching here, and their tips. Yet most of us have been in this programme (or even ESL/EFL or Taiwan) for less than two years. What sort of experts are we? It was amusing to me that at the workshop you hosted, some of the foreigners who were quite resistant towards you had (at that point in time) been in Taiwan for less than four months and had never taught ESL/EFL before. Yet this is what we get here. Because the government is not willing to pay decent money to attract the best teachers, or even the most qualified teachers, and because it's not willing to even pay an airfare to get an expert out, we end up with a system where everyone is bumbling along making it up as they go along, including me!

Yet obviously, if I were to say this to anyone, they'd all look at me like I'd just forced them to eat a lemon, including the rind. How could anyone dare to be so cynical! After all, the kids in 4A all love Teacher Jenny because she's always smiling. Therefore, mission accomplished!
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 17 Apr 2012, 20:57

Well, you have to keep in mind that any CI workshop basically consists of a person saying to a lot of teachers, "You've been thinking about everything backwards and doing everything wrong, ever since you were in school." That doesn't go over well in the case of teachers who are "successful". The only teachers who want to change what they're doing are those who see a problem with the results AND link that problem with classroom practice. In the US, most foreign language teachers do see problems with the results, but they prefer to link the problem to external factors ("The kids don't do homework," "They aren't getting enough sleep", "The internet is destroying young people", "Parents today aren't strict enough" or whatever.)

The switch from "they have to work harder" to "I have to provide more input" is a big one, not to mention the adjustments to assessment culture and friction from teachers who don't want to change because they have ten years' worth of tests all written up in a file drawer. CI isn't mainstream -- yet. I think that it will be in 50 years, but not yet. So we're still a lunatic fringe in most people's eyes. :D
Terry Waltz, Ph.D
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby tomthorne » 17 Apr 2012, 22:08

From the little I've experienced of academic applied linguistics the majority of the research and theories seem to be about why the communicative approach doesn't work. Critical age, PPP is useless so let's turn it around and call it task based language learning, motivated learners are the only ones who can acquire so how can we make all students motivated etc. There are a lot of people who have reached the conclusion that it's pretty much useless trying to get language into any students aged 7-18. Only once they are mature enough to be motivated to self-learn is it worth trying. Yet we still carry on doing the same thing.

One big problem as I see it is the fact that a lot of senior teachers and academics are what we often describe as natural language learners. That is they seem to be able to gain an acquistion, of sorts, with minimal input and lots of analysis. They then set the rules, write the textbooks, and train the teachers. The rest of us strive to meet these goals by which we are judged.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 18 Apr 2012, 07:27

Yes, both of you make sense. I was actually talking more about the openly absurd situation of a foreign teacher literally fresh off the boat (4 months in Taiwan in some cases) with no prior experience teaching EFL/ESL being quite resistant to ironlady's ideas. It's not even that such a person has a filing cabinet full of materials prepared over a decade. The person probably still doesn't know which direction Taipei is from where they live!
And you coming in to scold us all like some kind of sour-puss kindie assistant who favors olive cardigans and lemon drinks without sugar. -- Muzha Man

One sometimes gets the impression that the mere words "Socialism" and "Communism" draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex-maniac, Quaker, "Nature Cure" quack, pacifist, and feminist in England. -- George Orwell
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