CI & TPRS

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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 21 Apr 2012, 22:02

heimuoshu wrote:
ironlady wrote:...
As for reading being more important than CI, I don't agree. ...

I never said reading is more important than CI. You must have misread my post.


No, I was talking about Krashen's views, not your post. Sorry, wasn't clear.
Reading IS (or should be) CI, but unless your reader turns out to be written TPRS (highly repetitive, patterned questions, etc.) I don't believe you'll get the requisite density of repetition on structure to make people initially fluent just through reading. Certainly not if you want the reading material to even vaguely tell a story. It is HARD to write stories at the 100-word level that are actually stories -- and that assumes they have those 100 words already. So I get a bit whatever when I hear Krashen championing reading only. Lots of reading, yes -- but after the student has some basic tools to be able to read, aka the grammar of the language is in his head. Before that, I'd put my money on purpose-written texts that aggressively support the language the student is acquiring orally in class.

If you're teaching intermediates or above, this may be a meaningless argument, because the focus is on the move from basic fluency to academic competence -- which means expansion of vocabulary and collocations, not really acquisition of the basic structure (no matter how much that may still be needed, depending on how they got to be "intermediates" and whether they truly are or not).
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby heimuoshu » 23 Apr 2012, 17:22

ironlady wrote:
heimuoshu wrote:
ironlady wrote:...
As for reading being more important than CI, I don't agree. ...

I never said reading is more important than CI. You must have misread my post.


No, I was talking about Krashen's views, not your post. Sorry, wasn't clear.
Reading IS (or should be) CI, but unless your reader turns out to be written TPRS (highly repetitive, patterned questions, etc.) I don't believe you'll get the requisite density of repetition on structure to make people initially fluent just through reading. Certainly not if you want the reading material to even vaguely tell a story. It is HARD to write stories at the 100-word level that are actually stories -- and that assumes they have those 100 words already. So I get a bit whatever when I hear Krashen championing reading only. Lots of reading, yes -- but after the student has some basic tools to be able to read, aka the grammar of the language is in his head. Before that, I'd put my money on purpose-written texts that aggressively support the language the student is acquiring orally in class.

If you're teaching intermediates or above, this may be a meaningless argument, because the focus is on the move from basic fluency to academic competence -- which means expansion of vocabulary and collocations, not really acquisition of the basic structure (no matter how much that may still be needed, depending on how they got to be "intermediates" and whether they truly are or not).

I completely agree. I also think that if you are doing TPRS or anything else (which might not be as effective), you need to be
letting your kids explore books. After a few months or a year, you could be at a point where they can start reading. With adults it is a bit more difficult but I have had some success with it. They are a lot keener to start reading but they are also a lot keener to take a book that is too difficult and then "dictionary" it instead of read it. I mentioned Krashen's study because in my experience the book HAS to be below their level, but that's just me. It is difficult to say anything about Krashen without the entire teaching population jumping on you. :D
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby bismarck » 24 Apr 2012, 16:33

ironlady wrote:STOP THINKING ABOUT GRAMMAR.

You are still teaching based on grammar. You need to give that up.

Concentrate on meaning. Always meaning. And don't be too concerned about a one-to-one correspondence between the parts and Chinese meanings for them. It's enough that students know "What is that?" means "Na Shi sheNme*?" One of the star analysts will eventually raise his hand and say, "But isn't that backwards?" and you quickly say, "Wow! You're so observant! You're right! Let's talk after class if you want to know more." Then go on with the input. The Masses don't care about the grammar (unless they have been brainwashed to care about the grammar above all else, as is sometimes the case. In that situation, you need to un-brainwash them by emphasizing what they will be assessed on and how, and making sure that doesn't include grammar patterns!)

In TPRS/CI based teaching, you may focus on and repeat a particular structure (with the words plugged into it) during a class session, but that isn't "teaching" it. It's just the first part of the 100 (random number) parts needed to get enough repetition so that a structural pattern is generalized and internalized. Students will not get "do"-support for awhile. They will definitely not get articles for a long time -- they are late acquired. You can put them in Chapter 1 of the textbook if you want, but they aren't going to stick in an acquisitional use-it-naturally-and-correctly way for a long time after that book is done.

In TPRS, we do not limit structure. We limit vocabulary -- which generally ends up meaning "content words" (nouns, verb roots, adjectives and adverbs).

There is an ESL series available -- I haven't looked it over closely -- but it might be a good point of departure provided it is not simply a back-translation of existing Spanish or French materials. I think it would be worthwhile for you to obtain that book before trying to invent your own.

I would also caution STRONGLY against "doing my own variation of TPRS", at least at the beginning. There are specific reasons why this works and they've been tested and tried over the past 15-plus years in classrooms. Most often when a new TPRS teacher wants to "just change a few things", what happens is that s/he loses the grip on the basics, which isn't yet solid and natural to him/her anyway, and the teaching starts to work against itself. IMO you're better off to learn how to play the piano pieces on the page before you start improvising. (Well, maybe not in the case of the piano, but definitely in the case of TPRS.)

Currently I'm strictly working according to Ben's TPRS in a Year! book.

My only concern, as he uses French to explain what he's doing, is what are the sentence patterns in English that a learner should be acquiring? I can't seem to find anything remotely like that online as you either get a list of all the basic English grammar patterns (tenses) as I posted before, or the 6/7/9/10 (depending on which site you go to) that English is apparently made up of (S+V+O etc...). It's a tad frustrating trying to figure this out.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 24 Apr 2012, 17:24

Bismarck: Well, that's the thing though. It's a bit like asking how long a piece of string is.

Perhaps one approach might be to work out what you want the end point to be at a certain point in time and work backwards from there. Perhaps this is the wrong approach, but imagine that you had to give us a two minute autobiography of yourself now. What would you say about yourself? Your name, your age, where you're from, what your job is, what your hobbies are, who your family members are, etc. Or imagine you had to describe everything you did last Saturday from when you woke up until when you went to sleep. What sorts of things would you need to be able to describe in order to do that? That kind of stuff is probably what anyone would want to be able to do with a language by the end of a beginner course, because ultimately, people love to talk about themselves. If they can tell someone they have three kids or they got a dinosaur for their birthday, they're pretty happy with that. Find out what they're interested in to start off with (perhaps by giving them a survey or by asking them to write an essay or two in Chinese), and kind of reverse engineer that to get your fundamental sentence patterns. That might get bums on seats and keep them there.

You wouldn't cover all of those things just once off as a topic lesson, and you wouldn't approach them via substitution drills, but you'd gradually cover them all, making sure you covered each one a lot of different times in novel situations, making sure you randomly brought some of them in from previous lessons with each new lesson and so on.

You could probably save yourself a lot of work by simply looking through some textbooks and picking out the basic sentence patterns they teach (you know that there will be huge overlap there) and just approach teaching those sentence patterns from a TPRS angle instead of how they're handled in the textbooks.

Maybe I'm way off base with this though.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby Albannach » 13 May 2012, 13:48

I've just wasted most of a weekend in Taipei reading through this thread, damn you all! :-D

It has been very interesting, but since it is soooo long, how about a summary of the main (3 or 4) points? Ironlady, perhaps?
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby Albannach » 13 May 2012, 13:48

Oops! I said "wasted", but really I meant "spent".
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 13 May 2012, 21:46

Comprehensible Input: the brain acquires language by hearing language it can understand.

It takes many repetitions for the brain to acquire new words, and many more repetitions for it to master and internalize a new structure ("grammar pattern") so it can use (comprehend or produce) either unconsciously and correctly.

Acquisition takes time, and everyone's acquisition goes at a slightly different pace.

Output will happen when the brain has sufficiently grasped a certain word or piece of structure. Until then, output is forced and most often will be incorrect as the brain seeks to use rules and logic to consciously construct language based on its knowledge of the native and any other languages it knows well or in part.

Most programs these days teach some variation of the "communicative approach", which holds that the brain learns language through memorization of patterns and vocabulary items which are plugged into the patterns. Under this view, output must be forced so that the student can "practice" the new material by speaking and writing it, in order to master it.

CI and the communicative approach are diametrically opposed to one another because of the basic difference in the beliefs underpinning each about how language is acquired/learned.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 20 May 2012, 11:49

I went to a (non-CI) workshop yesterday. Amongst other things advocated by the (foreign) teacher involved: teaching reading for recognition and pronunciation of words (i.e. being able to read out loud), whilst also explicitly stating that comprehension of said words is not the goal of the exercise. I raised several objections but was answered with a lack of logic and/or not even really answered. Almost everyone else nodded along, praised the teaching methods, etc. I left thoroughly demoralised about the state of English teaching in this country. I will press on with what I'm doing, but this industry is so messed up. I feel like I have to lock myself away in a closet somewhere and never talk to other English teachers here again.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby bismarck » 21 May 2012, 09:02

GuyInTaiwan wrote:I went to a (non-CI) workshop yesterday. Amongst other things advocated by the (foreign) teacher involved: teaching reading for recognition and pronunciation of words (i.e. being able to read out loud), whilst also explicitly stating that comprehension of said words is not the goal of the exercise. I raised several objections but was answered with a lack of logic and/or not even really answered. Almost everyone else nodded along, praised the teaching methods, etc. I left thoroughly demoralised about the state of English teaching in this country. I will press on with what I'm doing, but this industry is so messed up. I feel like I have to lock myself away in a closet somewhere and never talk to other English teachers here again.

I know what you mean. The last two weeks I've been involved in several incidents that almost had my (almost) 37 year old ass in tears of frustration. It's like banging your head against a wall of stupidity. Is no one able to recognise that what we've been doing here for decades hasn't worked, that adding stupid "spaceboards" to schools to baffle parents with "Look!! We have technology!!" isn't the answer? I used CI for a year with one class from the beginning of their first course to the middle of their second level with huge success. I was moved to another branch and everyone is stunned at their progress, but no one is willing to acknowledge the methods I used to achieve this.

I truly feel that branching out on our own really is the only sane move for the future. :2cents:
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 21 May 2012, 09:39

bismarck: The level of irrationality in this industry drives me to despair at times. It's not just the Taiwanese either. The majority of foreigners are either going along with it, or even really believe in all the nonsense too. There's just such an abject lack of critical thinking, even when it's possible to engage in that. Yet, such people seem to be much happier in the profession than I am. Does it really come down to being a satisfied moron? I was thinking about this yesterday. The person hosting the workshop was described as "a passionate teacher". I think I am passionate too, but more in the old, Latin origin of the word passion, to suffer.

I think that the entire industry is full of hocus pocus and pseudo-science. It's all based upon what people "feel" is right or "feel" is successful. I sometimes wonder if I started teaching English based upon the principles of phrenology, if anyone would figure out I was taking the piss.

Me: "Leo is very good at English because he has a huge lump on the side of his head."
Other English teacher: "No, that's a scar from a scooter accident when he wasn't wearing a helmet."
Me: "Well, intelligence obviously runs in that family, so that explains why he's so good at English."
Other English teacher: "That's interesting. You're obviously a very passionate teacher. Maybe you should run a workshop."

I have other irons in the fire. For me, the only way forward is out of the industry. Maybe other people, such as you, could carve out a niche, but I live in a very small place, so if only 2% (or even 5%) of people would be interested, it simply wouldn't be enough.

By the way, did you get that email from me last week?
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