CI & TPRS

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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 21 May 2012, 21:18

bismarck wrote: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.


THIS. Everywhere.
We did an hour-long presentation on CI-based reading instruction, including video clips of kids reading Chinese out loud from a paper they'd never seen before, and answering comprehension questions correctly, and at the end, the response was "Oh, yeah, my daughter used to pretend she could read, too, when she was 4" and "I need a copy of the storybook you were using!" They didn't GET it that it wasn't the book we used for reading instruction -- it was the fact that we had them acquire the language in the book before teaching them to read it.

I've come to the conclusion that the right thing to do is just relax and sell books. :D
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby BigJohn » 22 May 2012, 03:47

How would you lot suggest using CI principles to once-a-week adult business English students who are interested in specific business communication skills as well as just improving their English?
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 22 May 2012, 04:07

That's a tough sell.

I would probably start by incorporating "circling" (patterned questions) into the regular lessons. The problem with CI for false intermediates (which these people probably are, I'm guessing -- they "know" all the grammar but they haven't acquired it) is that they don't have the patience for it (and you, as a teacher, end up feeling really awkward, at least I do, even though you know in your head that the student really does need the repetition).

Just de-emphasizing writing as output would help a lot. Maybe try to sneak in the idea that the more you read good, well-written business documents, the better you will write them, and then see how far you can get with the more you listen to good, well-spoken people talking about business, the better your own spoken communication will be...

But false intermediates...the bane of my existence. Give me total beginners any day, even if I'm talking about "What would you like to eat?" for the fifty millionth time.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby Teddoman » 22 May 2012, 09:46

Well, I somehow managed to read the entirety of this thread as well as the preceding thread with a link at the top of the thread. Wowsa. Just wanted to chime in and say this stuff looks very promising.

I suspect most people who have become fluent in a second language would find CI to be intuitively appealing. Anyone who achieves unconscious second language fluency must also suspect that they are picking things up all the time just by constantly hearing input. There are so many language nuances and usages that are not covered in the beginning textbooks. So if you've acquired something through immersion, then that's like acquisition through CI (just not as controlled).

I also suspect that most people who have kids would find CI to be intuitively appealing. Engaging a toddler in conversation is very CI-like, in my mind. A parent has to narrow their vocabulary to nouns and verbs they know the child understands or could understand soon. Syntax and filler words (for lack of a better term) are harder to control, so without knowing it, they are exposing the child to "unlimited grammar". In practice, parents probably subconsciously restrict their grammar to less complex patterns or conjugations, but at the same time I'm sure they also subconsciously loosen up their grammar as the child shows competency. Watching for signs of comprehension-- parents do this all the time. A parent is constantly hoping to see the child comprehend and respond appropriately.

Finally, particularly earlier in the thread, there seems to be a lot of questions on the very viability of an approach where no grammar rules are taught. How can one learn grammar without ever learning the rules of it? I don't have a linguistics background and haven't read the TPRS / CI books, so I don't know if it's laid out there, but TPRS / CI reminds me of syntactic priming or structural priming. The idea is that as one hears grammar patterns over and over, one unconsciously picks up those patterns and produces sentences that match those patterns. So I don't know if this is explicitly the language acquisition concept / theory that underpins the TPRS / CI methods, but at first glance, it would seem so.

Great stuff all. I'm no longer a language teacher, but I'm following this thread because it'll help me pick language schools / classes / teachers for my kids going forward. To the extent that my kids will unconsciously learn from me, I'd like to know what is useful and what isn't when learning two languages simultaneously. For example, after reading this thread, I now know that it's not as important for them to pick up a big vocab of nouns and that it's more important to expose them to all varieties of grammar. Another key point I learned is not to overly correct the child, since they have either acquired the pattern or they haven't based upon how much input they've gotten. Rather, if they're making mistakes, it's better to just keep exposing them to the correct pattern with different meanings in different contexts and one day they'll just produce it on their own effortlessly. Now I also know not to try to get them to consciously understand an error they are making; it's better just to expose them to lots of correct input.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 22 May 2012, 11:31

Teddoman wrote:I also suspect that most people who have kids would find CI to be intuitively appealing.


You'd think so, yet I don't think that's the case. Here in Taiwan, teaching is actually one of the few professions that is friendly to having kids (just like government/teaching jobs everywhere). So, plenty of teachers here are parents. I always ask them when they sat down with their kids and drilled and killed phonics or when they cracked out the whiteboard and said to their two year old that today they were going to learn the past tense by doing a whole lot of substitution drills. They usually see how ridiculous those kind of things would be...then go on to ask how they should teach their fourth grade students phonics, or their seventh grade students the past tense through substitution drills.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby bismarck » 22 May 2012, 11:47

BigJohn wrote:How would you lot suggest using CI principles to once-a-week adult business English students who are interested in specific business communication skills as well as just improving their English?

As Ironlady noted, I basically rely on circling with my adult students, from beginner to "advanced" (probably just false intermediates). We have a book, divided into topic units with a grammar component and vocab germane to the unit topic. I just don't run through the unit (four pages and a short movie clip divided into 3 lessons of two hours each = 6 hours) the way they outline it for us. I start with the vocab and make sure they all have the Chinese for that (either I have them write it on the board or they say it so I can check if they really know the meaning, and I check that with everyone throughout the unit) and then I'll write the sentence pattern (grammar) for the unit on the board and have a student write the Chinese translation under it. I keep that on the board with the question words for the duration of the unit.
Once I've established meaning and written the sentence pattern on the board I move on to the work in the unit, but not the traditional way. I don't let them sit in pairs and small groups and "practice" conversation by reinforcing incorrect English on each other for a start. I take the lead in these parts and practice the conversation with the class as a whole by circling using the sentence pattern. If something new comes up, that also gets written on the board and translated into Chinese.
Then as we go through the work in the unit I do everything with circling and checking comprehension. If a student wished to speak more I let him/her, and just repeat in correct English if they make an error. As most just answer short yes or no answers, I just repeat the long form in each case.

I also try to learn as much about my students as possible and make sentences on the board about them and circle using that during the lessons.

It's not perfect, but we have to get through the units as a course, so I try my best with what I have available to me.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 22 May 2012, 20:41

Teddoman wrote:I also suspect that most people who have kids would find CI to be intuitively appealing.

Nope -- probably because there is a cultural idea on what it means to "learn English", and that means a formal classroom setting and lots of written homework. And grammar. How could you possibly learn English without memorizing grammar and doing exercises? So there's this strong expectation, bolstered by discrete-item testing usually focused on rules rather than meaning of language.

...there seems to be a lot of questions on the very viability of an approach where no grammar rules are taught. How can one learn grammar without ever learning the rules of it? I don't have a linguistics background and haven't read the TPRS / CI books, so I don't know if it's laid out there, but TPRS / CI reminds me of syntactic priming or structural priming. The idea is that as one hears grammar patterns over and over, one unconsciously picks up those patterns and produces sentences that match those patterns. So I don't know if this is explicitly the language acquisition concept / theory that underpins the TPRS / CI methods, but at first glance, it would seem so.

I don't know from syntactic priming. TPRS is based on Krashen's theory of comprehensible input, which is the same thing. It attempts to explain how people acquire a first OR subsequent language.

To the extent that my kids will unconsciously learn from me, I'd like to know what is useful and what isn't when learning two languages simultaneously. For example, after reading this thread, I now know that it's not as important for them to pick up a big vocab of nouns and that it's more important to expose them to all varieties of grammar.


If you are having your kids acquire one of your native or fluent languages, don't worry about all this stuff. We're talking about classroom situations -- where you have very little time and often little authority to go along with it for managing behavior -- and it's necessary to really optimize practice and present only the most crucial language in such situations. If you're talking about raising a child, and you have plenty of time with the child, just speak whatever language it is with him or her and say whatever needs to be said. Don't worry about picking words, picking patterns, or whatever. Just interact with the child. If we're talking a kid 5 or younger, say, that's going to be just fine (there are some situations where the kids may comprehend but not wish to answer in that language -- various social factors at work, or just plain "I'm three and I'm going to do what I want now", which my friend is finding now with her bilingual adopted daughter in the US).

Once you start picking structures and vocabulary and worrying about what you're saying, you're teaching, not just providing input. Some of us have to do that, but if you don't, just rely on what's been working just fine for thousands of years without any analysis or intervention at all.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby Teddoman » 23 May 2012, 23:07

GuyInTaiwan wrote:
Teddoman wrote:I also suspect that most people who have kids would find CI to be intuitively appealing.

You'd think so, yet I don't think that's the case. Here in Taiwan, teaching is actually one of the few professions that is friendly to having kids (just like government/teaching jobs everywhere). So, plenty of teachers here are parents. I always ask them when they sat down with their kids and drilled and killed phonics or when they cracked out the whiteboard and said to their two year old that today they were going to learn the past tense by doing a whole lot of substitution drills. They usually see how ridiculous those kind of things would be...then go on to ask how they should teach their fourth grade students phonics, or their seventh grade students the past tense through substitution drills.

Well, there's also a wide range of parenting styles, so maybe CI appeals to my personal experience as a parent because of what seemed intuitively right to us, but maybe what we did is not representative of other parents' experiences. I'm definitely more conscious of the whole process, having taught English before.

ironlady wrote:I don't know from syntactic priming. TPRS is based on Krashen's theory of comprehensible input, which is the same thing. It attempts to explain how people acquire a first OR subsequent language.

Sounds like CI is "macro" linguistics and tries to explain language acquisition as a whole. The priming stuff I think is one of a number of potential explanations at the micro level for what is happening. Somewhere you referred to study rigor earlier in this thread, and I'm guessing it's hard to do anything randomized controlled etc etc studies except at the micro level. So how it all adds up together at the macro level is more of an educated guess based on what you believe is happening at the micro level.

ironlady wrote:If we're talking a kid 5 or younger, say, that's going to be just fine (there are some situations where the kids may comprehend but not wish to answer in that language -- various social factors at work, or just plain "I'm three and I'm going to do what I want now", which my friend is finding now with her bilingual adopted daughter in the US).

Yes, I've also heard there are a lot of second language failures (children who speak a 2nd language at home somewhat and then at some point stop and lose it). A number of Chinese families have warned us of this phenomenon and that when they start school, that's when they really realize that the second language is secondary and there's no need to speak it.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby ironlady » 24 May 2012, 00:18

Exactly. The ability to speak a language and the willingness to speak it are two different things.
People choose what language to use for an interaction based generally on the principle of practicality -- what code is going to make the transaction (whatever it is) go most smoothly. That code is going to be the language both parties are the most fluent in, in most cases. For a kid living in an L1 environment, it's hard to sell the idea that it's necessary to speak L2. Parents could theoretically refuse to "understand" unless the child speaks the desired language, but few parents have the time and patience to do this. Grandparents are different -- in many heritage speaker cases, the grandparents honestly do not understand the majority L1, so the kids have to use L2 to communicate with them.

Let's face it -- I love Chinese. I love speaking it. I'm reasonably fluent in it. But when I'm with another native English speaker, we're going to speak English. Even if we start out with all good intentions to speak Chinese. I can only think of one native English speaker I regularly speak Chinese with, and even so we speak English about half the time anyway, and most of our Chinese speaking is related to issues involving translation or interpretation. I can't imagine the frustration of someone who great up speaking a tribal language and learned a majority language at school, and then never had an opportunity to use the native language again, even maybe with his/her spouse and children.
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Re: CI & TPRS

Postby tomthorne » 24 May 2012, 01:23

ironlady wrote:
Teddoman wrote:I also suspect that most people who have kids would find CI to be intuitively appealing.

Nope -- probably because there is a cultural idea on what it means to "learn English", and that means a formal classroom setting and lots of written homework. And grammar. How could you possibly learn English without memorizing grammar and doing exercises? So there's this strong expectation, bolstered by discrete-item testing usually focused on rules rather than meaning of language.


Come on. You know that the parents are prepping their little loves for the university entrance exams that are as far away from language acquisition as it's possible to get. They are not looking to "learn English" as such, although that may be an additional benefit. They are looking for discrete item testing because that is what's required to get into the best public unis. I don't think that it is "cultural", but it definitely is practical.
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