While I tweet all day to collect my ideas from the day, I’m going to go back through my tweets to try to synthesize what I learned, or what I had already learned and had a chance to revisit.
My one of my first tweets of the day was to acknowledge how happy I was to have MSU MAFLT alum, and author Rachel Emery in my group! I am so excited to share this week with her! We both have a couple years of research and reflection under our belts now and we are still riding the high of having our Master’s degrees and are ready reflect on what we learned in our program and how those things are being put into practice in the method known as TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).
I have not been to NTPRS before. I had always heard of it as summer camp for teachers, and we for sure started off that feeling as the NTPRS Coaching team got up to sing their rendition of Sister Sledge’s “We are Family”, appropriately changing it to “C-I Family” the lyrics reflected how jumping into CI theory and practice is not a task that should be taken on by oneself. We have thousands upon thousands of TCI teachers around the country and everyone that I have met has been willing to practice, and reflect upon our practices.
After introductions we went into our separate cohorts. There is a dedicated Mandarin cohort, beginners, intermediate, and advanced. I am in the advanced group and in the introduction to the group, Karen Rowan specified how we are going to be focusing on skills to get to know students. We in the advanced group have been actively using TCI/TPRS in our classes and feel confident in our skills so now is the time to use those skills to get to know our students IN the TL.
Jeff Brown spoke to the power of CI. He is currently learning Farsi, his 8th language. However, he told us about his journey learning Arabic. He sought out input that was comprehensible to him, and spent time in Egypt to get better. He did ZERO reading or writing to be able to speak Arabic, ZERO grammar instruction, yet he felt comfortable living in Egypt and interacting with locals because he received input that was comprehensible to him.
Blaine Ray, the father of TPRS, values the importance of getting to know students personally. He offered extra credit on quizzes for students to write to him about what’s going on in their life. What a great way to have an opportunity to find out something about EVERY SINGLE student.
Blaine also talked a bit about Triangling, something that I am not super familiar with. I THINK I’ve been doing it, talking To students, having them answer, talking TO the class about what the student said, confirming with student, repeat.
Then we listened in as Blaine talked to his granddaughter, who has received 70 hours of input in Spanish. BOY OH BOY was she able to speak! Perfectly? No. But fluently. This point of fluency was a big one for Blaine, and from reading tweets it was also big in Von Ray’s group as well. We want students to speak with CAN, confidence, accuracy, and no hesitation. How do we get there? By giving students repetition of structures, functional chunks, etc. If students ARE still hesitating, GREAT. That is feedback for the teacher, they are not confident yet with the structure you can include it more in the input.
Going back to Triangling, Blaine requires complete sentence answers. I need to reflect more on this. It doesn’t HAVE to be forced output, because you can have sentence stems on the board. BUT is always requiring a complete sentences ‘authentic’ communication? Hmm.
Something that I thought was great was that Blaine shoots for subject verb agreement in answers from students. There are some other things we know to be late acquired, gender agreement, articles, ser/estar, BUT we can give students a lot of input to subject/verb agreement.
Some things we can anticipate hesitation. For example, the question word do versus the action word ‘do’ can cause issues because the verb isn’t already embedded in the question. “What do you like ‘to do'” doesn’t require a ‘do’ in the answer so students might hesitate.
Blaine says our job is to make students fast processors. That means that we shouldn’t add new vocabulary until students are confident and using current vocabulary without hesitation.
Dr. Karen Lichtman talked for a little bit about research regarding TPRS, in comparative studies of TPRS and other methods in *CLASSROOMS* TPRS always performed better, or at the same level as other methods. Never, in classroom settings, have other methods out performed TPRS. I look forward to Dr. Lichtmans presentations later this week to delve more into this research.
Going back to Blaine, he talked about a ‘lesson plan’ for a story. He has 4 parallel characters in his story. Each time he has a sentence, he circles the sentence five times, triangles the question with 1 character 5 times, and then repeats, and has 10 review questions. What this does is allows a structure or a word to be heard 50+ times in interesting yet repetitive ways.
Later we went on to a session with Bryce Hedstrom and talked about Special person, which deserves its own dedicated post.
After the end of the day there was after hours coaching which also requires another post. But I might just revise my post from last year.