The power of repetition

beaucoup   Pronunciation corrections take care of themselves in a ‘TPRS’ classroom.  Creating a curriculum based on the pedagogy called Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling takes as its premise the following:

  • given enough comprehensible repetitive input that students find compelling, students will become proficient in speaking French and doing so with ‘adequate’ pronunciation

I welcomed some evidence yesterday, to my delight.  One of my 7th grade students, a boy new to French class this year, has consistently but incorrectly pronounced the final letter P in the word BEAUCOUP – that is up until yesterday.

Rarely have I corrected him, but what I HAVE done is this:

Student: (retelling a story or giving an answer) – “Le garçon a beaucoup (with P explicitly pronounced)  de problèmes”  – the boy has lots of problems.

Me: “Oui, le garçon a beaucoup (silent p) de problèmes.”

The theory is this:  given sufficient repetitive ‘mommy talk’ as reinforcement of what is correct, the student will eventually reach the point where he HEARS the correct way to pronounce or say a word.  Brain research shows that one has to be ready and able to create an empty space in order to place or file new information somewhere useful and easily retrievable.

And yesterday, my student evidenced having absorbed and correctly employed this word BEAUCOUP.

I was thrilled!

Do I ever correct students instead of responding back with the correct version?  Yes, but judiciously, for it depends on the student.  When I think a student will truly benefit and be able to GRAB HOLD of the correction, I do offer the proper way to communicate.  I know that I profit from a deft fine-tuning nudge.  By far though, when a student’s brain is ready, it will absorb and calibrate for future recall much better than when I try to speed up the process.


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