Our school year draws to a close. Lesson planning ceases. Time opens up for self-reflection. What have I learned this year about teaching L2 (second language)? Much! It’s been a painful year. But growth is like that when pruning takes place. Year 25 teaching French kicked off in August. A new season to teach the way I believe… Read More End of the year reflections + next year’s goals
Listening to Professor Bill Van Patten’s weekly podcast on L2 (2nd language acquisition) really helps me think correctly about how I plan and conduct my middle school French classes. Van Patten explains that through comprehensible input a mental representation of the target language begins to form in the mind. What qualifies as ‘comprehensible input’? It is language (in my… Read More Kids’ L2 speaking and how it emerges
I used my iPhone’s voice memo app and taped class today, 18 April 2017. It’s a challenging class because the 10 students tend to want to chat off-topic ‘EN ANGLAIS’ all the time. What I have learned in the almost 3 years with them is to accept what I can’t change and simply to translate their… Read More Reflection having recorded French 8 class
A more amplified and significant question is this: Why include output if research shows it doesn’t aid much in acquisition? What? Aren’t students supposed to produce the language? Isn’t that why they are in our classes, to learn to speak and write French, Spanish, German or Chinese? Yes and no. There is a place and… Read More Does output lead to acquisition?
Pop psychologist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the ‘10,000 hour rule’ for building competency and skill in a chosen activity when he wrote his popular book, Outliers. Recently at the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL)‘s 2016 annual conference in Boston, I crystallized my sense of how second-language classes in schools should operate. Often these foreign language classes are… Read More What IS the skill involved in 2nd language acquisition?
One change I implemented after the enriching and rejuvenating ACTFL 2016 conference was to eliminate ORAL error correction from my teacher behaviors. Over 12 years ago, I abandoned a grammar-focused, textbook driven French curriculum in favor of one rich in comprehensible input. The evidence documented by rigorous research and first-person testimonies at the time convinced… Read More Does error correction help?
This is the month when New Year’s resolutions are grasped with intensity and then discarded with quiet disappointment. Yet hope seems to re-sprout with each new beginning, whether that of a school year, a budget cycle, calendar year or sports season. Recently I have discarded my lifelong focus on outcomes. I had become a slave to… Read More What can teachers really control?