CI Sects

If conventional language teaching is grammar-translation, then we’re all somewhat a group of heretics! Still, there are so many sub groups of CI that it warrants a bit of elucidation. At some point, John Bracey and I were talking about if either of us just started discovering CI right now, we’d have NO IDEA what to do or where to begin. Here are descriptions of all the different CI groups I’ve observed over the past 5 years already in existence, or just emerging:

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Super Posters (Sweet Sēdecim)

I recently updated my classroom posters as part of the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC). I now intend to focus more deliberately on those top 16 verbs each year, every year, using whatever else is needed for communication given various topics.

Here’s the next update…Super Posters!

 

 

These new posters not only have all the plural forms, but also the past tense on the back when printed double-sided! Now, I use the past tense aaaaaaaaall the time, right from the first day of Latin 1! In fact, there’s no legitimate reason not to when teaching in a comprehension-based communicative classroom (i.e. shelter vocabulary, not grammar). Usually, my signal for past tense (i.e. hand over shoulder) is enough to convey the meaning, but these new Super Posters will be particularly helpful when there’s a completely different-looking word (i.e. stem-change). My signal works, but there are those who would prefer to have the plural forms written as well. As such, I’ve added them as another set of posters, present tense, and plural. However, these words get quite long for a highly inflected language like Latin, so I won’t be using them, myself.

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The plural forms of this word are quite long, and harder to see from the back of the room.

Due to that clutter from some verbs, my own plan is to continue posting the original ones with only singular. So, where do the Super Posters come into play? They’ve now become the laminated ones I hand out to students. In addition to holding up the poster when I use that verb, the student can flip it when they hear the past tense. Also, I can use one of these as-needed instead of writing any form students don’t understand.

I hope you find a use for these Super Posters, too!

N.B. Latin has a few past tenses. The most frequently used one, the perfect tense, has a completed aspect (like the Spanish preterite). The imperfect tense, with a continuous aspect, is used all the time, too. I chose mostly the perfect forms, especially since those can be completely different-looking from the present forms. Still, there are a few words I use mostly in the imperfect, so I included “erat” instead of “fuit,” and “sciēbat” instead of “scīvit.” If you want different tenses of any of these, make a copy of the Google doc and edit as you see fit. After all, these posters are to help YOU make Latin more comprehensible, and that might vary across different contexts.

If teachers were to just stop grading grammar…

Here’s the third post this week with thoughts on assessment in addition to Friday’s on self-grading & batch assessments, and Thursday’s on averaging & delayed assessments.

If teachers were to just stop grading grammar, Latin (and other languages) would instantly become more accessible to students, as well as afford more planning time for teachers.

This is no joke.

There are some teachers excited about grammar and want to share that with students. Go ahead! I’m not saying they shouldn’t, but I’ve observed many (all?) of the negative effects of doing so, especially in K-12 public education, which mostly begin with grading. If you want to teach grammar, just don’t grade it. Here’s why…

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Ideas Without Labels: A Discussion Framework

It was John Bracey who reminded me that if either of us just started discovering CI right now, we’d have NO IDEA what to do or where to begin. It was very clear a few years ago when Story Listening wasn’t as popular, and Ben Slavic had yet to write his Big CI Book, let alone create The Invisibles with Tina Hargaden. TPRS wasn’t even promoting its version of MovieTalk, which is now standard practice in its workshops as the easier gateway to story asking. These all have positively contributed in some way to those teaching in comprehension-based communicative classrooms—don’t get me wrong—but the culmination has also made communicating ideas about CI more complicated. For example, the Teacher’s Discovery magazine has begun selling products branded with “CI,” regardless of actual comprehensibility, let alone amount of input, and some methods mention CI while simultaneously drawing from older methods shown to be ineffective (i.e. Audio-Lingual), and aligning practices with the latest publications from the research-lacking ACTFL. This isn’t a jab at ACTFL, it’s just the reality that most of what they promote is determined by committees, not actual research.

There were fewer teachers interested in CI, too, which meant that there were fewer opinions. In a way, it was almost easier beforehand to be dismissed by most colleagues than it has been lately, falling into debate after debate over what used to be quite simple. Professional groups have also migrated to Facebook, a more active platform. Instead of ignoring messages from a single list-serve daily digest email, folks have been receiving notification after notification on their phones, and responding promptly. There doesn’t seem to be as much time as there used to be to absorb ideas, formulate thoughts, and respond accordingly. For example, while my principles about what language is have been refined since the release of Tea with BVP in October of 2015, many teachers are just now discovering that resource, some of whom have been responding on Facebook with their ideas that haven’t had much influence since the 70’s. It’s becoming difficult to communicate ideas about CI clearly.

So, there are a lot of voices now, which is great, but just not that much support, which is not great, and not as much clarity, which is really not great at all. Many ideas I observe being discussed share no guiding principles, yet teachers go back and forth as if they’re the same thing. Most ideas aren’t, or there’s a crucial difference that one or all parties don’t see. There might be a way to move forward together…

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We don’t teach grammar? Oooooh, sure we do…

I’m working on the Teacher’s Guide to Pīsō Ille Poētulus, and thought I’d share exactly what the practice “shelter vocabulary, unshelter grammar” looks like. To begin with, the conventional language teacher has crippling anxiety at the apparent lack of grammar in my classroom, but oooooh is it there, and oooooh is it understandable. The major difference in a comprehension-based communicative classroom like mine, however, is that grammar just isn’t taught explicitly, though pop-up explanations abound (e.g. “Mr. P, why does that word have a ‘-t‘ on it?”).

The reason my students don’t need explicit grammar instruction to understand Latin is because a) conscious grammar knowledge isn’t necessary to read Latin (or ANY language), b) internal learner constraints prevent students from noticing grammar features before they are ready, and c) grammar syllabi are sequenced in artificial ways that don’t match the order of what students are ready for. Instead of explicit grammar teaching and the grammar syllabus, students need a net of input, and that net has to be HUGE so that something particular that any given student at any given moment of time is ready to soak up is actually floating around in the input (and not just 3 person singular for 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 months, etc.).

Students who read Pīsō are exposed to a broad net of grammar. Oh, and there are some cultural topics in the target language, too. Here’s what you’ll find JUST in Chapter 1—the first 4 pages of Pīsō…

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“Hybrid CI/Textbook”

Teachers who use this term mean well, but at the theoretical level it’s absurd.

The reason for a “Hybrid CI/Textbook” program is that teachers aren’t yet comfortable doing something radically different, or have external constraints that prevent them from having a “full/pure CI” program. In both cases, they are tethered to the textbook in some way.

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