Getting Texts: Companion Post to Input-Based Strategies & Activities

**Updated 2.8.19 with Dixit Card Storyasking**

See this post for all the input-based activities you can do with a text. But how do we end up with a text in the first place?! Here are all the ways I’ve been collecting:

**N.B. Many interactive ways to get texts require you to write something down during the school day, else you might forget details! If you can’t create the text during a planning period within an hour or two of the events, jot down notes right after class (as the next group of students line up for the Class Password?), or consider integrating a student job.**

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NTPRS 2017 Takeaways

Before having the opportunity to present a couple workshops, my mind was blown quite sufficiently during the week. Overall, the Advanced Track with Alina Filipescu and Jason Fritze got me thinking about aaaaaaaall the things I’ve forgotten to do, or stopped doing (for no good reason) over the years. Thankfully, most of them are going to be soooooo easy to [re]implement. As for the others, I’ll pick 2 at a time to add—not replace—until they become automatic. This will probably take the entire year; there’s no rush!

Jason referred to high-leverage strategies—those yielding amazing results with minimal effort (i.e. juice vs. squeeze), and I’m grateful that he called our attention to everything Alina was doing while teaching us Romanian. ce excelent! I’ll indicate some high-leverage strategies, and will go as far as to classify them as “non-negotiable” for my own teaching, using the letters “NN.” I’ll also indicate strategies to update or re-implement with the word “Update!” and those I’d like to try for the first time with the word “New!” I encourage you to give them all a try. Here are the takeaways organized by presenter:

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Tea with BVP Episode 43: Mind Grenades

Spring semester Tea with BVP starts up again this week, but before the winter break, Bill VanPatten dropped what that weird keynote speaker at ACTFL 2016 would call “mind grenades,” and he dropped quite a few. If there’s one episode to listen to, it’s Episode 43. Among others, here’s one gem that sticks out, and sets up this week’s episode:

“In fact, nothing in a textbook is psychologically real” (click here for a psychedelic treatment of the audio)

Others followed:

  1. “The problem we have is textbook materials…if you look at them closely they’re probably not input-oriented, or meaning-based…here at MSU, for example, all of our homework is input-based (e.g. sentence-level).”
  2. “I think we need to do away with seat time requirements, and we need to do away with grades.”
  3. “As a profession, we need to start making the argument that language is not like other subject matter. We gotta stop treating it like that.”
  4. “One of the questions [aspiring language teachers] asked was ‘how can we study so we can do better on our state proficiency exam?…what tenses should we be studying so I can pass this?’ and I said ‘well you CAN’T study for a proficiency test’…you’re a language teacher, what have you been learning about language and language acquisition that you don’t know the answer to that question yourself?!”
  5. “Output is a byproduct of acquisition, it’s not really necessary for acquisition…there are some people who claim it is, but there’s absolutely no research that shows that it is!”
  6. “There was work that came out in the 70’s showing that actually your knowledge of grammar emerges from interactions with people…it’s about participating in conversations that you gain accuracy in knowledge about a language.”
  7. “Any of us can open a textbook, open a page, and memorize  a page and it winds up in our conscious knowledge, but what actually is in your head is something quite different…the fact that you can conjugate a verb doesn’t mean that’s what you access later on.”
  8. “That’s the problem we have in SLA—there are facts, but people just don’t want to believe them.”
  9. “Talking doesn’t make you learn anything…you do not have to talk in order to learn language, language will get in your head by just listening and reading and watching and seeing.”
  10. “Getting input into your classroom is not my idea of SLA—that’s just SLA. input is necessary, so the consequences is that we need constant exposure to input for our student.”
  11. “The people who were videotaped interacting improved, but then another group that just watched the videotape (and weren’t students themselves) improved just by watching the interaction…and this wasn’t grammar class, just interaction…the group was listening in on other people’s conversations and acquiring some language at the same time.”
  12. “If your classroom is interesting, I could be talking to Angelika but if Walter is listening (because we’re doing something interesting), he’s gonna acquire language.”
  13. “Sometimes slipping an English word is the fastest way to get that meaning across…if your focus is on communication and you spend all this time going around and around and around and people still don’t know what they hell you’re talking about, you could’ve had 10 more min. of Comprehensible Input and interaction because all you needed was one word.”

 

A Definition of “Output” from BVP

“Output is when students, or language learners actually use language to create a message of their own, from scratch.”

Yep, that would rule-out Sentence Frames (e.g. My favorite food is _____), and any other scaffolding when it comes time to creating a message. The result is “traditional language practice” which has not been shown to lead to acquisition. A single genuine utterance (e.g. “pizza”) as part of a communicative event (e.g. “Charles, what’s your favorite food?”) is more beneficial in the long run.

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