“Getting Students to Speak” & Min/Max Partner Retells

How do we get students to speak the target language?

Provide input.

At least, that’s what no one disputes, though not every teacher does enough of it. The biggest misconception regarding how to get students speaking is based on the assumption that the goal—speaking the target language—must be part of the process. This makes sense, but we don’t have much evidence to suggest this is true, despite how intuitive it seems. In fact, if you want get all Second Language Acquisition (SLA) technical, in 1995 Merrill Swain—herself—called her own Output (i.e. speaking/writing) Hypothesis “somewhat speculative” (p. 125).

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What CI Isn’t

CI is not optional.

For language acquisition, CI is necessary, and no one disputes it. For full inclusion of all students, no one can deny that tapping into what every human is hard-wired for (i.e. language acquisition) is the more universal practice and responsible choice as educators.

CI is not a method or strategy.

The messages students listen to or read are received as Input. When students understand those messages, they receive Comprehensible Input. Continue reading

The Role of Output: VanPatten

On Episode 8 of Tea with BvP (here, edited down to 13 minutes), Bill made the claim that if Input drives the car of acquisition, Output is in the backseat. He went on to say that you could make Swain happy by saying that Output is riding shotgun, but still not in control.

Bill also said the following:

“One role of Output is to help people get more Input…when you make some kind of Output people can judge…people actually speak to you at the level they perceive you to be at, which gives you better Input for yourself.”

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