Whaddaya got, grammarians?

My Twitter challenge from a month ago stands: if you can use grammar and output-focused methods, and get better results than me with true beginners, an evening of beer (or wine) tasting is on me.

(Before we discuss results, let’s discuss what really matters: ūü漅Vancouver now has a bunch of crafty breweries. My favorite is Brassneck, who do not bottle, and who have only two beers (and I.P.A. and a northwest pale ale– this very close to Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, the gold standard for this style) which are always on tap. The other eight or so rotating taps are brewmaster Conrad Gmoser “unleashed” and you never¬†see the same beers twice. ¬†You may find cherry sours, Belgian Trippels, saisons, pilseners, Gmoser’s legendary 11% espresso stout… But Brassneck is not alone: there are a bunch of other great places too and though we are neither Denver nor Portland there is good beer to be had. ¬†My colleague Leanda read this and said “what about ūüć∑?” so fair enough a wine-guzz–, er I mean, tasting¬†evening is also ip for grabs)

ANYWAY…so far nobody has stepped up for their free beer evening. ¬†Hello, grammarians. ¬†Whaddaya got? “Communicative” teachers– you out there? ¬†American Adminz who think talking, self-reflection, writing, grammar practice and “essential questions” matter– you feelin’ me?

Now allow me to explain the somewhat sarcastic tone here.  There are a bunch of teachers in the U.S. whose idioРerr I mean, Administratorz, sorry, are totally unaware of how language acquisition works. These Adminz watch competent c.i. practitioners and then say stupid things like

  • “I want to see more communicative pair activities”
  • “the students aren’t talking enough”
  • “there is too much teacher talk”
  • “TPRS does not teach grammar”
  • “I do not see essential questions on the board”
  • “I do not see students reflecting on their learning”
  • “While stories I am sure are fun, the kids will also need grammar practice.”

The only thing worse than an admin who knows nothing about language acquisition is an admin who points to bad practices and wants to see more of them. ¬†Uninformed Adminz are often two-year-olds: they want to see some shiny, commonsensical obvious “stuff” being “done” by kids “right now” as “evidence” of ________. ¬†Uninformed Adminz love¬†seeing communicative pair activities– “look! The kids are talking!”– and they looooove¬†things with edubabbble– “look! E-learning! Portfolios! Self-assessment! Rigor!”– and they do not like¬†classrooms with kids who appear to be, well, thinking and absorbing.

So these idi– err I mean, educational leaders, make life hard for c.i. practitioners, and point at bad practices for what c.i. people “should” be doing (and generally do not look at the results¬†of c.i. instruction).¬†Anyway, this is a challenge. ¬†My kids do NONE of the following

  • Self assessment
  • Grammar worksheets
  • Speaking Spanish (unless they want to)
  • Communicative pair activities
  • Internet/dictionary word searches
  • Revision of writing
  • Goal setting
  • Portfolios
  • anything online

Challenge: use all the things I don’t, and get better results than me.

Here’s what my beginner kids are doing at 8 weeks of Spanish. ¬†These are examples of story writes (a.k.a. relaxed writes). They have 40 minutes to write a story which is a variation on the most recent story we asked (and read extended versions of) in class. ¬†They are not allowed to use notes, dictionaries, Internet, etc. ¬†What you see here is from memory.

Manisha missed the first week of class and misses about a day a week cos of stress issues.  The grammar mistakes are absolutely minor. Here is page 1. 

Roshini also did amazingly well: 324 words.  Note the French error! Ha! She mixes up dio and dijo.

Manvir also did well. 282 words. She has a few errors– minor spelling and adj agreement. I’ll post her whole thing.

Here’s Manvir’s 2nd page

and here is her conclusion

Standard disclaimer: I am neither smart, hardworking nor good at languages. If I can get these results, anyone can get these results!

And if you think these¬†are good…you should see what Adriana Ram√≠rez’ kids can do. ¬†Ella es mi profesora diosa.¬†

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6 comments

  1. What grade are these samples from? Have the kids studied French in lower grades? I notice that my fastest elem processors are often ones who come from another language or those who attended a language immersion preschool, or had a L2-speaking caretaker…

    1. These kids are all in either gr 10 or 11. They had a tiny bit of French from gr 5-7 and a whole year in gr 8. All of them have been out of languages for 2 or 3 years.

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