Meaningful discussion of language teaching is kind of like language learning itself: you need a thing to discuss. Language acquisition starts with stuff: language to be processed. Language teaching discussion starts with student results. This semester I have two English 9s, Social Justice 12 and intro Spanish, so I have too little time to “curate” results regularly. Feb 2017 I have both more 1s and time so I will publish more results then.
Bott…ehhhmm, as they say in Ireland, here are two interesting recent story writes. 30 min, no notes or dictionaries, paper-and-pen only. These students have had about 50 hrs of input. Instruction is almost pure C.I.: no metacognition, grammar practice, talking practice, writing practice, K/W/A activities, peer group work, bla bla. Just a lot of input.
This is the fourth story they have written. Word target was 400. Most kids are below average this year. This is possibly because I am doing mostly Slavic-style “untargeted” input, where we have much less repetition of specific vocabulary targets in the short term.
First, here is Angela’s story. Ang is Filipina and still has a bit of an accent. She has been in Canada for two years, and reads a lot. She is also a Duolingo user. She tells me she is putting in about four hours/week. Check it:
There is a bunch of stuff I havn’t used in there. She is generally getting it right in terms of meaning but there are still grammatical holes. I’m including this because, yes, Duolingo– which frankly bores the crap out of me– does deliver decent C.I. Krashen noted in a paper that Duolingo works about as well as traditional college Spanish instruction, if the user can manage to stay interested, which most do not. Angela says she likes the new story feature on Duolingo.
Next, we have Nisha. She is Punjabi, and has had zero previous Spanish. Lotsa words, a good story, but some obvious issues (eg noun gender). What is tough for the Punjabi kids (in writing) is that adjective and noun endings in Spanish– -a indicates feminine– indicate masculine in Punjabi (e.g. bacha = boy, bachi = girl, bache = kids) so we get confusion. Also in Punjabi (as nearly as I can tell) there is a lot less verb conjugation (or maybe I just can’t hear it when I ask them about it). Nisha is not a Duolingo user. Her only Spanish is at school.
But anyway, props to Nisha for doing so well after only 50 hours.