Archive for November, 2015


On a popular instant messaging platform, someone recently said: Discomfort must be your friend if you´re learning a language. Sts aren´t used to this mindset – it takes time. Struggle is normal. Is it, though? Must students show “grit”, and “struggle” and feel uncomfortable to learn a language?  Well, probably. It has been the way […]

Accent or Decoding Error?

On a teachers’ mailing list, someone recently commented that some students were reading the Spanish word “hace” (pronounced Ah-say) to rhyme with “face” in English. This error is very interesting to me. In reading Chinese, we don’t have interference from spellings, so we get the pronunciation that is “stored” with the word. Sometimes that can […]

The Newest Theory Says…

The point, I think, is that the balance point between theory and practice — the point where theory interests teachers who have five preps a day and a stupid faculty meeting at 3:30 — does not exist at the extreme of theory, where it’s being put. It seems of late that everyone wants to “just change TPRS […]

Should we all be Yo-yo Ma?

On a teachers’ mailing list, the comment was posted: But these [TPRS skills] are training wheels, the “CI teaching FUNDAMENTALS,” so that teachers can internalize the ART of communicating comprehensibly. When you are talking about a large number of people, it’s not really realistic to expect all of them to master the art of anything. Let’s […]

TPRSing complicated grammar

Well, there isn’t any. If you’re teaching a kid over the age of (whatever), they already understand the concepts of cause and effect, conditionality, future, past, and so on. Grammar is just the way language expresses the relationships between things and actions. So the things or actions in these cases just happen to be occurring […]

Vocabulary Gains through Reading

There’s been some discussion lately on the net about vocabulary acquisition and test score gains through free voluntary reading, with some questioning whether it’s possible to get enough reps (12 is the number sometimes cited) in reading of this kind to support acquisition. I’m not sure that the number-of-reps thing holds steady when one is […]

The Potato Peel of Progress


On a teacher email list, this question was posed: With the discussion on free writes and why grading them is detrimental, I have been thinking about tracking student progress. I know I can track the number of words, but what other sorts of things do you track and how? A child takes 10,000 hours of […]

Cheating on Timed and Free Writes

On a teacher email list, someone recently proposed this hypothetical question, in connection with free or timed writing, ..Since we use proper nouns a lot in class, why cant we count them?… The example given was a kid who wrote a list of twelve or fourteen names in English as part of the free write, […]

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