toolboxI still wish I had a nickel for every time someone has said this to me, though…

So, here we go. I agree! Yes! TPRS is simply another tool for the good teacher to have in his or her toolbox.

But let’s be clear: the good teacher will also empty his or her toolbox of the tools that no longer work optimally given what we know today.¬†You can’t haul around a toolbox that’s full of things that don’t do the job at hand. So, out goes the pairwork (bad interput between students). Out goes the explicit grammar instruction (demotivating and ineffective). Out goes the forced output (pouring from the pitcher doesn’t get you more beer).

And he will also throw out anything that is not demonstrably aligned with the principles of language acquisition through CI in a classroom setting — input is primary, input is the best-available, output is minimized until it occurs naturally — unless there is a darn good, well-considered, research-backed or action-research-underway reason to use it. There are reasons to use non-CI techniques, but not for forwarding language acquisition. There are possible reasons to use non-CI techniques for areas that are not natural human language, like culture, or for things that are required by external forces (like things to hang on the wall for Parents’ Night, or the dog-and-pony show that the annual teacher observation has become.)

What tools (plural) are left?

Besides TPRS, there are other techniques that rely on CI — by which I mean actual 100% comprehensible CI — why should I even have to qualify an English word to mean that it means what it means?!?. Any technique that first establishes meaning of any new language using a means that provides as close as possible to 100% comprehension (which generally means the judicious use of the native/shared fluent language) and then provides sufficient repetition to provide enough CI for where the acquirer is at and what is being acquired.

The pseudo-CI methods? I might stick them in the back of the truck, if I happen to have room, but I’m not going to grab a hammer to frame a house anymore, even though that was the best way to do it in the past. When’s the last time you saw a builder without a serious CI nailgun?