Todd & A Series On CI (Part 12) – Forms Of Input: Inflectional Input

In class, have you ever:

  • changed the tone/inflection of your voice to indicate that the L2 word you’re using is a question word?
  • made the tone of your voice sound angry in order to help students know that your L2 phrase meant you were displeased with something?
  • added urgency to your voice to communicate that you wanted students to hurry in order to finish an activity?

I’m sure you have.  We’re always using inflection or changing the sound of our voice to help us communicate what we mean.  (See an interesting post about this on a public speaking website.)

So how does this apply to staying in the target language with your students?

Although I’m not sure about this (and I DO need help thinking this through…AND I would really like it if you could pass on the titles of previously published work on this topic)…

…it seems like another way teachers can help students make sense of incomprehensible L2 words and phrases is by using an extralinguistic form of input that (for now) I’ll call *inflectional input.

Here’s a story to illustrate my point:

I love eating something yummy in front of my students.

  1. It makes them drool and I love to tease them!
  2. Since my food is yummy and attractive to them, everyone in class is watching.  It helps me get their attention.
  3. Even though they don’t consciously process the thought, everyone in the room knows that everyone wants my food and wishes THEY could be eating it too.
  4. If I suggest to the class that I’m willing to share, there’s an immediate and high level of motivation for them to use the target language in order to express their desire to have some.  (i.e. I hold the food item out in front of them and say (in the target language), “Do you want some?”  Then they all dramatically shake their heads, “YES!!!”  Then I say, “Repeat: ‘I want some!’ Repeat: ‘Can I have some?’ Repeat: ‘Please, Sr. Howard'” Etc.  It’s fun.

How do the students know that I’m willing to share my yummy food?

  • I gesture.  I hold the food out in front of them and maybe point to it.  I might also raise my eyebrows.  The term I’m currently using to describe all of this is *gesticulated input; using gestures to help students find meaning in incomprehensible L2 words and phrases.
  • I draw upon what I know everyone is currently thinking about.  (i.e. “I want some of that yummy food.”) Since I made them think that thought (by bringing out the food and eating it in front of them) we could say that I was using *constructed situational input.
  • I say an L2 word/phrase with the RIGHT INFLECTION.  I DON’T say, “Do you want some?” in an angry tone.  I DON’T say, “Do you want some?” in an urgent tone.  I say, “Do you want some?” (in the target language) with a tone that expresses my willingness to offer/share. (Note: if I did use an angry tone or an urgent tone, the students would be CONFUSED.  They would ask themselves, “Why is he holding out food but then saying angry L2 words?  This makes no sense!”  However, when I use the appropriate tone, it helps the students find meaning or confirm the meaning that they’ve found in the other extralinguistic forms of input.  For this reason, I think it’s appropriate to include *inflectional input in the list of various forms of extralinguistic input that a teacher can use to help help students find meaning in incomprehensible L2.

*Disclaimer: These terms are my own and I’m using them for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that these are the terms found in formal, academic writing.

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 11) – Forms Of Input: L1

I do speak L1, sometimes.

“When?” you might ask.

Well…I rarely use L1 to help students find meaning in L2.  (There’s plenty of other fun and effective ways to help them find meaning!  See here and here and here)

I rarely use L1 when giving directions for a learning activity or game.

Although L1 IS a form of input that foreign language teachers can use to help students find meaning in incomprehensible L2, I prefer to use L1 only in the following situations:

1- When students forget what we’re doing.

One time I was pretending that I couldn’t find one of the 3rd graders in my class.  In the target language I would teasingly say, “Where is Monica?  Where is Monica?  Where is she?!”  The students would get excited and want to tell me where she was.  I would give them the L2 words to say, “THERE she is!!” or, “she’s RIGHT THERE!”

After repeating this interaction 2 or 3 times, I heard a student say (almost under her breath), “Okay.  Let’s start learning now.”  Her tone of voice implied that she thought we were merely wasting our time with silly games.

The student forgot that what we were doing was more than just games.  She forgot that everything I do, in class, is full of purpose.  I’m not just teasing.  I’m speaking only L2…and having fun doing it!  I’m using situational input* and gesticulated input*.  I’m pairing* these forms of extralinguistic input with brand new L2 vocabulary.  I’m helping students acquire bits of L2 without even realizing that it’s happening!

In moments like these, when a student forgets the point of what we’re doing in L2 class, I may pause instruction in the target language to say a few sentences in L1.  (…especially when I get the sense that doing so will increase everyone’s motivation to stay on task.)

Generally I’ll say things like:

  • “I’m making this really easy for you!  Some classes are hard work.  Some classes require you to memorize lots of things (vocabulary, math facts, etc.)  Not here.  In a way, L2 class is like T.V.: all you have to do is watch.  If you are watching me you will be learning L2.  The moment you stop paying attention…you won’t know what’s going on.  I don’t ask much of you.  But I do ask this: watch, watch, watch!”
  • “Everything I do is on purpose!  Even when I make you laugh.  Even when I take attendance.  Even when I ask someone to close the door or turn off the lights.  It’s all on purpose.  If you are watching, you’ll have hundreds of chances, during every L2 class, to learn L2.”
  • “You have a job to do!  Your job is to watch.  When you’re watching me, you’ll be learning.  Sometimes I do silly things.  But it DOESN’T mean that L2 class is silly time.  L2 class is LEARN TIME.  I have a job while you’re in here and YOU have a job while you’re in here.  There’s lots of other times for being too silly.  There’s lots of other times for talking with friends.  Right now, let’s ALL do our job.”

As soon as the students are back “on-board” with what I’m trying to accomplish, I switch back into L2.

2- On an “As-Needed” basis for new students.

Every week or two a new student will transfer into our school.  Most of the time the new student is fine and doesn’t need any L1 orientation from me.  However, if a student is particularly intimidated by my L2 immersion setting, I will speak a few/phrases of L1 while the rest of the class is occupied with something else.

They might be phrases of orientation like:

  • “You’ll do great in this class.  All you have to do is watch.”
  • “If you’re not sure what to do, just watch the other students.  Do what they do.”
  • “We’re in the middle of this activity.  You’ll do a great job.  All you have to do is ____.”

At other times they might be phrases I use to endear the student to me:

  • “Wow.  You seem like a really great student.”
  • “I can tell you’re really getting this.”
  • “Hi.  Welcome to L2 class.  Is this your first day here?  Do you have any brothers or sisters that came to this school with you?”
  • “If you ever see me in the lunchroom or out on the playground, and you need something, just let me know.  I can help you if you ever need any help.”

3- To teach 1st year students one or two of my routines.

My 1st year students are kindergarteners.  We would have a hard time making it through 40 minutes of 100% L2 instruction (on the first day of class) without a little bit of orientation in L1.  So I typically take the first half of the first class to:

After that, we are able to spend the rest of the school year staying in the target language.  It’s a lot easier to stay in the target language than I thought it would be before I first started.


*Disclaimer: These terms are my own and I’m using them for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that these are the terms found in formal, academic writing.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue discussing my developing (and non-research-based) thoughts on…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 10): Forms Of Input – Using L2 To Make Sense Of L2

This week I showed students some music videos of Ecuadorian pan flutist, Leo Rojas.

leo rojas

Since they had never seen or heard anything like it, they were intrigued!

After playing the video for 90 seconds (or so):

  • I paused the video.
  • I pointed to the musician and his instruments on the video screen.
  • Shaking my head I said (in the target language), “The music…The music…The music is NOT…The music is NOT…”
  • (Then, I started walking towards the Puerto Rican flag while shaking my head.)
  • “…the music is NOT from Puerto Rico.” (I pointed to the Puerto Rican flag.)
  • I continued, “The music is NOT from Mexico.” (I pointed to the Mexican flag.)
  • “The music is NOT from Cuba.”  (I pointed to the Cuban flag.)
  • I continued shaking my head, “no,” while walking to the white board.
  • When I got to the white board, I started shaking my head, YES and saying/writing the following TL phrase, “The music is from…Ecuador.”

Immediately after writing the sentence on the board I said, “Look class,” and proceeded to open Google Earth to show them Ecuador’s location on the globe.

They loved it!  I even showed some pictures of Ecuadorian landscape (available on Google Earth) while another Leo Rojas song was playing.

I didn’t speak any L1, yet every student was engaged, attentive, and understanding everything that was happening.

How did this happen?  How did I make it comprehensible?

1- The incomprehensible L2 words were written on the board:

“The music is NOT from Puerto Rico.”

“The music is from Ecuador.”

2- I made the L2 words for, “the music,” comprehensible by pointing to an image of Leo Rojas and his flutes.  (Pairing* L2 with representational input*.)

3- I made the L2 words for, “Puerto Rico/Mexico/Cuba,” comprehensible by pointing to the flags as well as their locations on Google Earth.  (Pairing* L2 with representational input*.)

4- I made the L2 word for, “NOT,” comprehensible by shaking my head, “no.”  (Pairing* L2 with gesticulated input*.)

5- That leaves two unpaired words.  The L2 words for, “is,” and, “from,” really didn’t need to be paired* in order for my students to infer meaning.  Why not?  My guess is that the incomprehensible words became sufficiently meaningful at the moment when enough of the surrounding L2 words had obvious meaning.

Which leads me to the simple point that I’d like to make in this post.  (Even though it’s an obvious point, I include it here because in this blog series I’ve been trying to delineate a comprehensive list of ways that students can find meaning in an L2 immersion environment.)

Another way that students can find meaning is by inferring meaning from surrounding, comprehensible L2 words.  (aka “context clues”)

I’m aware of 3 specific ways (although I’m guessing there’s more):

1-  Synonyms.  A student may, initially, be confused by an unfamiliar L2 word.  However once a comprehensible L2 synonym is paired* with it, the student easily finds the necessary meaning.

2-  Context.  A student may not know all of the words in an L2 sentence.  However, if he knows enough of them, he can infer sufficient meaning in order to “get by.”

3-  Simple Definitions.  (Or “Using L2 To Make Sense Of L2.”)  I picked the term “Simple Definitions” although I’m unsure of what term to use for this third point.  It’s not ‘circumlocution’ is it???  I need some of you to help me out with this concept by writing in the comments section below.  I think circumlocution is when a person intentionally uses more/extra words instead of using fewer, more precise words.  I guess the obvious foreign language classroom application of this would be an L2 student learning to use lots of extra words to try to describe something he/she can’t find the precise word(s) for.  (BTW I just found this neat archived #langchat summary posted by Calico Spanish on this topic.)

If that’s what circumlocution means, that’s not what I’m looking for.

I’m looking for a term to describe how a teacher will use familiar, simpler words (which aren’t synonyms) to help students find the meaning of a more complex word.  Sort of like a dictionary definition, except using very informal language instead of formal language.  I’m thinking of how I help my daughters learn new L1 words.  When there’s a word they don’t know, I don’t pull out dictionary definitions.  However I DO use simple L1 words to explain unfamiliar L1 words/concepts.  The other day my daughter asked, “Daddy what does, “getting carried away,” mean?”  I said, “It means when a person doesn’t know when to stop.  Like if two friends are wrestling, they get, “carried away” when they wrestle so much, and so ROUGH, that they start knocking down all the things in the living room and wrestle so much that one of them get’s hurt.”

Anyway.  That’s enough rambling.  I think the simple point of the post is clear:

L2 teachers can help students find meaning in an L2 immersion by using familiar L2 words to make sense of unfamiliar L2 words.


*Disclaimer: These terms are my own and I’m using them for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that these are the terms found in formal, academic writing.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, I will continue discussing my developing (and non-research-based) thoughts on…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 8) – Forms Of Input: Incidental Situational Input

actfl 90 plus target language

A KID SNEEZES and you say, “Bless you,” in the target language.

THE PHONE RINGS and you say, “Telephone!” in the target language.

IT STARTS TO SNOW OUTSIDE and you point and say, “Look class!  It’s snowing!” in the target language.

TWO FRIENDS START CHATTING when they’re not supposed to.  You get their attention and say, “Quiet, please.  Don’t talk.  Pay attention,” in the target language.

A STUDENT DROPS A PROP/piece-of-equipment that you’re using in class.  You guesture and say, “Careful!  Careful” in the target language.

These are all examples of using “Incidental Situational Input” to help novice students find meaning in an L2 immersion setting.

It’s not a strategy that you can write into a lesson plan or plan on using.  It’s not one of the main strategies that a teacher will rely upon in a 90+% TL-use classroom.  But it’s a fun and effective strategy nonetheless.

It’s a little bit different than what we talked about last week regarding “Constructed Situational Input” in which a teacher helps students find meaning by creating a situation, scenario or experience wherein the observer(s) know(s) exactly what’s being said or what’s about to be said.”

With “Incidental Situational Input” a teacher doesn’t CREATE the situations.  She takes advantage of the spontaneous, random or INCIDENTAL situations wherin the observer(s) know(s) exactly what’s being said or what’s about to be said.


The THEORY behind the PRACTICE

In part 4 of this series on input theory we observed that:

“If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to a student, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.”

In part 5 we observe that:

“There are several forms of extralinguistic input.  Each can be used strategically by an L2 teacher to attempt to make L2 (linguistic) input comprehensible.”

In this post (part 8) we observe that:

“’Incidental Situational Input is one such form of extralinguistic input in which a teacher helps students find meaning by taking advantage of spontaneous situations, scenarios or experiences wherein the observer(s) know(s) exactly what’s being said or what’s about to be said.”


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

“Incidental Situational Input” (as defined above) is one of several forms of extralinguistic input that a teacher can use strategically to help students acquire L2.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones inserted throughout many of the posts in this series) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

I will discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 7) – Forms Of Input: Constructed Situational Input

Wow.

I’ve been waiting to write this post for a long time.

I get to write about my favorite “staying-in-the-target-language” instructional strategy.

I’ll start the post by telling three stories to illustrate how I use what I’m calling “Constructed Situational Input” to help an individual find meaning in an L2 immersion environment.

Story #1: I Stole A 1st Grader’s Birthday Crown

Rhyon (1st grader) walked into class with a birthday crown on.

happy birthday

We all got quiet and I stared at his birthday crown with jealous eyes.  I sat myself down right next to him in the class circle on the rug.  I slowly and teasingly took the crown off of his head in a way that would avoid him protesting, “Hey that’s mine!”  I, gently but triumphantly, put the crown on my head.  In the target language I said, “It’s MY birthday.”  The children, including Rhyon, all laughed and giggled because I was being playful with them.  Some of them smiled and protested, “NO!  Señor Howard!!!”

I used the Two Hand Method to help the students say, “Sr. Howard!  It’s not YOUR birthday!  It’s HIS birthday!”  We joked around in the target language for about 5 minutes, saying phrases like those to each other.

Even though I was speaking a language that the students didn’t understand, they found a level of meaning through what was happening SITUATIONALLY.

What I mean by that is:

  • They knew it was Rhyon’s birthday because, in this situation, he had a crown on his head.
  • They knew I was teasing because, in this situation, I put a devious/teasing look on my face and because EVERYONE KNOWS that no one should EVER take off someone else’s birthday crown and put it on their own head!
  • By putting Rhyon’s crown on my head I created (or constructed) a situation in which everyone wanted to say the same thing: “HEY!!!  That crown isn’t YOURS!”

Since I constructed a situation in which the students all wanted to blurt out the same thing (i.e. “It’s not YOUR birthday!  It’s RHYON’S birthday!”) all I had to do was give them the L2 words they needed in order to communicate.


Story #2 – “I WALKED INTO A WALL”  &  “I GOT SICK” (Watch the video clip here or by clicking on the links below)

ACTFL tips for staying in the target language

I needed to teach students how to talk about how they felt.  So I had my wife record 15 second video clips of me feeling different ways based on what was happening to me.  The clips included:

At the end of each situation/scenario, I say how I’m feeling in the target language.

The strategy worked!  Even though my students don’t initially comprehend the L2 words I’m using during these video recordings, they find meaning based on the situations I have constructed.  The situations make it so obvious.  The students know what I’m going to say even before I say it.  They would know what was happening regardless of what language I chose to use.  (See a different video example of this here.)


Story #3 – Snuggling My Daughter

holding daddy

I was holding my daughter Ava this morning.  After breakfast she walked over to where I was sitting, reached her hands up high and looked at me with the sweetest eyes that said, “Can you pick me up, Daddy?”

I was so happy to oblige.  I picked her up, put my arms around her, let her head rest on my shoulder and patted her back.  She stayed there motionless for about 10 mins while I talked to my wife who patiently listened to me ramble about this input theory that I’ve been writing.  (What other wife would listen to a husband’s musings about “Constructed Situational Input!?”)

Towards the end of my conversation with my wife, I paused, looked at Ava and snuggled my face into hers.

I told my wife, “See!  Ava is receiving input right now.  It’s not verbal (linguistic) input.  It’s non-verbal (extralinguistic) input that she’s receiving.  What is the extralinguistic input that she’s receiving?”  Sarah answered, “My daddy loves me.”  “My daddy is paying attention to me.”  “I love to be in daddy’s arms.”

Ava was listening in on our conversation and kept soaking in my affection.

Then I told my wife, “Into this constructed situation (in which I’m holding, snuggling, patting, caressing, rocking…etc.) I could speak the words “I love you” in any language and she would understand what I’m saying.  It doesn’t matter if the words are incomprehensible.  The extralinguistic input (in this case “Constructed Situational Input”) is so undeniably comprehensible that she will know what my words mean no matter what language I choose to tell her, “I love you.”

Then I demonstrated for my wife what I had just explained.  When I had Ava’s attention, and when she knew I was about to say something that matched up with the affectionate experience we were having, I chose to tell Ava that I loved her in Spanish.  I told Ava, “Te amo.”

When she heard “Te amo,”she smiled warmly and snuggled in closer to my embrace even though she just got done hearing language that is unfamiliar to her.


The THEORY behind the PRACTICE

In part 4 of this series on input theory we observed that:

“If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to a student, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.”

In part 5 we observe that:

“There are several forms of extralinguistic input.  Each can be used strategically by an L2 teacher to attempt to make L2 (linguistic) input comprehensible.”

In this post (part 7) we observe that:

“”Constructed Situational Input” is one such form of extralinguistic input in which a teacher helps students find meaning by creating a situation, scenario or experience wherein the observer(s) know(s) exactly what’s being said or what’s about to be said.”


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

“Constructed Situational Input” (as defined above) is one of several forms of extralinguistic input that a teacher can use strategically to help students acquire L2.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones inserted throughout many of the posts in this series) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

I will discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 6) – Forms Of Input: Gesticulated Input

This post contains links to a video recording of Señor Howard demonstrating how he uses gestures in his classroom.

target language tips


Does staying in the target language feel like a game of “GUESS-tures” or “Charades?”

I’ve heard people say that it’s tiring to constantly be trying to get students to GUESS what what’s being said.  “All my gestures and visual aids result in students giving me looks like these…!”

Confused-student

There are many strategies that foreign language teachers can use to avoid making class feel like a L2 guessing game.  In this series we’ve already discussed some of these strategies, which include:

This post will cover how to make the move from GUESS-tures to gestures.

tips for staying in the target language

Gestures Tip #1 – Use multiple gestures for one L2 phrase.

When I say, “How are you?” I use 2 gestures.  (See video example)

When I say, “Raise your hand,” I use 2 gestures.  (See video example)

When I say, “This is a big pencil,” I use 3 gestures.  (See video example)

See more video examples here.

Why use multiple gestures?

Answered simply: multiple gestures helps a student find more comprehensive meaning in your L2 phrase.  The question, “How are you?” (for example) has 3 distinct components: a verb, a subject pronoun and an interrogative word.  How will a student find comprehensive meaning for all three components if there is only one gesture used?

If you’re like me, it’s easy to forget how confusing a foreign language can sound.  Sometimes I don’t realize that even the simplest L2 words sound like a messy jumble of sounds to my students.  In order to effectively help them find meaning, I need to facilitate repeated and direct connections between small, “bite-sized,” incomprehensible pieces of L2 input and a matching form of comprehensible input.  Using multiple gestures for 1 target language phrase helps me do this.

See video examples here.

Gestures Tip #2 – Repeat your “L2-gesture pairing” more than once.

If one of my students gives an answer out of turn, and I need to say, “Raise your hand,” I will repeat the L2 phrase 3-5 times.  (See video example)

If my class is chatty, and I need say, “It’s important to be quiet,” I will repeat the L2 phrase 3-5 times.  (See video example)

Why repeat?

Repeating a target vocabulary word/phrase multiple times can be like using a SPOTLIGHT on a theater stage or a HIGHLIGHTER on a page full of text.

If a teacher immediately repeats an L2 phrase 3-5 times it can be an effective strategy for focusing student attention on an important word or phrase.  It helps a piece of L2 input to be noticed when it wouldn’t otherwise be unnoticed.

Of course repetition can get tiresome.  Teacher’s can avoid tiresome repetition by giving students MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES in which the target language structures are used often enough to be noticed and acquired.

Click here to watch a video of Sr. Howard doing this with 1st graders.

Gestures Tip #3 – Ensure students are watching the source of instruction.

how to help students stay in the target language

Gestures won’t help any students find meaning if they aren’t watching the source of instruction.  For ideas regarding how to motivate students to watch the source of instruction, browse through some of the following posts:

Managing Student Behavior AND Staying In The Target Language


The THEORY behind the PRACTICE

In part 4 of this series on input theory we observed that:

“If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to a student, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.”

We also observed that:

“It can be helpful to categorize forms of input into LINGUISTIC input and EXTRALINGUISTIC input.”

In this post (part 6) we observe that:

“There are several forms of extralinguistic input.  Each can be used strategically by an L2 teacher to attempt to make L2 (linguistic) input comprehensible.”

AND

“Gestures and facial expressions are one such form of extralinguistic input that I will refer to as ‘Gesticulated Input.'”


Todd (The Input Theory Stick Figure) and Gesticulated Input

This is Todd:

Todd - Comprehensible Input

Todd can receive input:

input

Todd can receive linguistic input:

Spoken Linguistic Input

Todd can receive comprehensible extralinguistic input.  One of the forms of extralinguistic input Todd can receive is “Gesticulated Input” (as illustrated in the diagram below):

Extralinguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input: Gesticulated


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

“Gesticulated Input” (i.e. hand motions, facial expressions and other gestures) is one of several forms of extralinguistic input that a teacher can use strategically to help students acquire L2.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones above) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI (Part 5): Forms Of Input: Representational Input

It’s easy to make incomprehensible L2 input meaningful with the help of a picture.

However, it’s JUST AS EASY TO CONFUSE L2 students…

…if you use a picture in the wrong way.
elephant-and-birdLet’s assume that your L2 students don’t know any vocabulary related to this picture of an elephant with a blue bird on its back.

Here are some UN-helpful ways to use the picture to help students acquire new L2 vocabulary.  AVOID using the strategies listed below.

1- Don’t, don’t, don’t…hold up the picture and say a sentence about it.  Don’t, don’t, don’t…hold up the picture and start talking (in the TL) about it.  For example: don’t hold up the picture and say, “Look at the picture of the elephant and the bird.  The bird is on top of the elephant.  The bird is on top of the happy elephant.  The elephant has four legs and the bird is on his back.”

Danger:  The students may be sitting quietly.  The teacher may be saying lots of sentences in the target language.  The students may be having an experience in a target language immersion environment.  HOWEVER…the quantity of L2 input is too great.  The picture is no longer a helpful tool for making the L2 input comprehensible.  It’s likely that the students are feeling overwhelmed and want to give up.

2- Don’t, don’t, don’t…hold up the picture and sing a song about it.  For example:

“The elephant is carrying the bird. Cha, cha, cha!

The elephant is carrying a bird.  Cha, cha, cha!

The bird is blue.  The elephant is gray.

The elephant is carrying a bird.  Cha, cha, cha!”

Danger:  The students may be smiling.  The students may be enjoying the “cha, cha, cha” part of the song.  With enough practice, the students may even be able to sing the L2 words.  The teacher may be proud of the strategy.  He might say things like, “Wow!  We spent 15 minutes practicing an L2 song.  The students really got into it!  They loved the, “cha, cha, cha” part of the song!  Every student was paying attention.”  HOWEVER…it’s likely that the students are having so much fun watching each other sing, “cha, cha, cha” that they don’t even focus on the target L2 vocabulary and what it means and how it can be used in a real-life situation.

3- Don’t, don’t, don’t…hold up the picture and start asking students questions about it before you’ve made sure they’ve acquired key vocabulary words.  For example: Don’t say, “Class…yes or no…is the bird blue?  Yes?  No?  Blue??  Is the bird blue?  Yes.  Yes.  The bird is blue.  The elephant is gray and the bird is blue.  Is the elephant big?  Yes or no.  Is the elephant big?  Yes.  The elephant is big.  The bird is small and the elephant is big.”

Danger:  The students may be listening.  The heritage speakers (if you have any in your class) may be able to answer the questions.  HOWEVER it’s likely that many students will have no idea what is being said, even though the questions are simple and the answers seem obvious.

Here are some GOOD WAYS to use the picture to help students acquire new L2 vocabulary.

1-  Start simple.

  • Point to the bird.
  • Look at the students while pointing to the bird.  (This action suggests to the students that you want them to pay attention to the bird that you’re pointing to.)
  • Point to the bird again.
  • Say, “tweet, tweet,” while pointing to the bird.
  • Say, “bird,” while pointing to the bird.
  • Say, “bird,” again while pointing to the bird.
  • Say, “Class, repeat: BIRD.”
  • Say, “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  BIRD,” while pointing to the bird.
  • Point to the elephant.
  • Look at the students while pointing to the elephant.  (This action suggests to the students that you want them to pay attention to the elephant that you’re pointing to.)
  • Point to the elephant again.
  • Make a motion/gesture that the students will know means elephant.
  • Say, “elephant,” while pointing to the elephant.
  • Say, “elephant,” again while pointing to the elephant.
  • Say, “Class, repeat: ELEPHANT.”
  • Say, “Yes.  Yes.  Yes.  ELEPHANT,” while pointing to the elephant.
  • Point to the bird and say, “A bird.”
  • Point to the elephant and say, “An elephant.”  (Repeat these last two steps)

2- Practice “the simple.”

  • Point to the bird.
  • Say, “Class.  A Bird or An Elephant?”
  • After class says, “A Bird,” say, “Yes. Yes.  A Bird.  Correct.”
  • Point to the elephant.
  • Say, “Class.  A Bird or An Elephant?”
  • After class says, “An Elephant,” say, “Yes.  Yes!  An Elephant.  Correct.”
  • Point to the bird and say, “A bird.”
  • Point to the elephant and say, “An elephant.”

3- Ensure that “the simple” is comprehensible.

  • Point to the bird.
  • Say, “Aiden.  Is this An Elephant or is this A Bird?” (Hint: One thing I like to do if I’m afraid I’ll confuse the student by adding the verb (“Is”) is to say the incomprehensible words (i.e. the verb and the adjective) quietly and quickly and say the comprehensible words (i.e. “An Elephant” and “A Bird”) slowly and deliberately.  This keeps the student from freezing up because of the unanticipated addition of extra, unfamiliar L2 words.  For more on this “hint” read this post.)
  • When Aiden says, “A bird,” say, “Yes!  Yes!  A bird.  A bird!  This is a bird.”
  • On the board or next to the picture write the L2 words, “This is a bird.”
  • Give Aiden ClassDojo.com points or some other form of reward.
  • Point to the bird again and repeat the same line of questioning with another student.
  • Point to the elephant.  Pick a new student and repeat the same line of question for An Elephant.

4-  Then add layers of complexity; ONE AT A TIME.

Adding Adjectives

  • Point to the bird.
  • Assuming that the students know the L2 colors, say, “Jessica.  Is this a RED bird or is this a BLUE bird?” (Hint: say the capitalized words more deliberately to draw attention to them.)  (Hint #2: If Jessica looks confused, point to the bird and say, “Red? or Blue?”
  • After Jessica answers say, “Yes!  Blue!  The bird is blue.  The bird is blue.”
  • On the board or next to the picture write the L2 words, “The bird is blue.”
  • Give Jessica ClassDojo.com points or some other form of reward.
  • Repeat this line of questioning as many times as you would like for practice.
  • Point to the elephant.
  • Say, “Aliquan.  Is the elephant BIG (gesture BIG) or is the elephant little (gesture little)?”
  • Etc.

Making The Sentence Complex

  • Point to the picture.
  • Say, “Justin.  Is the elephant big and blue or is the elephant big and gray?”
  • If Justin lacks confidence you can write the question on the board before you ask it or while you ask it.
  • After Justin answers you can pick other students to answer the exact same question.  The students will need this repetition.
  • Point to the picture.
  • Say, “Ariella.  Is there one elephant and two birds or is there one elephant and one bird?
  • After Justin answers you can pick other students to answer the exact same question.  The students will need this repetition.
  • These are just two examples of ways you can make the sentences more complex.  Use these ideas to help get your own creative juices flowing for how you can effectively use a picture to help students acquire more L2 while staying in the target language.

(Side note: at the beginning of this post I said that it’s a bad idea to sing songs about the picture of the elephant and the bird.  I just want to clarify.  Songs are fun.  And songs CAN be used effectively.  It would be a good idea to use a song after you’ve helped the students complete steps 1-4 that are listed above.  The song, then, can be used to enrich their L2 acquisition experience.)


The THEORY behind the PRACTICE

In part 4 of this series on input theory we observed that:

“If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to a student, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.”

We also observed that:

“It can be helpful to categorize forms of input into LINGUISTIC input and EXTRALINGUISTIC input.”

In this post (part 5) we observe that:

“There are several forms of extralinguistic input.  Each can be used strategically by an L2 teacher to attempt to make L2 (linguistic) input comprehensible.”

And:

“Pictures, drawings, images, etc. are a form of extralinguistic input that I will call “Representational Input”  (see explanation below the sketches of Todd)

Over the next several weeks my purpose is to help readers explore how the forms of extralinguistic input can be used effectively in an L2 classroom.


 

Todd is a stick figure that is helping me explain some of these input theory concepts.  Notice, in the drawings below, how Todd can receive multiple forms of input and that some of them are extralinguistic forms of input.

The words that Todd hears or reads…whatever symbols he sees…whatever gestures he interprets…can be called INPUT.

input

 


 

Todd can receive input from a T.V. screen.

input can be received from television


 

Todd can receive input (in written form) from a book, magazine or from his iPhone.

Written Linguistic Input

Written Linguistic Input


 

Todd can receive input in the form of another person’s words.

Spoken Linguistic Input

Spoken Linguistic Input


 

Todd can receive input (from another person) even though they don’t use words.

Extralinguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input


 

Todd can receive input when he reads words on a sign.

Linguistic Input

Linguistic Input


 

Todd can receive input even when a sign displays no words.

Extralinguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input


 

Representational Input

One form of extralinguistic input that teachers can use to their advantage is pictures and drawings.  I’m not sure what other writers have called this form of input but I will call it “Representational Input.”  I call it “Representational Input” because pictures and drawings represent (or are image reproductions) of things that are real.  (For example: a postcard picture of the Grand Canyon is a picture representation of the Grand Canyon.  An iPhone snapshot of a flower is a digital representation of that real flower.)


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

“Representational Input” (i.e. pictures, images, drawings, etc.) is one of several forms of extralinguistic input that a teacher can use strategically to help students acquire L2.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones above) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Todd & A Series On CI – (Part 4): Forms Of Input – Linguistic |Extralinguistic

Imagine that you have the opportunity to host a foreign exchange student in your home.

Foreign-Exchange-Student-

It’s meal time.  Since your exchange student barely speaks any English, you speak as slowly and clearly as possible.

“Please pass me a fork,” you say to her.

She looks confused and doesn’t respond.

In order to help her understand the English word for “fork” you touch (or hold up) a fork and say…

fork

“…Fork.  Fork.  This is a fork.”

In the precise moment that you hold up a fork and say, “Fork.  Fork.  This is a fork,” there are two different forms of input that your exchange student is processing.

One form of input is linguistic and the other form of input is extralinguistic.

The linguistic form of input is the English words you are saying to her: “Fork.  Fork.  This is a fork.”

The extralinguistic form of input is the combination of all the gestures, pointing, and facial expressions you use in an attempt to communicate comprehensibly what your English words have failed to comprehensibly communicate.


Later in the evening you spend some time trying to get to know your foreign exchange student.  You decide to talk about her life in China.

You ask her, “Have you ever been to the Great Wall Of China?”

She looks confused and doesn’t respond.

In an attempt to help her understand your question, you flip through one of your National Geographic magazine issues to a picture of the Great Wall Of China.  You show her the picture and say…

Great-Wall-of-China

…Here it is.  The Great Wall Of China.  Have you been here?”

In the precise moment that you show the picture and say, “Here it is.  The Great Wall Of China.  Have you been here?” your exchange student is processing two different forms of input.

One form of input is linguistic and the other form of input is extralinguistic.

The linguistic form of input is the English words you are saying to her: “Here it is.  The Great Wall Of China.  Have you been here?”

The extralinguistic form of input is the combination of the National Geographic picture and all the gestures, pointing, and facial expressions you use in an attempt to communicate comprehensibly what your English words have failed to comprehensibly communicate.


I do this all the time in my class.  In fact I try to do it as much as possible.  In fact…it’s pretty much all I do during my 40 minute instructional sessions.

Example #1: When my next class walks down the hall to my room, I meet them at the door.  As they are approaching I make eye contact with the line leader and say the following phrase in the target language, “Stand right here.”  While I say those words (which are incomprehensible to the students) I:

  • tap my foot 3 times in the spot I want them to stop.
  • hold my hand up, motioning for them to stop.
  • point (with my finger) to the spot on the floor that I want them to stop.
  • get my whole body in the way so they have no option but to stop.

In the precise moment that I tapped my foot, held up my hand, and said, “Stand right here,” the students were processing two different forms of input.

One form of input is linguistic and the other form of input is extralinguistic.

Example #2: When every student has lined up quietly at my door (in the hallway), I make sure everyone’s eyes are watching me…usually without using any words.  Then, I look at the line leader and say (in the target language), “Enter.  Go in.”  While I say those words (which are incomprehensible to the students) I:

  • gesture for the line leader to start walking into the room.
  • give a head nod as if to say, “Yes, you can go in now.”
  • walk over to where all the students are walking in and motion with my hands for them to walk in and stand in their “spots.”

In the precise moment that I gave a head nod, gestured for the line leader to enter, and said, “Enter.  Go in,” the students were processing two different forms of input.

One form of input is linguistic and the other form of input is extralinguistic.

Example #3: When the students are quietly lined up at the back of the room, I make sure everyone’s eyes are watching me and the projection screen.  Then, in the target language, I ask the class, “How are you?  Well? or not well?  Well? or just “okay?”  Well?  or tired?  Well? or excited?”  While I say those words/phrases (which are incomprehensible to the students) I:

In the precise moment that I flash pictures onto the screen and say, “How are you?  Well? or not well?  Well? or just “okay?”  Well?  or tired?  Well? or excited?” the students were processing two different forms of input.

One form of input is linguistic and the other form of input is extralinguistic.

These are just 3 examples out of over a hundred examples that may occur during any given 40 minute class session that I spend with my students.

Summed up in one sentence, read below what I want my novice L2 students to experience (as much as possible):

Repeated and meaningful opportunities wherein a piece of incomprehensible linguistic input is joined to a corresponding piece of comprehensible extralinguistic input.

It’s so exciting to see the results!

The students are acquiring the first parts of a foreign language without even realizing it.

  • 2nd graders are looking at ClassDojo.com data and telling me L2 sentences like, “Aiden has more points.”  “No, Isabella AND Aiden have the most points.”  “Isabella has 18 points and Aiden has 18 points.”
  • Kindergarteners the other day (without me speaking a word of English) were pointing to the classmate that had accumulated the most ClassDojo.com points for the month after I said, “The pencil is for…who?” in the TL.
  • 4th graders laugh when I call myself Superman and say (in the TL), “Sr. Howard you’re not Superman.  You are Queen Elsa.”
  • 5th graders examine Turning Technologies test question data and say, “Answer ‘A’ is incorrect and answer “C” is correct.”
  • When I ask a 1st grader to pass the laser pointer to another classmate named ____, he/she says, “I already passed it,” or “I already have it.”

The THEORY behind the PRACTICE

I’ve repeated myself a lot, so far in this post, in an attempt to make the following, simple points that have huge implications for language acquisition:

  1. An individual can receive input.
  2. The form of the input that an individual receives can vary.
  3. An individual can receive multiple forms of input simultaneously.
  4. It can be helpful to categorize forms of input into LINGUISTIC input and EXTRALINGUISTIC input.
  5. If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to a student, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.

Take Todd, for instance, who is a stick figure that is helping us in this series on comprehensible input and input theory.

Todd - Comprehensible Input


1- Todd can receive input.

input


2- The form of input that Todd receives can vary.

Spoken Linguistic Input

Spoken Linguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input

Gesticulated Extralinguistic Input

Written Linguistic Input

Written Linguistic Input


3- Todd can receive multiple forms of input simultaneously.

 

Todd input


4-  It can be helpful to categorize forms of input into LINGUISTIC input and EXTRALINGUISTIC input.

Linguistic Input

Linguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input

Extralinguistic Input


5-  If a linguistic form of input is incomprehensible to Todd, attempts can be made to communicate comprehensibly by making extralinguistic input available.

image


 

I’ve learned an important distinction:

Recently I’ve been learning what the term “making input comprehensible” IS and what “making input comprehensible” IS NOT.

Previously I thought making input comprehensible meant holding up a picture or performing a gesture.  I thought that if I spoke L2 and could still manage to get a student to find meaning by using extralinguistic input…that I would be “making input comprehensible.

I’m realizing that that’s not a clear understanding of “making input comprehensible.”

I’m realizing that students can do what I want them to do but still find ZERO meaning in the L2 that I’m speaking to them.

I’m realizing that students can perform the daily performance objective while I’m speaking L2 and still find ZERO meaning in the L2 words that I’m speaking to them.

I’m realizing that as long as the L2 phrases and sentences that I’m using sound like unfamiliar, jumbled utterances, they are INCOMPREHENSIBLE phrases even if the students are successfully doing what I want them to be doing.

L2 input only becomes comprehensible when a student makes sense of, or finds meaning in, the L2 linguistic input apart from the aid/crutch of extralinguistic cues.

This doesn’t mean that extralinguistic input keeps a student from acquiring L2.  NO!!  In fact, it would be very difficult for a novice L2 student to acquire L2 naturally without it.  It just means that a student needs repeated, frequent opportunities to hear the target L2 phrases with their extralinguistic “crutches” in order for the L2 phrase(s) to finally become comprehensible.

Notice this distinction in point #5 below.  In all of the examples at the beginning of this post the following things happened:

  1. …the student (whether it be the exchange student or one of the learners in my L2 classroom) was a novice L2 speaker.
  2. …the student received two different forms of input at one time.
  3. …the linguistic form of input was incomprehensible to the student (because they were novice L2 students).
  4. …the language teacher used a simultaneous, extralinguistic form of input to try to communicate comprehensibly what his/her L2 words/phrases failed to comprehensibly communicate.
  5. …by introducing simultaneous, extralinguistic input to the student, the teacher hoped to either A) make the L2 input comprehensible to the student or B) provide a secondary way for the student to find meaning since, at that moment, the L2 input cannot be comprehensible to him/her.

Language Acquisition Theory Statements:

  • A person can receive different forms of input.
  • It’s helpful to categorize the different forms of input into “linguistic forms of input” and “extralinguistic forms of input”

The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones above) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).