I've pored over blogs from Carrie Toth, Kristy Placido, Cynthia Hitz, Justin Slocum Bailey, Keith Toda, and Bryce Hedstrom for years.
I've tried writing stories a la Martina Bex and Anne Matava to support PBL projects with Comprehensible Input and connect students with real-world goals and audiences.
I've never been very good at making other people's ideas work for me, though. And I'm kind of addicted to reinventing the wheel.
I know in my heart of hearts that structured comprehensible input, recycled thoughtfully and frequently, is the surest way to make new language click with language learners. As an English teacher, you better believe I know the power of a story to connect minds, ideas, and hearts. And I totally see how it all taps into the Mastery that Daniel Pink touts as essential to Motivation.
I just can't wrap my head around how that will work with the Autonomy and Purpose that complete the Motivation equation. I can't envision how it looks in the context of 21st Century, lifelong learning--or day to day!
And so I signed up for the Beginners' Track at iFLT.
Here's what I'm hoping to see.
As a Beginner, I have Day 1 pretty much laid out for me. I'm especially looking forward to the CI Basics for Beginners sessions where I'm supposed to learn how to do some cool things like
- using questions to engage learners
- differentiating instruction through questioning strategies
- and using guided reading to accelerate acquisition
Also, as someone who missed the whole Destinos boat by taking French and German in high school, I confess I had NEVER heard of Bill Van Patten before this Musicuentos BlackBox video. I've tried to tune in to Tea with BVP once or twice, but it always starts smack dab in the middle of 4th period, so I mostly seem to catch diva quizzes. So I'm really hoping to absorb a little of the wisdom that led to its own line of swag!
Can you believe it? I am going to get TWO chances to see TPRS teachers work their magic! I have to say that the language labs are the main reason I knew I had to go to iFLT. TPRS is something I really need to see in the flesh, in part because I know I'm going to need the debrief that follows, and also because it's hard for me to get the notion to watch TPRS videos and the opportunity to watch TPRS videos (or, you know, headphones) in the same place at the same time.
I thought it would be a good idea to start off with a language that I know well (and have studied and, well, used since high school) so I could better appreciate the inner workings of what was happening. Plus I have it on high authority from one of my favorite French teachers that watching Grant Boulanger in action is an experience not to be missed!
And then, while I get to let my brain process a little while I soak in the brilliance that is Carrie Toth. And THEN after I get to solidify my understanding of Movie Talks (which I kind of got from SCOLT) with the one-and-only Kristy Placido, THEN I get personalized groups with COACHES to PRACTICE! Conference learning is so lifeless unless you get to sit down and do the work with what you've absorbed.
I have always wanted to learn Mandarin. I listened to podcasts on my way up and down the mountain to and from grad school and only remember how to say "It's a pencil." So now I get to watch the TPRS magic from the other side of understanding AND hopefully take home a little new language of my own!
And THEN?? It's my amiga Martina and one of my all-time favorite topics--scaffolding authentic texts for novices! (Who says Comprehensible Input has to be created in a lab specifically for language learners?)
And before I get some more individualized coaching, I get to learn from the original Persona Especial so I can maybe get my own weekly hot seat going for my novices this year!
I have 4 TPRS strategies on my implementation wishlist for next year:
- Personalized Q&A
- Movie Talks
- Persona Especial
- Free Voluntary Reading
Looks like I'll be able to hit everything but FVR--oh wait! AND I get some pointers on selling CI to my amigos back home (which, conveniently enough, I'll have the opportunity to do next week!)
I have high hopes for my iFLT experience this week and the many opportunities to engage with the philosophies and strategies that haven't clicked for me yet..
I'm ready to see and believe.