Saturday, December 24, 2016

Response to Chris Cashman - part 1 - Why the grammar videos?

Background info: Chris asked me a question and I responded here. He then asked me a question about how I assess on this post. Here is my response broken up into more manageable chunks. Chris' portion is in blue.

Thank you for your kind words both about my blog entry and my videos. It means a lot that we are still able to dialogue about this considering that for some, a wall is quickly built that can never be crossed by either side when someone teaches differently.
I appreciate your taking the time to write such a well thought out response. It shows me how much you really care about what you are doing and I bet your students are incredibly thankful for you!
I’m going to be very honest from the get-go in this response that I don’t have many of the answers that you might seek. I appreciate your challenging me in those so that I might be able to further grow in those areas.

Since coming to TPRS and other styles of teaching, I have definitely found that assessment is not the strength of the training sessions in the method I took. When I was trained it was basically:
  1. Here’s something to try in your classes
  2. Have fun with your students
  3. See the language flowing out of them!
  4. and GOOD LUCK on anything/everything else
At least that’s how I felt.  So I am still stumbling along in my 7th year.  I have come a long way in many areas. For example, my first few years, we only really hit on the 3rd person forms of the verbs in past and present. I was excited because my kids could still do more with the language than they had been able to do before because we were actually using the language in context in the classroom.
But now, I do my best to incorporate the other forms as much as possible as well in a variety of contexts to further get those into my students’ brains. I also don’t JUST do stories because the brain craves novelty. So I try to bring a variety of activities into class.
In the following, I am going to attempt to respond to your post in chunks.
Señor Jordan – Amazing blog entry that you posted the other day. I really appreciate the time you took to flesh out what you do. I specifically appreciated how you respond to the criticisms of TPRS head-on.
Thank you, Chris. I apologize for the wordiness, but I hope that it helped in some way to see my paradigm shift and why it occurred.  I believe that we are called to be honest about any method and shortcomings we (or others) see in it. Just like with the Gospel, no one is won over because of our lofty arguments, but our honesty in love. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  (1 Corinthians 8.1)
So first of all, I guess I am surprised to hear that you are a fairly religious TPRS/CI practitioner.  
For whatever reason, I found your usage of religious there amusing. Just saying. :-)
And it is mainly because of your grammar videos. The fact that you produce videos of explicit grammar instruction (albeit you do the explicit instruction better than anyone else) lead me to believe that you believe there is merit in explicit grammar instruction. But then I read your blog response to my post, and I’m a bit surprised to discover otherwise.
In fact, even as I was rereading your blog post, a “Senor Jordan has uploaded a video” email came through, and it was about how to form adverbs.
Did you notice the story (and more high frequency language) I threw into the video subversively? I’m trying to slowly include those types albeit on the DL :-)
I appreciate your kind words about the videos and my explanations. Remember that the oldest of those videos I was still a strictly textbook teacher who thought that grammar was the ONLY & BEST way to teach Spanish (because I had learned it so well that way).
Secondly, my goal is always to make the language easy for the learner. But as I explained in my classes, no matter how easy I tried to make it, it generally wouldn’t stick in my students’ brains after the test.
Thirdly, I continue to make them for my students who might need some extra help on a topic or for any student who needs extra help at any school because grammar can be hard for a lot of kids. Or even for those who are learning on their own (I have had some who have watched and commented from India and China because they simply want to learn it).
Fourthly (is that even a word?), if you look back to when I started converting to TPRS and utilizing more repetitive/comprehensible language in my classes, you should notice that I have tried out using stories (see “el mono” and “cuentas conmigo”). They were never as successful as my grammar videos.
So I came to the conclusion that right now, I should continue to make grammar videos to help the aforementioned groups and still find a way to make it fun. Basically, meet people where they’re at. In my Spanish classes I do that with storytelling. Online is a little trickier and I do that with trying to teach grammar via more interesting ways.  Either way I want to try to help get the language into people’s heads in a fun and simple way!

Fifthly (now this just sounds silly), I still haven’t found a way to bring online what we do in my class. It is so contingent on each group. Like stand-up comedy?

See next part to my response here.

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