Reflections on FLENJ 15 by Piedad Gutierrez

by lclarcq on March 8th, 2015

filed under Acquisition, Archived Posts 2015, Encouragment, Musings, Sharing CI/TPRs, Uncategorized

From time to time I invite other teachers to write a guest post for this blog. There are so many dedicated, caring and brilliant people in the classroom that I would like to share with you. I met Piedad Gutierrez of New Jersey at an NTPRS National Conference in Las Vegas well over a decade ago and she has continued to be a wise friend and insightful colleague. She had so many things to say last weekend at the conference in NJ that I offered her a venue here. I’m so happy to be able to share her thoughts!! When you are finished, check out her website at TPRS Of New Jersey. with love, Laurie

From Piedad:

Something really good is happening in NJ. When the state world language teachers conference invites Dr, Steven Krashen as his keynote speaker, one of the day-long workshops is facilitated by Laurie Clarcq, and three of the one-hour workshops are presented by TCI and TPRS teachers, something really interesting is evident. There is a shift, a shift for the best.

Dr. Krashen said the obvious, what we already know he thinks: acquisition is different from learning. It is all about the story, the compelling desire to know about something. It is never about learning the language. However he said something I have not heard that clearly before, the vocabulary and the grammar come within the narrative. May be we do not need to pre-teach the vocabulary nor we need to explain the grammar. It is all about meaning, not rules. We read, listen to, and watch stories; therefore those should be our means of communication. All those eclectic activities, all those boring dittos and cloze activities should be replaced with the stories, the narratives, the legends, the comics, the videos, the poems, the songs. The language is just a tool, not the subject.

The subject is the audience. The students are the subjects of our classes. We teach them, not the books. If we focus in what drives our students’ interest, we win. With or without a curriculum, topics or themes, a list of words, a sequence of structures; as long as we are able to identify what our students care for, we can conduct classes that lead to acquiring the language.

Lauire Clarcq, a master TPRS teacher, shared that Embedded Reading strategy that she and Michele Whaley developed. Six hours were not enough to get closer to the brilliance and clarity of the techniques she developed with Michele. Story within story within story, like the Russian dolls. Keep the repetitions going while recycling known language and adding new information to the story. Keep the interest of the students by twisting just a little where the story is going. Magic! Step by step, Laurie guided us, explained to us how reading sentences is different from reading paragraphs, used cognates, embellished and enriched the story and kept it simple and funny. Ah! Humor and compassion, Laurie’s middle names.

Less is more goes not only for lesson planning, it goes also for presenting. When you have only one hour to convey a message, it is very difficult to select what to say and how to explain to an audience of teachers eager to learn new tricks. That would be my only concern. TCI and TPRS are not collections of activities, the narrative is the activity. Asking the story, the movie, the poem, the song IS the activity. The authentic communication developed between the teacher and the students, is core of CI. The students comprehend what the teacher is presenting and the teacher comprehends what the students are interested in. There is no need for pre, during, and post movie talk activities; the movie talk IS the activity! There is no need for pre, during, and post reading activities, the embedded reading IS the activity!

TPRS and CI are defined methods with clear steps to follow. The students get to know the routine; the students know when to listen and when to talk, when to write and when to read. You, the teacher train them.

Piedad Gutierrez
Educational and Bilingual Consultant
http://TPRSofNJ.com

Keeping Up With The Joneses

by lclarcq on March 5th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Encouragment, Not So Good Days

I’ve not really been much for trying to keep up with everyone else in the neighborhood. Growing up we wore hand-me-downs from our cousins, always had a “well-used” car, and did our best shopping at garage sales. It’s never really been my style to try to have, or do, what everyone else was doing.

But lately I’ve found myself doing that exact thing with my teaching.

It used to be that teachers operated in our own little classrooms. If you were lucky, you had a few colleagues you shared ideas with, and you might get to a conference once a year. But most of the time you did your own thing and that was that.

Now we are UBER-connected. There are blogs, listservs, wikispaces, webinars, Twitter, Facebook, webpages and more…each sharing teachers’ ideas and experiences. On one hand, that is FANTASTIC. We are not alone. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. On the other hand, I find myself asking….why aren’t I doing that? Should I be doing that? Am I depriving students if I don’t do that? Wow, I must be behind, out-of-touch, too slow, uneducated, or in other words” not good enough” if I don’t do what others are sharing about.

Just trying to keep up with what is out there…much less implement any of it…is exhausting.

It should be exciting and inspiring….but some days it is more than a bit overwhelming.

What’s up with that Ms. Jones anyway?!!!!!!

When I get in this mood I have to whip out a little self-talk. I pick one or more of the lines below and say it/them to myself until I stop trying to be Ms. Jones and her perfect classroom.

**You are not Ms. Jones. Even Ms. Jones is not Ms. Jones.

**You do not have to be a tech guru. You do not have to be ANY KIND OF GURU.

**It doesn’t matter how many “tricks” or “ideas” or “insights” you have. You can only use so many per day.

**Your time each day is limited. You can feel overwhelmed by too many ideas, or you can find one idea and work on a way to use it.

**You can be jealous or you can be grateful, but you can’t be both. Pick the one that makes you happy.

**Teaching is not a competitive sport.

**It is perfectly wonderful to be a bit of a mess. Messes are real.

**Your students’ successes are more important that your insecurities.

**Love trumps Laptops.

You get the idea. I AM grateful for all of the wonderful ideas that are out there, and for all of those generous teachers who share them. I just have be careful not to compare myself with the Joneses. Ms. Jones is not in my classroom and my students need me.

with love,
Laurie

Language Classes in NYC Would love to see you there!!

by lclarcq on March 4th, 2015

filed under Language Classes, Teacher Training, Upcoming Workshops

If you are interested in learning, or brushing off some old dusty Spanish, consider an upcoming class through Express Fluency. There are classes coming up at the beginning and intermediate Spanish on three different weekends this Spring: March 14-15, April 18-19, and May 30-31. You can attend one, two or all three sessions!!

Elissa McClean will be teaching the beginning groups and I’m excited to share that I’ll be teaching the intermediate classes!! Elissa has also opened up the classes to teachers who do not want to be language students, but who would like to observe a TPRS/Comprehensible Input class in action!!

We’ll be teaching language via Story-asking, Movie Talk, Embedded Reading, engaging conversations and a great deal more! Thinking about it? Know someone who might enjoy or benefit from such a class? Go to
Express Fluency’s website or Facebook page!

Would love to see you there!

with love,
Laurie