Dr. Krashen shared this today on the iFLT/NTPRS/CITeaching Facebook group. Dr. Krashen is right about BVP being right about taking care to say what we mean and mean what we say:
A recent post from Blaine Ray can be easily misinterpreted to mean the opposite of what Blaine, TPRS and CI stand for. The problem, I suspect, is terminology. Bill VanPatten is right when he advises us to be clear about definitions and I will have some suggestions about how to begin.
Let’s discuss this sentence: “We are trying to practice our sentence until we see confidence in our student actors.”
As Bill VanPatten has pointed out, for most people, practicing a language means speaking it. For language students and some teachers, it generally means producing sentences with rules that have been consciously learned, and repeating them until they become “automatic.” “Practice” thus is interpreted as trying to convert consciously learned (explicit) linguistic rules into knowledge that is represented subconsciously in the mind (explicit). *
But for TPRS and other comprehension-based methods “practice” means providing comprehensible input. That’s what it means for Blaine – he makes that clear when he says “You practice more by circling, adding characters (including yourself) … ” And when he says “Students need much more practice than teachers think.” I interpret this to mean students need to receive more comprehensible input than teachers think they do.
I suggest we limit the word “practice” to the traditional definition: The attempt to convert consciously learned (explicit) linguistic knowledge into subconsciously acquired (implicit) linguistic knowledge via output (oral or written production). Of course we have overwhelming evidence that this does not happen.
Blaine wrote that confidence is the goal for both compehension and production. Most people think that confidence in production is the result of talking a lot.
Studies over the last few decades show, however, that confidence in speaking is achieved by providing comprehensible input, and it emerges gradually. (As Blaine says, “We are not trying to finish anything.”) I suggest that instead of saying “confidence” I think what we want to say is that students have the feeling that they understand what is going on in class, that they have the feeling of full comprehension.
But “confidence” fits in TPRS in many places. TPRS gives them confidence that they will understand nearly everything, that the teacher is trying to help them understand and more than willing to make extra efforts to help them understand when they indicate that they don’t. And students quickly become confident that they will have a good time in class! No other method comes close to doing this as well as TPRS. Great personalized stories that students are part of contribute to this, focussing students more on meaning.
My fear is that Blaine’s sentence will be misread as a return to ALM, that it will be interpreted as telling students that they should practice saying things until they can say them fluently, and Blaine’s contributions will be lost.