Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SCOLT and JCL -- Compelling and Comprehensible Input

I need to ask everyone's forgiveness as I have not posted in a while. Between getting ready for SCOLT, state convention, National Latin Exam, finals, and a wedding, I have been a bit overwhelmed... But now I am back and am overflowing with ideas!

I had originally planned on doing separate posts for my SCOLT presentation and the workshops I did for this year's Georgia Junior Classical League state convention, but, after the fact, it seems that it might be better to do them together. I will give a brief description of what I presented on and then I will close with my thoughts and links to my presentations or materials.

* Cultus Civilis et Lingua Latina Dicendo (Culture and the Latin Language by Speaking) -- One of the great difficulties I think we FL teachers face is that we are often presented with textbooks and materials that are disjointed. We are given one set of vocabulary, a grammar topic, and a culture essay that, often, have very little to do with one another or are not easily done together. Furthermore, we are often given a culture essay in English which many teachers feel complicates the issue. We already do so much work, why should we/would we complicate it further by not using what we are given and creating brand new culture materials in the target language? The purpose of my presentation (the first I've ever done in front of colleagues!) was to show that using Krashen's Compelling Input and Comprehensible Input theories, Where Are Your Keys, and other techniques makes teaching culture easy in the target language and it can be used to reinforce other ideas. If we do our best to give students comprehensible ideas and in context material, compelling ideas that they are interested in, and we do it in a way that reaches all the students, we can succeed without significantly adding to the amount of work we have.

* GJCL State Convention -- Keith Toda, a colleague of mine and a guest blogger, and I put on a series of workshops teaching students and teachers Where Are Your Keys techniques. Keith used traditional WAYK objects to teach techniques and I used animals to demonstrate applying these techniques to different scenarios. We had many repeating students and teachers who attended all four workshops and each time we also had new students. We got lots of positive feedback from both those in attendance and their teachers.

I am more and more convinced that comprehensible and compelling input are required for student success in foreign language (and well, really anything). If they don't understand and they don't want to understand, then we will get nowhere. Does this require more work? Sometimes, yes, but not always. When you put vocabulary, grammar, and culture together you hit three things at once, which minimises your work eventually. The more you do it, the easier and faster it will be. Over the next few weeks I will be posting on ways that I am using Compelling and Comprehensible Input in my classroom. Below are links to my presentation materials, where available, and links to Krashen as well as my other WAYK posts.

WAYK posts : 1, 2, 3
My SCOLT presentation (and other teacher materials)
Stephen Krashen's work
Rachel Ash's post on WAYK