I will never forget an encounter with a colleague in the first year when I committed 100% to teaching with TPRS. I was so excited to share the first free/speed write results of my 1st and 2nd year high school Spanish students. As I was discussing with another Spanish teacher, my colleague at the time commented that she would much rather have 3 perfectly written sentences instead of 30 inaccurate ones. Six years later I am still scratching my head about her opinion and criticism of those writing samples. Timed writing assignments represent a snap shot of what students can actually DO with the language.
Michigan State Professor Bill Van Patten said something interesting on his talk show this week, Tea With BVP episode 4. He said, “there are no such things as errors.(Beginning) learners cannot make errors. Errors are an external perspective.“ I couldn’t agree more with Van Patten’s remark because errors are part of the development path of fostering implicit linguistic system in students. In these free write examples the writing is just a small reflection of where they are with the language. There are no errors. Their L2 grammar is slowly developing and should be judged in this way…not yet fully developed.
With limited time this school year, students have responded very well to a class that is based on Students and Stories in Spanish (the new title of my course thanks to Eric Herman). In a new school this year, I have noticed some ups and downs to bringing CI-based instruction that centers around the TPRS approach. It has been, at times, uncomfortable for students to understand why we conduct class in the ways that we do. These are students that are accustomed to studying and memorizing and working diligently in their classes. These are really great students!
They have had to get used to a class that is about them and stories. Recently, I asked students to retell a MovieTalk story that we have been working on. I am very pleased with the results of these 8th graders that are new to Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. This is a 7.5 minute timed writing and class averages were over 150 words. The fundamental part of grading these free writes are based on 100 words per 5 minutes. I vary the time each time that we write as the school year continues because I always wnats students to attempt their very best.
To learn more about the lesson that led to this activity click here ALEX.