Carrie Toth

Carrie Toth presented a fantastic workshop “Advancing Student Proficiency with Novel Studies.” She began by discussing what proficiency is and what can be expected at various proficiency levels. She pointed out that only 3.7% of high school students can speak at Intermediate High level after 4 years of study.

Carrie discussed using Understanding by Design to plan a novel unit, but she said her best piece of advice is to plan and teach with PASSION! “When YOU are excited about something the kids will get excited too!” Carrie loves biology, so she even incorporates topics such as clean water into her class.

She suggests that when doing interpersonal speaking, have one student in each group make a voice recording with a cell phone and email it to the teacher. You don’t have to listen to all of them, just a couple!

In the “CI basics for beginners” workshop Katya Paukova is teaching Russian, slowly incorporating new structures and making use of cognates. Katya’s teammate Diana Noonan explains that with comprehensible input, beginning students won’t hear the nuances such as verb endings, but they will understand and through understanding, those nuances will eventually be acquired. Listening and reading provides input.

Justin Slocum-Bailey presented on the topic of “CI in flow.” He focused on how to set up your CI classroom so that students experience “flow.” What are the factors that can obstruct language acquisition? Justin had participants provide some personal info at the beginning of the workshop. He selects “Brian’s” card. Brain likes to swim. Justin models how to use that one statement as the basis of a conversation with the class. The class is coached to demonstrate comprehension via reactions and using gestures if there are problems that obstruct the flow.


Justin Slocum-Bailey

Summary of Round Table with Dr. Stephen Krashen and Dr. Bill VanPatten

How to I “sell” CI to my students, administrators, and the community?

SK:          We need to get better at publicizing our students’ experiences via the internet.

What is ACTFL’s position on TPRS and CI in general?

BVP:       “Core practices” are not entirely clear. I don’t know where they stand on TPRS. Organizations are political entities and therefore cling to eclecticism.

SK:          These teaching approaches are bad business for textbook publishers.

Isn’t TPRS/CI too narrow in focus?

BVP:       Some methods over the years have been misguided. “There is a sense that if you are focused and principled you must be doing something wrong.” Any good method has underlying sound principles.

SK:          We want our students to continue improving after they’ve left our classes. After intermediate level they don’t need a class. We want our students to talk to their families about our classes.

When is it ok to use translation?

BVP: When it facilitates the negotiation of meaning. If it is not necessary, don’t do it. It is useful when it helps.

Can I tell a story about people in a restaurant even though we are not really in a restaurant?

BVP:       No role-plays. Co-constructing a story is authentic for a classroom context.

Is it a problem to focus on high-frequency vocabulary?

SK:          My hypothesis: If you give people a lot of comprehensible input, the high frequency words are there. Read: The case for non-targeted input at

Do you really believe all that stuff you’ve published?

SK:          I didn’t believe it when I wrote it but now I find it really convincing!

BVP:       It is all still true.

What about pronunciation?

SK:          We feel silly using the perfect accent. Our accent represents the group we belong to. “Don’t worry about it, they’ll pick up the accent of their friends.”

Some random great quotes:

SK:         “This verb was last used by 2 blind poets on a mountaintop in Spain 600 years ago but you gotta know it!”

SK:          We need a solution for shy people. It is called reading. And lots of good input (reading, movies, tv shows) where you can get lost in the story.

BVP:       “We want to take authentic texts and give them to students. NO!”






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