If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past decade, it’s that there is more than one path to proficiency and promoting a single method–whether intentional or as a byproduct of one’s name– implies that the SLA (second language acquisition) process is so simple that it can be achieved through one single right approach. This narrow focus distracts many educators from focusing on what really matters: learners and FLUENCY!
Helping learners develop fluency is a complex task, one that requires patience, flexibility, and discernment. Acquiring language is a slow multifaceted process, and although most second language teachers know this firsthand, we somehow feel better when BVP (Dr. Bill VanPatten) or Dr. Stephen Krashen shares research that emphasizes just how long it takes. As language ambassadors or facilitators, we must have realistic expectations for learners and exercise patience as each learner develops at their individual rate of acquisition, realizing that there is nothing fast or simple about it.
Not only do learners acquire language at varying rates, each one acquires through diverse processes, which are so complex science has yet to discover exactly what happens in each person’s brain as they acquire. In addition to differences in language processing, a myriad of external factors also affects how each person processes language from day to day. That being said, our focus needs to remain on learners to discern what strategies (plural) will best suit each student on any given day. What works for one learner one day may not be what works best the next. Each day can bring a new set of factors that will influence how each learner acquires language. There is no doubt about it! Facilitating SLA is delicate and challenging work, but so worth the effort as we watch students develop fluency.
Fluency has a number of connotations noted in the thesaurus: effortlessness, eloquence, articulacy, and confidence. We want all of those things for our students as they make their way through the exciting and unpredictable SLA process. Our new name, Fluency Matters, has two implications, since the word matters has two distinct meanings and fulfills two parts of speech: 1) noun: the concerns, topics, or issues [that pertain to fluency] 2) verb: [fluency] is important or significant. Our new name better reflects what we do, which is helping teachers understand how students develop fluency and how the principles of SLA influence classroom practices.
Developing fluency (acquiring language) is such a complex and individualized process that no two people acquire the exact same way. There is, however, one well-known matter that is fundamental to language acquisition: CI (comprehensible input). CI is the critical link and a common element found among all successful language learners. Our goal is to help you provide CI in multiple ways and in multiple contexts to help all learners develop fluency, regardless of their learning preferences, special intelligences, perceived aptitude, life circumstances, gender, ethnicity or degree of motivation, and in spite of the day of the week, the time of day, or the state of the weather, etc.
There is no single ‘right’ way to deliver CI because life and learning are never static. Focusing on ‘right’ vs. ‘wrong’ approaches will result in nothing more than narrow thinking, rigid methods, and stilted teaching. It is not about methods or teachers; it’s about fluency and LEARNERS. Ultimately, we must be more concerned about our students’ success than our own, and student success can be summed up in one word: FLUENCY! Fluency Matters!
Take the Fluency Matters quiz for a chance to win a class set of Fluency Matters novels (25 physical copies of one title, any language) or a premium 5-month class subscription for up to 150 students for one Spanish or French novel of your choice. Here’s how:
1) Email Carol@FluencyMatters.com with Fluency Matters Quiz in the subject line.
2) Look for an email welcoming you to the class.
3) Create a new account OR log into your existing account at FluencyMatters.com. (Your current TPRstorytelling account was automatically transferred over.)
4) Go to your profile and click on “Attending Courses” to view the Fluency Matters course.
5) Click on the Quiz tab and complete the quiz. Click submit. Voila! You’ll be entered into the drawing.
Random drawing will be held 5:00p.m., Friday, November 18 in the Fluency Matters Booth #2118 at ACTFL 2016.
Terms & Conditions: Entry will be automatic once you join a class and complete and submit the quiz. Prize is not transferable and not exchangeable. Only valid for novels published by Fluency Matters. Prize expires April 1, 2017. All materials must be ordered by 11:59p.m. April 1, 2017. Prize has no cash value.