Error Correction

The Backseat Linguist is a new blog devoted to commenting on research in second language acquisition and language education. It is written by Jeff McQuillan, a former university professor of applied linguistics and education, and now a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Educational Development in Los Angeles, California. His research is largely based on Stephen Krashen’s Comprehension Hypothesis, which states that:

“We acquire language when we understand messages, when we understand what people tell us and when we understand what we read.”

– Stephen Krashen

I found Jeff’s most recent post on Error Correction to be very interesting. The following quote sums up his post nicely:

“Other studies… have found accuracy improves significantly simply through more reading, without the extensive (and time-consuming) [Written Corrective Feedback] used here.”

– Jeff McQuillan

Teachers who are a part of the TPRS community have likely heard before that error correction does not really benefit students. In terms of language acquisition, it is better to provide them with more input than to waste time making corrections to their completed work. If you have ever tried to correct a child who is learning their first language, you will see that no matter how many times you correct their speech, they will not acquire the appropriate structure until they are ready. A child that says “I runned” may repeat “I ran” after being corrected by an adult, but the next time they want to use the structure they will still say “I runned.” It is not possible force acquisition of a structure. All we can do is provide more input and eventually the child or student will use the correct form.

Storytelling in Other Disciplines

In this article Elizabeth Peterson talks about using storytelling in other subject areas, such as history, in order to make the content come alive for students. I’m sure all TPRS teachers will agree with her that “actual storytelling is something we don’t do enough of in school.”

Silent Sustained Reading

An article that was published in The Globe and Mail once again supports what TPRS teachers have been doing all along. It states that letting students choose which books they read makes them better readers. This idea has also “been linked to improved scholastic achievement” for students.

Since reading is the best way for students to enlarge their vocabulary, I often have my classes read in Spanish for 10 minutes during class. I usually read with them.

I do Silent Sustained Reading with my students and they get to choose any book to read from my collection of books. Some of them choose children’s books, some read magazines or comics, and some ambitious students read entire novels (like Harry Potter) that they have already read in English. I have noticed that letting students pick what they read seems to make it a lot more enjoyable for them than if I were to assign something to the class.

Classroom Visit

The Superintendent of the West Vancouver School District recently visited Michelle Metcalfe’s Spanish 9 classroom and was impressed with what he saw there.  Why?  Because he saw how well TPRS works with kids!  Read the post he wrote about his visit here.