I have been down to the National ACTFL conference in Denver for the last two days and I will drag myself down again today (not so sure about Sunday). It is overwhelming. So big. So much stuff. Talk about bright lights, big city!
Carol Gaab was dumbfoundingly amazing–engaging, useful, tuned in to teachers’ needs and spot-on with underlying SLA theory. She gets that it is all about CI and can communicate that to teachers in a palatable way.
I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly. This is my first ACTFL conference and I am trying to keep an open mind, but the presentations I have seen so far focus on output. I even heard one presenter, who should know better, say, “You know how hard it can be to get kids to talk and use the target language in class, well here are some activities that will help to get them talking.” This presenter’s heart was in the right place–we DO want kids to produce the language, and i can understand that getting students to talk can be a challenge with some methods.
But there must be the some virus: the “Output R Us Virus”, which causes teachers to mainly focus on forced output activities just so they will fit in with the rest of the immense herd of other output-focused teachers.
When we teachers are talking about things that are interesting to kids, they will use the TL and respond. TPRS teachers often find that they have trouble getting the kids to shut up–they are talking all the time in the TL–relevant comments, giving their opinions, asking questions, sharing their views. I can’t even get through my stories or lessons half of the time because of it.