Recall Vocabulary or Recall Krashion?
Nov 17, 2017 Teaching 2946 Views
“I can’t believe it!” My colleague stated as he entered the office, after teaching the third hour.
“What is it that you can’t believe?” I asked.
“I spent the entire first hour explaining that vocabulary word. I wrote on the board, put in a sentence, and saw the students take note. However, I asked them about it, none of them remember it.” My colleague expressed his frustration.
This conversation is not unique to my colleague. Most teachers have experienced similar situations and were left asking themselves why the students couldn’t recall the vocabulary.
My colleague’s remarks brought forth Dr. Krashion’s theory of providing the learner with a fine-tuned comprehensible input. According to Dr. Krashion explaining a concept doesn’t mean that the learner acquires it. Explaining is the process of presenting the information or “omitting” the information, while learning is the process of “internalizing” the information. According to Dr. Krashion to internalize the information, the teacher should provide a fine-tuned comprehensible input at the i+1 level.
Thus, when my colleague spent 15 minutes explaining the new vocab, was he providing the learners with an input? Since my colleague was explaining, then there was no input. The fine-tuned input is often accompanied by imagery, realia, or body language. The comprehensible input involves the learner. For example, the teacher can spend 15 minutes explaining the word “market” to the students using English or asking them to look it up in a dictionary or even google it. Yet, all these approaches don’t mean that the learners acquired or internalized the word. It only means that for the time being, during these few seconds, the learners identified the word “market”. According to Bloom’s taxonomy, identifying is not one of the higher order thinking skills.
Another teacher brings a couple of fruits, vegetables, and basket, pull up an image of a market on the Smartboard, and then the teacher would use himself as an example saying, “I go to the market to buy fruits and vegetables.” The teacher points to the picture on board when he says,” market.” The teacher can recap by asking each learner where they buy their fruits. Each learner will get the chance to produce the word, "market." The teacher can further ask the learners what is their favorite market, how often they go there. The teacher can model the answer to these questions by using himself as an example. Model, infer, and question leads to internalizing not explaining.
When the teacher models the utilization of the information, offers the opportunity to the learners to infer the information, and then question the learners and engages to produce the information, then the information is acquired. The same 15 minutes, or perhaps less, will be utilized to internalize the vocabulary rather than explaining it.
“But that takes time,” another teacher interjected.
“Our classrooms are full of objects that we can utilize as realia, we can always model using ourselves as examples, and last but least, with practice it becomes easier,” I commented.
I felt my colleagues took time to reflect on our discussion, so did I. By the end of the day, I stopped at the library and picked up Dr. Krashen’s book, principles and practice in second language acquisition, to read again.
Click here to read Dr. Krashen’s book online for free.