Professional development at your fingertips!

New photo by alice ayel / Google Photos

I think I am becoming a pro at multitasking! To be clear I am not fond of household chores, I find them so boring and I always end up thinking I am wasting my “brain time” and could do something much more productive! However my whole life is a constant dilemma: I cannot stand being in a messy and dirty house! How to keep home tidy and clean whilst having some sort of “brain activity”? Thank goodness the Internet has been invented so that I can now comply with my household duties whilst learning and teaching myself about language acquisition and TPRS techniques. In other words free professional development and full body workout at the same time!!! Why complaining???

Here is what I usually do: when I am ironing (or cleaning the bathroom!), I listen to Tea with BVP a weekly podcast that discusses topics related to second language learning, teaching, and acquisition. It is hosted by Bill VanPatten, Professor of Spanish & Second Language Studies at Michigan State University who questions important points about language teaching. For instance the role of grammar in second language instruction and the difference between focus on form and grammar instruction. To me grammar has always played an important part in my teaching simply because I love grammar (I know I am nut but apparently most language teachers are grammarian!), hence this obsession in teaching verb conjugations and so on. However looking at my recent learners’ impressive results, I have come to realize that grammar is not compulsory and that in fact it should come later when learners have acquired enough language and are already fluent. When I discovered the power of comprehensible input, I drastically switched my way of thinking!

Coming back to multitasking, I have also tuned in TPRS Hangout which is a Youtube channel where Tina Hargaden videos herself teaching in her classroom. So that you know (just in case you are interested!) I usually watch Tina when I am cooking, trying not to splash my phone with cooking oil or any other food! As a matter of fact watching Tina has taught me so much about how to apply TPRS techniques. I have not yet been able to attend a TPRS workshop so having access to a TPRS classroom live is a big bonus for me: thank you so much Tina!

One activity that I have yet to try is when Tina writes down the story the class has created. She writes it in front of the class and the students are expected to watch her write. Of course, they don’t seat silently watching her write the entire story! They do re-tell her the story so that she can write it down. What I very much like about this activity is that students have the chance to see someone writes (without mistakes) in the other language. They have a role model so that they can then write on their own later when they are ready. Writing is like speaking, it is output so learners should produce output when they have had enough input to be able to do so. What Tina does is giving them another form of “reading and listening” input. The other thing I very much like is that she takes time to spell the difficult words as she is writing them down and she also tells the students the punctuation she is using.

Have a look at one of her demos in French. Tina first explains why it is important to listen before writing:

What about you? Are you a king/queen of multitasking? What are your best professional development sources online? Have you tried Tina’s writing activity?

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