October 21, 2012

Article: Going for 90% Plus: How to Stay in the Target Language

From http://www.actfl.org

The October 2012 issue of ACTFL’s The Language Educator is now available to ACTFL members. This issue includes an article that is free to non-members as well: Going for 90% Plus: How to Stay in the Target Language, by Douglass Crouse. Here is an excerpt:

There is no doubt that we as a profession have come a long way from the old drill-and-kill days. Today’s language classrooms increasingly reflect ACTFL’s recommendation that communication in the target language comprises at least 90% of instructional time, in line with an emphasis on Standards-based learning that places proficiency above grammatical precision. But the leap into 90%+ territory can be a daunting one, particularly in light of the strong pull past experience can exert on current practice.

…At the heart of the 90% goal lie two questions that keep teachers up late, pop up routinely on online forums, draw crowds at conferences, and spark animated debate in department meetings:
How do we make the target language comprehensible to our students?
How do we persuade students to resist the easy path of English when speaking with one another?

…Answers vary from instructor to instructor and from one group of learners to another. A class of college language majors might well crave an immersive environment, while students in a middle school classroom—with its mixed levels of motivation and readiness—might require a daily dose of coaxing.

In that context, the 90%+ recommendation serves a dual purpose: as a lens through which teachers get a better sense of what the profession as a whole feels is good practice, and as a yardstick to measure the relative amounts of target and native language they themselves are using and promoting, says Robert Ponterio, a French professor at the State University of New York-Cortland.

You can download the full article at http://www.actfl.org/publications/the-language-educator/sample-articles

This article has generated considerable discussion on the FLTEACH listserv and on the MoreTPRS listserv.

See the discussion on FLTEACH at http://listserv.buffalo.edu/cgi-bin/wa?S2=FLTEACH&q=concerns+about&s=&f=&a=October+2012&b= (generated by searching for the subject line “Concerns about ACTFL Oct. 2012 Target Language Article”).

See the discussion on the MoreTPRS listserv at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/moretprs/msearch?query=actfl+article&submit=Search&charset=ISO-8859-1 (search for “ACTFL article”). You will need to join Yahoo! to access the listserv archives.

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