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  • kellogg
    I have some trouble sending things from my old account. I am trying again from a different account. Richard: Yesterday I tried out a rather adulterated,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 5, 2000
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      I have some trouble sending things from my old account. I am trying again from a different account.


      Richard:
      Yesterday I tried out a rather adulterated, "dialogic" version of
      your CI on my single advanced class, the English majors, and I'd like to
      know what you think, both of the procedure and the results.
      Here's what we did. I gave everybody a comic I had produced from a
      bit of anti-drug literature we use in first year middle school here in
      Korea. The situation has a young child recovering from a suicide attempt
      in hospital (the original had a drug overdose, I changed it in order to
      introduce the problem of exam pressue, which is more relevant to my
      students at the moment).
      A doctor instructs a male nurse that the child's parents are not to
      be notified yet. When asked why, the doctor explains that the child has
      collapsed due to excessive parental pressure.
      This portion of the dialogue is presented in English. The students
      read the dialogue aloud, then re-enact it from memory in pairs, just to
      establish context.
      Then the next, far more difficult, part was presented; an interview
      between the parents and the doctor. Because of the conceptual
      difficulty, I presented it entirely in Korean and we read through in
      pairs, entirely in Korean.
      Well, that was the plan! But when you ask these kids to do something
      in L2, they do it in L1, so I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised to
      see them picking through the dialogue, which I had asked for in Korean,
      in English! When Allwright was here, he noted that
      the Brazilian teachers had complained repeatedly of the tendency of
      groups to use Portuguese in groupwork. He had once suggested that
      teachers make this tendency the object of conversation in groups, allow
      the groups to use Portuguese, and see what explanation they came up with
      Allwright's Brazilian teachers had said that they tried the experiment
      and found that when you tell groups to use L1 instead of L2, they use L2
      instead of L1. (Swain and Lapkin also report, in the latest LTR, that
      only about 12% of L1 turns are off task).
      They were only able to pick through bits of it in English, though.
      As you will see, it is not something you can get right away. So after
      they had tackled it in Korean, each learner then chose a part, doctor or
      mother, and worked out a rough translation of that part only using
      notes. They did this without consulting the dialogic partner, referring
      only to the text.
      I instructed them to be flexible enough so that they could pick up and
      respond to nuances and even mistakes in the way their partners
      translated the other part. I told them that if a partner makes a mistake
      in his/her translation, they were to adapt to the mistake in their
      response; the interaction was the end product, not a correct target
      text.
      I suppose I need to justify this dialogic use of CI, as the
      resulting information exchange is not going to be solely about differing
      interpretations of the source text and in fact it can develop in very
      free-wheeling, unpredictable ways quite distant from the source text. In
      your contribution you argue that CI has wider applications than training
      translators, and I think you are absolutely right.
      In particular, I am supposed to be teaching conversation to these kids.
      They are already very good at short turn highly interactive
      conversations, and they are also good at writing long speeches and
      delivering them. But they are a bit complacent too; perhaps because they
      are the only English major group and they are virtually guaranteed good
      jobs as English specialists. As a result, they have become simplistic,
      often sub-grammatical, in informal conversation, and non-interactive and
      speechifying in formal debates. It is a matter of too much improvisation
      on the one hand, and too much planning on the other.
      So I have been waging a campaign in which I try to make their
      conversations more like speeches and their speeches more like
      conversations, and latterly even twitting them with yawing precipitously
      from Gush to Bore. (As an occupied country, we are in thrall to the
      American elections here.)

      Here is a rough translation of the Korean source text, partly my own
      and partly my students, just to give you a sense of the level of
      difficulty:

      MOTHER: My life has been sacrificed to hers. It was always my dream that
      she have a good education, that she pursue ennobling hobbies, and that
      she meet and marry a well-bred man.
      DOCTOR: What does Jin-hee mean to you, as a mother?
      M: Why, she is like my second self. She is my only child, you know.
      D: Has it occurred to you that you are possessing her?
      M: Possessing? What do you mean by possession?
      D: Madam, you and I are of the older generation. We grew up forced to
      obey and submit, and knew nothing else. We had no lives of our own, and
      could only act as part of a machine. But without creative development of
      individual talents, there can be no progress of society. The new
      generation seems selfish to us; but their selfishness is part of a
      larger transition for our whole nation. Yes, the younger generation
      appears to our eyes to be wandering into evil. Yet these wanderings are
      necessary evils. We soon find that if we attempt to restrain them from
      wandering, they will fall into more exteme ways.
      M (sobbing):
      D: What's wrong?
      M: Nothing, Doctor. It's just that...my childhood suddenly comes back to
      me. In fact, as a child I had many aspirations. I longed to study, to
      play music and apply myself in the fine arts. But my parents opposed
      these selfish desires. They said that as a woman my duty was to
      housekeeping and to my in-laws. I see that with my regrets I have
      tortured not only myself, but also my own daughter almost to death.
      D: Please don't blame yourself, madam. Your daughter is alive and still
      young. Together we must help her. Let's open a new path for her.

      (This is preparation for their mid-term examination next week, which
      will focus on the use of "performance evaluation" instead of
      standardized testing.)

      As I predicted, the long turns were too much for the students, and we
      had to break them down into very very short turns. I did this by asking
      them to use clarification questions, rather like this:

      M: My life has been sacrificed to hers.
      D: What do you mean by sacrificed?
      M: I had many dreams for her.
      D: What do you mean by that?
      M: I dreamed that she would get a good education.
      D: How do you mean, a "good" education?
      M: I wanted her to go to a good university, and meet a good husband...
      etc.

      This looks rather like a drill, but it resulted in very interactive
      exchanges, which nevertheless tended in the direction of the big idea
      explored by the text and did not simply descend into lexicalization and
      communication strategy (as I had feared). This was not exactly the "long
      but interactive turn" goal I had set for the class; it was something
      more like co-construction of a long turn.
      Naturally, breaking the conversation down like this made it even
      more likely that they would branch off in unexpected directions and the
      repeated breaks in turn. In particular, the conversation immediately
      veered in the direction of Jin-hee's father, who all the kids agreed was
      probably the greatest, unspoken, disappointment of the mother's life. We
      noted his conspicuous absence in her speech, even in the phrase "duty to
      housekeeping and to in-laws".
      In whole class, we talked a little bit about what the
      phrase "well-bred husband" might mean. At first the students assumed
      that it meant wealthy, but this rather contradicted their assumption
      that Jin-hee's father, clearly a man of means, was a disappointment to
      Jin-hee's mother. Some of the students then argued that the real
      disappointment was unspoken; it was that the father was not physically
      attractive. (I have noted elsewhere the obsession of my young students
      with good looks....)
      Clearly there is a lot more going on here than translation. Now,
      partly it is because of a phenomenon similar to the serendipitous choice
      that Scott made in his Barcelona singer dictogloss; my students are
      almost all formed under intense pressure, often from parents whom war
      and dictatorship robbed of youth.
      But I think there is a dogme point here too. By using L1, it is
      possible to set up target meanings of far greater cognitive complexity
      than the superficial, purely instrumental exchanges in L2 only which are
      set in most monolingual global coursebooks. The global coursebooks are
      hamstrung by their inability to get into the learner's L1 skin. The user
      of CI is able to set new heights for nuance and subtlety by starting
      from a point far nearer the learner.

      DK

      Oh, the poetry exercise I talked about last time yielded some
      interesting results too. I set the original Korean poem for homework.
      Many came up with this:

      What do you live on?
      A person who/he who/you who/they who live by the sea eat fish/catch fish
      to live.

      We decided that the generality of the sentence was difficult to realize
      (Korean is a pro-drop language, while English is not), but that whatever
      subject was used had to be consistent. Then the learners had to create
      lines for "the classroom". Here are some of what they came up with:

      The person who live in the classroom must eat knowledge to live.
      The people who live in the classroom must love children.
      Those who live in the classroom must eat agenda.

      Interestingly, these can be divided into "student" lines and "teacher
      lines". Do not be misled by the last one, however. I use an "agenda"
      instead of a lesson plan, which I distribute for negotiation before
      every class. I think the learners correctly see this exercise as
      slightly hypocritical.

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