Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Structured Input is confuuuuuusing!

Okay, so this is a little redundant considering the discussions we had in class today. But I wrote it before class, so here it is.

The chapter on structured input was a somewhat baffling one for me. Through a great deal of the chapter I was very confused about what structured input meant. I didn’t really understand why the activities that they were saying were “good” structured input were better than other activities, or even how they were that different. I grappled with this chapter a lot, and I think that I’ve come to terms with the fact that this could have been said a lot more simply and been much clearer. I think what I was supposed to take away from the information we were given on structured input is that it is better to make students learn a grammatical point through the processing and meaning making of understand the words. As in, if the students can do the grammar seeking activity without actually paying attention to the words being used they are not learning as much as if they have to actually pay attention to the meaning of the words. This interpretation may be incorrect, but I really think that is the “point”.

That “point”, if it is the actual point, is one I’m not sure I fully agree with. It does make sense that if the learner is working with the actual words in addition to the grammatical structure they are getting something like twice as much out of it. However, sometimes I feel like it is necessary for student to acquire the plain grammatical knowledge and know how to apply it in any situation rather than learning it with reference to one situation. I do understand that if you have a standard example that you memorize it helps you to retain the grammatical form, but I don’t think that’s what structured input is advocating. Again, I may be interpreting this completely incorrectly. As a student I wanted to know the rule explicitly, like subject, verb, direct object, indirect object. Subject is in nominative, verb is conjugated to match the subject, direct object is in accusative, etc. I liked having that knowledge to be able to fill in anything I wanted in any of those places, if I had to just read sentences to “figure out” those rules I would have been very frustrated by it. I think this is probably an extreme example and there are many ways in which structured input can be utilized to better results, but I was a little frustrated by the confusing nature of the text.

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