So finally after three or five or seven minutes or more minutes of this grammar translation work I calmly go to the board and write down the correct French and they just love it. They see how close they got to the correct spelling. I explain a few things, further creating the illusion that learning is going on, even though most if not all of them will certainly forget the grammar points I make, probably by the end of the day, certainly in a week.
Then after ten minutes – unless they want another one to translate! – of that brilliant time burner I move to the next part of class where they open the chapter book and read as is described in the articles here about SSR (I don’t do any FVR ever any more) and now I am about to burn up ten more minutes of class, with CI happening now in the form of reading but not on my emotional dime, so that I keep my mental health intact for one more class period.
Now, those who have read and understand the power of the double quiz classes as expressed here:
know that using two quick quizzes in one class period can keep the kids doubly focused in class. And those who get and use the Two Week Plan (see category) can easily fill in the remainder of class with something from there, filling up the rest of the class period with very little actual work by us.
So this new idea of starting class with ten minutes of grammar translation before the SSR/R and D sequence before the first quick quiz can add it to their bail out move possibilities.
What is the result when you do both the grammar translation option along with ten minutes of SSR then some R and D and then the first quiz? It is that your are able eat up as much as 60% of even 70% of class without actually doing any work. The emotional pressure of teaching kids who don’t really want to be in our classrooms, in this schema, is reduced drastically.
Now, on those happy days when I actually want to do an entire class of CI (if I slept well the night before, or if I am not bothered by some other crazy thing that seems to happen so often in life), I can do it, I can push the CI, but if I’m not in the space to do so, I don’t have to.
I would rather do 50% or less CI during the day and get through the winter without crashing my dangerously overloaded CI plane than the opposite. It’s an idea worth considering. I’m not taking a small plane full of 35 kids up in the air this winter. I’m not an idiot.
This is kind of an unrelated thought to all of this:
Isn’t it odd how a teacher can go through an entire year of doing nearly 100% grammar translation without giving it a second thought and then have a mid year or end of year conversation with an administrator and come out of that meeting with the same stamp of approval for doing a good job from that administrator as we got in our own mid year or end of year conversations, even though we are the ones who just spent the year trying to keep up with and apply current research and best practices in our classrooms? The traditional teachers are getting a free pass, doing that stuff from fifty years ago. But it will come back to bite them in the ass one day. I totally believe that language teachers who don’t know about comprehensible input are going to go the way of the dinosaur.