Here’s a tiresome topic that we never seem to get tired of:
I just got done going through your Big CI Book. I found it incredibly useful as my Spanish department is getting to make “the shift” to CI/IPA. We are still working through our many questions and strategies for our big move for next year.
I am fully on board that CI is the way to go for authentic acquisition of the language, but at what point does language structure and grammar come in to play? I am sure that many students leave CI programs speaking, writing and communicating beautifully. What happens to those kids when they get to college Spanish and are expected to know grammar terms and uses? Many college placement tests are grammar driven. Do you have any data to support the CI cause for Spanish college students?
The short answer is that, in my view, we must do what we think is best and what is right for the kids. So many kids aren’t privileged to attend college – they just want something or someone to tell them they are good at something before they set out on a lifetime of minimum wage jobs. We can do that.
But there are other ways to answer this question. My experience after 24 years teaching AP French Lang and Lit and now 15 using CI (not TPRS since I have broken with those people) is that the college bound kids can meet the grammar demands in college w little effort. I just stop stories in Feb. of their senior year and teach for college and they are fine. But when they learn the grammar in this way, it is authentically, because they already know it (read: didn’t memorize for tests, actually know the language). It does make sense, doesn’t it, to only learn the grammatical aspects of a language after one actually knows the language?
I would ask, at what point will the university people ever be able to see the truth about their instruction? How long can you use a PhD to hide from the research about how people in fact learn languages?