Here is the website for a new kind of school, one that says they do CI but don’t. They are talking the talk without walking the walk.
Please take the 95 seconds needed to watch their promotional video. Here are my comments on it, because it raises all sorts of red flags in my mind. They may serve to alert us to the kind of false claims being made out there these days by schools whose relationship with real CI doesn’t go any deeper than the level of a buzz word:
- The students are in small classes. So I would ask, “Is this really a CI program? Real CI programs usually have packed upper level classes of 25 or more students in them because the kids continue through the program, because they experience success.
- This looks like some of my AP classes from 30 years ago. (I once had an AP French Literature class with two rich white kids in it.) One thing we know about CI classes is that they protect and support equity. Maybe this is just an all-white school…).
- All I can offer as a response to their claim at 00:05 that they offer a “culturally authentic immersion experience” is: “Really?”
- At 00:15 to 00:30 into the video, they say that the students “will be able to communicate in the target language for meaningful purposes”. Again, I ask, “Really?” I don’t see any kids or teachers for that matter doing that in the video.
- At 26:00 the kids are getting ready to take notes in their notebooks. That one cannot possibly be a CI class.
- The kids at 00:43 are grouped, working out of a book. No comment.
- At 00:47 the statement is made that the teachers abide by ACTFL’s 90% target language position statement “beginning in level I”. I tried doing that for about 15 years when I was doing TPRS. I tried and tried and almost tore my hair out trying. I finally gave up and went to about 50% – 70% TL. I wasn’t able to do the 90%. I don’t think anyone can. I think ACTFL should fess up and take their stupid position statement down. I will say one thing – the kids in this video are not in the TL 90% of the time. Just look at the video.
- The physical distance between the kids and the teachers is remarkable. Where are kids doing jobs? Where are the acting stools? Where is the communication?
- At 00:49 the kids are doing TPR. Meaningful communication? Really? They’re not even into it. The teacher is faking it. We’ve all faked it. TPR is flakey. Why not just talk to our students instead of waving our hands around the room or walking to the door and back?
- At 00:57 the narrator says that they have “identified proficiency targets” for the end of every course. That means that they are teaching to the test and therefore cannot possibly be aligning with the research, esp. Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis which states clearly that individuals acquire languages at different rates, and don’t all arrive at the same level of proficiency at the same time.
- At 1:03 it says with obvious pride that “performance-based benchmark assessments” are administered. I would not be proud of that – it flies in the face of the research!
- At 1:10 it says that “our curriculum is based on culturally authentic and engaging thematic units of study”, while a teacher is looking at some written information with a high achiever. Engaging thematic units? Since when are thematic units engaging? Thematic units are not engaging. I won’t go into it here, but thematic units do not lend themselves to comprehensible input instruction. We’ve talked here for years and years about the dangers of thematic unit language instruction as being simply unable to effectuate serious comprehensible input instruction.
- Look at the expression on the kid’s face at 1:15. Am I the only one who wants to weep when seeing that? The kid is not engaged. He is trapped and waiting for the bell. God help all of us.
- Pause the video at 1:22. There is no CI happening there. At the very point in the video where they claim that they strive to bring CI into “every class”, the kids are doing worksheets.