Q. Hi Ben!
I am a second-year Spanish teacher. In graduate school, I studied and trained in TPRS methods with a professor whose pedagogy was centered on comprehensible input in language acquisition. I am lucky to have had her! I admire your work a lot, and I have been experimenting in non-targeted CI this year. I have a cool opportunity to have teach the same students in 7th and 8th grade through our Spanish 1A/1B program and decided to ditch targeted TPRS stories and move to something more student centered.
I’ve been having a great start to the year. That said, it’s hard not to feel a little lost in non-targeted CI. Some days spinning little stories out of card talk seems stale. And it makes me feel like they’re not really with me – even if they were yesterday. I’m in an area where CI is not the norm. My students will move on to high school and they will create actual posters on how to use double object pronouns in Spanish (a true story from a former student) and have no idea how to actually use a double object pronoun.
I’m just wondering if you might be able to offer some advice to me at this point in the year. I KNOW that students acquire when input is interesting. I’ve been placing so much of my focus on community and inclusion, and classes are enjoyable and I know student smiles are genuine. I think my concern/worry comes from the question: where do we go from here?
And as another aside — I’m having trouble fitting in first person naturally — I’m not really sure why. Do you have any suggestions for this?
Thank you for your time!
A. Hi Megan it’s not just about spinning stories out of card. Far from that. It’s about building a culture that is based on student created images. Those processes are described in ANATTY. The 21 reading options also bring a wealth of activities. I can’t put all the ideas into an email bc they are contained in that entire book and in ANATS.
If the students are going next year to make grammar posters, etc. then why not do them? If the kids need 5,000 to 10,000 hours in a four year program and you only have around 400 hours in a four year program, realistically, then why try to milk every minute for CI? There’s still not nearly enough time. So just prepare them for their wonderful high school careers, and do any one of the millions of options found in ANATTY and ANATS. Boy are they going to be pissed in high school.
First person? Why cram it in. My concept is about what is natural and student centered so if it’s not natural is there some fear that just hearing the root of the verbs a million times is going to cause them in Mexico to not understand what is going on from the context, who is speaking? Will the Mexicans be confused about what is intended?
Will correct endings appear naturally when the brain is ready to produce them? Do you really think you can get enough first person reps in a middle or high school CI class? I actually counted how many reps I got on the first person in one year at East High in Denver. I got 5. (Lying to make a point.)
We are all kind of weird. Trying to teach everything. We can’t. We don’t have the time. And so we work harder and faster. And sacrifice our lives and sanity in the process. That just seems weird to me when I take a look at my paycheck each month. It’s the American work ethic I guess.
But when you talk about destruction (of my mental health) well then you know that you can count me out.