The idea of CI teachers teaching grammar for ten minutes a day was floated by Zach Al Moreno of the American Embassy School in New Delhi. It was suggested as a way to placate the grammar instructors and honor the Scope and Sequence model currently (outmoded but) in place in our school. The idea was met with the following responses by our PLC members here:
Here are a few things to consider, depending on the personalities of your high school counterparts.
1) If you all are going to teach 10 minutes of grammar a day, what are they going to replace 10 minutes of grammar with 10 minutes of CI every day? Be careful of accidentally validating the premise that the high school teachers somehow outrank you. In my limited experience, that can be a difficult bell to unring.
2) Will the 10 minutes of grammar a class period be “enough” for them? What happens when your students forget of all that grammar stuff over the summer? Will the high school teachers come back and say that 10 minutes isn’t enough, because your kids aren’t adequately “prepared” for their classes? When I spent 98% of my time teaching grammar straight out of the textbook for two years, my high school colleagues complained that my students weren’t well enough prepared. I even tried literally turning my 8th grade classes into a mirror image of the high school Latin 1 class, including using ALL of the exact same materials. They still complained that my kids weren’t prepared. When I spent .01% of the time teaching grammar to my 8th graders, the high school teachers still complained. Will enough ever be enough?
3) Are you going to start assessing and grading grammar? What happens when your kids acquire huge amounts of French, get A’s and then have trouble in high school? Will you get blamed for that? Will your admin insist that you grade more harshly? Will your colleagues and admins insist upon grammar making up a large percentage of the grade? Will the idea of having common grammar assessments start to show up as potential “solution’?
These all may be non-issues in your situation, but these are things to possibly consider. I think that compromise is healthy, but if those high school teachers offer nothing in return for your 10 minutes of grammar, you maybe be walking into a trap.
Personally, I think it’s harmful to teach 10 minutes of daily textbook grammar in the early years of instruction.
There will then be an implicit focus on getting it right (accuracy). Just knowing there is a right way (and they won’t retain much of the actual rules) will make students seize up.
Plus, what a mixed message! Will the kids then think that grammar study is how they’ll get better? Will they attribute their gains to the grammar stuff?
It doesn’t matter what you say to the kids. Your actions (teaching grammar) speak louder than your words (“we don’t acquire from grammar instruction”).
If they never experience it, then they won’t know what they’re missing.
If we know that direct instruction of grammar is 1. a waste of time and 2. as you say truly “harmful” (for affective filter)… any amount of direct grammar instruction (even 10 minutes) would diminish our voice and feed into the Grammar Nazis.