4H/AP Class

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7 thoughts on “4H/AP Class”

  1. First, find a way to get the two native speakers out. They don’t enroll PhD holders in beginning science classes either. Those two will ruin the class if they haven’t already. But can they write perfectly? Do they know the literature of their country? If not, put them in another room with a colleague for intense skill development in what they need, or in the back of the room. Get them out of the dialogue immediately – they have no business in it.

    Next, the students in this class have gamed the system for years and you nor anyone else is going to break that. So stop trying. Like you say, just make it to the end of the year. How? Well, like the native speakers, your job is to differentiate and meet the academic needs of each of your students, right? And most of the AP kids need to be able to SHOW UP AS HUMAN BEINGS in your classroom before they can be successful in acquiring the language, as we have discussed so much this fall. So go ahead and do that. Teach them to get involved in the real way.

    What is the real way? It is the way where you speak and they understand. How to do that? Well, their background in traditional probably is the reason they have those glum looks on their faces. They know they don’t know anything and they don’t want you to find out.

    The only solution is to stop the train, treat them as what they are, level 1/2 students (come on, everybody, let’s tell the truth here – even the few privileged mostly white females don’t know much more than how to dance with the pluperfect and even that is a big knot of weird memorized spellings in their mind).

    So yes to answer your question jive them the same class you give your level 1s. You will see something. OK maybe move a little faster, but not much. That’s my suggestion.

    Others in the group will have other suggestions. Then keep us in the loop. I had such a group four years ago. It was horrible. Just speak to them simply. They will come crawling out of their fear-shells. They will. Mine never did, but it was because I tried too hard and didn’t treat them like level the level 1 kids they were in terms of CI skills, especially listening.

    I tried to start TPRS/CI with them but treated them as level four students. That was my error. They are not AP students, so don’t teach them like that. They’re just scared kids who were taught in a way that didn’t work and they don’t want you to find out. So find that common ground.

    Don’t announce any changes. Teach class normally but stop ten minutes early and do some goofy little story. Find the student with the most open heart toward what you are doing. Find that kid in the hallway before class. Tell him/her that you need them to suggest stupid answers to your questions. Then make those ten minutes between you and this kid, Then another will add in when they see that is safe and that they understand. Soon they won’t want to do anything but the last ten minute goofy stuff. Then you’ve got them.

  2. Once again the AP dilemma rears its ugly head.

    I second Ben’s and Eric’s suggestions about getting the native speakers out of the mix. However, you may well not be able to remove them from the classroom for a variety of reasons: the school has “nowhere else” to put them; they need an “easy grade” to boost their GPA; it’s too late in the school year; they want the language credits for college; etc. Here are a couple of things you may or may not know about AP and how language class credits work:
    1. You don’t have to take an AP course to take the AP exam. Anyone can take any AP exam as long as they pay the money. So, if these native speakers want to take the AP exam, they don’t need to sit through an AP class to do it.
    2. “Two years of a language” doesn’t really mean two years of seat time in a language class. What is important is passing the equivalent of a second-year (or third or fourth) language course. If a student comes in as a freshman and passes a third-year language course, colleges count that as having had three years of language. Many Heritage speakers can do this, completing three years of language in a single year. As opposed to true native speakers, heritage speakers will not necessarily be bored in an upper-level class.
    3. There are two Spanish AP exams: Spanish Language and Culture and Spanish Literature. Your native speakers may be able to take the Language and Culture test without much preparation, and you could assign them independent reading to prepare for the Literature exam. This will have the by-product of also preparing them for writing by giving them lots of reading.
    4. There are a variety of ways to meet the AP exam of teaching the themes. One way is, of course, to have a theme-based syllabus. Another way is to note how your approach addresses all of the themes along the way. For my German AP syllabus I have my students explore the city of Berlin and its history: current multicultural status, fall of the Wall, divided Berlin, World War II, Interwar Years, World War I, Imperial Berlin. That’s first semester. Second semester we explore the German Middle Ages. In the course of the year students deal with all of the themes: Global Challenges, Science and Technology, Everyday Life, Personal and Public Identities, Families and Communities, Beauty and Aesthetics. I just don’t do it thematically.

    As far as interest in “Immigration” is concerned: you’re right that they don’t care about it – until it relates to them. I would give them a “homework” assignment to find out about their family’s immigration story. Unless they are Native Americans, they are x-generation immigrants (and even Native Americans are ultimately immigrants, having come across the land bridge from Russia). Get them to share their family’s story. What challenges did their grandparents, great-grandparents face? How did their Public and Private Identity change? (Many immigrants have gone from being skilled workers at home to unskilled labor in the US; many immigrants find themselves a new minority when they were the majority at home; many second-generation immigrants try to hide their ethnic identity) What impact did immigration have on their Family and Community? (Did they stay in an ethnic enclave? Did the family try to assimilate immediately into mainstream culture?) Then you can talk about current immigration issues with greater student involvement. Note, too, that you are still doing storytelling, only now students (or you) are telling real stories about their own families.

    To give students a little bit of the exam, have them write an e-mail “home” describing their new life. Then another student can reply as a family member. In another unit have students write a formal e-mail or letter. Yes, this is output, but it’s what the AP exam requires. It also means you are teaching them culturally appropriate means of communication because the way you address a letter or e-mail to a friend is different from how you address someone you don’t know.

    If anyone asks about what you are doing, you are preparing them for the AP exam and to use the language in real-world situations. If they say that what you are doing is different from what an older sibling or friend did, your agree that it is – but the AP exam has changed, so you have to give them what they need for the new exam. (The Spanish exam changed as of 2014; German and French changed in 2012.)

    As far as TPRS is concerned, you may have to write off this class. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide them with Comprehensible Input in other ways. Also, as Ben suggests, TPRS may be a short segment of the class period.

    As Ben asked, keep us posted on what happens.

  3. Hi Paul, write to me off list and I will send you (or anyone) a doc I created for independent study for my weird highly mixed classes. I have a level 2 class with native speakers in it, crazy. So they have to use this doc, with 22 options, to guide them in what to do independently while I teach the rest of the class. I bought 4 used older iMacs on eBay for around $150 each and put them in the back of the class, that’s where they work. I think my school will reimburse me, I hope so! It’s okay so far. They are working well, but they stink at recording what they’re doing in their journals, which is how I’m grading them for now. They have a lot of choice but one requirement is that they read every day for at least 20 min and do a double entry journal. Ben benlev2@yahoo.com

  4. I have a lot of students who come to me after years of traditional classes and a fair amount of exposure to the English language through television, films, travellng, etc. But they have Acquired errors, like your boy who struggles with first person present tense structures. I use films with them quite a bit, but I also pick up on frequent mistakes and PQA them and even go on to a story. So basically, I’m giving them an AP class, but with built in remedial sessions using TPRS. I’ve explained what I’m doing and the students are happy about it.

  5. I find that films are often a great way to deal with a messy class. If you subtitle in English, the lower-achieving Level 4’s feel that they have some support and the native speakers are often highly interested in the films. It is often easier to get kids “into” a film then into a “theme” which seems very disconnected from their own lives.

    Independent reading is also a huge plus. It’s a small class so you don’t need dozens of copies of novels, nor have to make a ton of copies if you want them to read articles. I do have them summarize, create questions about, or use several articles as resources to create a short essay. I do not ask them to write up anything about novels unless I see that they a group that needs that kind of “accountability”.

    Music also can be a huge interest generator….different artists and different genres.

    I think that for a number of reasons, getting to know this group, pasito a pasito, will also go a long way. A journal where they answer a question once a week and you respond in writing, celebrating their accomplishments outside of class (sports, driver’s license etc.) with recognition in class, birthdays etc. They need to feel like a community. That may take a long time, but keep trying.

    Lastly…maybe this group can do something that provides support or a service for someone else. Are you in a rural, suburban or urban setting? Is there a community organization that could use bilingual signs? Could this group create holiday cards for kids in the hospital? Could they create something for your level 1 kids?

    Those things can go a long way to build a sense of caring and feeling as if they, and what are learning, matters.

    with love,

    1. It may be that my students are younger and because their only FL experience has been with TCI, but I have native speakers and many Portuguese-speaking students and they are just as interested i the stories, etc. That’s the beauty of it: you get some good, compelling discussion, then the language is out of focus. The focus is the message. As a Brazilian student told me last year: “Spanish is easy. It sounds like wrong Portuguese. But it’s fun.” haha. Now, as I study Portuguese, I realize how incredibly similar they really are!

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