A Blast from the Past

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10 thoughts on “A Blast from the Past”

  1. I wonder if he still feels the same. I’d love to see how “well” his students from two years ago have acquired the language compared to how well yours have. Better yet, it would be interesting to see whose language program has grown and whose has died. Hmmm…

  2. Holy Cow! signed “a teacher who really teaches”??? to what? the 3% that can follow the the grammatical rules of languages and who want to be linguists? People who don’t are to actually speak a language.

    I was shocked that language education in Germany hasn’t changed a bit since I finished school in 2001. I thought about this a lot, why in the US language education is so much more progressive, yet more people here speak another language. It’s easy really. Language education here is compulsory. No teacher has to try and keep their numbers up. In the US language teacher are fighting for their programs and their jobs. Pressure made them adopt better ways to keep students and progress their language programs.

    English as a first language can be a curse when you’re told “Well, everyone speaks English anyway” No German kid is told, “Forget learning another language, everyone speaks German anyway.” We start younger and younger, because their is much importance put on knowing English, but the programs are NOT better than what is done in the US. They are compulsory and start anywhere between 1st and 3rd grade.

    And here is something else from someone, who has gone through that language education. I always LOVED English, I stopped liking it in school in grade 7. I had a good understanding of the language after school, but it wasn’t until I worked with US Americans and Brits, started reading Harry Potter in English for fun and then went to the US as an Au Pair that I gained fluency. (Working with kids for gaining language skills is amazing: pure comprehensible input). I was taught British English in school for 8 years, but speak with an American accent because really that’s where I acquired the language.

    It’s so sad, that many teachers still think that “they are really teaching language” while we just do fun and games. Ugh, this made me mad. It hits that sensitive spot.

    1. Yeah, those colleagues of yours made very ugly comments to your work. I think you are right that nothing has really changed in German language education in the last twenty or thirty years. And even in Waldorf schools you’ll find all sorts of eclectic approaches but rarely some kind of comprehensible input that deserves this name. So I am not very optimistic for the near future. Let us create a few islands of joy and happiness and hope that they will attract other teachers longing for a change in education.

      1. “Let us create a few islands of joy and happiness and hope that they will attract other teachers longing for a change in education.”

        Absolutely! Robert just suggested reading “The invisible classroom.” It’s amazing and so supportive of everything we try to do. A must read.

        Also, I hope you and your colleagues will have a chance to set up the interview with my colleague for her article on “Inclusion in the foreign language classroom” She is very excited about presenting this very different approached. I think this might be a push in the right direction!

    2. Me too, I liked English very much when starting with the language in 5th grade. I had the luck to have very kind English teachers but could not understand and speak really well before discovering British Forces Broadcasting Service in Germany, reading World & Press with annotated articles from British and American newspapers, watching Sesame Street in English and spending three weeks with a nice British family in England at the age of 17.

  3. “Joy is the serious business of Heaven” – C.S. Lewis

    “I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous.

    “It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live.

    “But in this world everything is upside down. That which , if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”

    https://tollelege.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/joy-is-the-serious-business-of-heaven-by-c-s-lewis/

    Let us be about the serious business of bringing the Joy of Heaven to our students.
    Be “frivolous”. Dance. Play.

    By turning the world upside down, we are actually setting it right side up.

    1. …joy is the serious business of Heaven….

      Proof in my own career lies in the multiple times when I was literally about to fall down on the floor of my classroom – in despair and confusion and self-recrimination that I wasn’t good enough at this work – and all of a sudden an angel or some kind of angelic presence (“J’entrevis aussitôt une lueur, dans le mystère de sa présence”), would pick me up and to get me through the class and smiles often came out of those moments of dark classroom doubt. Des fleurs du mal. This happened many times. (And yes there is evil in our classrooms and we must be protected from it and that is why we need comprehensible input instruction, because it aligns with joy.) Those times when I was saved in an instant in class make me take very seriously the idea expressed here that joy is the serious business of Heaven. We are not in a time of stasis in foreign language education right now. Angelic hosts are here to rally an army against darkness. We are part of that army. If God be for us in this work, then who can be against us? I rebuke all darkness and suffering that is heaped up by the truckload on our children in the name of language education.

      Tina wrote to me today a powerful sentence:

      …we make learning so violent….

      She also said:

      …… kids’ reality should be the foundation….

      Not targets. The kids’ reality. Dig it.

      Only one other thing to say in this mini-rant:

      Go Cubs.

      1. “…we make learning so violent….”

        When I was reading tons of political (radical) essays in college, I came across one that mentioned “Structural violence”. In it the author gave an example the violent nature that some university libraries have because at trying to check out materials, you would need to be a student or a professor of the university.

        Now, education is violent not only with judgement and data but with the intolerance for another way. Pure dogma. Le système de l’education, c’est l’education du système

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