The point about being happy – everyone in the classroom being happy – is at the crux of our discussion, or should be. For many in the CI world, it isn’t. The work has been too much focused on student gains and how the teacher can focus on their own skills and wonderfulness to bring them about. Those are superficial things, housed in the mind, in ego. They alone cannot bring about the transformation in our teaching that we desire. We must learn to listen to our students’ hearts, and the only way we can do that is to listen to our own.
So many of us involved in language education want to mold our classes based on how much is learned and grades. But we must protect our ourselves and our students from such thinking. Let’s not go down that worn out 20th century road.
If we continue to teach our students without a feeling of love and acceptance being conveyed to them during class, the results will be the same: miserable.
What our students need most in our classes is to feel that the teacher and their peers care about them and know that they are trying their best, and that they don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love and approve of them during class.
I feel that in some ways there are teachers who have an effect on children that can only be described as evil. It is because when they design a curriculum that only favors the fast processors, they are making the slower processors feel less than they are. That is evil. We need to call out teachers who shame students for not being able to process language as fast as the few in the classroom who can.
Unless the affective filter level is low, and unless the child is relaxed and emotionally involved with trying to understand the message instead of intellectually involved in thinking about the language as discussed earlier, then true acquisition cannot happen.
There is a another quote from Fred Rogers that I consider of immense importance when thinking about what a language curriculum should look like: Rogers said, “I don’t think that anybody can grow unless they are accepted exactly as they are.”
By putting the focus on the child, Rogers puts the focus on what is right and good and fair. How can a child want to learn more if they aren’t involved in what is going on in class, if they feel that they will be accepted only to the degree that they do well on tests? A good curriculum must protect the child from being made to feel that they have to be what they can’t be yet, because they don’t know how, and it’s not their fault.
Fred Rogers has said that “…love is at the heart of all learning…”. If the statement is true, and I feel that many teachers who are attracted to comprehensible input language instruction feel that it is, then why shouldn’t a learning curriculum be based on it?
It is the position taken in this training program that a foreign language curriculum should not only align with the research and the standards, but also communicate to each student in the classroom that they are accepted and loved.