Scenario 2: The Entire Class is Composed of Heritage Speakers
Q. Can CI be used to teach a class of primarily native speakers? Our school’s hispanic population has grown immensely so we have split the FLES classes into native and non-native groups. Up until now I’ve been teaching only the non-natives. Next year I’ll be teaching the native speakers and hope to be able to continue using CI but it seems that by definition that wouldn’t work. Thoughts and suggestions?
A. In the heinous situation when we are given an entire class of heritage speakers, we must go real heavy on the writing and reading and extending phases of the star sequence and lighter on the early create phase of creating characters and reviewing them.
There are five points to the star and so as per the above we go fast through the first two phases of creating and reviewing, which is very easy for them. It’s so sneaky because by quickly creating a character and then a story, we can really lay down the hammer in the other three points of the star, writing, reading and extending (see below).
With heritage sepakers we can spend 80% of the time on those last three steps, where with novices we would spend only 50% of the time there. I can’t imagine a better way to teach heritage speakers than by having them read things THEY have created using all 20 of the reading options and then having fun extending out with the WCTG, etc.
Here is the chart again:
What I like so much about this chart is that it is a complete curriculum, but one that represents in a very elegant way a truly flexible system while aligning with the different needs of different teachers, and is a not a concretized version of a curriculum. Any teacher using the above SYSTEM for teaching a language will experience success using CI, even if it comes with a lot of dirty looks from colleagues who can’t figure out what is going on and thus feel threatened.
The overall point to make with the heritage speakers is that, although auditory CI is not useful to them, writing practice and lots of reading are. I personally think that reading CI is MORE valuable than listening to CI, even with novices. But we need the auditory CI to said up the reading.
So I think that any heritage class should spend the VAST majority of their time writing and reading what they create. When we do it this way, we align our instruction with the research. And when we do that, it means that our oft-mistreated heritage speakers’ time is not being wasted.