Our reaction to the COVID crisis has so far been to frantically search the internet for band-aid solutions, activities that do little for us or for our students.
Our reasoning seems to be that if we can just find the right activity to keep our students at least minimally involved in our online instruction – and the research be damned – we can weather the crisis and keep our jobs, breathing a huge sigh of relief when we can get back into full forced control over kids, where nobody can see how ineffective much of our instruction is for the vast majority of our students.
But our jobs are not in jeopardy, in the sense that other more qualified people are out there trying to get them. There are no such people out there. Our jobs are in jeopardy only in the sense that we may not be able to actually keep doing them because we can’t actually hold our students’ attention.
Over many years this fact has gotten to many of us, and has caused many of us to run as fast as we could to the nearest exit and leave the playing field of education forever. It’s been happening for decades!
One of the best teachers I’ve ever been honored to know, over a two-year period, once gave intense consideration to just quitting language teaching forever in favor of a low-paying yet far less stressful waitressing position.
And yet, this topic of how our jobs drive us truly crazy is rarely discussed. In fact, it’s just a big game of “Gotcha” where the people who don’t really know about the primacy of the importance of auditory input in language instruction look down on us and and sneer at our sincere efforts to make CI work in our classrooms.
They do this while SAYING that they are doing CI but they aren’t. They are actually lying to themselves. One of their biggest lies is to focus TOO EARLY ON READING. Please note this fact if your name is Carol Gaab.] Do you know anyone who relies too much on the novels? Such teachers are all over the place – entire departments of them.
Those dinosaur traditional and dinosaur TPRS teachers who currently hold the fort down, generally distorting CI, are in fact doing nothing more than shielding our profession from what is really happening in it (nothing), while making their instruction seem normal and do-able.
It’s just a big lie – one that has been unintentional and therefore no blame on those well-intentioned-but-ignorant-of-the-research teachers – that has now been finally outed now by the COVID crisis.
So my message here is that if we are going to meet the new challenges of our time via (a) one day in class and one day online, or (b) one day in class and two days online, or (c) one week in class and one week online, whatever form it takes, we had better stop looking for ineffective band-aid treatment instruction, so readily available these days in the new online CI marketplace, and learn how to really teach a language online.
We need to grow up.
My ideas on how to teach languages work online. I’ve grown up. If you want to know how, ask me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll invite you to a Zoom group I’m running right now where you will see the CI magic in action.