Just wanted to share an email conversation with a (university level) colleague from yesterday. What I responded is in italics:
Hi Ben –
Well, I’ve finished my first day at both schools. I’m exhausted, my feet hurt, my voice is a bit weak, but boy, this was more fun than I remember having at work in a long time! I decided to just straddle the fence at the university; I’ll follow their syllabus in my three introductory classes, and I’ll let my students try to pre-teach themselves the grammar and vocab, and I won’t overrule the coordinator’s daily mandatory computer-based pre-class vocab & grammar homework ..
Wow, reading this and being reminded of what they do at the university level, after knowing what I know now, is very alarming to me. Those students can’t learn faster and memorize lists of words just because they are in college. It’s like, do they still do that?
I’ll let all that stand…
I think that is a good decision.
But in class, instead of them speaking 90% of the time and me speaking 10%, I’m going to do the opposite, and I’m going to teach those lessons with TPRS.
Right on. This is brave and the students will love you for it. I have 0% forced output. I ain’t no Berlitz teacher.
I had every student put their name on a piece of paper on their desk, with three drawings of anything they think might help me get to know them, and then I started circling, using Blaine’s “muchacho número uno,” using question words, getting to know names. Didn’t even touch on their drawings yet. One girl came up to me after class and said, “I’m sorry, I know this is just going to sound like ass kissing, but I have to tell you that I learned more today than in three years of high school Spanish! I never got how the sentences worked before!!”
Right on. I did the same thing yesterday and had a ball with, I think, three sentences in 45 minutes.
So now I’m even more determined to continue. I’ll just keep circling and getting to know them, and look for ways to work the daily vocab and grammar topics into the questions I create from their pictures.
If Krashen is right you don’t need to do that. And he’s right. The only problem is that some person who thinks they know something assigned you that vocabulary and you can’t change the curriculum. Unless you find a boss to say 100% yes to Net Theory. Like me. I am sitting pretty with a boss who allows me total automony to teach the way I want. Ultimately, this Krashen stuff is just going so slowly BECAUSE of administrators. This is all still connnected to the book lobby mentality.
And I’m going to start Thursday’s class off in the past tense (even though our grammar syllabus won’t touch it until next semester), asking them “quién fue el muchacho número uno?”
Yes. Switch freely between the tenses in PQA. But when you start stories they are in the past, with the readings that come from them in the present.
The Problem with CI
Jeffrey Sachs was asked what the difference between people in Norway and in the U.S. was. He responded that people in Norway are happy and
2 thoughts on “Conversation”
Awesome. Ben, I need to hear more about how his semester goes! I am teaching a concurrent enrollment (HS and Unv) course. This will be my 4th year teaching it. This describes my exact concern. I want to find a way to bridge the needs by Unv. admin. and those of my students. My compatriot at our sister high school is on board as well. I’ll let you know how it starts out.
I have a dual credit doyenne from the local CC breathing down my neck too! Interesting stuff.