Daniel Tiger is an innocent young tiger, very much like our students.
The result of our stubborn focus on the form of the language and on the way that it is built mechanically is that our instruction has become alarmingly mechanical. Tigers don’t do mechanical. They do natural.
We just haven’t provided our students with any interesting communication. We have done nothing but waste far too many precious tiger instructional minutes, year after year, while using English to an alarming degree, which our little tigers already speak.
(The CI movement in general has devolved into a series of “communicate activities” as Bryan described in his comment last week here. It has failed to bring the truths found in the research to life. It is a fact that even the current accepted version of the CI movement has largely lost its way. But that is the subject of another series of posts.)
As a result of not adopting interesting and engaging communicative instruction, we have gotten next to no results in terms of real acquisition and student proficiency levels. We have gotten results in terms of memorizing things for tests, but doing that has been a crucifixion for the overwhelming majority of our students because it has made many of them hate the beautiful languages we teach, and not just for a few years but for their entire lives. Tigers don’t do memorization, and they absolutely hate tests.
Now we need to ask our little tigers to forgive us, of course not outwardly, but within our hearts. We are the professionals and we need to know the research and learn how to teach that way – in terms of the research. It’s time for us to change. We have finally arrived at this real point of change, after all these decades. We also need now to do the courageous act of growing up and forgiving ourselves for following the wrong path in our profession up to this point. No blame. We were doing our best.
Since now is the time for change, now is our opportunity to change. The successful language teachers of the future will be those who stop, take a deep breath, get to know the research, dump the textbook and the excessive testing, and give our little auditory tigers a chance.