They Know the Deal

From Utah, a girl – sparkling four percenter –  joined my French 1 class about two weeks ago. She had an A in her former school and, since we have been on a Susan Gross type of reading jag lately, had an A with me as well – she reads well. 
But each time that we took a spin into L2, I noticed that the window shades immediately rolled down over her eyes. Today, before class, she told me that she was signing up for French 1 again next year. That she couldn’t understand a word.
I told her that I knew that, and said very kindly that none of it was her fault and that she could do French 2 next year (I won’t be the teacher) and that I would slow down for the rest of the year. But, with two weeks left, it ain’t gonna happen.
Then, today, a girl from Holland moving to Denver was shadowing in my level 2 class and we talked a bit with the class to find out about Europe and all that. . She told us that she was taking French 2 in her country.
Our welcome visit concluded, I then launched into some PQA – I was in a big time PQA mood today – and could soon see that this child also was lost.
I’ve only encountered that feeling of being lost in a language class once, when I couldn’t get to the first two days of a Linda Li week of Mandarin here in Denver a few summers ago. It’s a pretty bad feeling.
But just imagine how it must feel for the kids above, both really smart and eager kids. To follow up on some discussion here earlier today, both kids would most likely test out fine with the instruments that most of us now have in place.
But they know the deal.



2 thoughts on “They Know the Deal”

  1. Robert Harrell

    I wanted to share this, and here looks like a good place. 🙂
    This morning I had an IEP meeting for one of my special ed students. At 7:30 I and the special ed teacher were there but no one else. Then A. walked in. He was still half asleep and obviously very tired, but he greeted me in German and told me he was tired. I gave him a bad time about staying up late on the computer (because I know he does), and we casually bantered auf deutsch for a couple of minutes.
    The special ed teacher was totally amazed (and I do mean totally “blown away”) that a second-year, half-asleep student could carry on a conversation in German. The teacher had taken “traditional Spanish” and wouldn’t have been able to do that.
    Others began to arrive, so the meeting started. I was pleased to inform his mother that A. is doing well in the class and obviously learning German. She laughed and said he has been teaching the whole family German. He will continue next year in German 3, and we also talked about the possibility of doing a year abroad in Germany if he goes to college or asking to be stationed in Germany if he joins the military. Very positive outlook for a “special ed” student – or anyone, for that matter.
    And I doubt that A. could conjugate a verb to save his life. But we know the deal.

  2. Right on Robert! It reminds me of Anne Matava’s highly proficient (to me they sounded fluent, actually) fourth year German students who thanked her one day when, in the spring of their fourth year, she first told them about verb conjugations and they politely thanked her for the neat “filing system”.
    When languages are presented via sound and not vision they are acquired. Robert, if I were to accomplish nothing else in my entire career, but had just one story like this one to tell, it would be enough. We teach to build up kids, not tear them down. I am so happy to read this story and thank you so much for sharing it here. That kid doesn’t feel stupid – and that’s the deal.

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