I Am A Fool

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4 thoughts on “I Am A Fool”

  1. I think you can use English to bond with your students and deal with the most severe rules infractions – you have to really in those cases – but everything else including the most boring details of what you ate for breakfast or where you were yesterday is more effective in L2…

  2. Until Diana’s initiative for our district described above, I just plain went into English too much. About anything. This is not a complex point to make here, requiring all sorts of nuanced discussion. Even though I claim TPRS, for over nine years now I would typically be doing nice L2 CI for ten minutes or so, and then, just when the plane was off the ground, something would make me think of something, and I would casually but immediately break out of the CI into an (always highly embellished) version to my kids in English about how, with an nice German violin strapped to my back and late for a class many years ago, I rode my new French bike smack into the side of a huge light blue touring bus at an intersection in Strasbourg, France and broke the hell out of my left collarbone. THIS IS WHAT I CAN NO LONGER DO WITH THIS NEW DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS INITIATIVE. We need data and we need good, accurate data, and we need it now. If I want to do stuff like that again I can do it in three years after this study is over, perhaps. Diana wants 90% French in my classes and I will try as best as I possibly can with the natural and huge limitations of the naturally skewed school environment to deliver that product. I will do so by sheer mental effort of overiding those little forays into English, by simply not “going there”. If I need to put a teaching assistant with a squirt gun in the front row, so be it. Actually, with me, the squirt gun wouldn’t work at all. I would need to be tasered.
    And one might suggest to me to just tell the bike story in French. But I can’t for at least two reasons – it would interrupt the nascent CI that was being developed, and, also, the bike story was personalized about me, not about my kids, which doesn’t work. I can write a story about that event and make a kid the central character and then it would be o.k. and then tell the kids that that really happened to me later. But I WILL stop with the L1 digressions.

  3. I hear you, Ben. Those needless digressions (and they are ultimately needless) are so easy to get into. We need to be like a business in this sense: get rid of everything that does not contribute to the end goal. It it doesn’t help me accomplish what I need to accomplish, I can’t afford to do it.
    I have found, though, that every once in a while, after you have established a relationship with your students, they do want to hear what happened to you – but only every once in a while, and only after you have become a real person to them. That’s one of the nice things about having students for four years, we actually are able to get to know one another and develop a relationship over time. (BTW, would you believe we actually had a lively theological discussion in German 4/AP as a result of reading Luther’s “Ein’ feste Burg”?)

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