I Don’t Care if I Was Rude

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46 thoughts on “I Don’t Care if I Was Rude”

  1. We’ll see if my “friend” Daniel H (militant grammarian) replies. He’s an internet bully on that site, so I expect him to say something, but not do anything. He mostly just complains about TPRS (and gives grammar advice), which was the tone of the very original post, by Elena, whining about the 90% TL guideline, being evaluated on that next year, etc.

    Ben – your reply was straight from the shoulder. I tried to be more diplomatic, but it went nowhere, obvio. In the end all I could do was remind people to be prepared to be evaluated with new standards, and good luck.

    1. WARNING, this comment may contain language unsuitable for those who are sensitive.

      I hope he does so that some more cans of whoopass can be opened on him. I found myself getting extremely irritated with his comments. Sarah was the first to really set me off and then this Daniel guy, who I will be blunt and say is a douche, comes on and starts talking. I was feeling bad for you Ben (Lev) when I saw you getting teamed up on but then Grant and Slavic jumped in and they are much more eloquent than I am so I stayed out. Plus, if I started commenting on that I would get so mad that I would probably resort to calling that guy a douche, as that is how I see it.

      They definitely feel threatened, which is why it’s getting so hostile. They aren’t doing a very good job of hiding their fear.

  2. If the people on that site are going to publicly try to piss people off then we shouldn’t disappoint them by not responding with a few pot shots. We can have a little fun trying to de-confuse them, can’t we? Or are we all supposed to take the high road? Screw that.

    Of course, they don’t want to be de-confused. It’s like people in all walks of life – politics, for example – who think that they can say anything they want if the status quo, formed by corporate control of the news media, is there to back them up, right? Well, why shouldn’t they feel a little heat from the opposition? They are asking for it.

    I know, I know – the message from the experts has always been to just teach as best we can and ignore those who lambast us in public. Why? When Chris sent me that link two hours ago, I felt like firing off a round or two. Big deal.

  3. Grant Boulanger

    Ben, I think what you said was perfect. You called her on her blatant ignorance and belittling comments toward our community. I thank you for that. I saw her comment a few days ago and chose to remain silent. Sometimes it takes me an hour to write a response to someone like that. I write then try to edit out the emotion and it’s so taxing for me. It’s much more natural for you.

    You already have one person asking you about Jobs as a result of watching the video. So, there we can see that there are some there that have an open mind.

  4. Man, great long post on jobs there, classic Plato quote… Hard to contradict Plato and not sound “silly” ! I appreciate you coming in with depth to defend what we do, and offer some helpful resources at the same time.

    Grant: I’m working on getting my butt to Colorado. Maybe we can share a room? Ben

    1. Remind me never to go there again! OUCH! What is that site about? I had never seen it before? How does it compare to FLTeach? Does anyone know its history/purpose? Does anyone “know” these people? Who is Elena??

  5. I read through the whole thread and felt a lot of fear there. And people who are speaking from their own experience. When that experience is limited, people become a little bit self-righteous. One person went to a Blaine Ray workshop and was disappointed because there weren’t enough chairs and she was bored listening to a Beginning German demonstration. Another judges TPRS because the neighbor’s child (probably a 4%er) brings home worksheets she doesn’t understand and says she doesn’t understand the teacher in class because she doesn’t explain everything in English. I learned German from an immersion style teacher in the days before TPRS. She never explained anything in English and I was able to retell a German fairy tale after two semesters. That’s my experience, so I have no difficulty accepting the goal of 95% TL in class. And I became convinced that there was something to TPRS when I went to a workshop and learned 100 words of Swedish in 2 days, was able to read a simple text and answer questions about it. That experience convinced me. I didn’t speak Swedish before, didn’t know a single word. If it had been in German I might have been bored.
    What amazes and fascinates me about TPRS is that, while Blaine Ray had the initial brainstorm and deserves our undying gratitude, it has grown far beyond what he envisaged. And it has grown because of the input of many other teachers who discussed what they were doing, questioned everything, tried things out and gave feedback. Of all the “methods” that are out there, I think TPRS is the only one that grew out of the wide ranging collaboration that is now possible on the net. And over and over again, I encounter experienced teachers, who were considered good teachers, who discovered TPRS, tried it out ever so timidly and whole-heartedly adopted it when they saw their students’ progress. That’s my story but I’ve heard it over and over again.
    The people on that list seem to see TPRS as a product that some “bandwagon” is trying to push down their throat. I see it as a lifeline that has enabled me to reach my students and pull them through to this marvelous country where we communicate in a marvelous new language that they are just discovering. I’m not throwing anything out with the bath. I no longer devote an entire hour to explaining the passive voice and then another hour to doing exercises with it and then another hour to testing them on it. But my students now use the passive voice far more correctly than they did before. My colleagues remark that when they have students that come from me their written language is above standard. Even students that I myself considered weak, coming from classes where we did far more oral communication than writing.

    I think that it’s important to realize that we probably won’t convince anyone who’s made up their mind to change it, but that by inviting them to participate in a workshop in a language they don’t speak, we may widen their experience enough to allow them to reconsider. Here in France my colleagues are pretty resistant to another “American fad”, but several of them have picked up the idea of circling and apply it regularly. Bit by bit….

  6. Beautifully said Judy. I was certainly not harboring any illusions about convincing anybody over there about anything. Rather, I just felt like putting my fist into the wall in a figurative sense. It pissed Chris off, he sent it to me, and it pissed me off. So I was just letting off a little steam. What are we, some kind of saints? Here we are in the midst of something great and people talk like that? Not on my watch.

    Here I am telling Chris to cool his jets in Ohio and then I go and do that. So I’m not a good role model. The thing is, this stuff is messy. There will be big conflict for many years to come. We cannot walk around with our tale (pun intended) between our legs, is my point. Those are internet bullies, like Ben Lev said and Grant implied. We have to let them know we are here and that there is growing force on them.

    1. And when you have somebody like Ben Lev getting teamed up on, somebody needs to come help. Our Bullying program tries teaching the ‘bystanders’ to become ‘upstanders’.

      1. I am willing but I am not real sure what to say…

        The ignorance displayed in that threat slays me… I would never go on in that manner about a topic that I was not well versed in… It is clear they don’t have much understanding at all of TCI methods.

        On the other hand, maybe it would be best to stay out of there? Should we engage with them? I really do not get the impression they are open to anything we have to say…

        1. Grant Boulanger

          I did not stand up and I could have. I’m sorry about that Ben L.

          I struggle to keep it together in those instances. And Skips pondering about whether to egnage them or not is where I’m at.

          We’ll see what comes from teh Jobs post that Ben put on there. I do think people who find this type of forum are seeking something. Daniel H is clearly seeking to have some kind of power over others in his impassioned defense of grammarian approaches. Others are likely seeking soemthing that we can provide – hope that there is a better way and confirmation that they don’t really suck that the way they’re doing things sucks. In this case it is good to have a strong, knowledgeable and welcoming presence in a forum like this, as the Bens are providing.

          1. I agree with your 2nd paragraph. I wouldn’t have been able to keep it together, like I said I would have flat out called him a douche. I’m just going observe from the sidelines and only intervene if I have something to actually bring to the discussion. I’m not the greatest debater and I think most of you have way more intellectual firepower, in the form of knowledge and research, than I do.

  7. I just realized that “Sarah S.” is somebody here in Ohio. Former president of OFLA. I was searching the FL Teach archives on TPRS and the International Journal of FL TEaching and I came across some postings by her that are sickening. I just jumped into the teachers.net conversation, anonymously however.

    1. Just saw the “anonymous” post. Good one, Chris, you really socked it to her! Had to chuckle, knowing where it came from 😉 I have a feeling, she won’t listen to what you have to say, though.
      I really try to stay away from those listserv wastelands. They just make me mad and frustrated. I have everything that I will ever need right here!

      1. Thanks! I had to get involved when I realized who it was. I don’t mean to throw TPRS under the bus by downplaying my use of it in that post but I’m just trying to play the game. When they see you’re a TPRSer you lose credibility in their eyes. So I tried to sound a little bit like them so that they don’t discredit what I have to say.

          1. You were over the top when you made it personal. I went up to the line with my post but kept it about ideas. That is a good learning experience.

            The response you got is, however, inaccurate, in my opinion. It feels based on a kind of mind-speak party line defense of their position.

            Notice what may have happened here. They dug in their heels. And notice your reaction – you are not sure if you went over the top. Whenever they dig in their heels it means that you went over the top. And going over the top, for some people, means just stating your name, like for Blaine and Susie.

            The coolest thing about this is how it plays out in DPS with a WL Coordinator who brooks less than zero compromise with comprehension based instruction – Diana Noonan. She just fires from the hip on a daily basis and teachers who oppose her views can say nothing.

            It is safe in DPS if not Ohio. That is a huge point because it suggests that this might just be a matter of time. For years, there was a guy whose keen intellect used to set Diana back on her heels as she, alone with Meredith Richmond, tried to nurture the method to life in this district. He was just like the folks on that list. But now, his voice is muted, largely gone in the district, as a bunch of new teachers try to learn and implement the method because that is what the district wants them to do.

            Once, a year ago, at a district inservice grading of writing prompts, I was sitting at the table when Paul Kirschling, representing our position and the table leader for the grading work, just took this guy to task in a severe rebuke that the guy called unprofessional. It may have been, but after ten years of listening to that guy spout unprofessional garbage against Diana, Paul just turned on him and unloaded. We are just human and Paul did no wrong – he called out a bully after ten years of not doing so when he had finally had enough.

            At the end of the day, though, let’s learn to attack ideas and not people.

            Of course, as a free citizen in a free country, I still, even today, believe in freedom of speech. So Chris you did nothing wrong. I would say that in future we run such posts by here first, where it is my guess that, on any given day, only 20% of our membership (around 20 teachers) actually keep up with the latest thread, so it would be very safe to do so. I should have done that with my first post. Someone may have commented on what I wrote and advised against messing in with them all. But I go with my gut. And it felt good to say those things. Although I won’t turn it into a sport.

          2. Thanks. I agree that I made the mistake of making it personal but there were a few things that pushed me over the edge:

            1. “magical thinking”

            2. “Maybe silly stories and such work for your students, but definitely not mine.”

            3. “I also cringe to think about some of our non-native teachers teaching Spanish 1 with 90% TL… you know, pronunciation isn’t exactly a part of spanish teacher certification. there are some teachers that you can’t help wondering how they became a Spanish teacher with such atrocious pronunciation and accent.”

            Number 3 is what did it for me. That’s where I took it personal. I’m not a native speaker and I’m already pretty self-conscious about my proficiency. Then you got this lady saying this, basically attacking non-native speakers which made me feel under attack. Then, I read some pretty hateful things she’s written on FL Teach before and that’s when I decided to jump in, I had it.

            And with numbers 1 and 2, I feel she attacked every TPRS teacher with that type of language, ESPECIALLY the two Bens. That pissed me off too; you don’t watch somebody beat up on your friends and not help.

  8. No worries sharing that information here.

    What I want to know is why there are so many people talking about TPRS/CI on the internet in this way? They’re turning it into a sport. Why is that? How many such sites are there?

      1. Robert, I see why you are le chevalier de l’ouest. Wow! I would think that with your posts, the conflicts should end. You opened up a 12 pack of cans of you-know-what in the form of intellect, talking about ideas and research. I’m thoroughly impressed. I am bookmarking your comments on there for future reference.

        Thank you!

          1. “Herr” – it is the same word as Mr., only used with the first name rather than the last name.
            “Herr Harrell” = Mr. Harrell
            “Herr Robert” = Sir Robert

        1. Chris, you (and anyone else in this PLC) have my permission quote and adapt my comments to fit your circumstances. It’s a public forum, so I assume people will freely “borrow”. You don’t even have to give attribution – just don’t let anyone think my experiences are yours. 🙂

  9. Relax my friends. I read through that entire thread. Some of it twice. Frankly, the most inflammatory post was written by our dear friend Ben Slavic. Daniel H. has always been a highly grammar-focused teacher. At least for the decade that I have seen his posts on FLTeach. That is what he values, and he is up front and honest about that. Sarah is a hard-working, dedicated teacher. So what if they don’t support CI-based instruction/TPRS????

    People can change. We cannot change people. People can only change themselves.

    Yes, language teachers ARE afraid. Our jobs are being threatened. On a scale like never before.

    These folks are not the enemy.

    Our own threatened egos and fear-filled hearts are the enemy. The only antidote to fear is love.

    You all did a fine job of explaining why you use TPRS/CI and why your students are excelling. You were kind and inviting. You opened doors of communication and extended a helping hand.

    Now let it go. We lead not by knowledge in this world, but by example.

    Try to forgive them, they know not what they do. :o) They are doing the best they can, at this moment. If we tear into them, they will not hear what we have to say.

    I know that we hate the idea of kids being turned off to languages. I know that we hate the idea that teachers struggle and the kids don’t progress. I know that they do not believe that there is a different way to do things. We were all once the same way.

    We are all on the same path. Believe it or not, we are all where we are supposed to be. They are not going to want to come any closer if they think that we are setting up land mines and lobbing grenades their direction. Even if it does feel that they are doing the same to us.

    I didn’t read that in their posts. I read exasperation, frustration and a lack of hope. Fear, anger, impotence. It’s a little like being in the middle of a horribly personal messy divorce and being surrounded by lovebirds. :o) It can piss you off.

    Don’t take it personally. It won’t get you, us or them anywhere.

    Go ahead and fly the freak flag of Comprehensible Input. But try not to poke out anyone’s eyeball with it.

    with tons of love,

    1. Thank you Laurie. I needed to hear this. My mistake was taking it personally; when that happens I’m ready to throw bricks. I need to invest in a whole lot of QTIPs

  10. And I make no apologies for my inflammatory comments. The idea of a bunch of people who prefer to stay above the fray is just a bit much for me. As in, I don’t think I can do it. Many of us just can’t go to sleep each night and have it all wash clean. Especially when, in our buildings, the attack is daily, as it was for me for eleven of the twelve years I have been doing this. But I agree that we should drop it, because it isn’t making us better teachers. Grant called that site toxic, he is right, and that should be the end of it, as we decide to put our energies where they can do the most good for our careers and our kids.

    1. Here is the #1 difference between a teacher that has found a way to make CI/TPRS really work and one who hasn’t:

      When it is really working it is all about the students. It makes them feel successful, knowledgeable and powerful.

      When CI is not part of the classroom, it is all about the teacher. The teacher perceives that the instruction is working when the teacher feels successful, knowledgeable and powerful.

      Until we can find ways to share that paradigm shift, and get others to accept it, they will be unable to believe what we see.

      with love,


      1. Thanks you yet again Laurie….. Your perspective is always so pure, genuine and kid centered…. This is profound, really when you say “When it is really working it is all about the students. It makes them feel successful, knowledgeable and powerful.

        When CI is not part of the classroom, it is all about the teacher. The teacher perceives that the instruction is working when the teacher feels successful, knowledgeable and powerful.” Thanks

        The emotion I feel comes from two points. First, I truly want for other teachers what I have found for myself. Secondly, I truly want ALL children everywhere to be able to experience 2nd language “learning” with this method…

    2. I think I agree as well. Robert did a fantastic job commenting in the thread. If they don’t listen to him and if they’re still on the attack after what he’s said we should probably just forget about them, unless they attack HIM, then the gloves come off, right?……….right? 😉

      There’s no changing their minds, Grant is right when saying that it’s toxic. Don’t know why, but it makes me think of an AFI song:

      Walked away, heard them say
      “Poison hearts will never change,”
      walk away again.
      Turned away in disgrace,
      felt the chill upon my face cooling from within.

      Hard to notice gleaming from the sky,
      when you’re staring at the cracks.
      Hard to notice what is passing by with eyes lowered.

      You… walked away, heard them say
      “Poison hearts will never change,”
      walk away again.

      All the cracks, they lead right to me,
      and all the cracks will crawl right through me.
      All the cracks, they lead right to me,
      and all the cracks will crawl right through me, and I fell apart.

      As I… walked away, heard them say
      “Poison hearts will never change,”
      walk away again,
      Turned away in disgrace,
      felt the chill upon my face cooling from within

      1. Chris, no. I’ll check back on the thread from time to time, but if they start attacking me, I’ll deal with it – including, perhaps, choosing to ignore it. But what I will attempt to do is get the conversation back on track by continuing to ask, “What suggestions do you have in answer Elena’s question?” If I post, I will continue to call out unprofessional conduct.

        BTW, I’m used to this kind of conduct. I regularly get forwarded e-mails that have a particular political slant. When I began to receive them, I checked the alleged facts and began posting the truth to the distribution list. One of the recipients decided that I hold a different political opinion and began challenging me to debate him on politics. I refused and posted numerous times that my concern is with the truth; if he disagrees with the politics, that’s his business. My business as a Christian is to defend the truth at the point of attack. The irony is that my political position is not radically different from his, but he can’t begin to see that and has even on occasion inadvertently championed lying about someone to accomplish a political agenda. Of course I’ve called him on it, but he chooses to be blind.

        So, don’t take up the sword for me. But thanks for the offer.

  11. And yes a 12 pack got opened up by le Chevalier. First Ben Lev takes a few volleys, then Chris and I run in like a couple of kids, throw in a few stinkbombs, and then the big gun gallops in on horseback to clean it up.

    A fun operation indeed – it brought us a bit out of the ordinary (I for one and tired of unmotivated students and am ready for us to regroup at the conferences) – but, reflecting Laurie’s position, which is the truest one, what have we gained? We have taken our eyes off the prize.

    As moderator here, I suggest we get back to the real work. It’s not as dramatic, not half as much fun, but it’s the only work there is to do – the going in each day. It’s the movie Ground Hog Day for the likes of us, and no mistake about it. So let’s get our spin back to non-wobbly status (these things tend to bring wobbling bc of the fear involved by both sides).

    I am just so glad Robert made it so nobody can really say anything more – and which is why I suggest to Robert that you now go into full ignore mode, you’ve had your knockout punch, and you certainly don’t need me to tell you that. (Am I right, Annemarie and Michael, that this Knight from the West provides a pretty example of our term “badass”?)

    In spite of all this, I’m not going to sell my garage full of cans of whoop ass anytime soon. I don’t have to use them, but it’s nice that they’re in there.

      1. That wasn’t a can or a six-pack, that was a whole case.

        I enjoyed reading that Robert, I really learned a lot by reading your point about chunking.

        I hope you will consider submitting that (or at least threads 1 and 2) to some language publications… very strong arguments and well put.

  12. It’s a good feeling to have you guys at my back–this was truly a unique blog experience! Ben is right about re-focusing again on our teaching, that’s why we’re here. I get so much from our amazing blog-PLC. And we can welcome newcomers and lead from the front and more teachers want in on the magic.

    But there’s an additional piece for me now, the parent of high schooler piece, that I hope to report on occasionally. It’s about the end of impunity for bad teaching. It’s about letting those teachers at my girl’s school know that parents are becoming informed and asking for more. Respectfully, civilly, persistently asking for the standards. I’ll give you one little bit of good news in this department.

    My daughter Sophie *hated* her Spanish 2 teacher and swore she would rather not take Spanish next year than be in her Spanish 3 class. Well, after the recent shake up, Ms. K is now speaking 80%+ Spanish. Sophie told me yesterday most of her teachers are getting worse as the semester grinds on, but Ms. K is improving, and she likes her now! And, Ms. K had a one-on-one conversation, in Spanish, about a long report S is writing about yoga. I’m thinking about sending her a box of chocolates! Positive change does happen.

    Have a great weekend everyone. Ben

    1. …it’s about the end of impunity for bad teaching….

      I agree with you and applaud your efforts on so many levels. I do, however, object to the use of the term “impunity”, which implies that something is done consciously. The bad teaching from those folks is done unconsciously.

      They don’t get what we do. So to hold their feet to the fire, from one professional to another, is wrong. Let the parents do it. They are the ones who are getting ripped off the worst.

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