Just Say No to Straitjackets

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



16 thoughts on “Just Say No to Straitjackets”

  1. I, of course, cannot come close to Ben’s eloquence, but I too noticed the disingenuous nature of the department chair’s characterization of your having flexibility. Given his mandates you really have no flexibility at all as far as TCI is concerned.

    Might you be able to make a case for what you know to be true and get him to grant you “true” flexibility?

  2. All right that second paragraph is huge. I have to say the answer would be no. This topic is an underground river. A form of it is currently affecting other blog members, stuff that we just can’t really go into because it is such an explosive topic overall and we need to remember to keep our eyes mainly on what we are doing to get better in the classroom, which I learned finally from Jody about a week ago. I really think Lea put it about as clearly as it’s gonna get for us in a comment today, which I will time stamp for later this week and try to revisit from time to time. It is a soothing and balanced answer to all of our questions about how to interact with folks like Brigitte’s faux gentleman.

  3. Brigitte, you need to weigh the costs vs the benefits. The benefit, as Ben notes, is a little more money. The costs include constant frustration because you can’t teach the way you know is best, extra stress from a “boss” who puts impossible demands on you, uncertainty from someone who makes empty promises of “autonomy” while giving you none, and disrespect from someone who has already decided the way the class must be taught and dictates to you precisely what must be “covered” – and it isn’t language acquisition.

    In case you believe you have made a commitment that you should keep, I disagree. You were approached to teach a class of beginning German, but that isn’t what the class syllabus indicates. I would tell the chairman that I had agreed to teach a class of beginning German, not a class of Introduction to German Linguistics, so the class being offered is not what I had agreed to teach. Thanks, but no thanks.

    BTW, Kontakte is a better text than many, but it certainly is not TCI/TPRS and has been overtaken by further research and developments in Second Language Acquisition. Even then, the entire concept of having to “cover” ten chapters in six weeks is utterly absurd. Of course, there’s always the approach of one of my seminary professors who was asked to teach a class that “covered” most of the Old Testament in a semester. His comment: “You can cover anything if you leave out enough.” This man read the entire Bible three times every year on his own but refused to teach the class because he considered the scope unreasonable.

  4. I think I’d be less confrontational about this. I’d smile and nod and do my own thing. I’d so love to be in a situation where I had all that time with motivated, beginning students who have not fossilized the errors that take me so much time to eradicate. And your students are motivated because they chose the class. I’d look at the book, see what is high frequency, and do straight CI/TPRS. Maybe assigning readings from the book as homework. If our methods are as great as we think they are, your students will be brilliant when they go on to your “gentleman”. Essentially, you will have “covered” the book because they’ll have everything that’s high frequency down pat and they will probably have acquired more grammar than he’s counting on, because we shelter vocabulary rather than structures. If the man says anything, I’d smile and bat my eyes and say, “well, I must have misunderstood. I thought you said I had flexibility in my methods.” I’m certain that when he sees your results in his students, he’ll have no complaints. After all, that’s the bottom line.

  5. Thank you all for weighing in. I’m going to have to go with Judy’s advice since I really do have “no choice”. In a way, he is doing me a favor by letting me teach a class rather than do an independent study – I need those credits to get my professional certification for NY (I guess I should have mentioned that, too). Yes, I do get paid (very little, as you all pointed out correctly) but I will also get 6 credits. So, that alone makes me bite the bullet. It would be nice to turn it down in the manner that you all suggested (that surely would feel good), but who knows, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to do just that in the future.
    Thank you all so much for your suggestions.

  6. The students are told to buy the Kontakte textbook. However, I’m going to try to use CI as much as possible (despite the above-mentioned limitations).

  7. If I may offer something… my gut tells me they will be more proficient if you CI the crap out of them during the 3 hours of class time. Could you use a site like http://www.wordchamp.com to throw up vocabulary from the book for them to power through at home. You could do one of Ben’s vocabulary tests that he used to do where you test Kapitel 1 und 2 week one, Kapitel 1 bis 4 week 2, Kapitel 1 bis 6 on week 3 etc… We know the data won’t mean anything but at least you have “proof” that you “covered” the material. Weight only a little so it doesn’t massacre their grades.

    In CI you are going to cover all of the major grammar from a beginning 1 text when you read. During Pop-up Grammar you might want to say something like “See page 26 for a detailed reason of why DER changes to DEN in this circumstance.” I know I hated buying a book in college when I never used it at all.

  8. That’s your only shot at this, Brigitte, what Drew says here. On my site I describe how to do that on the CDs page, which, as Drew pointed out, I don’t use anymore because I have found safe harbour among my own people at Lincoln High School and I don’t need to do those lists anymore.

    After you, this guy is not going to be Mr. Popular. Those students aren’t stupid and they are not going to be liking the change from being able to understand what they hear to struggling and undoubtedly being shamed on some level by Mr. German, bless his scholarly heart.

  9. You are all so sweet and nice and encouraging with your advice – thank you so much. I’ll do exactly what all of you suggested. Great ideas, as always. Now, I’m actually getting psyched to do this.

  10. Grant Boulanger

    Brigitte, it seems I’m late weighing in here but I just want to voice agreement with Drew and Judy. Assign vocab lists outside of class, give them a quick quiz each meeting on that vocab to hold them somewhat accountable, take your structures from the textbook and CI the crap out of them in class.

    but, I know how guys like this operate. be ready to tell them to “open to page 215” in case this guy makes an unannounced guest appearance.

  11. The college/university level is truly a great wasteland. I have been teaching at a community college for 14 years. I do a great deal of PQA during about half of most of my classes using much of the vocabulary and grammar of the given chapter of the text. The problem is that most of us do not live in a perfect world where we can do exactly what we want. I am able to do pretty much what I want during a little more than half of the class time in my Spanish classes. I have preached comprehensible input to deaf ears for a long time. Good luck at the community college.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben