When I arrived in 2015 to use CI to teach middle school French at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India, my CI instruction by kids who had studied French in previous years was largely met with choruses of “Can we just do worksheets?” or “We learn better with worksheets!”
It didn’t discourage me at all, though, and I went ahead and built community and used my new ideas – now found in the two Ultimate CI books – to have some of the most fun (my main goal as a language teacher) I’ve ever had in my career. I didn’t do any “academic French”. I just had fun making up stories with the kids.
But it didn’t take very long to figure out that the older kids (7th and 8th grade) were kind of ruined to CI because of what they had experienced in middle school. The eighth graders were the most ruined, bc they had had two years of worksheets, the seventh graders also had a hard time with stories, having been taught using worksheets in even 6th grade at this school.
But the students who made the most gains in proficiency by far were the sixth graders. They tested far higher than their older peers at the end of the year.
So what is happening now is that there is a big change in the articulation path between middle schools and high schools. Aware admins and aware parents are starting to demand less and less worksheets – what language teachers have made their living doing for decades now and request CI-trained teachers for their language departments.
In my darker moments many years ago of having to explain myself to a bunch of ignorant (in the original meaning of the verb “to not know” – my purpose here is not to cast blame) grammar teachers at Dakota Ridge HS here in Littleton, CO, I never would have thought that that one day there would be a bi demand for CI teachers. How nice a feeling it is, to see language teachers finally taking the leap of trying to align their instruction with the actual standards and research!
In another post I will give an example of how all this is playing out as we speak in one middle school in New England, the change being instigated by a parent.
2 thoughts on “Middle School vs. High School – 2”
Amen—-exactly what I am experiencing. My 8th graders are ruined!
“My 8th graders are ruined!”
This is not hyperbole. We think of traditional textbook, memorization-based, worksheet-based instruction as having a neutral footprint. But when kids trained with memorization and worksheets refuse to accept comprehension-based instruction, because of the poisonous role that memorization has played in American education in general, it causes a negative footprint – a serious one that actually ruins kids’ relationship with the language.