Nice Vent from Dave Talone

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43 thoughts on “Nice Vent from Dave Talone”

  1. The main thing is to not get into a tar baby thing here. This is all about power, not what is best for kids. Just don’t get involved. Give them what they want, as you said you were willing to do. We all have to do these kinds of tradeoffs, with thematic units and verb conjugations, until Diana Noonan is WL coordinator for all the districts in the country. Plus, being in your second year is way dangerous to go gettin’ in people’s faces.

    I used to teach the verbs in April. Thematic units too. I have that whole thematic unit thing going on somewhere here. You are welcome to use it. I can send you the CD that goes with it. You can copy the CDs and send the kids home to memorize. Or I had them make their own copies. Big tests from now to June!

    Word will get around – Talone is a hard ass traditional teacher. Your colleagues will respect you and small children will look up to you! It worked for me. Nary a parent was unhappy. Here’s the link to my ruse:

    https://benslavic.com/Posters/spanish-thematic-units.pdf

  2. Dave !!!! OMG !!!! You are using _Buen Viaje_?!?!?!

    No me digas!

    On a serious note, I am so sorry for you. You have my complete and utter sympathy. Your colleagues’ naughty behavior is rampant in schools in my neck of the woods. I have been through your situation, not once, but three times in the last 11 years. Feel free to e-mail me if you want more commiseration!

    lamunoz123@verizon.net

    –Leigh Anne

  3. Wow Dave, for a minute there I thought you were me! Haha, except you are young and revolutionary and I am old and revolutionary.

    All kidding aside, I also had a meeting “with my sympathetic department head and …(one)…. other non TPRS teacher.” And I can also say “My colleagues have no real idea what I do, as they have never come into my classroom despite my repeated offers to do just that.” And definitely the part about doing verb conjugations later in the spring.

    I can totally feel your frustration. I also agree with Ben in terms of doing some of the fakey things like thematic units and charts. I have not done this yet in my 2-year CI “career makeover” but I plan to do some of that this year for a variety of reasons. The most compelling of these for me is the knowledge that the kids are going into the trenches next year and I don’t want them going in without some sort of “protection.” I guess that is how I am looking at it. Who knows? Maybe the kids will appreciate the mindless tasks at that very hectic time of year when they just want to be done. Ha. Maybe I will appreciate the mindless tasks myself?!

  4. I agree with Ben. Ultimately this has nothing to do with Best Practices, Language Acquisition, or what’s truly in the students’ interest; it’s about power – and L may not even recognize that on a conscious level.

    Consider what is best in the long run for both you and students present and future. Is it better to hoist the flag, take a bold stand, and be ousted – or to fly under the radar for the moment, make the accommodations, and work to win over parents (and students)? I’m not suggesting you back down from your commitment to TCI, but you may want to re-think how much noise you make.

    However, it also sounds like L doesn’t want to hear anything other than agreement with her position; and you department chair obviously doesn’t want to “rock the boat”. I think that indicates that the real power in the department lies with L, who probably has the backing of the administration because nothing out of the ordinary occurs with her.

    Do what you must to protect yourself and your students while teaching them with as much TCI and compassion as you can. Remember that time is on your side: you are younger and stand a good chance to be there longer than either L or the department chair (and probably any of the administrators). Become an advocate for TCI, especially with administrators. Invite administrators into your classroom and give them the classroom observation checklist, then de-brief and give them the research in small doses. Very importantly, every time an administrator even peeks into your room, go and thank them and make them feel welcome. (That will set you apart from nearly all other teachers at your site.) As they see what your students can do they will gradually come around. With patience and wisdom on your part, you can largely neutralize the negative power of L without having a major confrontation.

  5. …re-think how much noise you make….

    This is one race not meant for the swift. You will lose this one, feel the anger and the feeling of being bullied, but, over time, the position Robert describes above of gracious appreciation of those who come to visit you and your kids having fun, it will all slowly bend in the direction of the human part of what we do. It’s a slow battle against those millions of clone/robots. That people are still giving importance to L and her rotten academic priorities is PROOF that this battle is a slow one. Don’t take your armour off just yet. Take some more hits. Clang! I think of those Scottish fighters who take a hit and laugh about it. You have to be strong to do that. And you are strong. Matava you reading this? You are so far above that shit. Look what Leigh Anne wrote about what you have brought to this profession. You really rethinking that? I won’t let you. You saved my career with those stories. And Dave is saving my career with his bravery and patience. And Robert saves my career every day with his leadership here. Deep breath everbody. It’s March. We can do this. Slow down. Show a video. Show a culture film. Talk about it in English. Give all the kids some worksheets. Just for a day or two. Sometimes I think that we let our ideals get in the way of the need to remember to relax and accept and laugh and back off our ideals and live with open heart, and see the need of children to be appreciated for who they are and not for what they achieve or bring to the classroom. THAT is what counts. Not TPRS or grammar/translation or TCI or immersion or this way or that way or any of it. That is wasn’t counts. What counts is that we don’t lose our jobs so we can continue to reach those kids with patience and compassion and open heart and no judgement. They need it. They don’t see that in every classroom they walk into. It’s a mess for them right now. It’s a train wreck for them right now. Would you like to be a teenager again? Can anyone relate? We work with one of the most vulnerable populations in the world – American teens. We can’t let them down. OK – lecture over. Go out there and do it again on a Friday. And then rest yourself this weekend. We’re gonna make it to June once more again.

  6. Hi Dave, I don’t know what level you teach, or what kind of instruction your students had last year, but here is something that I have done. I am in my first year at a new school, and up until this year the French students at my school have learned from a textbook. I had the upper levels (2 and up) write a reflection on “this way of learning” and how it’s working for them. Without exception they wrote that it is more effective than what they had done in previous years. No one has seen those papers except for me, but I have them off to the side in case I ever need them.

    Ben is right when he says, if there is memorizing to be done, if your school requires it, assign it for homework. I would not make it worth much of the grade, if you can get away with it. Maybe another year budget for some workbooks and let the kids take those home and write in them.

    My motto this year is “Strive to implement the less-helpful mandates with as little disruption as possible to the real work of CI.” Will you have tenure after this year? If so, next year you’ll be able to stand your ground more.

    If you have ever tried to persuade someone to abandon his or her religion or politics in favor of yours, you know that people are very attached to their ways of doing things. There’s no point getting angry. What you’re doing in the classroom is the best argument.

    1. Laurie said something very wise to me the other day. She said our job as teachers is to meet kids where they are and take them further in their knowledge of the language. She added that the choice of method rests with the individual. Should be simple, n’est-ce pas?

  7. Ben and Robert are wise on this one. I am feeling this pain too. I have felt it with parents, teachers, and admins. Admins don’t really care what you are doing, but they don’t want to hear any noise. They want peace and quiet. If they hear nothing, everything is great.

    Dave, this makes my blood boil. The problem is that, as I am finding out, we work in a system. This system doesn’t care about what is best, right, or fair. It cares about itself and maintaining itself. Parents don’t want complaints from the kids, Admins don’t want complaints from parents or kids or teachers and you are left in the middle. I have felt this in a very difficult way this year. I have felt it in a very serious way.
    All my standing up for what is right and best has fallen on deaf ears. I tried to make this change too quickly. Students, parents, and therefore admins couldn’t handle it. They murmurs began. I invited other teachers in. I invited principals in. The only time a principal came in is after he chewed my ass about what I was doing. He then came in to observe me. After chastising me what I was doing, he came in the same day and expected me to perform at a high level. Now that was some serious BS.

    I now have to whimper off and build up strength for another fight. There is a great scene that comes to mind from Vergil’s Georgics. A young bull goes to battle another bull. He gets his ass kicked. The next scene Vergil shows us is the bull practicing against a tree, sharpening his horns thrusting them into the tree to strengthen his fight his skill. Before long the younger bull returns to the fight, stronger more skilled. He kicks the larger bully bull’s ass.

    It’s a great scene! If I can find it, I’ll send it to you. I love it. It makes me smile!

  8. Dave and Jeff,

    Reading your stories here and inter nos recently have really touched me. It has, I think, proven to the whole community that if you are going to switch from grammar to TCI, beware of going too quickly. Beware of making the switch in a way that will upset too many of your students. Even though that sucks, I think it’s the truth and the take-away message from all this.

    I have not had many problems with my change to TCI, and as I compare my experience with y’alls, I wonder how much of it comes down to grades. I don’t give many Fs. Hardly any at all. You really need to come to class and sleep every day to get an F, or even a D. A few Cs are there, and a few more Bs, and TONS of As. Tons of them. So many more than in past years. Ben posted my “Latin is Easy” post under the “rigor” category recently, in which I describe how my students are actually thinking and spreading that my classes are easy. Of course that can be a bad thing, as I said there.

    Anyways, I have a question for both of you, Jeff and David: How are the grades in your classes? I wonder how much of this simply comes from students getting lower grades than they are used to.

    1. In my situation, grades are not low. I have A’s and B’s in my classes. It is definitely not a grade issue. However, it is think attitude issue. Several of the kids think that they are too good/too cool to do this work. Others are too lazy to show up to class. Parents complain because they expect certain things from Latin or foreign language classes. They expect conjugations and declensions. One parent even came in and challenged my curriculum, trying to compare my school and students to elite private/gifted schools. It is quite crazy.

      I think that the big difference is the schools in which we teach. Some of my most elite kids want to be better than every one else. They take Latin for that reason. It’s a small number, maybe 4-5, but as we know they can really ruin a class. We know that. It has happened to every one of us.

      The problem that I had this year all stems from the change in style. My level III kids have not responded well. I ruined them myself. I killed them with grammar and coupled with their laziness and inability to show up as human beings made for a difficult task. (I dare not say toxic, lest I offend). A couple of Latin II students were angry about Jgr. They didn’t like their grade being affected by their behavior. My admins don’t understand what I am doing and really don’t care as long as they are NOT getting complaints. These few students, most of whom were successful last year with my old methods, were upset at how things were progressing and a few of them even began to breath hate against me. I heard it from others who were in my corner. The negative things said about me and against me by a few students. Wow, it was bad. I tried to curb it and I ended up getting my ass chewed because parents complained that I was calling out this behavior. Sad, really sad.

      Now, in my Latin I classes, I have had complete excitement and happiness about what I am doing. A few anal parents wanted homework and vocab memorization, but that noise went away after the 1st exam and students did fine on it.

      The complexities of a school are many and various. This has been a year of learning for me. I truly see myself as that bull who has to take my licks and get stronger with training. This year will just suck. I have accepted it. Now, I am trying to get to the end of the year. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing best practices for CI with my III class. They just were not ready, not at all. It was too much to ask of them, especially since they had the same teacher every year and they had expectations and since they didn’t get that, they were not happy.

      This is some of my thoughts. I welcome others’ experiences. These situations have weighed on my minds quite heavily this year.

      Jeff

      1. What Rebekah said.

        As you have experienced, students hate change, especially when they have been highly successful under the old system. They feel like you changed the rules in the middle of the game (and you have – the fact that the new rules lead to far better results is immaterial to them). Nearly everyone who has switched in all levels at the same time has run into this.

        There are some very good reasons to focus on Latin I and simply mark time until the upper-level students graduate.
        1. Your upper-level students won’t accept the new regime with grace.
        2. Your upper-level students will fight you – even to the point of deliberately trying to sabotage your career.
        3. Your first-year students don’t know any other way, so they will be receptive to whatever you do. That becomes their normal.
        4. You can put your energy and efforts into the level that bears fruit.
        5. Changing one level at a time is less stressful and requires less effort to begin with; use that extra time and energy to protect yourself from burnout.
        6. You can concentrate on honing your skills with the level that is receptive.
        7. You can shift your teaching paradigm on a year-to-year basis. As the level 1 students become level 2 students, you concentrate on that level. After all, you already have done level 1, so your effort there will be in honing what you have already done, not creating something new.

        Since you know that TCI/TPRS is the best way to teach, you want to embrace it at all levels. However, in the public and private school setting, you may not be able to do this. Do what you can without ruining either your health or your career.

        1. I wish I had read this a few years ago, esp. this sentence:

          …students hate change, especially when they have been highly successful under the old system….

          Two years ago I really believed I could reach a French 4 class which had been traditionally trained for three years and KNEW NOTHING. So I kept trying. Brought the donuts, the whole thing. Ended up with 3 of 22 kids getting it. That class put a big hurtin’ on me that year.

          If you are beating your head against a wall in a similar situation right now, go read what Robert said again. They WILL try to sabotage you, bc they had control before and now they don’t. Watch out. This is serious shit. Like Rebekah said, work with your level ones. This is not a joke.

          1. Yes and Yes! This is so right and I have felt the pain this year. Now we are just in survival mode. I have to do as you say and focus on the Level I students. I will do it and I will continue to do it.

  9. Thanks everyone for the words of support. More than anything I simply needed to get all of that rage off my chest and I knew that I would find a sympathetic audience here.

    Just and FYI for my situation: I teach in a “prestigious” private school in Charlotte NC, doing Latin and Spanish. It is my 2nd year, and we have no tenure system. I have 1st and 2nd year Latin, and 2nd year Spanish – which is full of kids from 7-9th grade. My Spanish kids had traditional instruction last year, and will again in the future as I am the only TPRS teacher in the school.

    While my Latin classes can be a real struggle, I absolutely love the work that I am doing with my Spanish students – we have a great vibe in class and they are progressing nicely. Their grammatical accuracy is not pretty, but they are happily passing each 45 minute class conversing almost entirely in Spanish.

    I have not had a lot of student complaints. There have been a few issue because I let certain situations go to far into the risque side in terms of talking about boyfriends and girlfriends, and allowing the kids to put violence in the stories. However, I have simply learned to draw stronger lines. Evidently there is whispering that the other teachers hear that we don’t do anything in class, and that some kids would like lists of vocabulary – but no one has ever come to me.

    I have only had 1 parent push back on my interpersonal rubric, but otherwise have only had positive communication. The assistant principal has come in to officially observe my Spanish class 3 times and has been very positive about what she saw. My department head observed one of my Latin classes which is a disaster area due to discipline problems, but he is generally supportive.

    My student grades are definitely higher than they would be in a traditional setting. I have only a very few students with a C grade, and they almost exclusively come from my class with discipline problems. I haven’t found that to be an issue at all.

    All of that is to say that things (especially in Spanish) are not going poorly. I don’t feel like I am getting a lot of pushback either from kids, parents, or administration. There is not a lot of noise. That’s why I was so enraged by the meeting yesterday. I have not rocked the boat so much that people are complaining. For the most part everyone is quite content, but I am the “renegade” and need to toe the company line in preparing the kids for next year – even though that preparation is complete bunk.

    I have no illusions about converting anyone to this who does not want to be converted. I am quite content to close the door and teach in my little hole to my kids. Given enough years doing that I am confident that the results will speak for themselves.

    Obviously, I am not going to quit. I am going to compromise and give forms and give h.w. practice on studyspanish.com. I won’t grade it, but my good students who are the only ones who would really benefit from it, will do it anyway, and the poor ones wouldn’t benefit anyway so who cares. I will give another thematic vocabulary quiz or two, but it will be words that they study at home, with maybe 5 minutes of practice time on quizlet as a class. The trick, like Anne said, is jumping through the hoops while disturbing the amount of CI that I give them as little as possible. My colleague wants me to go through and teach one of her boring grammar packets a week. That would mean no CI, which is no dice for me. I am completely set on reading Esperanza when we get back from Spring Break, so unless my boss tells me otherwise, that is what I will be doing. I will find time to give them the forms, and let them practice at home, and proudly tell everyone that I am a strict teacher, and that the silent majority of students who still don’t “get it” after memorizing forms are just stupid.

    1. David, you said: “Evidently there is whispering that the other teachers hear that we don’t do anything in class, and that some kids would like lists of vocabulary – but no one has ever come to me.”

      This is exactly what I have been sensing, as well! I am really concerned that the perception by the students that “the class is easy” is being MISperceived by a few snotty students as “we don’t do anything in that class.” I worry that I will soon hear from administration that students only take Latin because it’s easy. I actually have heard this, couched, of course, in niceties, from a colleague.

      1. James,

        I have a students keep track of all the words that we use in class and he/she makes a googledoc of the words. Instant word list. I then have another kid made video games with quizlet.com and classtools.net. This is old thinking of course. These are nothing more than flashcards and games that ask for things out of context without the message, however, students get what they want and if they choose to do it, they can. I think that the objective is trying to give the kids what they want without you making it part of the classroom. If they want a list, give it to them. If they want to play games do flashcards, then give it to them. Once they see that you don’t require them to do it and that others aren’t doing it, but having success, they’ll forget all about it. I am finding that the kids have to find out on their own what we are talking about. Then they will have 100% buy-in.

        1. I maintain a google doc with all the “key structures” from the beginning of the year that my students, and some parents who have requested, have access to. Unfortunately, I don’t typically know what we are going to do in the future. I am planning week to week here. I could require students to study those structures, but for what purpose? It won’t help acquisition. It won’t show my bosses that I am doing the “official” vocabulary. Honestly, I feel like it is a waste of time, but not a big one because it only takes me 1 minute a week to update it.

          1. I do the same thing with a google doc–different list for each quarter, with words in chunks under : TPR gestures, words from novels, words from songs, words from class stories. I link it to my agenda. The 4%ers like it, and the others only use it 4X a year when it comes to my quarterly exam. I just update it occasionally; doesn’t take that long.

            As far as “preparing” my students for the grammar class ahead of them, my situation is that they have the same grammar/project teacher for Spanish I and III with my class in between. I was all worried last year about my kids transitioning. They didn’t transition all that well, but the kids the other teacher had for all three years didn’t do any better, so this year, I don’t stress. The way I look at it, she didn’t prepare her Spanish I students for me, either! But I have the administration appreciating what I do, which is my ace in the hole.

            I teach in a small, rural school–probably that makes the biggest difference. Parents are quite supportive.

          1. Ben,
            Yes, I do use jGR, but I have had more success with it in Latin I and II. jGR is also what got be in a bit of hot water this year. Mostly because the admins don’t understand what it is and don’t want to understand.

            I can say that my Latin I classes have been amazingly successful. I use jobs, jGR and many of our other tools. Latin II has had some bumps, but it is slowly coming around to my way of thinking. Latin III students are just trying to scrape by until the end of the year. Almost the entire class is not going to continue on in Latin. In some ways, I am happy about this. It will provide a clean break and a fresh start for the program, but I have heard grief from my admin that this is could be an indication that what I am doing is not working.

            I don’t believe that statement. There are so many factors, we can’t tie one thing to another without a doubt. However, I’m not going to be able to convince him until 2-3 years from now when things are different.

  10. Hi Dave,
    Wow. There is so much support, intelligence and heart here; I hope it helps you to hang on. Remember also that the students will be your ambassadors over time. Over time, even L will see students who are comfortable communitcating in the TL, and who have a finer ear for the language than traditionally “prepared” students. Even if the first differences are “Excuse me, Sra, I don’t understand number 3″ (in Spanish) vs. ” I don’t get it”, they become hard to ignore.

  11. It’s like we’ve lost our way, Dave. I mean, we have lost our way. The room I teach in has so many books and materials in it that are never used by children. Never. It would take a truck to haul it all away. Multiply that times hundreds of thousands of classrooms.

    Nobody can see their way anymore bc of all the clutter. It’s just like that now. John and I talk about that. He is a photographer and has pictures he has taken of just simple classrooms. That is what we want now. We are trying to find our way home to simplicity bc we know that we will be different people then, when we get there.

    We won’t worry driving to school anymore. We won’t fear anyone. We will live and teach in a kind of happy calmness. James is so supportive to me on the idea of templates and flow charts – they represent process and flow vs. fixed lessons and nervousness. They are important as we slowly make our new hard links across the top of this page. They will lead us into more tranquility.

    That is why you and Jeff and so many of us are expressing this anger. We are angry bc we can’t find our way home to real L2 interaction with our students. We have been wandering around in the woods, calling out, for decades. And now we are starting to find each other and organize. Just starting.

    I suppose to the traditional teachers we look like zombies. Groping with our arms out for the new. We are clumsy as hell in these efforts. But our arms will loosen up. We will learn the new ways. We can do it. We can teach without worry. We can do it.

    1. Robert Harrell

      We are trying to find our way home to simplicity bc we know that we will be different people then, when we get there.

      ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
      ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
      And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
      ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

      When true simplicity is gain’d,
      To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
      To turn, turn will be our delight,
      Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

  12. I think just about everyone (students, parents, teachers….etc) would agree that to learn a language, one of the best things to do is go to a foreign country and surround yourself with the language. Why does it have to be so hard to recreate that experience in our classrooms? (just thinking out loud) I can’t wait for the time when the tipping point is finally reached!

  13. I found the quote that I wanted to share. It is for Virgil’s Georgics, a treatise on farming, but one of my most favorite things that I have every read. It says so much about us as humans. This is some powerful stuff!

    …[T]he bulls in turn do battle, with great force
    and frequent wounds, black blood bathes their bodies,
    with mighty bellowing their horns are forced against
    the sturdy enemy: the woods and the sky echo from end to end.
    The belligerents are not accustomed to herding together,
    but the defeated one leaves, and lives far off in unknown exile.
    He often bemoans his shame and the proud winner’s blows,
    and the love he has lost, without yet taking vengeance,
    and gazing at his stall he’s abandoned his ancient lands.
    So he takes great care of his strength, and rests all night
    on a naked bed among hard stones,
    with sharp leaves and pointed reeds to eat.
    And he tests himself, and learns to attack tree trunks
    with angry horns, lashes out at the winds with his blows,
    and paws the sand in practice for the fight.
    When he’s collected his strength and renewed his powers,
    he shows intent, and runs headlong at his careless enemy:
    just as when a wave starts to whiten in mid-ocean,
    it raises its breaker out of the furthest depths,
    and, rolling towards the shore, echoes savagely against the rocks,
    and falls like nothing less than a mountain: and the water boils
    from the deep in vortices, and churns up black sand.
    Every species on earth, man and creature, and the species
    of the sea, and cattle and bright-feathered birds,
    rush about in fire and frenzy: love’s the same for all.

  14. I suppose this is a minor victory, but I got this email from my department head today in reply to my email:

    I noted your frustration and share it to a certain extent. It is going to be a lengthy process. First are the A and B courses, with the rest to be heavily influenced by that. I see you as part of the vanguard for these changes.
    Most of this is political and perception. As long as those kids aren’t at a disadvantage, we’ll be fine. Their present teacher, you, will take some extra steps to prepare them. The other teachers will realize that most kids will have forgotten (because it wasn’t taught for mastery) most everything they were taught by them/in their style last year anyway, and they will review. I must keep trying to make the vision clear as to how our courses will look I the future.
    I approve your plan as below, and hope you will continue with your goal to read the book.

    1. He’s against N and L. He’s for you. It’s obvious in the email. He can’t come out and say it, and you owe him some busy work, but that is not a minor victory for you Dave. That is a major victory. Now, give him and N and L what they require, and drop it. You’ve won it.

      1. Ben is right. For whatever complicated reason (and you don’t want to know what administrative BS he is dealing with) he can’t put these teachers in their place, but he has told you that you are right, and the hoops you need to jump through are very minor. With each year, you will continue to evolve as a teacher, and these other ones, by standing in place, will seem even more antequated and out of touch with their students and with the standards. Time to celebrate. Happy Ides of March and St. Patrick’s day (i.e. Liberalia).

  15. I understand that Blaine Ray is offering free participation in NTPRS to a certain number of administrators. It sounds like your department head would be a good candidate.

  16. David,
    I only have a moment, but I want to tell you that you are doing the right thing and doing it well. That is what is so frightening to these folks. In my experience, when a teacher isn’t teaching well, no one says a thing. They just let them fail. When a teacher is succeeding, the kids are talking and that is threatening. :o) Hugs!

    with love,
    Laurie

  17. David,

    I’ve been reading this all along but hadn’t gotten the chance to comment until now. We all share your frustration. We are all with you. My greatest fear is what is happening with you but LOOK at how you’re still alive to fight the good fight. Look at that reply email. It speaks volumes. Be cautious but don’t you buckle. Some must die in battle for others to live freely. We are paving the way.

  18. At the Vermont Foreign Language Association conference yesterday, the keynote speaker gave a presentation about “best practices”. She emphasized the “research-based” methodology including so-and-so’s hierarchy of needs, the learning styles, Davidson’s whatchamacalit about the different quadrants, Differentiated instruction, and then went on to use as her example of “best practices” that there are all these clever different ways to teach verb conjugations. You can do it through movement! White boards! Computer quizzes! Memorized dialogue! At the end, she avowed that she was a logical-mathematical thinker who loves charts and diagrams. There was no time for questions, but I was burning with frustration because of what seemed to me such glaring contradiction. Memorizing verb forms out of context is no longer a research-based best practice, is it? As far as I know, it hasn’t been for a long, long time. Suddenly I felt that I understood the depth of the difference between CI and traditional methods. It is a fundamentally different paradigm. All of these research-based teaching methods (I mean the general education ones) are geared towards student LEARNING. CI and TPRS are geared towards UNCONSCIOUS ACQUISITION. Until a person knows the difference, there is a chasm of misunderstanding. I think that just clicked for me. Susie Gross in her DVD talks about how different parts of the brain are firing during learning vs. acquisition. In grad school we studied the concept of learning vs. acquisition. But these ideas have not been translated for the vast majority of educators, at least not in the mainstream. This keynote speaker was firmly planted in the garden of LEARNING. My dreams of CI and acquisition-based methodology simply cannot grow in that garden. Now that I feel that, I can stop feeling so scared by all of that learning-based research that usually puts my stomach in knots. As Susie mentioned, trying to force your brain to do something it’s not made to do can be accurately called torture. I’m going to stop torturing myself and trust that when things make sense, I adopt them with all my heart. When they fly in the face of my understanding, I can smile at them knowing that they can’t hurt me.

    1. An “ah-ha” moment beautifully articulated Angie. This is a must read for all teachers considering the paradigm shift.

      It struck me how well Ben’s latest post on “the definition of CI” fits with what you wrote.

  19. Just for my own clarity, there isn’t any modern research that shows that consciously studying conjugations and/or grammar rules works to help ANYONE acquire language? Before I left work on Friday, a traditional teacher was defending 2 sections of a test she gave which required students to fill in the blanks for verb endings (unprovoked by me, by the way) and said, “It’s important to test those things because some kids need grammar rules….because that’s what they’re used to…”

    I was bugged by her reasoning but just didn’t say anything. “Because that’s what they’re used to” is just not enough of a reason for me. I would have liked to say to her that no research proved a section like that was necessary but I don’t know for sure.

  20. It’s hard to say there is no research supporting that stuff but those who trained me over the years – mainly Susan Gross – always said that they didn’t think there is any out there, that they never found any.

    That’s what’s so weird about this. The people feeling attacked by us have less research than we do. A lot less! As in most probably zero!

    If it is true that they never did have any research, then what Angie said about “no longer” isn’t even true. It never even had a soupçon of research! If I were teaching that way still these days I’d be checking the mirror for food particles or worse, no clothes.

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