No English Time

The constant use of English to explain how the class works should stop now, after about a week. We have had all the time we get for explaining how our class works – about a week. Close the doors to the English. Again – I have used all the English to explain the rules and all to my classes that I can allow myself.
If I speak English other than to ask “What did I just say?” – which I must do A LOT in class because Susan Gross clearly stated about three weeks ago that the ten finger checks are far less effecive than asking what we just said – then I will be, by using periodic English, setting myself up for failure this year.
All my work in learning how to teach using comprehensible input will be for nought. It is the sixth day or so of school, I have explained everthing, I have no call to use English, and if I do it today, I might as well walk out of the building this afternoon and never come back.
Allowing English today and next week will really mess up all my work on this stuff in ways that I sense are truly deep. If I allow English today the class will lose it’s edge and discipline problems will soon occur because of that English option I give them and they will learn a lot less than if I can stay purely in French today. If I can do this today and next week, then I can do it all year.
The Five Finger Rules – described here in a blog a few days ago – are truly my friend now because the kids at this point are familiar enough with the rules so that I don’t have to use English to say them – I just put my fingers up. This is huge. Instant discipline with no English.
With finger rule #2 – nothing on the desk (except the Circling with Balls cards) – if a kid puts a head on the desk, I then hold up two fingers and look at the kid and the head must be taken off the desk. If I don’t wait the kid out on that, I send a loud message to every kid in the room that all year I will be afraid to confront bullies in my classroom and that I can be bullied. Failing to enforce my rules is the same as giving up on the year and accepting that hell state of chaos that most teachers call a day of teaching.
Today is the day. And every day next week. Then by September I will have normed myself into mostly TL and I will be very happy because there will be a tremendous power in the class because English won’t be an option for anyone except for “What did I just say”.
Why am I making this point over and over here? Because I have to do it today. Today is the day. I can’t forget. Doing this hard work today will make all the difference later and make the year a lot easier in all way. I’m going for 99% TL this year. I’m starting today.



5 thoughts on “No English Time”

  1. Hi Ben,
    Thanks to you, I have a kid in every class counting words. This week, I’ve been as high as 178 and as low as 3 words in English over a class period. We have both 50 and 85-minute periods. I offered the job to the groups, saying, “Who wants to be in charge of grading the teacher?” The most unlikely kids popped up! You would think it would be the ones who get knocked down in other classes, but no…it was four different kids who are always perfect. Maybe they feel huge stress because of having to be perfect followers of picky rules? In any case, they are totally enjoying tracking my progress, and I’m improving!

  2. Dude we forget how much they love to count things! Thank you for this idea. I have about 20 jobs for them this year. So far, 4 have been assigned. Today will be the fifth. The Kid Who Grades the Teacher. I will add this to the jobs list. If any of the jobs don’t work, we can always remove them from the list.

  3. Just to add this – when we use English we completely undermine our students’ footing on the system we use. Comprehensible input doesn’t work if the brain is wondering what language is used in this class. Moreover, the students are perfectly capable of adapting to a non-English environment once they know that that is the way it is going to be. By treating them as if they cannot do that, by repeating some rule like #4 of my own classroom rules are too many times instead of just using the laser pointer or gesturing to them, we undermine the very process of TCI.

  4. Click on the Jobs category to the right of this page. By the way, this morning I said I ws going to add Michele’s job where the kid counts how many times the teacher uses English, and also yesterday I put in a job where a kid was supposed to write down every word I pointed and paused at. Neither worked for me. Way too busy among all the other things going on. So I will delete those jobs from that list. The thing about these jobs is it takes like two months to get them all assigned.

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