Statement of Truth

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52 thoughts on “Statement of Truth”

  1. Oh man I suck, at least compared to everybody else on the list. But what I do– bad TPRS– beats grammar hands-down.
    My top kid from Intro, Shayla (850 word stories in 3 verb tenses in 45 min; 150 words in 5 mins; nearly flawless grammar) is also in French 3 with Leanda Monro (TPRS) and today we had this convo after class:
    Me: So are you liking learning French with stories?
    Shayla: Yeah it’s easy. And I learned more Spanish in 5 months than I did in 4 years of French
    Me: What did you actually *do* in French class?
    Shayla: Grammar. I didn’t understand it. Like, last year, we learned the past tense. I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know what to say. This year she [TPRS Leanda] puts it into stories and it makes sense.”
    That is verbatim. Word.

    1. I always am impressed with your writing achievements. Is there any way that you could share some samples? I think it would help me see where others are at this time of year with my Spanish students. There are no other teachers around here that teach this way and it makes me feel isolated in comparing work. Not having others to meet with here, I am not sure where my students are in comparison.

      1. Yeah, if I compared my students to Chris’ in writing production, it’d be a bad deal for me. My students write far less. It is Chinese, but I have them type… it does take longer to type but a LOT longer to hand-write. I do not think an alphabetic language can really be safely compared to writing in Chinese, and remind myself of that now by sharing the statement here.
        But, my students’ writing is increasing in length, variety of words included, and native-like sound to what they say. I call that success.

  2. Glorious! And we HAVE to keep reaching out to other teachers that show a spark of interest. I should really be out there like Alisa and Eric on the other list serves, drawing people in. Kudos to you guys.

  3. Great message Ben!
    This is a timely message for me. The standards revision committee that I was a part of yesterday was a good WIN for our efforts of creating inclusion. I had to sign a disclosure so hopefully I can share specifics at a later date.
    I can say that it was successful for fostering a vision of Comprehensible Input across the State of Arizona. This success is all based on the fabulous work and passion of the teachers in the field of SLA. People here inspire me. Because of the work here with the PLC and TPRS professional developments I was the “smartest” guy in the room.
    Thanks to all that share here and are passionate about innovation in teaching and learning languages. We have a lot to be proud of!!!

  4. I have to say Michael that we need to keep your experience in Arizona front and center for others. I have such respect for your initiative. I could no more go into a meeting like that and bring clear messages to the other teachers about CI than fly to the moon. The negative vibe would just mess me up too much. I would just get too nervous and forget what I was saying. So you really are to be congratulated for what you are doing there. It has very in-your-face qualities.

  5. So after I commented above and after my second cup o joe, I remembered a conversation that I had just yesterday at our Tri State PLC meeting. I introduced myself to someone I did not recognize and we chatted for a bit. It didn’t take long to realize that TCI/TPRS was not her bag. I excused myself politely after she told me that it was her opinion that it was of supreme importance that her students knew how to use the textbook index in case they needed to write about the weather or their family. I am glad she came, maybe she heard something new that clicked. Hope so.

  6. I got a few emails about the “laying down my life for TPRS” statement I made above. Let’s be clear. We lay our lives down a little bit every day when we go into our classrooms. It is because we are trying to bring big change to a dead profession and the energy in most school buildings is very much aligned against that work.
    Some people get to go to work and be rewarded, even lauded, for their intense efforts to make their jobs work. But mostly for us, it’s all about opposition, except for the undeniably wonderful results we sometimes get from our interaction with some of the kids, even though a very large percentage of our students, accustomed to the old ways, line up against us as well, because of the way they have been mistreated in classrooms before.
    So I stand by my comment. I am ready to lay down my life for this work – it is a moral obligation – and in a way I have been doing exactly that for years. But since I am lined up shoulder to shoulder with amazing people like those in our community here, then I feel that I am part of a force that is very real as well. This is a battle, hence the above statement. We could get other jobs, or not.
    I prefer being a crusader. For those who do not even come close to understanding the nature of our crusade (most teachers), we look weird, and so run the daily risk of being dismissed, laughed at, and even ridiculed. That feels dangerous to many of us, but it only strengthens my own resolve.
    It’s o.k. – at least we don’t do fake work. So that’s what I meant by laying down my life. It means pursuing this work with all force and humility in service, and not concerning myself with the results.

  7. Matthew DuBroy

    This is awesome. It has been so helpful to be part of such a thoughtful and reflective community. As a future theologian (I’m finishing my doctorate in theology), I now have the confidence and the vision and the tools to re-invigorate the learning of Latin (not the STUDY of Latin). There is still the outdated expectation between Seminaries and graduate programs of philosophy and theology that a year (or so) of grammar and a dictionary allows one to “read” or “use” the language. Maybe a few could actually do that (4%ers) but now we know every seminarian and every graduate student of philosophy/theology (in this case) can gain fluency in Latin and read/use the language with EASE.
    I have had such good experiences this year teaching 5th-8th graders that I know any one can gain fluency in Latin. It doesn’t have the be the language of the elite. The average person at a Parish can gain fluency and frankly if one were interested – who wouldn’t want to sit around creating funny stories and situations? It is not always perfect but man it can be a lot of fun. Even if I am not always teaching 5th-8th graders Latin, it is imperative that I promote this way of teaching by teaching those who want to learn even if it is not my main work. This stuff is too good.
    Thanks for leading the charge Ben!

  8. So I’m reading this after being away from Ben’s blog for many many months. I came back in search of a thread from two or three years ago about how to make it through the luge-ride of spring, to share some of those ideas with our next TriState TCI meeting on Friday.
    Then I found this post and it resonated with a revelation I had just this week.
    I’m no longer teaching full time in a school. I left a perfectly good job in a lovely PreK-12 Quaker school, where I had total free rein over my PreK-5 Spanish classroom. I left because, after 12 years, I still felt that no one fully recognized the amazing things that were happening in my classes. Not one colleague from the middle school or high school ever came to see my students build stories with me. I shared what I was learning from NTPRS and iFLT and moretprs and this group with my high school colleagues. I went to their meetings about choosing textbooks and said “It doesn’t matter what textbook you choose!” to no avail. I went to their workshops on creating IPAs and said “Output is not an indicator of acquisition. Don’t make these Level 1 students do oral presentations about the school dress code after two months of class!” On deaf ears. I organized three workshops on our campus, to which only two or three colleagues came, among dozens of eager teachers from other schools.
    So I’m searching for the next thing to do with my life, while subbing, tutoring, and helping Carol and Lori and La grow our TriState TCI group. And in my quest for what to do in my second adulthood, I’ve come to this moment of clarity: I don’t want to try to convince people who don’t want to change. I LOVE working with people who are in the process of learning or who are open to change. And I can do that.
    I am so grateful for those of you who are willing and able to fight the battle. That’s not me. I’m here to help guide and teach and share and train and coach and encourage.

  9. …I don’t want to try to convince people who don’t want to change….
    Most don’t want to change. Susie told me that of 100 people who come to her workshops, one will try this. Among 100 such people who try it, one will master it. I completely agree with every word you say above, Annie. It’s not worth it to try to convince people of the old order that there is even a new order. Density marks their approach to teaching kids languages. It’s just that way. Thank you for this. I think you made the right decision.

  10. Our c.i. uptake in BC is higher than Gross’ 1%– I am guessing at 10%– and I think one of the reasons we’re higher is cos unlike 20 years ago there is an Internet community with resources.
    It’s still bad. My neighbour recently confronted me about some of my outspokenness at Defartment meetings (I refuse to sut there and discuss “ways to get the kids talking” and other crap we know is not helpful) and I told her “you got a master’s, you work your ass off, you obviously majorly care about the kids, c.i. is fun and effective, why don’t you try c.i.?” and she said “that would mean redoing everything I do.” There you have it.
    The closed minded just don’t give a shit. Demos, research and advocacy won’t work for coasters, for those who think “good enough” = good. And the apathy goes all the way up to Uni profs. Sad.

    1. Matthew DuBroy

      It is probably easier getting some of the newer teachers or students about to graduate because they aren’t yet invested in some other way of teaching. Nevertheless it still amazes me that teachers are simply unable to see that it isn’t working. People simply aren’t learning languages! We (in general) just all think if we studied a little harder, or worked a little harder then we’ll know the language. Or some after the classroom experience are resigned to the fact that I’m just going to have to visit the country where the language is natively spoken and then struggle with it for a while before I get the hang of it.
      There is no doubt that trying to teach like this would be significantly harder without this internet community. I went to a Blaine Ray workshop – super helpful. I got some of Ben’s books – super helpful. But nothing replaces being able to learn from the conversation that happens on here, and being able to get questions answered and things clarified. Not to mention the support that you receive just by being a part of it. You see that others struggle (so you know it is normal to struggle) and you see other’s successes (so you are constantly reminded that it is worth it).

      1. …we (in general) just all think if we studied a little harder, or worked a little harder then we’ll know the language….
        Yes – it is this uncanny and really quite odd phenomenon that allows the teacher to turn the lack of learning around on the learner instead of placing it squarely on their own shoulders that has perpetuated the lie for all these decades.

    2. Even more sadly, they believe that it is perfectly acceptable for only a tiny, tiny percentage of students to be successful. That’s how it SHOULD be, the only way it can be. It is not acceptable. We need to keep working on changing that mindset. When teachers see that more students should and can be successful, they will be looking for how to make that happen. Right now they don’t believe that everyone should and can.
      with love,

      1. …they believe that it is perfectly acceptable for only a tiny, tiny percentage of students to be successful….
        This is the part that has always dogged my thinking over the years. Can’t they see that, without those few superstars, they have no case? It’s the worst in middle school where they may have had a CI teacher and love it and then quit upon arriving in high school. This hurts everyone. When kids quit after having success, because, they are told, they are in high school now and the work is “harder”, it is a lose-lose for everyone but the high school teacher. I call that selfishness.

          1. I find these thoughts especially interesting because it was my strong belief that anyone could be able to learn Chinese that was a major factor that made me seek out CI ideas. When I saw they worked better, I kept moving in that direction.
            So despite most peoples’ belief about Chinese, I thought it was possible for Americans to gain fluency.

          2. I think that this misconception, that only certain gifted, dedicated individuals can become bilingual, is the biggest roadblock for non-CI teachers. IF you can accept the idea that anyone can become bilingual then so many doors open:
            a. Language acquisition is not academic.
            b. Language acquisition is natural.
            c. Language acquisition is not memorization.
            d. Language acquisition requires a certain environment, not (just) certain skills.
            e. Traditional language instruction is not natural and doesn’t provide the right environment.
            and on and on …..
            with love,

          3. What a fabulous and HONEST list!
            Language acquisition is NOT academic!!!!! That may be one of the greatest obstacles! How many HS and College professors are ready to make that statement?!!!
            “In fact, many FL teachers would admit they don’t teach with acquisition saying something like “We don’t have enough time.” What they mean is that the “natural way” isn’t efficient enough. Thing is, there are no shortcuts. And if don’t set up the conditions for acquisition, then your outcome will be a different type of language knowledge. What we’ve done is identify those elements of the natural way that make it so effective (loving comprehensible input) thus optimizing the natural process.

          4. Matthew DuBroy

            wow that is really helpful way to articulate such a huge obstacle. If it is not academic it might seem to take away from what these people think they are doing. Though of course we know it is MORE helpful/fruitful to have fluency in the language than to just know about the language – but the “professors” value knowing about the language more. That is a huge hurdle to overcome in changing the way language is taught.
            I’ve been wondering lately if somehow the future of language teaching will be distinct language institutes or some such thing. Away from typical schools we would get away from many obstacles that hinder a lot of the great stuff people are doing (administration, and other teachers who want to be academics instead of language providers).

          5. …somehow the future of language teaching will be distinct language institutes or some such thing….
            I think it is happening already, Matthew. Some of our best and brightest on this blog, like Elissa and Annie and others over the years, have retracted their talents from the decaying schools they served, schools that are filled with so many unnecessary tests and unmotivated students (why don’t we talk about THAT more often here – the unmotivated students?).
            We lose a ton of CI teaching talent in this country each year for the above two reasons. These people have chosen to put their own mental health above the need to have a job with benefits (“Oh please please please may I have a job?), which not all of us can afford to do, of course).
            What are they to do? They are really good at teaching languages! They like it! Adult learners rightly shower them with approval because they, unlike many students, know what bad teaching is.
            So yes. As more and more of these people fill the private sector with their talents, and as schools just get worse and worse with all the testing, it is possible that, as you say,
            …somehow the future of language teaching will be distinct language institutes or some such thing….
            Such institutes have not worked until now because of greed, bad and ineffective pedagogies (Berlitz, Rosetta Stone, etc.) but now that teachers are bailing into the private sector who can actually deliver a product, there will be more and more of this.

          6. And I might add in what I do not think is an overly melodramatic statement that the fact that we can even hold the attention of large trapped groups of teens who have far more important things to think about than learning a foreign language is an amazing feat of courage on our parts.
            The fact is, like that kid Jason was working with in Scotland*, there are very few people who have any idea of what we actually do in terms of courage and hard work and what we have gone through over years and in some cases entire careers.
            I would only work in a school where I feel that all that effort would be appreciated. I would only work in a school where real people are doing real things, and not sending in idiots to observe us like Nathaniel’s recent example of literally hundreds of such examples here over the years.
            And many of the stories going on right now, the drama of just doing something as simple was wanting to have a job, don’t get shared here because people are sending in less reports from the field than in years past, it seems.
            Most schools do not know or appreciate what we bring, do not appreciate the heroism that we display every day in our clssrooms. It’s become ridiculous. I can start naming names in our group of teachers who have been slammed for bringing a top quality product and presenting it in front of swine.
            OK feeling a rant coming on here so better stop.
            *Jason said today: “For one particularly negative (and outspoken) girl, I spent 40 minutes of a class going through one of Asher’s case studies and explaining point after point. That quieted her down a little bit.”
            If one were to do an explication de texte of that sentence, it would reveal a lot that supports my point. Students should not be given the idea by schools that it is ok for them to be negative and outspoken, and they should not require verbal justification of methods used in classes any more than a surgeon should have to justify to a patient she would use in some procedure.
            I find the situation that exists in our profession at the present time unacceptable.

          7. I’ve been thinking about this a lot too, Ben; the culture in many of where students feel empowered to criticize their teachers and their teaching. I mean, I get how it takes time to develop a trusting relationship between teacher and students, and that how we talk to kids has significant power on how quick that trust can build. But if we can simply have our admin tell a student who comes knocking on their door to complain, “I value your teacher and what they are teaching you in the class. I want you to do the same.” A simple statement like that is powerful. I know because I’ve been in schools where this was happening and others where this wasn’t. And it doesn’t have to take long to establish yourself as a person to be respected in a new school if the admin treats you as such.

          8. Language acquisition is not academic… right, but perhaps it’s better for those of us who have people to convince to say that language acquisition is not analytical. As we are trying to convince the greater school community, many people (parents, etc.) agree that the best way to learn a language is through informal conversations and reading narratives that are level appropriate. During these conversations and readings we are not interested in analyzing the language but we may be interested in having academic like conversations about the content.
            You know, many, if not all of us are time and again thrown into the interrogation room and plunked on the hot seat to have to defend our TCI. We have to be careful how we explain ourselves.
            I’m reminded of my brother, a math teacher, and his work over the past 20 years in developing what they call “interactive math”, which involves constructivism. It’s anti give-students-the-equations-and-have-them-practice-practice-practice. I see many correlations to what we do. And just like with us, as much as he has worked as a high school teacher, a college professor, and a consultant for math departments in districts across the country, inciting change from the old 20th century traditional ways is a very slow going, sometimes hopeless-seeming, endeavor. But he won’t back down from a fight. He won’t compromise on these principals behind delivering quality math education. And, as the years roll along in his fight, the more he sees it as a social justice issue; an issue of power and privilege. (Amazing the similarities, right!) As much of a pain in the ass I think he is, I admire him tremendously for it.

          9. Depends on how you define “academic.” Acquisition is not learning.
            Acquisition and learning are 2 different processes with different results and that is where education of others (parents, admin, kids) needs to start. That’s what Krashen and others have been saying for 30+ years.
            If academic = learning (study, memorize, practice, test), then by that definition learning is NOT natural, i.e. that is not how a first language is acquired.
            Krashen’s acquisition/learning distinction has not “stuck” among other SLA researchers who use the terms interchangeably. That is why I’ve start to refer to “acquisition” as implicit learning and “learning” as explicit learning. SLA does distinguish these two ways of learning.

        1. It is not really a win for the HS teacher, at least for the ones like Chris Stolz and Susie Gross who spent hours coming up with communicative exercises and never got students who could communicate. Susie said that she used the same test and got the same grades every year, no matter how many communicative activities she gave them. It was with TPRS that the scores went up.

          1. …it was with TPRS that the scores went up….
            When I was first learning this how to do this kind of teaching, I taught two of Susie’s classes one fine day in the spring of her last year in the classroom, in 2002.
            Their response to my attempts to communicate with them (I had observed her all that morning), was extremely high.
            It was like I would imagine flying an airliner to be, with that sense of control. And I didn’t know what I was doing, just asking questions, but they were so trained.
            These were 8th graders. I had never experienced anything like that in my career until I was able to train my own kids years later.
            There is such a yearning that I hear in our discussions here that if we could just find the right assessment instrument, one that truly aligns with what we do, which is so different from what traditional teachers do and value, then our students would show up for what they have accomplished.
            I’m not so sure that we should just videotape our classes in action and just hand those tapes over to whoever wants to evaluate us with whatever assessment instruments they would like. We wouldn’t need to explain anything if we did that.
            Or we could wait around for another decade, at least, and wait for the instruments to catch up to the research.

          2. Wow. What an opportunity. Someone else has trained the students so that they respond properly to initial efforts by the learning teacher.
            So there are two distinct steps here which are normally fused. One is learning to teach the new way. The other is learning to train our students to learn in the new way. With the fusion approach we can think we are doing a lousy job, when in fact it is good to bearable. The true issue may be that we are still working on training the students.
            What I said in the previous paragraph is something we hear a lot (you have to train the students). What was new for me was to realize that there could be a situation in which someone has only to focus on the interaction and doing her part to make that happen.
            I know that there are trained “students” in coaching situations. They are adults, sympathetic teachers, and linguists who are in a free environment. Unlike most of our clients who are young people with little buy in to the school setting with a variety of agendas.
            Do they do this as part of the coaching process at DPS?

          3. Nathaniel I don’t quite understand the question about DPS. What we do is largely accomplished through our learning labs, where we learn by osmosis what other teachers do. Like had I not gone to observe Julie that day in January I would have completely not known that there is a better version of PQA out there. I had to see it. I feel the same way about watching Eric do TPR on that video he sent in a few days ago. A major reason I started this blog was to use video to train each other. Anyway, does that at all address your question? My point is that in DPS we learn by observing, not having meetings where we theorize. Diana takes most of her budget every year to pay for subs so that we can all converge on a school through the winter months and have a prebrief, watch a class or two, and then a debrief with the teacher, and it’s about the best four hours one could spend learning this stuff.

          4. I was just asking if people inexperienced in TPRS try teaching in someone else’s class where the students have been trained to do their 50% TPRS-style. It just struck me how you were able to get a taste of success with TPRS via someone else’s trained students as a follow-up to the morning of observation. It probably would not be necessary with the support system and training you have going there now.

          5. I will say that the only time I taught another teacher’s students was in Susie’s classroom and it was actually shocking to me. For 24 years I had taught the other way; TPRS was brand new to me and if it weren’t Susie and the trust we had I would never have gotten up there.
            So in that sense it is a cool idea to think about doing this in a CI group locally and regionally but the trust has to be there among the teachers and the students need to be apprised that in front of them is a rookie. I sensed kindness from Susie’s kids as they patiently helped me get through the class in my best Eugene Levy two left feet style.

          6. And I realized I have been spelling Susie with a “z.” Thanks to some comprehensible input from Ben I am at the point in my English where I should be able to use the correct spelling. Although maybe not. A “z” reminds me that Susie has the last say in most things SLA.

  11. I had great hopes for some of my former students who loved the way I taught and went on to become teachers. The best and the brightest of them has decided not to accept the job she was offered. After a year in middle school, she just didn’t enjoy it enough to want to spend her life as a teacher.

    1. My first year of teaching middle school almost drove me out of teaching but I didn’t want to quit a loser. That was when I discovered Blaine Ray. It totally turned me around. Parents started calling the school office to rave about the new wonderful Spanish teacher and congratulate them on getting rid of the old one. Both were me. Now good days and bad days I still love my job.

    2. I don’t know how many people here know or have worked with Judy but she is truly a shining star for reform over there in the intractable country of France. What is cool is that she is d’origine américaine! It took one of us Yankees to go over there and become a kind of mole to bring the change to them. Judy does it right. Anyone who has even a slight chance of getting to Agen for the July 2015 conference should consider doing so. Anyone reading this in Europe right now should go to the website right away and check it out. When you make your summer plans for CI training, don’t forget that Agen is a great way to do it, not to mention you get a free vacation in the south of France and the trainers are awesome like Sabrina and Teri and the others! Check Agen out:
      And you get graduate credits for Agen as well so don’t forget about that!

  12. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Ben could you expound on this:?
    “…Density marks their approach to teaching kids languages.” Are you saying they are dense, as in ‘thick in the head?’
    Also, the fear that they (legacy Ts) will have to re-create/redo everything is a real obstacle. It’s so important to transmit/explain/communicate the streamlining of the work, how all the bits, pieces, and many of the documents can either go away or serve differently under the T/CI framework…and not be replaced with more ‘stuff.’

  13. By “density” I mean that they have a mindset that would be the same as if we asked a physics teacher to stop teaching physics and adopt CI and join our WL department and leave their science department. They are that far away in clarity and vision (they are dense) in their approach to teaching languages that they do not have a clue, not a single clue, about current research. They don’t get the role of the unconscious mind and the reciprocal/participatory part. They think of language teaching is the same beast that allowed them to get the As in their college language classes by memorizing rules and so they chose this career based on their great success at that in college but then, now, the rules all changed on them and they are screwed. They are that far away, therefore that dense, that they may as well all be physics teachers. How many people make the change like you have? Like one in ten thousand. That’s a lot of dense teachers. No blame. It worked for them. But not anymore. There is one teacher in a high school in DPS who just quit last week – she couldn’t hang any longer – because her entire department did make the change to CI over the past five years. She never got CI. Bless her heart. But she was driven out by her changing colleagues. No one attacked her, she just finally got it and quit. That is what is happening now in DPS as we have moved (for those who haven’t heard this oft-repeated stat before) from 5 TPRS teachers in DPS five or six years ago to now over 80 out of our 100 WL language teachers. Hope that properly addresses your question, Alisa.

  14. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Ben, Yes!! Thanks, now I get it.
    Fortunately our 10-member dept all transitioned together (pretty much) to T/CI with support and trust from admin. Not all of the admin get it, though some are making efforts to engage in conversations w/us, observe us, and word is, they are singing our praises at their admin mtgs, waxing over our dept’s transformation. This is a small, affluent 5-school district that feeds to a nationally ranked HS. We are hoping/planning and taking steps to both fan out and trickle UP. For next year we want to host an all-day learning lab, open to surrounding districts, w/a learning lunch, a home-made pamphlet and materials available, together w/a commitment to open our doors to any and all interested Ts for continued observation/mentoring etc. Already we have hosted several teacher observers…. Additionally we want to start inviting local university-level language instructors and Education/teacher-formation dept people. It’s critical that initial exposure be positive and thought provoking!
    Our student engagement and classroom atmosphere/vibe sells itself, right?!

    1. That’s awesome, Alisa. Sounds like a great way for unified departments to go. I will look forward to hearing about that nationally-ranked high school. I know a Chinese teacher there; she contacted me to ask what I did to develop such strong speaking skills in my students. (She had my rock-bottom student in her Chinese 1 class, and this is what she said about him!) She also has a rather positive apparent outlook on TPRS. But I think others there do not so much. However, I saw one of those apparently not-open-to-CI teachers last year at NTPRS. She smiled and was more friendly to me than ever before when I presented in a Chinese teacher meeting about word walls & asking students questions.

  15. We had two school districts visit Laurie’s presentation in March at my district, because they want to make the change together.
    Unfortunately, for the morning session, my district was not one of them. But we did have 6 out of 12 in the morning (3 of which started working in our district this year). And there were 9 out of 12 in the afternoon.
    The group from Sandwich, MA was there with an admin and the coordinator whom I had met at TCI, Maine, Etc.

  16. The trickle up to that nationally ranked high school will be worth purchasing tickets for in a few years. There are some really strong high schools up there in that part of the state. New Trier of course comes to mind. Wow. When your kids start hitting the high school look frickin’ out!
    …our student engagement and classroom atmosphere/vibe sells itself, right?…
    Again, if they are dense in the sense that their own training prevents them from even perceiving what you are doing, then few who attend will buy in, in the same way that a pole vaulter using an old wooden pole can’t clear anything higher than 14 feet or so. All the new records up to 19 feet and above were set with the new flexed metal poles. So how can a pole vaulter who is unwilling to part with their wooden pole going to get to the heights you are getting your students to there?
    The learning lab. Of course, the fun part will be to watch the university people if they even attend. Their calm judging demeanors, hiding clown lips, will hide underpants that are doing the fandango in fear that they might be exposed as not knowing what they are doing. To put it simply, and we may as will be blunt here (I speak the way I think and care little what others say): those university people who aren’t on the VP/Krashen train just don’t know what they are doing. Our Eric and Robert could crush them with one blow to the head. So I doubt that they will even show up for what you are doing. Just visiting an elementary school that is has CI fireworks coming out of the roof would keep them away. They don’t like fireworks. They want it like they had it in the 19th century. OK I’ll stop now.
    But do that learning lab anyway.
    The fact, dear Alisa, that for ALL THOSE YEARS you taught in the old way, coupled with the fact that you have the jargon down in the back of your pocket to slap down on the table whenever needed, along with the fact that you have not only transitioned to full-on CI yourself and brought some very high quality people along with you, all of that spells C-H-A-N-G-E in Chicagoland.
    Can’t wait to hear who comes and who does not come to your learning lab. Pls. give us a report from the field on that.
    And others please send in reports from the field more frequently. It’s awesome reading about the successes and shit shows some of us are in right now, at a time of year when nothing seems to be pleasant as people in schools unnecessarily work themselves into the ground because they don’t know how to relax.

  17. We must continue making noise, presenting a lot, networking & inviting legacy teachers again and again to observations, local meetings, workshops & conferences. We need to engage ACTFL, CAL, CARLA and other language teaching ‘authorities’ in a healthy discourse on SLA and pedagogy. It’d also be great to break through at the university level and have the related strategies taught alongside the SLA theory classes, applied linguistics, etc. Also, it’d be great to have student teachers from local universities in our classrooms, so the info flows both ways. Heck, invite your whole cohort to come watch us have some fun in our classrooms!! (In mine, you might see 9- 4th grade boys all pretending they’re dogs, crawling around the rug and lifting a leg as if to pee on a chair. Well, that’s why Brandon Brown’s mom doesn’t want a dog, isn’t it?)
    These and all the other ways to invite an extended look up-close…We are going to embark on some of these outreach initiatives hopefully in the coming school year. I still think it’d make a fun PBS special – Krashen, VanPatten, Blaine & co, and some of the Divas, as well as some ordinary classroom folks – spinning their magic w/learners of all stripes…

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