Site Maintenance

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.



24 thoughts on “Site Maintenance”

  1. I’m going to miss that little picture that was in the upper corner of this page though. I don’t think we can get it back with the redesign. I’ll ask my web designer.

    Hey, I just finished a French 1 class. This thread about combining SLOW with targeting only one structure per class, doing BOTH of those things and not just the one of SLOW, is proving to lower the affective filter for the kids to a much much lower degree than I have ever seen in any class I’ve ever worked with. I think that the filter lowers itself because I myself become so relaxed in the knowledge that I don’t have to TAKE the class anywhere, but rather can just FLOW with it. It’s amazing. I don’t know what else to say about it, but I am starting to regret all the years when I tried to target more than one structure in my classes. Dang. I feel humbled by this new knowledge that if I just start with a structure and see where it goes by repeating it in every single thing I say for the entire period everything will be o.k. in my comprehensible input classroom. You know why? Because of the laughter and lighthearted enjoyment of each other that we can generate when we are only working with one verb (or one plus its opposite like looks for and finds in today’s class just ended) and when the affective filter is down low and the funny things start happening all in L2. Why would I not want to be in that kind of classroom? I think I’ll go read Krashen’s article on non-targeted comprehensible input again. It’s changing my life.

  2. Today I started introducing my first-year students to the German Soccer League. We reviewed “spielt” (plays), and I introduced “heisst” (is called). So we learned what you call the various teams and where they play. I had also introduced colors just for fun, so we observed the colors in the logos. One student told me he didn’t understand at one point, so I thanked him and clarified, and he said he had 100% comprehension, so we moved on – slowly. Limiting structures and going SLOW are definitely key.

    Thanks for all the work, Ben. The upgrade should be useful.

  3. Well let me know if it works or not. By the way Robert I had a kid jumping up and down with excitement as class started today about how one team in Mexico (he was wearing their jersey) had beaten another team called America this weekend in a big game. I didn’t have time to find your information on soccer league CI so backed away and instead spent the third class in a row on Maria looking for Pampers in King Soopers. But now I see you can start soccer league CI from scratch. I could have done it. At least this gives me time to find your article on it. I’ve always been a bit timid of the soccer league stuff. Like YouTube videos.

  4. Sounds like a very nice addition to this PLC, Ben. Thanks!

    One thing I noticed has also changed: the time stamp on people’s comments. It is going to be harder to tell when people made what comment. I tend to check those time stamps so I know if it’s an old conversation or something ongoing.

  5. I love the forum discussion idea! Exciting :). Also, sorry that I’ve been such a recluse lately! Some unfortunate things have led me to not being able to teach how I want in my classroom, which makes me want to switch up schools or take a break from formal education (i.e. in a high school setting) for a bit, pursue other avenues of language instruction (tutoring, etc etc).

    But anyway I’ll try to get back to reading stuff I’ve missed! Hope you all are well!

  6. I honor your privacy, but speaking for the group I know that they would a little more information as to why:

    …some unfortunate things have led me to not being able to teach how I want in my classroom….

    Younger teachers would tend to think that it’s them. I must insist that it is not you. You Nathan and again I am sure I speak for the group are an exciting new star in this work and have certainly run into a dark part of the forest here.

    I remember just after I graduated from Washington U. Saint Louis I went out, that month, to an interview in the suburbs past Clayton where I think you are working. I didn’t get the job, and I remember how, though there was a lot of glitz out there, it was also dark in spirit, dark green with money. I’m glad I didn’t get the job.

  7. And also Nathan just fyi and for the group’s information there are some software compatibility issues with the change in the site so we hope to see that forum soon but it won’t be for a few days. At least we’re keeping the site up and running during this time.

  8. Ben, thanks for the kind words! It’s really appreciated. The situation is that the teacher with whom I work is not retiring at the end of this school year as she originally said she would be doing. She teaches most of Spanish 2, all of Spanish 3 and 4. Her methods are VERY heavily grammar focused. I mean, she takes points off for all spelling and grammar and if the kids miss a written accent mark. She also, basically, turns the pages in the textbook and that’s what she teaches from. Her curriculum IS the textbook.

    I have tried showering her with research showing the ineffectiveness of grammar-driven instruction. I have had conversations with her about how, myself, as a new teacher, can’t afford to avoid said research or what ACTFL says is good teaching as I need to be a good professional. She basically doesn’t want to change, and there’s no impetus for her TO change. (She’s retired from the public school sphere and is now teaching at my private school in order to make some money before retiring again… whenever that will be (I’m thinking not for awhile)).

    Sure, I have enough latitude and clout with my administration that I could teach however the hell I wanted (and it IS tempting), but ultimately my students WILL have her. And when they do they’re going to struggle A LOT. (I’ve already experienced this). So, if I want to give the students a fighting chance in her class, I have to teach in a way that will effectively allow them to do that. Which means focusing on grammar. Which means giving them vocabulary quizzes where they must write the Spanish and spell everything correctly and put all the correct written accent marks on their work. It’s ridiculous, but I have to do it in order for them to be successful in her class.

    Teaching in this way is demoralizing and literally life-sucking. I love my students, but I’m not growing as an educator. Sure, I’m becoming a great grammar teacher and I’m becoming a more skilled teacher in general, but I’m not growing where I want to grow. So that’s why I don’t think I can stay at my school past this year. My fears, though, too, are that most schools (especially bigger schools) will be just like my colleague in their department. Of course this isn’t everywhere, but I’m sure it’s more of the norm then anything. Which is disheartening.

    I’m getting my yoga teacher certification this summer, so I’m thinking if I can’t find another school that will allow me to teach how I’d like, I’m gonna try to do that. Or continue to teach there while I work on making a transition to another place in the US. I’m really open to going anywhere! Haha.

    So that’s why I’m in the dark forest, currently. Life is great, really, but teaching has become a underwhelming experience. Thanks for all of your support. That does help!

    1. Dear Nathan,

      OMG ! I have not been able to go on the blog for a while so I just saw your post.
      What a shame is all I can think of saying while reading what you are going through.

      To add to what everyone else has said here, I will say that meeting you in Dallas was one of the highlights of my trip. You truly are another shining star in this CI galaxy, as many people on this blog are.

      There is a Spanish position that just became available here in Denver. Diana Noonan was telling us about it and inquiring if we knew Spanish teachers on Thursday while we met. If you are interested , text me, call me, email me or Ben and we can tell Diana.

      Nathan, keep on fighting for what you believe is right for the kids and your sanity. We’ve all been there and it is not a fun place to be, but there are a few options. You are young, brilliant and willing to move so there is hope…

  9. I’m sorry about your dominating colleague, Nathan. It sounds awful. I have unsolicited questions/suggestions to dismiss if totally unhelpful:

    Does your administration know about your thinking – I mean your interest in leaving because of the situation? I guess it could come across as a threat if you did, which would not be the intention, but perhaps administration could see this as a staff retention issue needing outside help. It seems like a scope & sequence issue if you described it right. There’s also the issue of teaching standards for foreign language. Perhaps at least they can talk her out of marking points for spelling all the time and grading for communicative ability (per AP and ACTFL expectations).

    Any chance of assigning the kids spelling & grammar stuff as homework and not having to do it in class?

  10. Nathan, when I met you this summer, I recognized immediately that you are a dedicated teacher and then you were in the coaching room and I saw that you are a gifted teacher – your manner in front of the group was very welcoming and positive. There is a place for you where you will be appreciated by your students and your colleagues. Since you are open to a variety of possibilities, including moving, I am sure you will land in a good place! Courage!

  11. On that note of where Nathan goes, everyone, keep it in mind. We have to keep him in teaching. Yoga teaching would be the easy path for him but this is not the time for our best and brightest to be walking the easy path. It is a war and we need him on the front lines for the greater good of children, who have it hard enough and do not need to lose another warrior on their behalf who can give them hope in themselves and in their ability to learn.

    So Nathan you know that we just pulled Sabrina to Denver – where she is already a shining star and is fast becoming Diana Noonan’s “go to” person (and she is working at CU Boulder with our own group member Mark Knowles!). Consider applying here is what I’m saying. You will find a place where your colleague there would go “poof” in about a minute. She would be outnumbered by badass new stars in their twenties and thirties. Think about it. We can try to help, although the building principals are in charge of hiring. Never think it’s you, you know that at least.

  12. Nathan,
    I got to know you this summer. What I saw was a GREAT, passionate teacher with a LOT of talent. Don’t let the turkeys get you down. Persevere – what you are doing is RIGHT, you will blossom and succeed. Your kids will sing your praises — they are learning with you….they are getting frustrated with your colleague. Word will get out. But, you are also in a very advantageous point in your life — you can pick and choose where to go…start looking at your possibilities! Before throwing in the towel and settling on yoga teaching, and having a crop of students miss out on great Spanish teaching, look into other districts in the country, look into International schools — how awesome would it be to teach Spanish is a foreign country? How about the Peace Corps and have them pay back your student loans? You have a TON of options – so don’t think it’s you — she is the one on the way OUT! 🙂 You are AWESOME…don’t give up on yourself and the kids!

  13. Nathan,
    Your posts on the blog have always been among my favorites, I always make sure to read what you are thinking about and working with in your teaching. This leads me to believe that you have a similar effect on many of your students. Passion, humor, thoughtfulness, and dedication to craft are no small gifts, and you will take them with you wherever you go. I think you should let your administration know the reason why you are leaving. It doesn’t have to be a dig against the other teacher, it’s just the facts.

  14. I second many of the above comments. We have got to find Nathan a position where he can just teach without feeding into a grammar monster. Keep going, Nathan.

  15. I will just throw this out there because Nathan mentioned the yoga teacher training: “yoga teaching” and “yoga” is not separate from “teaching” and “life.” That may be obvious to you Nathan, if you are considering deepening your practice and/or considering teaching yoga. I don’t think it is an “either / or” situation.

    I teach both in a school and in a studio, and have found that my yoga teacher training AND this PLC are basically the same. They are both yoga (union / unity / aligning with truth). This group enhances my YTT group and vice versa. It is even to the point of specific topics in my YTT spilling directly into my classroom (ie, finding my voice, establishing boundaries, the practice of listening, etc).

    Basically yoga is the ongoing practice of aligning yourself with your deepest truth. I don’t think it is a bail out if Nathan pursues this path along with his teaching, especially if it will help him stand more firmly in his own truth and find his way out of “life-sucking” situations.

  16. Nathan, Someone may have mentioned this but have you thought about a “flipped” classroom and teaching your grammar that way. You could spend 10 minutes a day on flipped material students watched the night before or better yet start a forum that students have to keep up with, ask at least 5 questions a semester, answer at least 5, etc. You can even tie your flipped material based on whatever you talked about in your story that day/week. My grammar-nerdy-ness-self has wanted to experiment with it but I’m just not brave enough. 🙂

  17. Grammar can’t be mixed with comprehensible input, in my opinion. In order to get the scores* we got on the National French Exam, which strangely still includes grammar questions on it, I used to stop all CI instruction one month before the test and do nothing but grammar.

    For what? To honor the idea that the National Language Exams are still valid? They are not. The research has dropped them. So I say with a certain degree of confidence, of course in my opinion, that trying to throw some grammar into a CI class is just not going to work in the real world.

    It makes me think of this sentence by Nathan last week:

    …I have to do it in order for them to be successful in her class….

    I re-read what Nathan wrote. I should have said when I first read it last week that he doesn’t have to do a thing to prepare those kids for her class. They will learn PLENTY of grammar in his classroom. Grammar is correctly spoken speech. They just may not be able to call it a double object pronoun and fill in a worksheet on it. Big whoop.

    Nathan, what would happen if you just taught the way you want to? Actually, the teacher would like it because then she could get her bitchy edge going when they show up with no grammar. Those teachers love to complain about the middle school or first year teachers who use CI based instruction but their days of complaining are over as the truth seems to be flooding out these days about comprehensible input.

    And Nathan check this out – her upset with you teaching this year as you want would probably backfire on her. The more your current students enjoy the comprehension based instruction in your class this year, the more they are inclined to “call” this lady on her instruction.

    One of my students in 8th grade was so upset with the instruction at the IB high school she attended that she raised a ruckus all over the school, started stories in a lunch group (the language teachers on lunch duty would watch them laughing and having fun at their table) and I got the most scathing phone call from the principal of the Lakewood IB High School because my blog was then public and I told this story. I’ll never forget how I felt that day. (

    Students would honestly rebel in that grammar environment and you will have helped this teacher – who has her arms, legs and feet firmly rooted in the last century – right out the door.

    Plus, you would be able to ENJOY your work. Why not enjoy your work this year? Does this old dinosaur of a teacher really have that kind of power over you? Do you really want to give up a year of practice with CI for a person who is steeped in the last century?

    I wouldn’t. I may have when I was younger, but things have changed a lot since then. Our profession is changing so fast that teachers like the one you describe will not even be able to get a job in the next five years, if they still can now.

    *top five scores in CO from 8th graders on the National French Exam in 2004 as an example with scores of 70/70, 67/70, 65/70, 63/70, 63/70 with Cherry Creek High School (Denver) taking the sixth score with 62/70.

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