Why SLOW Is So Important 4

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11 thoughts on “Why SLOW Is So Important 4”

  1. Okay, I am now beginning my 2nd year of CI and it feels great. I finally have my own room with a beautiful growing word wall. I am front loading vocab and doing more PQA which I didn’t do well last year. And I am so much better at going SLOW, especially after observing Ben at iFLT.

    My classes are big with 28 in one Chinese 1 class and 27 in the other. The mix of kids is getting quirky and makes me a little nervous. I have many eager freshmen but I also have more kids who failed out of Spanish. Then I have all these upper classmen boy athletes who take a bit more convincing but are on board so far. I have a lot more minority kids this year which is cool and the African-American freshmen girls are the first volunteering for acting, artist, and other jobs. A couple of these girls came in after school today all excited and asking for more materials and it was only the 3rd day of school.

    It helps a lot that I am now also the coordinator for our new Chinese student program and our 12 kids from China have generated a lot of excitement. I teach them an ESL class after school and some of my Chinese language students like to sit in the back of the room and do homework during that class. My mom used to say that every kid finds a home somewhere in the school (she used to be an Art teacher) and I love that my room is becoming that home for some kids.

    Anyway, I am confidant that the method will pull all these kids together and make them love learning Chinese. I just don’t want the little freshmen to get intimidated by the big football, wrestling, and basketball stars or the upper classmen who are on the brink of thinking they are bad at languages because they failed Spanish. Any advice from the more experienced?

    1. Were the upper classmen’s Spanish classes also TPRS/CI-style? Show them that with hard work they can learn a language. Everyone can learn a language and learn it well, but they have to trust that you will go slowly enough for them and teach for mastery. When they realize it’s not a game of gotcha, they’ll trust you.

      Also, Ben’s Circling with Balls activity does wonders for making students feel valued and included and allows them to keep their rockstar personality but in a way appropriate for class.

      If you can create funny moments between your students, well, laughter tends to bring people closer together.

      The way you speak about your students is heart-warming. I can tell that you work really hard for them.

      1. Bradley, I can tell you love your students too, from your inspiring post on the other thread. We just want to give them every opportunity to succeed, right?
        I just finished a big fight with the guy at Ohio State University who dared to make my former student cry by placing her in Chinese 1 after 4 years of high school Chinese. The “placement test” was him asking her a few questions in Chinese about her teachers. When she dared to ask for a reading test, he gave her a page of cursive script which I expect even his own Advanced students could not read. I was as mad as a mama hornet and sent him a nasty threatening email. Needless to say, they bumped my girl up to Chinese 2. She wrote me yesterday that the class is really easy. I’m sure you do this kind of thing for your kids too when they need it.

        1. Zing! This college professor is even worse than a high school teacher of one of my new graduates. They wanted to put him in Chinese I after 4 years of Chinese with me. He couldn’t write everything in characters on their semester 2 exam (which he had to take in April, mind you, they took it at the end of May, plus I have them type often) and he couldn’t figure out the “higher order thinking” questions that were tests of logical reasoning, not merely language use. I was angry. They let him take Chinese 2 if he’d do some summer work, which I believe he did. But the teacher scolded ME for advocating for my student when I told them it would be very inappropriate to put him in a beginner class regardless of their paper test. The teacher has non-standard Mandarin, too, so any oral interview was going to mess him up somewhat… it takes me some work to understand her. Whole thing totally frustrated me. Every other high school’s teacher asks me for help placing my students into their program. Whew.

          1. Good job but how dare that teacher criticize you for advocating for your kid! I hate arrogance. We should be working together and this teacher should trust that you know your kid.

    2. Tamula, I don’t have anything to help you with your wide variety of students really, but I love hearing about your new school year. I will begin my 2nd real year of CI teaching next Wednesday and I am excited, too.

      1. Diane, best of luck with the new school year! The 2nd year feels much better than the 1st because you get to improve on all the stuff you wished you had done better last year. I am front loading the vocab and used Sabrina’s advice and list on this PLC to inspire my own.
        By the way, I finally found a CI based textbook for Chinese. I am only using for inspiration but it is nice to have. It was written by Linda Li and published in China. I think it is called “I Love Chinese” (it’s at school so I don’t have the title) and I found it on the Nanhai website by googling around Linda’s name.

        1. How about that! I will look for it. I am currently waiting on Terry Waltz’s upcoming publication of a more-like-reader with teacher’s guide style textbook. My school, I think, will always want a text of some sort to “feel like” there’s a curriculum. But also, I do not have as much time as I’d like to write readings for my levels of class, and potentially her book will provide those. Or at least it would be useful, even if not necessarily the consecutive order I would use.

          Also, a few Chinese teachers led by Haiyun Lu worked together this summer to create a Chinese I terms/structures guide, for those whom that might help. I plan to use it as my 5th grade curriculum (though I won’t get through it all) by choosing structures & terms that seem to hold high potential interest together.

          1. Diane, how can I get a copy of Haiyan’s structures guide? Linda wrote a nice little beginning novel called “Shei hao kan?” Available from Command Performance at http://cpli.net/. The pictures are really cute because they are drawn to look just like Linda Li and Dr. Krashen. If I had any budget, I would order a classroom set. Maybe next year.

            When I was in China over the summer, I managed to get a morning in the bookstore and came to the conclusion that little kids books won’t work but pre-teen novels might. I picked up a couple. I have to spend some time on them but if I find something good, I’ll let you know.

          2. Cool and thank you! I agree that little kid books aren’t very good for real use in class. I have some preteen comic books (oops, graphic novels) and those are more appealing and have more relevant dialogue. But still way too many unknown characters.

            The guide/list is going to be published on Haiyun’s blog http://tprsforchinese.blogspot.com/ at some soon date. (I recently became a contributor to her blog so you can see my photo there with one of my chickens…) There’s a teacher now working on a description of how the list could be used by teachers new to CI and then it’ll be shared more widely. I will find your email & send you what we have now.

  2. Thanks Bradley. No, they didn’t learn Spanish with CI. They learned with Communicative, textbook based style. That is why I am pretty sure they will have a better experience with CI. I studied French through 3rd year college and could never use it. Now I know why. But I have been reminding them every day that they have to do their part and I am trying to get the expectations clear like sit up with clear eyes, etc. the football players have been practicing until 11:00pm so they are tired. Today I got them up in front of the class for CWB. They were good natured about it and the class got a kick out of seeing this big football player standing up their holding a little stuffed toy dog for “Aaron loves dogs!”

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