GARY, INDIANA─Local teacher Nick T. Bewusst, when questioned by colleagues if he was aware of national guidelines concerning 90/10 language use, quickly and emphatically stated that not only has he done it for years in his Spanish classes, but that it came easily and naturally. “I’ve taught using 90/10 my entire career. Since day one. I don’t understand why it even needs to be discussed and I resent the implication that I don't teach that way.” Since 2011 the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has recommended 90% target language use and just 10% native language use [...]
Ray, a high school Chinese teacher, was recently told that his level I, II, and III classes will be combined next year. Having read the original article by Gerry Wass about multi-level classes on this blog, he contacted me asking what I thought Gerry would advise. I forwarded Ray's main question to Gerry: "If a student took his Spanish class four years in a row, would he/she see the same TPRS lessons/vocab/grammar patterns every year but engage at a different level or would there be new material each year that wasn't there before. In other words, did he cycle new material in [...]
I will be presenting a workshop in Oakland, California on Monday, March 26 at Redwood Day School. The focus of this workshop will be teaching with comprehensible input in a K-8 program. This will be a day of learning engaging, practical techniques to get you revitalized and to get your students understanding and interacting in the target language. It will also be a unique opportunity to network with other like-minded teachers in the East Bay area. You can register for it here. Includes breakfast and lunch.
In the course of one week, years ago, I heard two wildly different comments. The first comment was from a highly respected colleague that had just built a house with a special alcove in the bedroom where she could sit and grade papers all night. Every. Night. (cue horror movie music). There was a big comfy chair with short tables on either side. In pile and out pile. "Here is where I spend most of my time," she said. She diligently corrected errors each night and handed those red marked papers back to students the next day. Every. Day. The [...]
The main thing that some students learn in a foreign language class is that learning another language is just way too hard for them. They mainly learn that they stink at it. They think that becoming fluent is beyond them and that they will never get it. But they are wrong. All students can learn another language. They can learn if their teachers will skillfully ask series of questions that lead them to fluency. We need to believe in this goal and believe that there are good reasons for it and that there is a process to achieve it. It [...]
When I started doing “Special Person” student interviews I had an interviewing model in mind. It was Oprah. Having that model in my head helped me to keep me on track in rambling interviews with kids that didn’t even know what they wanted to share. And Oprah was a good example. She could show that she cared and that she wanted to listen. I would imagine Oprah and use her body language and earnest questioning style with students in my classroom. Having a current model is even more necessary now as I try to explain the technique to teachers from [...]