Starting off the School Year Right

FIRST WEEK TO-DO LIST

"Si al comienzo no muestras quién eres, nunca podrás después, cuando quisieres."  "If at first you do not show who you are, you will never be able to afterwards when you want to." From El Conde Lucanor, Cuento XXXV, by Don Juan Manuel (Medieval Castilian writer, 1282-1348). The first week of school is a magical and vitally important time. This is the honeymoon period, those brief few days when it seems like every single one of your students like you, like the class and like each other. Almost every year the honeymoon phase will trick you into thinking you don't [...]

INTERVIEW BUZZWORD BINGO

It’s interview time again. All over the country administrative teams are sitting through tedious interviews with world language teacher candidates, smiling benignly and trying to stay awake. But help is here! This handy Buzzword Bingo card makes interviewing fun again. Simply mark every time one of the dubious, outdated or ineffective teaching practices on the card is mentioned or implied to weed out candidates the fun way. The first interviewer that gets a BINGO and works the word “bingo” into a comment or question wins! Hesitation, blank looks or omissions by the interviewee when answering questions also count, so pay [...]

THE TAKEN SPEECH FOR TEACHERS

Here is a speech I long to give to my students at the beginning of the school year. Maybe this will be the year. (Most effective when read with Liam Neeson's voice.) "I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are just looking for a grade, I can tell you I don’t have grades in mind. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for students that just want a grade. But if you let [...]

CLASSROOM OBSERVATION BY A FRENCH TEACHER

Here are the reflections on a recent classroom observation by Bridget Webster, a middle school French teacher. Her heartfelt and keen observations will help to encourage teachers that are considering taking the plunge into Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI). Bridget has been teaching for three years and is relatively new to TCI. She devoted an entire day to observing my classroom and she, as well as her colleagues, stayed well after the school day to discuss what they had seen. Looks like she gets it. Bridget has since implemented many strategies she saw, particularly the use of the "I don't understand" and [...]

CONTEE SEELY’S CLASSROOM OBSERVATIONS

I have been grateful to have publisher and author Contee Seely observe my classes two times so far this year. Being watched by someone that literally wrote the book on TPRS (Fluency through TPR Storytelling, with Blaine Ray) could have been an intimidating experience, but Contee is so gracious that he made me feel at ease and this allowed me to teach my plan without feeling self-conscious. He speaks Spanish so he was able to understand everything that was said in each class, and with his wealth of knowledge and experience he was also able to simultaneously see and process [...]

OBSERVATIONS & EMERGING LANGUAGE IN QUIZ #2

Here is an analysis of the quiz in the previous post. Typical level I language emerges in personal interviews and is produced on the quizzes. Students are using the high frequency words they are hearing in class. Here is what I can see at a glance when I look over a quiz like this. It takes much longer to write out or even to read, but I can get an idea what we need to work on by looking over quizzes each week. Here are some things I am seeing in this particular quiz: SER/ESTAR USAGE.  Because we keep using [...]