As the new year starts and the second semester gets underway, I am more committed than ever to using Comprehensible Input (CI) strategies to improve learning outcomes for my students. I gave up my textbooks a few years ago, and CI allows me the freedom to explore student interests and still teach vocabulary in context. For me, the key is “in context.” Vocabulary lists alone will not improve fluency. As children, none of us sat down to study a list when we were learning our first language, right?
It was hard to “let go” in the beginning, of course. Change can be really hard! Sometimes my students don’t even realize they are being taught. I know, however, that those repetitions of vocabulary and structures are working their magic. Time will tell.
My students have been using the CI novels in class. We generally read one as a class. Many times, I’ll have them follow along as I read and act out the story. In some classes, students want to act out scenes. Usually, hilarity ensues!
My plan is in place for my classes. I hope I’m up to the challenge.
I have been teaching languages for the last sixteen years, and I have seen and heard many weird comments during that time. I have noticed that many people simply don’t appreciate the work I do. To be honest, it makes me sad and a bit angry.
I have heard things like, “Speak English!” or “Why can’t everyone learn English?” too many times to count. Think about it from my perspective if you can. I am a professional paid to speak my second language—in this case Spanish. I am paid to teach people as much as I can in the time allotted to me. I have been trained extensively in the various methods to do just that, literally spending years staying current with research in my field.
When my students encounter me, I need to create the expectation of using the second language. What that means is when I see students in town or anywhere else outside of my classroom, I like to speak to them in Spanish. It activates what they already know and expands their minds to be able to learn even more. They gain confidence when they are successful.
Sit back, be quiet and let me do what I’m trained to do. It’s not my fault there is no official language for the United States. It’s not my fault that students are required to take at least one year of Spanish to graduate. It’s not my fault that it is harder for some students than others. If you think about it, that could easily apply to math or science, etc.
What any teacher does is build background knowledge for life. Our job is to combat ignorance. A little support from the community would be nice. Tolerance for other cultures wouldn’t hurt either. You’re never too old to learn!
P. S. To the community members who are always supportive, thank you so much! You make the rough days easier.