Friday, September 7, 2012

TPRS year 3 - sad

A week ago (Wow, it feels like time has flown by and yet at the same time these days seem so long!), I felt like I had a few amazing first days of class.  I was getting to know my students, my students were laughing and enjoying learning, and it was just a great start to a new year.

Then after school, a student came in and told me that some were talking about:

  1. my class is boring
  2. I don't know how to properly teach a foreign language

This could have been something that no one actually said. But I am inclined to believe that someone did say it because high school students are renowned for complaining about everything.

It bothered me though. Of course it would happen when I was really enjoying all of my classes. I felt like all of my classes were clicking and all had their own neat personalities that I was already excited to explore as the year went on. And I hear this.

First, this bothers me because it most likely (from what the source said) came from a student that is a heritage / native speaker of Spanish.  So of my class is boring, I realize my class isn't actually made for student that already speak Spanish at home.

But I had talked to my native / heritage students last year periodically to check their thoughts on class compared I what they saw in traditional grammar classes the year before with a different teacher. They were very positive and many told me that actually liked Spanish class more because we used the language in class and the stories were interesting.

Kids will be bored. As I tell my students: "boring people usually are bored."

That is I recognize that my class will still bore those who simply might hate school or who knows what else.

Regarding the opinion that I don't teach my foreign language class right, I will assume that this is in reference to my not teaching via the "traditional model" of lots of vocabulary and explicit grammar instruction. I did teach with explicit grammar instruction for four of my seven years teaching. It didn't ever really seem to click with the students. They would always remember the first activity of the year because I would repeat the greetings a lot and in context and have them practice. More than anything their remembering it was due to all of the repetitions.

I complained to my wife about it because it really brought me down and she responded (in Spanish): "You aren't a gold coin."*

*This statement meant (to my wife), "You'll never please everyone." Which is true.  I imagine that even a gold coin can't please everyone though! ;-)


  1. My big brother - teacher, You should not be sad. Your video have been improving my grammar. I am also very glad when you visited my blog. Your writing in this blog also improves my english skills. (I am a student from Vietnam). Thanks.

    1. Why thank you for visiting my blog and commenting! I appreciate your comment and your letting me know my videos (and blog) have been useful! Greetings from the US. :-)

  2. Señor Jordan,

    I have been studying Spanish for 6 years as an adult learner. My first Spanish class ever was in 2006. Since that time, I have had many teachers, both good and bad.

    In my opinion, the best teachers are those who are enthusiastic about teaching and who move the class along at a steady pace. I think you fit both of these criteria.

    Please don't let one student get you down. Just keep on with what you're doing! I disagree with your wife... I think maybe you ARE a gold coin in the world of Spanish teachers!

    Thanks for all of your videos and blog postings. You are a big help and source of encouaragement to me in my studies.


    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Alicia! I am glad that you've been able to find my videos helpful. And I really appreciate your encouragement. :-) I might need to add a note about what my wife meant by that... re-reading it, it sounds kind of harsh. Haha.

  3. It's that time of year !!!!! Lots of teachers are hearing the same thing right about now!! We love you and the kids are lucky to have you!!

    with love,

    1. Thanks Laurie! Hope your school year is going well too!

  4. Tontito,

    Hang in there! You can't please all the people all the time. Thanks for being brave enough to share this on your blog. So many teachers run into problems just like this, even using TPRS, and they feel like they are alone, that is there fault because they are doing something wrong. The truth is, it's just part of the deal of working with teenagers. I have certainly been there, and surely will be again.

    thanks for sharing! you certainly have our support!