Something many of us TPRS / CI teachers come across is the belief that what we are doing is silly or a waste of time or simply an over-use of an effective tool.
As I have found myself teaching in a Department this year, I have seen that something that many non TPRS / CI teachers stress verb conjugation. I believe this to something that is considered "common sense foreign language teaching" based on the number of years it has been used.
Whether teaching with conjugation or not is what helps our students is irrelevant to a person that is ingrained with the notion that conjugation is of the utmost importance in class.
I believe that conjugation has its place in the learning of foreign language to possibly assist a student or fill in gaps after a student has received years of input. But at what point does a person learning their first language conjugate without error?
Conjugation for conjugation's sake didn't ever seem to do a lot to enhance my instruction. Students were always more nervous about using the correct form.
In my TPRS/CI classes, the language flows more naturally. Sometimes we talk in the past tense, or the present in year one. The important thing is students are following and they are hearing these different endings while we go slow.
Will the acquire the first person singular form of the preterit endings within year 1 or two? Probably not. Could I teach them for a test that they would later forget about? Most of them... the ones who respect me enough to learn that or the ones who think that is a valid learning approach.
Nevertheless, I will need to make sure my students have a general understanding of the different forms of the verbs in the present tense for Spanish 1. Whether I agree with this or not as to where it falls in the order of acquisition.
One way I have been working on that lately is I have sprinkled in little phrases with different endings:
After warm up: "Do you all have questions or problems?"
During initial conversation: "How are you?" (singular)
During initial conversation: "Do you have a problem with my face?"
I have also thrown some I forms and they forms in there. I have yet to throw in the 'we' form. But when I throw these in either in conversation or in the warm-up or in a reading, I point it out real quick and ask them:
Hey... so if "n" on the end means "they do something" how would I say, "they dance?"
Today, I asked a class, "Wait, how would I ask this person if they play volleyball?" Some students answered, "¿Juegas volleyball? I praised them for how amazing they were and apologized for my brain fart and reminded them it was Monday. Haha.
In a different class I took this a step further, I asked a student we were talking about, "¿Explotas o hablas?" (Do you explode or do you talk?)
The student of course picked the form: "Hablas" (you talk.)
I turned to the class and asked them... wait... what did I ask him? Let me repeat it...
(class): "Do you explode or do you talk?"
"Awesome job, guys! Now how would he answer that by saying, 'I talk'?"
A couple of students responded, "Hablo."
I praised them for being so great at Spanish and we continued.
This to me makes sense as I continue to work out conjugation and getting my students comfortable with hearing those different forms... the most important part though is to continually expose them to those forms in the language in a comprehensible way so it becomes second nature to them.
I am not saying what I do is the correct way. It's simply something I am having to do to meld the "grammarian" department and my TPRS / CI to find a happy medium.