Thursday, May 5, 2016

Am I too abrasive?

*Disclaimer*To be fair, no one has told me that I am a terrible teacher. Nevertheless I perceive that based on others' expectations in the classroom and what I do instead

I was reading this blog post today:

And the following quote got me:
There are certain CI/TPRS teachers whom I will deliberately avoid in person or online purely because they come across as intolerant of anyone who supports traditional methodology or textbooks. Although I can understand their zeal, essentially I find them very negative, because there is no middle ground or transition in their worldview. 
Ouch. I've been wondering today if I am one of those people. Do I come off in my blog as the type who shames others for doing what they think is best? Or do I come off as someone who is simply sharing his own successes and failures from his own classes in case anyone is interested?

I guess I'm feeling sensitive because I often feel like I am on the receiving end (due to my own insecurities) and wonder if I am ever really doing what's best for my students by using stories, comprehensible input, and attempting to use the language in context in a repetitive yet fun manner to help get the language in my students' brains.* 

Yet they (my students) will most likely have another teacher sooner or later who will think that they don't know anything because they might not fill out a verb conjugation sheet, but when we are in class and I ask them questions, I can see the language working in their brains as they answer me to the best of their abilities (often times with circumlocution) in their level.  And we negotiate meaning!  

For example, today a Spanish 1 student came in after school and started the conversation by saying, "hola". We proceeded to have a chat for a few minutes completely in Spanish about his family, his parents, his plans for the summer, classes, friends graduating, job ideas, etc and while there were times that he wasn't 100% sure what I was saying, we negotiated and got through it. And it was completely communicative because I wasn't forcing his output, but just wanted to learn about him. I was just asking him about his life (while using words I knew that he would be familiar with or could deduce).

And I can't say in my first few years of teaching we could ever get past "¿Cómo estás?" without the student wanting to go into English.  

Sufficed to say, that's why I use TPRS and Comprehensible Input. And if a person is interested in trying them out, I would agree with the above mentioned blog post that you should take baby steps and see what happens! 


  1. As it is my blog post which is being cited, I can safely say the very fact that you are reflecting on the matter means most likely you are not being abrasive or employing shame in sharing your CI experiences and your desire to see students succeed. It sounds like though your non-CI colleagues are the ones being "abrasive." Hang in there!

    1. Thanks for the response, Keith! And I enjoyed your blog-post (as I already commented there).

      I am sorry to say that probably I have been that pedagogy bully in the past but learned very quickly that it is better to catch flies with honey. And it's probably good that we all reflect on this at some point.

      My colleagues and I simply have different goals! They do a great job getting kids to where they want them and I do my best to get them to where I want them, we just happen to differ on the process and slightly the end result.

  2. I think we have to be patient, creative and dynamic that's we try do it at spanish corner school in nicaragua, san juan del sur