I’ve had a pre-service teacher in my room for the last week. She’s been observing. Today, as my first class was filing in, she and I were talking. She was saying that it’s clear to her that my students are eager to volunteer, nearly all are engaged, they speak willingly and spontaneously and they have a good grasp on language. But, she said, “I don’t know how you got them to this point”. So, I shrugged and said, “Let’s ask them!”
We turned the sign from the Ñ to the INGLÉS and she began asking questions. The following are verbatim comments from my students:
There is less pressure here. We don’t get made fun of.
He invites you to do it, but you have to be attentive.
Spanish class is more like life.
You won’t get called out or made fun of if you don’t know a word.
I feel I can relax here and think about having fun.
On willingness to speak:
I use Spanish randomly without even thinking about it outside of class.
It doesn’t feel like it’s in my head. It feels like it’s in my heart.
First we answered questions with one word, now we say sentences.
You don’t feel like you’ve learned anything, but it’s in your head.
It’s become involuntary. Our brain is used to it like walking and talking. I talk to myself in Spanish now.
On how you remember the words:
I remember our class from that day and talk to myself in my head.
The actions and the repetitions.
Stories make it easier. You feel a part of it and that feels good.
It doesn’t feel like work.
We make up stories together and that makes it more personal to me. And, when it’s more personal, you remember it better.
13 thoughts on “What My Students are Saying”
Grant this is awesome. My favorites are:
1) First we answered questions with one word, now we say sentences.
2) You don’t feel like you’ve learned anything, but it’s in your head.
They both illustrate how certain expectations of traditional language teaching aren’t necessary to achieve proficiency, despite however counter-intuitive it seems.
I’m so glad you have pre-service teachers. This is how the future of education will improve, with you inspiring them!!
So many of us are reaching out to pre-service teachers. They seek a career with purpose and meaning. When they experience this environment they understand how it can change the fabric of our society for the better. So happy to be doing this work.
The places in a comprehension based language classroom can be different, but the results are always the same; no threat, a lot of meaning, successful acquisition.
I hope that somedayI will teach well enough to have students who feel like that.
Angie, I used to say the same thing. I remember a kid telling me once, “you’re not a puppet master”. The way he said that hurt a lot. And I learned a lot from that comment. One thing I’ve learned is that there are an infinite number of balls that need to be juggled simultaneously with this approach. So many that when we are juggling two, we may what the next 2 are that we will eventually add, but we often can’t even fathom what the 7th or 8th ball would even be yet. We don’t even know it’s a ball. But once we’re juggling five, that 7th comes into focus and we’re ready to try incorporating it. You’re closer than you think, Angie!
I wish I could watch you for a week! I think I’d learn so much! Susan
Susan, you would learn so much watching anyone for a week! I would too! (in fact, I have! I love watching Jason Fritze, Ben Slavic, Bryce Hedstrom, Linda Li, and other real masters of this!)
If you’d like to come watch for an hour, a day a week, you’re welcome to! Thank you for reading my blog!
Dear Grant, what fascinating comments you’re getting from your students! How I wish to get anything of the kind one day. I am not a very experienced teacher of English from Russia and I am trying TPRS now after having been dissapointed in the glossy Oxford textbooks. I see my students suppressing their yawn when I start explaining the grammar part. I really hate this. I am very far from TPRS maitres and my lessons aren’t so good – sometimes I feel really silly and all. But your comment about the puppet master is very-very encouraging. I will remember it each time I feel like giving up. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – that’s a great support for the newbies like me.
Thank you, Inga, for your comment. One thing I forgot to mention about the puppet-master comment was that the student clearly did not understand his role in the class, nor did he understand how languages are acquired. Guess whose fault that was? Not his, but mine. We have to be clear in our expectations so kids know their job is principally to demonstrate comprehension or lack of comprehension (i.e. to interpret language). We have to be transparent in our process so kids know why we have them use gestures and act out language. The kinesthetic aspect lodges language in long-term memory. Thank you for your comment! Keep up the good work!
That was a very useful explanation about being transparent in front of the kids. Thank you. Gestures I am using now are of my own and my gesture playlist is very limited. Could you recommend some source which has the most common TPRS gestures in one place or there isn’t anything conventional ? Again thank you so much for your support Grant.
Hey Mr.Profe, it’s been fun. No but really i learned so much during my time with you in 8th grade and i hope you love teaching Spanish as much as I loved learning it! >•<
It’s been lit