That’s a Problem!

There is conflict in our buildings about what language pedagogy even is. The conflict is there between language department members, but it is always either (a) swept under the rug, or (b) the traditional textbook teachers usually backbite the CI person who wants to do real CI until the person leaves. This ugliness has never been resolved. It continues to this day. Conflict is there to be addressed, not ignored. But teachers who want to bring CI into their traditional settings are being hammered by traditionalists.

On the one hand, there are the grammarians. We could call them Group 1 because they have been around the longest. They are, in terms of our profession, ancient. They are the ones who have refused to look at the new research. They often CLAIM to be aware of comprehensible input, but they are not really aware of it, haven’t studied it, and don’t intend to. They just want everything to be the same, with worksheets and textbooks and lists of things to memorize in the same way that things were done in the 1950s. Group 1 teachers think that their jobs are meant to be boring, and that some kids, usually those coming from privilege, are smarter than others.

Group 2 is the most confused group. They actually think that the TPRS/CI movement is the best, but they never really mastered it because of the conflict referred to above with the members of Group 1. Others are really grammar teachers who want to be recognized as “in the know” about CI – Those teachers have no qualms about telling people that they use CI in their language instruction, but they don’t actually use it. This group may be more dangerous to the future of the profession than those in Group 1.

Group 3 is made up of the supporters of CI who work with targets. (There are many posts going back years on the dangers of targeting vocabulary here.) Targeting is not what Krashen or Blaine Ray or Susan Gross intended. Group 3 teachers are also dangerous to the profession, bc trying to mix CI with the textbook or other curriculums that rely on targeting (in the form of semantic sets, thematic units, chapters in those annoying little novels, and high frequency verb lists) leads to splitting and fracturing of language programs.

A potential Group 4 would be we in the vast minority who actually think that just talking to the kids is enough, without targets and without grammar. When we “just talk to the kids” (Susan Gross’ term), they test far higher on summative exams, and you align your instruction with the standard and the research. But there is no such group in the CI community right now. There are just those first three groups. That’s a problem, but one completely solved by the StarChart.

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