It Seems Obvious

For us, it’s not about teaching the kids the language as much as providing them with a good experience. When they enjoy the class, when it seems effortless to them, because we work so hard at making our instruction comprehensible, the kids want to go on to higher and higher levels.

We make it so that they want to spend more time, another year, maybe more, enjoying figuring out what they hear and read. Soon, something switches in their brains and they are speaking and writing. It’s all very natural.

When we are unnatural, when we remove the focus of our students away from the natural joyfulness that lives, mostly unnoticed*, in words, when we remove their focus away from the fun of a story or from the dignity and joy that there is in being spoken about by classmates in a fun and uplifting way, and when we focus rather on the importance of learning how to spell verbs, and how serious it all is, with no personalized or whole brain instruction present, we lose them.

This all seems kind of obvious to me. Let’s just enjoy our students by talking about them slowly and in lighthearted ways about things that are interesting and meaningful to them. Let’s allow ourselves to laugh a bit in our work. It’s permitted, and now more than every, with the change happening, and with ACTFL getting a bit of a actual backbone that is not mere posturing*.

*although I sense that they may get it mentally but not in their bodies, where it happens.

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3 thoughts on “It Seems Obvious”

  1. Serendipity? This morning I was thinking about my students (who are improving so much!) and my colleagues (who think TPRS is some weird thing that Judy does) and there was a program on TV about organic agriculture and I thought we should call TPRS “organic teaching”. Then I checked on your blog and found :

    “Soon, something switches in their brains and they are speaking and writing. IT’S ALL VERY NATURAL.

    “When we are UNNATURAL, when we remove the focus of our students away from the NATURAL joyfulness that lives, mostly unnoticed*, in words, when we remove their focus away from the fun of a story or from the dignity and joy that there is in being spoken about by classmates in a fun and uplifting way, and when we focus rather on the importance of learning how to spell verbs, and how serious it all is, with no personalized or whole brain instruction present, we lose them.”

    Thank you, Ben.

    1. “when we focus on…how serious it all is”

      That’s where we lose them–think of the joy in a toddler trying out words on his/tongue. Of course, in one way, it really is serious business, learning a language, if serious means important, but it certainly shouldn’t seem like drudgery.

      I have a very rambunctious student who spews out random nonsense sometimes in class–in Spanish. This week, when I just shook my head at him in dismay, a 4% student said “But sra. fiechter, we learn better when we laugh.” And the spewer of random nonsense said to me later, “I used to not participate at all in your class, but now I do.” Yes, sometimes I need to lighten up.

  2. Oh thank you friends. Your responses help me take the “but I didn’t do . . .” monster off my shoulders. All we did on Wed. was dye eggs. I got lots of reps on custake (egg) because for some reason that word isn’t sinking in for us. But we also talked about colors. We dyed eggs because it is so much fun with kids–they love it. And it is tied into our upcoming play. But, there was so much I’d planned. And that was about ME not them. They just wanted to dye eggs and hide plastic ones (and yeah I did get a few reps in there).

    They had fun. I should tell you I only have 8 students so it wasn’t like I was dyeing eggs with 27.

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