Gotta vent outside my school.
I used to have a huge Russian program at our high school due to the fact that I taught Russian to the attached junior high through Storytelling. All the HG kids signed up for my class, and entered my program at either second or third-year. Their enthusiasm leaked to other kids. I had 30 kids starting each year, and that gave me some kids who had a six-year stretch of Russian in high school.
Then two things happened: they hired another teacher there for Russian (she taught the beginning regular program Russian and the seventh-grade immersion Russian kids), and I was successful in introducing the junior high French teacher to TPRS. Shortly thereafter the regular Russian classes started dying and the French program exploded (as a result, there are now two French teachers at our school to be able to cover all the higher level kids). Now I have only three kids who started Russian at junior high because the teacher there killed it. This year there’s a new teacher for “regular Russian program” in the junior high.
I suggested to the head Russian immersion teacher that she let me introduce TPRS to the new Russian A/B (regular program) teacher at the junior high. I cited the results of the French program growth.
She turned on me and told me that the French teacher (whose kids have placed into third-year French at the high school level each year) doesn’t succeed with the kids. “They can’t write at all! He isn’t teaching the basics!” And on and on, about how you have to set the foundation and it has to be grammar and writing. OMG. Next, she explained to me how TPRS is not the whole program; it is just a method. I stopped talking at that point, because she is one of the ignorant. But the point is that Russian would grow!
My former students, who have been placed at 4th/5th-year level into her 11th-grade immersion class, tell me that her immersion kids don’t speak Russian in class. They understand perfectly but answer her in English (something I don’t allow, but have the whole class figure out how to say things). My former kids say that they speak more than anyone but the native speakers. They can’t figure out why.
Everything we know about input is that it takes time to be able to do output. Two years of junior high French will not make kids fluent writers. And somehow, eleven years of immersion Russian (kids she has personally taught the last three years) have not given her fluent speakers. She won’t even let her kids participate in the National Russian Essay contest because she says they don’t know how to format well enough. I think she’s just scared to find out the results.
Sometimes ignorance makes me sad. Right now it’s making me mad.