Report from the Field – Tim Bennett

It is such a fine thing to hear from group members. Send us your report from the field as well! Representing the great state of Arkansas on our PLC, our Tim Bennett reports: 
Hi Ben,
Just wanted to let you know how things are going here.  It has been almost a school year and a half that I have been back into the CI fold thanks to you and this PLC.  Two things I have learned have really made a difference.
PQA – How I love this.  I used to hate circling and felt like I couldn’t do it because kids would get bored if it wasn’t about them and tune it out. But by having student jobs (and they love the no English hotel bell, the timer, and the sentences writer), it added a different dynamic.  I also work the room better and jump around a little quicker from student to student, repeat a lot, and go SLOW.  Going slow was such a revolutionary thing for me.  We never heard that in any training or examples in college but it is so foundational.  Why would we want to talk fast and push people away? The little true/false quizzes at the end of PQA go in the grade book under listening comprehension.  The kids seem to like it because they KNOW it makes the classroom a more authentic, real language learning environment than a Grammar Chart class (love that new phrase).
I use PQA with my college students in exactly the same way and the students seem to really like it because they can understand and of course, it is about them.  Besides following up with a true/false quiz, I also later type up the sentences (translated from English written by a student) with any extra details and put that on a flipchart for reading the next day.  The students translate from Spanish to English.
DICTADO – how I love this one.  I know it is classified as a bailout move, but what a move it is.  I believe it will place the most unruly of classes into pure, sweet, immersion-y silence.  How I love to say “punto” dramatically or quickly or slowly or coyly when it is time to finish the sentence with a period.  I have the Dictado ready on a flipchart to make corrections.  They know there is no English, though I’m still not as good at that rule during correction time, I’m getting better.  I recently discovered those goofy little paragraphs in Look I Can Talk as a source of some Dictado material.  I also use little scenarios or stories.  I first began doing Dictado with numbered sentences but now they are a little more trained and get the format.
I don’t want to make it sound like everything is great all the time. I am 57 and have 25 years in and the system makes me want to retire early.  But it is way better.  My college evaluation was glowing. I just wish public schools appreciated their teachers a little better, but I will continue to keep motivating myself and be inspired by coming to the PLC.
From my college evaluation:
Other comments/observations: I enjoyed Mr. Bennett’s Spanish I class. He used humor to engage the students and was quite funny. He made the students feel at ease in the classroom, and they were not afraid or intimidated at all. They seem to truly like and respect Mr. Bennett. It is clear that students are learning Spanish. One student (who did not realize I heard her) said. “At the beginning of the semester, I knew nothing about Spanish. Now I know it; I can do/say so many things now.” The student sitting beside her agreed.
Thanks to you all for so much.  I am such a language nerd, I have a file folder on my computer labeled “Robert Harrell.” I also have one for Eric Herman, quotations, and of course, you.  Your book kept me up until 3 a.m. when you first sent it to me last year.
Tim Bennett

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6 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Tim Bennett”

  1. …how I love to say “punto” dramatically or quickly or slowly or coyly when it is time to finish the sentence with a period….
    Those who have done this can appreciate this. I absolutely love that sentence right there from Tim. The “punto” moment. Such fun!
    More reports!!

  2. I’m right there with you with my love of saying “punto” and making a “period” in the air when I say it. The kids think it’s funny too. It’s so refreshing to hear that someone is able to make CI work at the university level.

  3. It is so important to have someone like you at the university level. My methods teacher in my credential program taught French and went WAY too fast when demoing a lesson. The Spanish teachers were felt super embarrased when forced to say something. She was also extra hard on me because I was the soon to be French teacher.
    Is there a way you can teach a methods class for soon to be teachers? Your influence there could be paramount.

    1. I teach full-time at a high school. I am an adjunct at the local community college and am currently teaching one Spanish course. I wish I could teach a methods class! There doesn’t seem to be any TPRS or CI stuff in colleges of education. People at the community college level are very open to it, including administrators, at least in my experience. They know the old way is stressful and makes students miserable.

  4. Yay! You are rocking it Tim. I especially loved your comments about going “slow”. I’m really glad that you enjoying teaching with CI and that your students seem to recognize how lucky they are to have a teacher like you. Keep sharing the good news!

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