StudySpanish.com

Got this from Michael today:
Hi Ben,
Here’s a counter perspective my buddy sent me that he ran into on StudySpanish.com:
http://www.studyspanish.com/whyteachgrammar.htm
I also included my response. Just thought it was hilarious to read this article and someone trying to defend the traditional approach to teaching Spanish.  It’s a great site for anyone interested in teaching a grammar class, as I once did when I didn’t know any better.
Here’s my response to the article:
The author seems to either like teaching grammar or seems to have become disillusioned with any possibility that her students will ever attain any level of proficiency. Whatever the case, she wants to go down with her sinking ship. (Or the money she’s making teaching grammar on studyspanish.com is good enough to make a case for her to make a defense for the study of grammar, because if you want to learn Spanish grammar, it’s a great website, but if you want to actually *learn* Spanish, the site sucks.
Now, she seems to think that you can teach something in 10-20 seconds, and I’d agree. I’d also say that’s about all the time you should spend on grammar at a time, I.e.- “remember class, in Spanish we usually, put the adjective after the noun, the opposite of English, like so…” This is exactly what we do in TPRS. It’s called 5 second grammar.  She should use what she said in class and spare her students the boredom.
Also, she also presumes that the reader will fall in line with her belief that “there is a correlation between production and acquisition,” but that is one of the biggest fallacies we FL teachers have fallen for for decades. “OK class, do these drills, says these phrases, conjugate these verbs, do, do, do, do, do, do… Produce, produce, produce, (or else your grade will suffer!) and you will learn Spanish!” Bull****. Kids need like 100 times the input before they can do one bit of real communicative output. Not the other way around. It’s ridiculous to think that giving students 5-10 minutes of explicit instruction, and then 20 minutes of independent practice, and then some home work assignment will be enough to make students acquire a certain class of communication concepts that just so happen to follow a similar pattern. Hell, forget everything I said about calling it grammar class, let’s just call it math class instead. That’s what our unit tests become- problem solving, not an assessment of one’s ability to communicate. “1+1=2, you see kids, Spanish follows predictable patterns. You can get the answer right and not even know what it all means!”
She doesn’t even touch on keeping kids motivated, interested, or engaged. She seems to think that, “well, they’ll never learn to say anything meaningful, at least they can do something though, look how well they do grammar! Could you image telling your class on the first day, “Hi class. Well, you came here thinking you might learn to speak some Spanish, but seeing how the system really won’t allow the vast majority of you enough time to really learn to communicate beyond simple pre scripted questions and answers, and after you graduate high school, you’re going to forget the little you learned anyways, we’re just going to focus on learning grammar. (Surprise!) I, know, I know, you’re all very disappointed, but this will be the only way I could possibly live with myself, and continue my job as a teacher, because let’s face it, explicit grammar instruction offers the only real opportunity for you guys to have any real success, and if I can’t show to my administrators that your leaning something, then I’ll get canned. So, welcome to Grammar Class 1a!
Michael Nagelkerke

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