The Situation in Our Country Today – Rant Warning

The effects of the textbook and worksheet on language instruction in our country has been devastating. ACTFL has allowed it, never jabbing their fingers animatedly in the direction of the research. They should have done that.

The result is that all teachers who have trusted ACTFL to guide them in the direction of best practices in the profession have been let down. That’s bad policy.

If an ACTFL honcho read the above, they would deny it. Really? Deny the research and just sit quietly in the ACTFL ivory tower and let teachers employ methods that DO NOT ALIGN with the research? What’s up with that?

I’ve not been able to let it go. It’s going on five decades. Emotional damage has been done to our children, but it’s hidden. They just think they – those 95% of kids who don’t do grammar – that they suck at languages.

As a patriot, I don’t do well when our country is weakened by bad policy, and weakened it has been. We are not free from what is happening now. We are part of the overall problem. We need to wake up and do our jobs right. Ignorance of the research is no longer an excuse. This is our profession. Not knowing the research is not tolerated in any other profession before one begins to practice it, so why should we permit it in ours?

Would anyone like to argue the point that the textbook and worskheet culture of the past fifty years in our profession hasn’t hurt kids? Those decades of the textbook are just so wrong. Where’s the research defending the textbook? Really? You can’t find any? That’s because it doesn’t exist.

I used to just say to myself, “Well, we have the research about comprehensible input now, so people will change.” But are they? How long is this going to take? It’s been fifty years since Krashen led us out of the woods on how people learn languages, but teachers pretty much teach the same way they did in 1970. I know. I started teaching in 1977 and before that I myself was a victim, as a student, of the textbook, and I perpetretated it on kids myself for a quarter of a century before locking on to the research only in 2001.

The real culprits are not just the ACTFL leadership and their tacit support of the textbook companies. It’s also the general mindset in the profession. I would even call it lazy.

We need to change the way we teach or we’re going to continue to lose our kids. That’s right! We are part of the problem when we allow the textbook and the totally loser computer products that accompany them drive how we teach kids languages in our country.



2 thoughts on “The Situation in Our Country Today – Rant Warning”

  1. I think there are a few things we can do:

    1) Focus on targeting student teachers and spend less time trying to convince the dinosaurs. I recently made a tweet that all student teachers should go free to conferences and workshops. I am willing (and have done that) to do that in my trainings. If we get a student teacher before they enter the system we can change the course of language teaching.

    2) All CI teachers should teach demo workshops to their administration, guidance, counselors, and deans. Just organize it, and don’t let your hater colleagues know it is even happening.

  2. I am really surprised that at NTPRS not one presenter talked about Card Talk, Calendar Talk, Write and Discuss, or One Word Image.

    To me, those are more manageable (especially Card Talk and Calendar Talk) for getting started with CI rather than the stories which are supposed to last for 3 class periods with the super weird details and the making the student actor respond in a complete sentence.

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