Trauma

This new and exciting work that many of us in our group are doing with non-targeted instruction allows us to reach kids much better in class. It shortens the emotional distance between everybody in the room. This then allows us to get to the real problem in WL education, the incredible falseness of it all, characterized by memorization, distance, lack of community, too much testing, and a general feeling that most WL teachers are still teaching the material without having much concern for the lives of the people learning it.  The only way to respond to the totally shitty, out-of-touch-with-the-research teaching happening right now in both kinds of traditional classrooms is to directly respond to the trauma students are undergoing living in their communities, and since we can’t do that because we are not social workers, we have to achieve it in our classrooms. We do that by working with images instead of word lists. We do that by asking our traumatized students what they think, how they feel, and creating lessons filled with laughter and not self-consciousness and fear of the test.

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4 thoughts on “Trauma”

  1. I think about the kids that I have to teach next year who are in Level 2 and above. Your book makes it very clear that you are suggesting its use with beginners, level one-ers. Should I try it with my level 2s and above in the teaching environment I am in?

  2. My position is clear on that point Jennifer. If they have already been taught w traditional methods, they will not react well to this work. Their minds are too closed to actually working with you in a new way. The only hope is to introduce ten minutes or so of something like a OWI at the end of each class and wait until they ask for more, then say no, and gradually over time you accede to their requests for more CI. But that is rare. Usually once a class sees that they can get an A by memorizing and doing worksheets, they are lost to CI.

    1. Well then that is definitely going to be a big issue for me to start the year like this because our Level 1 students have already been exposed to basically Level 1 middle school version. Many of our students who sit in my class on day 1 of Level 1, have been indoctrinated into the worksheet and text book world by grammar teachers who kill and drill in middle school. Ughhhh

  3. It’s not so bad when they come from worksheets in middle school. You can hit them in the first few days w how high school is different, how you actually have to interact w the teacher in high school, and then go through the research with them about how languages are acquired. Lots of resources here for that, in the Primers section above, in various categories, etc. But you still have to stick by your assessment guns in the first nine weeks, which sends the message that you ain’t playing. Because they will test you.

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