Two Haystacks

Administrators must decide, lest they resemble the donkey who, faced with two equidistant haystacks, fails to decide on which one to go to for sustenance and so starves.
The old way of using a book and speaking English and the new way of using Krashen’s ideas of interesting comprehensible input in the target language cannot coexist. They can’t be used together. The administrator must decide on which haystack his or her department will base their foreign language instruction on. To not mandate a choice in this situation diplays equal amounts of ignorance and cowardice. Why?
The haystacks cannot coexist in foreign language programs because they are fundamentally different. Mixing them into a bigger haystack, in which teachers would claim, as Myriam Met once told me, that Krashen’s ideas are “just another tool in the toolbox”, would, when combined, cause the rotten, bug infested stack (the old way of doing things) to ruin the freshness of the new one (ours).
The two approaches cannot mix because they are two different approaches. One leads to acquisition by large amounts of kids and the other leads to 4% of the students getting to the advanced level, which cannot even be called a level of acquisition but rather a level of analytical success. There is no hybrid possible here – there can be no blending of the two. One doesn’t work!
Again, the old approach never did work and cannot align with the new (ACTFL proficiency aligned) state standards either just completed or in the works at most state levels. Why blend schlock with something new and vibrant? The one brings far superior gains than the other.
This will all be worked out in the next ten years or so. Those who write checks and hire people will finally get that the old haystack is rotten and they won’t allow the old incompetent model into their buildings. It’ll start with a few visionary principals – the ones who can understand the difference – and go from there. Those few leaders will initially take heat from the uneducated ones, but they will stave it off and the change will be there – you won’t get hired unless you can speak the language in the classroom.
As that happens, there will be a miraculous waking up to the fact that, for decades now, students have gotten to fourth year and even A.P. level work without actually knowing anymore than they have been told to memorize for the exam. Test data will become much less important in the overall evaluation of teachers, and retention figures will become more important.

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