Foreign Language Education – The Easy Way

Many of us never think much about the high number of kids that we end up confusing more than helping. The result of that confusion in our students’ once optimistic minds is defeat. We defeat them. We fail them. That’s why most of them quit and our jobs are always in some sort of jeopardy. 

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

We make them behave in “our” classrooms, but really whose classrooms are they? Aren’t our classrooms for the students, to help them learn and grow and have faith in their young lives and to believe in their own optimism? We don’t teach them the language. It’s a big fake, a con job. They don’t learn it.

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

We don’t use the research because we don’t know it. But we soldier on with our hurt souls, needing the job, needing the adrenaline rush until we are simply too exhausted to go on without a few precious months to hastily bake our fake acts together in the fall and again eat the same shitty cake that we’ve made of our professional lives. And the kids resent that we put so much sugar in the cake, but they can’t say it. 

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

We teach based primarily on the interests of the corporate book lobby and the few that control it. The Communication Standard – to us – sounds nice. But we have no idea how to put it into practice with our students. Admins go along out of pure ignorance and fatigue, and dark ones sometimes take over departments, appreciating the control the textbook brings and loving the power over the more empathic but dangerously submissive teachers who really did come into the profession to help kids.

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

Keep them quiet. Control them. Quiet them down. Don’t look into their eyes when talking to them. Test them. Test them. Then test them some more. Why ask them how they feel that day and what they think and what they like when we can test them? Really? Ask them how they feel? Talk about them and their lives and hobbies? Not in a language class! We’ve got to get them ready for the common assessment! Why teach THEM when we can teach THE MATERIAL?

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

We reach about 10% of our students each year and proclaim that, because of those few who fake succeed, it’s the other students’ laziness and their fault and their preoccupation with other things that they don’t learn. But that is not true. They need the distractions to keep their minds from rolling off the highway, to keep themselves sane, since we never teach them with rigor, and boredom rules their lives.

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

We give them too much to do outside of class and no one does it, just the few and then only for the grade. Onerous, miserable work. Onerous, not rigorous. No sustained focus by the unconscious mind. No splashing around in the language. Just onerous, boring work that only the few do.

The few. Those being groomed to rule when they get to be adults. The white ones born to privilege in this miserable racist hell of a society. We basically are lying to everybody. Blaine Ray? Stephen Krashen? Beniko Mason? Who are they?

For the first 25 years of my career, I wouldn’t have wanted to take my class either.

And now those few of us who caught the CI dream have officially sold out on those great innovators, on Blaine’s genius in particular, and the excitement and foment and hope of the end of the last century has been dashed and the New WL Lie goes on and on and on and on, spurred on by well-meaning imposters who like the attention from those who went into the profession because they were good at grammar.  

I still have hope that we can turn this thing around. You do as well, or you wouldn’t be reading this and I wouldn’t be writing it. This post is an effort to shed light on things that we have done wrong in our profession.

I’m not trying to offend people. I just really need to state what I think is the current state of our profession, because I think about it all the time and it helps to write it all out to help keep me sane and to help others who feel that “something is wrong” in the current state of WL education in our country. I feel so strongly that many leaders in our profession are – more out of ignorance than malice – would do well to read any or all of the articles in the “Admin/Teacher/Parent” Re-education” category on the right hand side of this page.

WE ARE NOT TO BLAME! But if we don’t round up the wagons and fight this thing, fight for the students and for our own sanity, then in the future we will be to blame. So let’s get to work. Head down. Go. Start with reading this short little gem of a book, even if you think you understand Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis:

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