Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ask your students. Be enlightened!

There are 3 days remaining in our semester before finals.  Yesterday, I noticed that many students were making the same mistake with a verb that immediately follows another verb.  Out of frustration, and in a weak moment, I wrote some sentences on the board and gave a grammar explanation that lasted...well...let's just say it was more than 15 seconds, and more than a minute.

Then I shared with the students that even though I know teaching grammar in that method doesn't help in language acquisition, nor does it help to improve their language communication skills, I am still tempted to revert back to the old traditional method of teaching to "correct" grammar errors.  I told them that they have less than 100 hours of instruction in Spanish, and I KNOW that with more time, that error would be erased, but sometimes I am impatient and want to clear/correct those errors, right away!

After I explained some of the reasoning and strategies of TPRS, the students made comments.  That..was when I was enlightened.  Through their comments I discovered that I wasn't giving them enough 'pop-up grammar' or contrastive grammar.  I've read in moreTPRS and have heard other TPRS teachers comment on the number of 'pop-up grammar' explanations they do per lesson or per hour.  I knew I was lacking, but it didn't cause me to change my methods.  Hearing it from students, was what impacted me.  Increasing (drastically) the amount of 'pop-up grammar' explanations will be a high priority as I begin the new semester on January 22, along with lots of CI and TPRS.

It was interesting and helpful to hear what the students had to say about their learning experience with the language.  Their maturity showed through in their comments.  They were honest and provided me with information that I can use to improve my use of the method.  An interesting comment from a student was that after two years of taking another language at our school taught with the traditional, grammar based method, she felt she could do so much more with Spanish, and felt comfortable listening to it, reading it, and speaking it.  

Why did I wait to ask for students' input on their learning experience until there were only 3 days remaining in the semester?  Another lesson learned by me.


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