Wow! I just returned from OFLA15 and my brain is on overload. This is the first Foreign Language conference I have ever attended and now I know what I have been missing. I can’t believe I have been teaching for 11 years and this was my first conference.
Of those 11 years, 9 1/2 of those years were spent teaching Spanish the way I was taught in school. I was a grammar based, textbook using, worksheet packet giver kind of teacher. I was extremely strict in wanting the grammar perfect, the spelling just right with correct accent marks and all. The keyword here is WAS! A year and a half ago that all changed. I realized that many of my students were awesome with grammar and random vocab, but they really couldn’t say anything or carry on a decent conversation. I realized the same thing happened to me in high school and I was great with grammar and spelling, but learning how to speak came about outside of Spanish class. I had become friends with some local Spanish speakers and really learned how to speak by talking to them and practicing (and making a lot of mistakes). If I wanted my students to speak Spanish, I realized I had to change everything I had been doing because teaching them grammar wasn’t teaching them how to speak.
The first thing I did was try to find resources to help make the necessary changes. I was the only language teacher in my high school at the time, so there was no one there to reach out to. Then I discovered other teachers on Twitter. I had Twitter for a while, but really never used it. I found teachers who have amazing blogs and who willingly share their hard work so other teachers like me have a place to start. I have never participated, but I stalk #langchat every Thursday and Saturday for all of the amazing ideas and conversations that take place. Without the help I have found on Twitter and from the many amazing blogs I keep up with, making this change would never be possible. I am so excited and a bit overwhelmed with all of the new ideas. I threw out the textbook last year and have slowly started making changes, I have a long way to go, but moving forward even slowly is better than being stuck in the way I used to teach.
I am so interested in TPRS / CI instruction and I hope to attend more training to be able to incorporate it into my classroom better. I have read so much about it and talked with teachers who use it, but have never had the chance to see it in use. I am a visual learner and no matter how much I read about it, I need to see it being used in a classroom, so I hope to be able to do that soon and attend a TPRS / CI workshop or training.
If you are a teacher like me who feels stuck in a rut with your teaching and want to change, but you don’t know where to start, the first thing you need to do is find these people on Twitter:
- Carrie Toth (@senoraCMT)
- Carol Gaab (@CarolGaab)
- Allison Wienhold (@SraWienhold)
- Mike Peto (@mike_peto)
- Martina Bex (@MartinaBex)
- Dustin Williamson (@dwphotoski)
- Sara-E. Cottrell (@SECottrell)
- Bethanie Drew (@lovemysummer)
- Kara Jacobs (@karacjacobs)
- Laura Sexton (@SraSpanglish)
- Sharon Birch (@sraslb)
- Amy Lenord (@alenord)
- Kristy Placido (@placido)
- Kara Parker (@viajando_kj)
I’m sure there are so many more and some I have missed, but their blogs and information have made such a difference in being able to make this change. I am so excited for a new school year to start so I can keep pushing forward and trying new things. It’s great to feel so excited for a new school year when we haven’t even reached summer break yet.