How does she do it?

I’m still abroad. I’m reading about acquisition and watching students in and out of classes. How do some teachers deliver CI naturally, without having read a word on the topic?

On paper, one of our teachers has the entire grammar load on her shoulders. She has to make sure that the kids are ready for weekly tests that include straight grammar, sentence completion, answering questions, and creating questions. Basically all grammar, because answers are judged not for comprehensibility but for correctness. The kids got results on the first test today. The grades ranged from 94-100%.

But if you attend the class, it looks as though about two percent of the time is spent writing up grammar charts, and the rest is spent using the text to find out what the kids think. It seems to be a three-hour conversation with the students, with a little bit of grammar thrown in to appease the gods. And the kids are blossoming! I listened to presentations they made later in the day to another teacher, and I couldn’t believe the strides they’ve made in one week. I know that a lot of it has to do with how much they get outside class, especially if they have families who talk to them in Russian. But I can’t help but think that a great deal has to do with this teacher who welcomes their questions, translates if asked, and who draws them out with her obvious interest in them as people.

I keep meaning to take notes on how the teacher achieves her fluid class, but I get caught up in the conversations and forget to take notes. I don’t know whether she is repeating a lot or limiting vocabulary. I just enjoy the flow. It reminds me of the time Blaine was in Anchorage teaching a Spanish class, and our Spanish-speaking custodian was sitting on a table in the back of the library, swinging his legs and roaring with laughter at the story. He wasn’t there to observe teaching. He was enjoying the entertainment a beginning Blaine Ray Spanish class provided.


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