Understanding how to provide comprehensible input makes teaching language easier. It means that a teacher can use any resource to guide acquisition. I mean anything. It could be a blog, a song, the back of a cereal box, the directions on shampoo, a video, a conversation, a question–
But it’s so, so much easier when there is a curriculum with options–a curriculum that a practiced CI teacher has developed.
I am having the best time imaginable using Martina Bex’s Somos curriculum, Amy Vander Deen’s Había Una Vez, and Señor Wooly’s website. I am also keeping an eye on Mira’s teacher’s guide for El Capibara con Botas. They are all worth their weight in gold. I am on the second lesson only in Amy’s curriculum, because they are all so rich that we are spinning these lessons out a long way, and because they keep giving me other ideas. Each of these authors offers tweaks that help me keep things fresh. I do a little mixing, but any one of them could also stand alone.
Luckily, I am the lower school teacher, so it’s okay to be taking my time. Lower school students have only two days a week of Spanish. But today I got such long series of conversations that I realized kids are beginning to trust our work together. They’re showing me our signs for words and phrases. They’re answering questions confidently. They’re contributing ideas for stories. They’re using Spanish outside class (two kids were counting up donated spoons for the school’s attempt to get away from plastic for events and they used “Vamos a contarlos” from the “Un mano, dos manos” song YIPPEE!!), and they’re excited when they can relate having understood Spanish outside the school.
My Russian side is a green-eyed monster when it compares the riches that are available to Spanish teachers, so I’m working on helping create resources for beginning Russian students (see this Nelly the Nerpa story, for example) and making sure that I learn about my students in both languages. Having a curriculum can become the tail wagging the dog if I get too excited, and that’s the piece that I have to remember: community, personalization, repetition and compelling input are what help students acquire a language–possibly in that specific order. But, having that knowledge, I am so very lucky to have expert, excellent guidance as I follow this new Spanish path.