Posted in Favorites, Proficiency

My NOT to do when switching to proficiency

Not to do list

Mistakes, I’ve made a few- according to Queen.  As I have been switching from a more traditional approach to teaching foreign language to teaching towards proficiency, I have definitely grown.  However, here are some “mistakes” that I have made that hopefully you can avoid… or at least learn from my mistakes!

  1. Not switching my grade book categories: Traditional grading allowed me to have tests and quizzes categories.  Now, I would rather have: speaking, reading, writing and listening sections.  This way, I don’t have to jam two parts of an IPA on one day to call it a “test” to distinguish between tests and quizzes.  I just want to be able to call it a “listening assessment” and put it with the other listening assessments.  I believe that this will also hold me accountable to have enough in each category and balance it all.
  2. In an interpersonal assessment, not inserting myself enough: I love have the students talk to each other in an interpersonal assessment.  It pushes my level 2 students to maintain a conversation; however, they do not push the vocabulary level like I do.  They will stick to the same types of questions that their peers can understand.  I need to ask questions to push their understanding and gage what they can understand.
  3. Not really knowing where your students are: I have heard this from numerous people when they switch to proficiency.  You assume that your students have a greater proficiency level than they do.  Once you figure that out, you will be able to develop appropriate assessments and rubrics for your students.
  4. Not reassessing your rubrics: As a department, we designed the rubrics for our IPAs last year.  They served their purpose, and they were a great start.  However, after working with them for a year and further reassessing where our students are, we need to rework them.  However, I would encourage you to give your rubrics a few tries before you change it.  That will help you design a better rubric.  There is no way for you to design a rubric perfectly the first time.
  5. Not shortening my authentic resources to help students: I have recently posted on this, but I have decided especially for novices to delete sections of the text that is not helpful for students.  This will make authentic resources easier for students especially in the beginning levels.  As I switch to teaching level 1 next year, I want to be even more cognizant of the overwhelming nature of authentic resources.
  6. Not NOT having a textbook: I have finally decided that two years after moving in this direction, I am ready to drop the textbook.  I will say that it is easier to shape IPAs around existing textbook units instead of the other way around.  Two years in, I feel that I am using the textbook in small doses that it makes sense to drop it.  I would have been in over my head if I had dropped it sooner.  Also, if you never drop the textbook, that isn’t a problem either.  I think it can become a hot button topic, and you have to do what works for you.  You can find success by adapting a textbook to meet this need.
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7 thoughts on “My NOT to do when switching to proficiency

  1. I applaud your evolution! Proficiency is the goal, and it empowers students in ways that traditional approaches don’t. I would encourage you to consider moving away from performance assessments and assess what your students can do in an unrehearsed situation over a variety of topics! Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Hi! Thank you for your comment! We actually do an unrehearsed IPA for the midterm and end of the year. I definitely appreciate the feedback that this gives us, but I think it can also put a lot of pressure on students. With anxiety at high levels throughout the country, I worry about how this change would impact students.

  2. I appreciate your realistic approach! I am somewhat tied to a textbook, and I at times feel like I’m failing my students because I am unable at this point in my career to go full on CI, as much as I would like to! Thanks for some down to earth tips!

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