It can be a rough time of year– DEVOLSON if you follow Love, Teach blog. It is a time that teachers can get bogged down with smaller details and lose sight of the forest. I have been there, but this year, I have a larger reminder to see the bigger picture of our language teaching. Two years ago, I taught Spanish III. My end goal was for students to enjoy Spanish and feel confident with their abilities. I had just started to try to teach for proficiency, so I was trying out different ideas. I still had somewhat of a grammar and vocabulary focus, but I was ever so slightly moving away from traditional tests and quizzes. At the end of the year, the students completed a final IPA. All of the sudden, I thought I need to emphasize THESE things! I should have included THIS more! Did I progress my students enough through the language?! As a teacher who had predominantly taught levels 1-3, I frequently did not get to see how much students progressed.
However by the beginning of the next year, I felt confident about one success. One student was trying to get out of Spanish III before I taught him for various reasons. But at the end of Spanish III, he decided to take Spanish IV the next year! I decided that I had convinced at least one student who wanted to quit that he was able to continue in the language that would be a success. I had to remind myself of my goals for the previous year.
But then there was more! This year, I am teaching Spanish V, and I have one girl from my Spanish III class in my Spanish V class. I am astounded by her abilities! She incorporates a great variety of vocabulary in her writing! She is successfully navigating various tenses. She participates frequently in class. Each day that I see her progress, I become more excited about using comprehensible input and teaching for proficiency and this journey. It can be hard to see the end of the path. It can be frustrated to lose our old ways and feel like we haven’t covered or taught enough. It can be tricky at the end of the year when you see SO much more that you could have taught and so much more that you want to teach.
However, it doesn’t have to be always the big things. I had one student look up David Parejo on Instagram after we listened to his music in class. I had another mom tell me that after my blended class, her daughter watches a ton of shows in Spanish on Netflix. I love that students can really get into the culture which is why I got into teaching.
I am here to tell you to keep it up. Go at the pace that seems to work for your students- not the pace that is dictated by a textbook. Keep using more comprehensible input to help students succeed. Use El Internado- or another Spanish-speaking show in class! (My student didn’t mind that we are rewatching at this point in Spanish V!) Make students feel confident in the language and with their abilities. You may not always get to see the end result, but I promise you that you will see the glimmer of what is to come. In the end, it is worth it and students really will succeed. What little or big successes have you seen in your program that have motivated you? This is the perfect time to remember them.