Tuesday, July 31, 2018

My CI Journey

This summer, I attended a weeklong TPRS Trainer Prep Course sponsored by Altamira Language Learning and TPRS Academy. One of the exercises which we did was to create a visual representation of our individual "CI journeys" - how we came to learn about CI, our journeys of CI implementation, where we were going with CI, etc. As we only had 10 minutes to create this, in many ways, what each of us illustrated became a stream of our consciousness. Following this, we then had to share our stories with various participants. This was a great exercise, because it forced me to think about how I came to learn about CI, how did I view CI then and now, etc. and to put it down on paper without thinking.

I have decided to share my drawing and CI journey with you all. Hopefully it will resonate with you and perhaps explain how I came to embrace CI.

Prior to 2007 - I was all about grammar-translation. Like you probably, I absolutely love grammar. That is why I was attracted to Latin - since it was being taught in a grammar-translation manner, it instantly appealed to me. Latin was like a puzzle to me - I could immediately see or at least decode how sentences were set up. I had never heard Latin spoken before, but why should we? In my opinion, our goal as Latinists was simply to translate classical works into English via grammar-translation. I spent my undergraduate years at UCLA, obtaining my Bachelor of Arts degree in Greek and Latin, and I received my Masters degree in Latin from UGA - both programs were pure grammar translation. At this time, I was of the biggest advocates against any type of spoken Latin, let alone Comprehensible Input.

2007 - I attended a Blaine Ray TPRS workshop, because I had heard about TPRS and was interested in using some active Latin in my classroom. I was implementing the reading method in my classes, and I was still very grammar-oriented. I had never before heard of Comprehensible Input. I was really impressed with what I saw, as Blaine did a TPRS demo in German. I decided to facilitate some TPRS in my classes, but at the same time, I saw CI/TPRS purely as just another tool to add to my bag of tricks, i.e., I was not convinced that there was one single way to teach Latin.

2010 - This was a turning point in my teaching career, as I taught AP Latin for the first time and witnessed first hand that we (the College Board, university classics departments, and tradition) were asking WAY TOO MUCH from students after just 3 years of Latin. I was unaware of the ACTFL proficiency scales at this point (for the record, the Aeneid is SUPERIOR level reading), but I came to the realization that asking students to translate 1,900 lines of the Aeneid in a year (something I never did in college/graduate school as a Latin major) was way beyond their capability. This is also when I started to notice the concept of "4%ers," although I did not know the term or had heard anything about it. After this experience, I knew that I needed to make a HUGE change in the way I viewed the teaching of Latin and in how I taught it. I had become rather disillusioned with the traditional view of teaching Latin and what our goals were.

2013 - This was the year that I fully embraced CI. That summer, I attended THREE CI workshops, so what I did not quite understand at the first workshop was reinforced at the second one, and so on. Because I had a foundation of CI through my experiences in implementing TPRS, in addition to my experience in teaching AP Latin, embracing CI 100% was not too difficult for me. Learning ways to implement CI was where my journey headed for the next few years. I attended numerous national CI conferences such as NTPRS and IFLT, and my CI family tree began. 2013 is also the year I began this blog. When I first started this, my goal was that perhaps 20 Latin teachers would read this. Never did I imagine that it would turn into what is now, where I have had over 350,000 pages views in the past five years, and the majority of people who read this are non-Latin teachers.

2013-2016 - Although I was implementing CI at my school, I was the only Latin teacher at my school who had embraced it, as I was moving away from the textbook. As much as I loved my Latin department, it still was kind of lonely being the only CI teacher. I needed a change.

2016 - present - I am now in a Latin department, where all of us are implementing CI, as I work alongside Rachel Ash, John Foulk, Bob Patrick, and Miriam Patrick. The Parkview High School Latin department has over 700 students and 5 Latin teachers. It is so nice to be in a department where everyone is on the same page pedagogically.

The future - I really do not know where I am headed. Will I continue to be a Latin teacher? Will I leave the classroom and use my graduate degree to become a local school technology coordinator?

  1. I still love grammar and will continue to do so. I also need to realize that the average student is not I - the average student does not like grammar. I am the "weirdo" and the "not normal" one. That does not by any means mean that this is wrong, but I do need to understand that explicit grammar teaching is not productive nor 100% necessary for students to learn a language at the novice/intermediate levels - pop-up grammar teaching is what CI teachers do instead. To quote Bill Van Patten: "If all students were like language teachers, then they would be teachers of language, and they're not. We're the weirdos."
  2.  I think that I was able to embrace CI completely in 2013, because I had a foundation of CI with TPRS of which I was unaware. Even though prior to 2013 I viewed TPRS as just another tool to add to my toolbox of teaching, I was still implementing CI and did not know that I was. I wonder if I would have embraced CI so fully in 2013 if I had not been dabbling in TPRS for a few years.

No comments:

Post a Comment