My experience with being taught with comprehensible input was in Denver and the teacher was Katya Paukova. She taught Russian to an enormous room full of mostly Spanish teachers. I had studied Russian in high school, so I had some prior understanding of the language, but most of the language being used was unknown to me. After about an hour and half spread over two days, this room full of teachers was able to read a two page long story entirely in Russian. I had spent nearly a year prior trying to wrap my head around CI through reading blogs, watching videos, chatting with master teachers, but this was the first time I really understood how it happened. Since then I have attended sessions in Romanian, Mandarin, German, Spanish, French and Japanese. Here is why you, Latin teachers, should do the same:
1) You have to experience CI working for yourself. When we attend CI sessions in a language we already know, we have don’t get to really experience the acquisition process. We end up having a great time, we learn some cool techniques, but we don’t get to experience the process of going from zero comprehension to full comprehension as a student.
2) You have to internalize the reality that Latin is a language like any other. I cannot stress this enough. I didn’t fully accept this fact until I experienced CI in Russian. Russian is heavily inflected language just like Latin. There are nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental and prepositional cases in Russian. The majority of people in the room had never even heard of the concept of case, but were able to read and understand the different cases comfortably in context. This experience totally dissolved any lingering suspicions that Latin was somehow different.
3) You have to get out of Latin teacher world and visit language teacher world. For the longest time, Latin has separated itself from other languages. Those days need to be done. It’s easy for CI principles to get lost in the variety of Latin-speaking subcultures that exist in our community. Comprehension-based teaching gets jumbled up with Spoken Latin, Active Latin, Latinitas, Latin Immersion etc., which makes learning to teach with CI difficult to navigate exclusively amongst other Latin teachers. Experience CI in action in a non language specific context allows for the fundamentals to be learned absent from the very emotionally-charged factions that form within each language’s community.
Hi, all! If you haven’t heard, Eidolon just published another one of my articles. This one is about my trials as a job-hunting black Latin teacher. Give it a read when you get a chance.
– Magister Bracey
Hi all! Check out my conversation with Becky Morales on her podcast “The Language Latte”! We talk all about building community in the comprehensible input based classroom.
In the past few months, I have heard from teachers around the country that they are starting to get push-back from the top 1% of their students. This is especially the case for teachers who are in the process of transitioning a traditional program into a more inclusive CI model. I’m here to tell you all that you are doing great work.
You have kicked open the doors of a lavish country club and barged in with a mob of common people. You have integrated a swimming pool in an apartheid state. You have gone to a gated community, torn down the gates, and moved yourself into the neighborhood. Do you know who has a problem with that? The members of the country club, the ruling ethnic group in the apartheid state, and the wealthy inhabitants of the gated community.
The whole reason why they chose to occupy those spaces is because they are exclusive. That isn’t an unfortunate side effect, it’s the whole point. The point is to breath rarefied air in choice company. The point is gain entry into elite social circles and surround themselves with an ever shrinking circle of aristocrats. You have stolen that from them and they will not go away peacefully.
Please remember, that literally ALL of us have experienced this kind resistance. There is no way to avoid it. It stings out ego when our students tell us that we are failing them. Just remember that you are not failing the 1% by catering to 99%. The 1% have been failed by those who have lured them to Latin under the pretense that it was privilege for only a choice few. They have been failed by those who expect them to arrive in their classrooms with a skill-set that only 1% possess. They have been failed by those who have taught them that their fellow students are burdens to their individual success.
Keep your heads held high and continue to let the 99% stream into our classes. Continue to make your classes comprehensible for ALL students. Continue follow best practices and do the right thing. You are incredible teachers and you will get through this.
– Magister Bracey
I am proud to announce that I will be collaborating with legendary teachers Tina Hargaden and Sarah Breckley to put on a workshop about how to effectively use your voice and body in the world language classroom. The workshop will take place in Portland, Oregon and there are still a FEW slots available. Come join us!
I was having a conversation with a student on the bus ride back from a field trip. The student asked me why I wanted to be a Latin teacher. I have been asked this question a million times, but for some reason I had a new answer. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I very clearly realized why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and how that path took my to CI. Here was my answer…
I wanted to take something, that had been hoarded by the few, and give it to the many. That something for me was Latin.
My attraction to Comprehensible Input was not born out of a dispassionate analysis of Second Language Acquisition research, but out of my desire to make Latin for everyone. That desire preceded my interest in learning about SLA.
CI has allowed me to bust down the walls offer Latin to ALL with zero strings attached. I can now offer Latin to anyone who is interested and confidently guarantee that they will experience some kind of success. No one flunks out, no one is discouraged from entry, no one has to prove their worthiness to me.
This is the real reason why I teach with CI and why I am determined to help others who are motivated by the same set of values.
Why do you teach the way that you teach? Is your approach accomplishing your goals? Is what you are doing in the classroom compatible with your reason for becoming a teacher?
I just gave a presentation this past weekend at Comprehensible Input Midwest in Milwaukee called “I See You! Building Connections with your Students of Color”. The presentation focused on using CI to build lasting connections to our current and future students of color. Here’s a link to the presentation. Please let me know if you have any questions!
– Magister Bracey