A great blog post from French teacher @CecileLaine on changing your teaching strategies from verb charts and grammar based teaching to comprehensible input which will lead to performance based assessments where students actually use the language to communicate. By teaching verb forms explicitly we are teaching “about the language” whereas we should be teaching “in the language”.
Authentic input versus grammar drills, a case study
I used to teach the verb “être” (to be) using a fun grammar song. We would learn the song, put all the verb forms in a verb chart, and practice, practice, practice through drills, conversations, and various writing activities. Sounds familiar? Well, these past two years I have completely changed the way I do this, and this week, rubber met the road on my proficiency philosophy.
No more verb chart, no more grammar drills
First, I ditched the verb chart. Boy I was scared, how would my students remember all the forms? Then I implemented comprehensible input and learning phrases as opposed to grammatical forms. Since the 7th grade, my students have been learning various forms of “to be” in context: we first learned to talk about ourselves so they picked up phrases such as “I am intelligent”. Then we moved on to questions and answers, so they picked up phrases such as “are you mean or nice?”. Then we talked about celebrities, family members, friends, and they picked up phrases such as “Justin Bieber is nice, Taylor Swift is nice, but The one Direction boys are awesome”. With lots and lots of input, they got most parts of the verb without ever having to put it in a verb chart. I never assessed them on what part of the verb they knew (such as a “fill in the blank” or “match subject to verb” or “conjugate this”), but rather on what they could do with the language (click here for an example of performance assessment with an emphasis on what students can do as opposed to just demonstrating grammar accuracy).
read the read of her post here.
If you are teaching verb charts and grammar, the students output will be limited. If you are using authentic input, the students will be able to produce the language.
For links to authentic input check out our Resources page to find input broken down by various topics.