This past weekend, I spent my Saturday with nearly 200 like-minded teachers at an amazing conference in Ripon, Wisconsin during the second annual Comprehensible Midwest Conference. It was such an amazing experience and I congratulate the small group that worked so hard to put it all together.
I’ve collected the best tweets of #CIMW17:
After the jump you will find my first takeaway:
- Teachers need to re-experience learning a different language:
Being fluent in the language we teach makes us forgot just how difficult learning a language can be. We sometimes think students should be able to understand everything we are saying just because we “went over it”. Attending a session that provides instruction in another language reminds us what our students may feel like.
Justin Slocum Bailey (@Indwellinglang) instructed the first session I attended in Latin. I’ve never heard a class of Latin, but Justin was able to make it comprehensible. Another session was presented in French, and even though the story was comprehensible, if the teacher were to ask me a question and put me on the spot, I’m not sure I would have been able to give a proper response.
The techniques that these teachers used help the class understand and feel at ease:
- Go slow. Don’t expect your students to be able to follow a native-like speed. We need things to be slow so we can process every word you say.
- Point to everything! Write the translations on the board and point to it as often as possible. You may have mentioned the word 10 times already, but every time you point to it, it helps the student.
Justin reminds us that the time you take to walk over and point to something increases the time students have to process. This processing time is invaluable.
- Don’t think we’ve mastered something after one class. I remember sitting in a Blaine Ray conference as he spoke in German. Although I understood everything in class that day, if he would have moved on to another new set of vocabulary, I would not have acquired the words from the first lesson. Keep recycling those key targets in several stories. Don’t rush to move on to more vocabulary!
Check back tomorrow for some notes that I took from several sessions and the ideas that were sparked!