Student Responses to 2015-16 Day 1 Survey Question: What Makes You Nervous? What Challenges Do You Foresee?

It’s a good habit to really listen to your students. In fact, if all language teachers did so, there would be more Teaching with CI.

At the start of the year, I hand out Expectations, and assign a few questions to be answered with an adult at home. Let’s face it, CI classes aren’t like other classes, and it’s good practice to make sure everyone understands how that academic environment is different, and what makes a CI class flow. The following response samples are somewhat depressing, but reflect the current state of taking a second language in high school. I offer them as anecdotal evidence that forced language production/output is damaging, as well as assurance that this “CI thing” will reach more students, especially if we embrace the research.

So, what makes kids nervous, and what challenges do they foresee? Some responses:

One challenge I foresee for myself is in-class participation, especially during the first few classes. When I was taking Spanish 1 in 8th grade I remember how hard it was to participate, because speaking another language in front of peers and a fluent instructor can very intimidating, in my opinion. In addition to that, I am generally quiet in most of my class however, I have been growing out of that with time. – NS

The only challenge I see is that I’ll have to speak in Latin because I had a lot of trouble trying to speak Spanish, even though I took 3 years of it. I think it’ll be a challenge to speak in only Latin and to speak by myself when I’m called on because I don’t know if I will be fluent or get fluent. – JP

I think speaking will pose the most difficulty because, unlike in Spanish, there aren’t many people who I can practice with. – MG

The whole speaking up when I have a question, since I’m a very forgetful person when put on the spot. – KP

Speaking up will be challenging. – RP

Speaking up during class. – GH

I will need to talk a lot more. It’s not something I do a lot. I’m usually silent. – MP

The limitation of English, even at the beginning of course, makes me nervous because with any language one of the biggest obstacles will be pronunciation. A challenge I foresee for myself will be the conjugation of verbs because I know there are several tenses in Latin and from my experience with Spanish conjugation I know it can be very tedious, having to memorize all the general rules as well as exceptions.- NR

One challenge that I foresee would be being called on for class and having to answer. – MS

There you have it. 82% of my students reported being anxious about speaking a new language. I’m not surprised.

Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research shows that when acquiring (not just learning about) a second language, first we learn to listen, then we learn to read (what we’ve heard) before we write (what we’ve heard, and read), and finally speak (what we’ve heard, read, and wrote). Teaching methods should reflect this.

anxious students + forced speech + a blind eye to research
=
failure at worst, ineffective at best

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