Reflection on Comprehensible Input

I haven’t updated my blog for a while now, and as I am taking a break due to my fourth baby coming at the end of September, I wanted to reflect on my last school year. I was teaching Spanish from grade 6 to 12 and I decided to turn to comprehensible input and TPRS since I was never fully satisfied with the traditional way to teach languages. I would mainly use the communicative approach but I never felt my students were making amazing progress. They achieved good and even for some excellent results at the exams but I knew that they were not fluent in the language. I knew that later on in their lives, they would say the typical “I don’t remember any Spanish from school, I can only say hello and thank you!”.

That is why I decided to try a new method, also because I love trying new teaching ideas and styles! I read the book Fluency Through TPR storytelling by Blaine Ray and Contee Seely, I purchased many lesson plans from Martina Bex which I did with my different classes and of course I read articles and viewed videos from experienced TPRS teachers to understand and acquire the method. I guess I now need to attend a workshop to see everything live but I will wait until my baby is born!

The point is that I and most importantly my students enjoyed my new way of teaching. For the first time, I was teaching more than 90% in the target language in every lesson and my students could understand everything. They had fun and at the same time were acquiring the language without much effort. At the end of the school year, my students could speak and write in a way that I would have never imagined they would have done with the traditional method. Here are some examples of written work from a 7th and 8th graders (without any help!):

I asked my students to fill in the self-reflection sheet made by Martina Bex and I requested them to be honest (since I was not going to see them anyway next year!). Here are some of the comments I got:

The first day in Spanish class was awesome and I learned very much in 45 minutes” 6th grader.
Learning Spanish this year has benefited me because I am now able to speak Spanish with my friend who lives in Madrid and my other friend who lives in Peru.” 6th grader.
I really liked reading the book (Agentes secretos y el Mural de Picasso). It was very interesting!” 6th grader.
I liked to answer questions out loud in Spanish because then I know that I can speak Spanish and that makes me proud.” 6th grader.

I liked to contribute ideas to a story and learning a song because I love music and we are more social if we all talk together and discuss in class” 8th grader.
I loved acting in a story because it was fun.” 8th grader.
I liked the acting out we did in class because it helped me understand things more clearly.” 8th grader.

There were no negative comments and when they rated their abilities on a scale of 1-10 to read, speak, write and understand Spanish, they were no grades lower than 5. Students showed confidence and were proud of their achievements! It was definitely a positive teaching and learning year and the icing on the cake was that 100% of my grade 1o students achieved A-A* at their IGCSE exams. In fact only one student got an A!

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