I recently returned from a conference and have read several online commentaries lately regarding teaching world languages today that got me thinking about some things. The message that textbooks and grammar teaching should be avoided in favor of communicative language teaching has been around for several years now. I even read an article where a language teacher declared that she was ashamed of her former grammar teaching ways. While I completely agree with the communicative message, it seems to me that there are a couple of missing elements to support teachers.
The first is the research to support communicative language teaching. If it exists, let’s make sure all language teachers know about it. If it does not, let’s do the research. Anecdotal evidence is fine, but we need to take it further. I know that some would say that there are lot of variables that make isolating one single method difficult, but I am convinced that trends in students who receive some form of communicative language instruction would appear. In addition, the more STAMP and AAPPL testing taking place, the better. I anticipate the argument that the cost of the tests cost at $20 per student is too much. I understand that, but at my former school I was able to get enough to at least get a sample group, which gave me good information about our program. I plan to request funds at my new school as well and see what I can get. Another option I can try is http://www.donorschoose.org
Secondly, I believe it would help teachers tremendously to see concrete examples of how the 3 modes of communication are incorporated into a lesson, at the same time weaving in grammar and vocabulary. If teachers are going to throw out the textbook-based lessons and grammar worksheets, they need tangible examples. There are tons of authentic resources and activities on the internet, but how do they fit into a lesson? In a future post am going to describe a sample lesson in my humble attempt to illustrate what I envision.