Last year was my first full year of teaching Latin with Comprehensible Input. I teach both 7th and 8th grade so my 8th graders experienced a shift from traditional to CI, while my 7th graders have only experienced Latin through CI. Overall it was very successful! I went into the year with a very positive outlook and a determination to leave my previous grammar and translation methods behind. I had loads of ups and downs but never once considered reverting back to my old ways. Here are some of my observations from last year…
1) Teaching with Comprehensible Input really works! If you haven’t attended any CI workshops, I strongly recommend that you do. Most beginner workshops will give you the opportunity to experience CI as a student learning an unfamiliar language. This experience alone will convince you that CI teaching is an approach that works. What my students were able to do without dictionaries, grammar charts, etc., was beyond anything I dreamed possible.
2) Personalization is everything! Using a lot of TPRS techniques like circling, asking a story, and personalized questions and answers were really effective. Every bit of positive feedback I received from students highlighted personalization as the most enjoyable and beneficial feature of Latin class.
3) Sheltering vocabulary is incredibly important. Most of my really terrible lessons this year were caused by trying to shovel in too much vocabulary too quickly. Focusing on around 3-5 structures a weak seemed to be about right. Whenever I would go beyond that, I would start to get a lot of confused faces and authentic acquisition just wasn’t happening.
4) Brain breaks are a must. I was not great at this last year. I did my best to spontaneously include brain breaks when they seemed necessary, but I need to make them part of every single class. I need to ensure that I am respecting my students and their brains.
These are just a few of my observations from last year. I’ll elaborate further in later posts as more ideas come to me. Stay tuned!