pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

On Teaching a Foreign Language

I allow Spanish students to come into ANY Spanish class (which is illegal, but since they work on individual assignment sheets and go at their own pace -- which MUST BE forward -- is possible, but takes tons of prep work) because the alternative results in big gaps which allows them to forget too much in between. I've had students take Spanish I as a freshman and Spanish II as a senior, and play catch-up and feel inadequate all year, or drop, because of it. More and more colleges are requiring three years of high school foreign language to allow students to skip the foreign language in college. Most high school students get far more support in a foreign language class, and move much more slowly than a college class can or will offer. The outlook is totally reversed. Students HAVE to be there in high school, and pay dearly for the privilege in college.

One parent (the non-custodial parent) griped at me as I was purchasing something in his store that his son needed a tutor for Spanish that was costing him some horrendous amount per quarter as he could not pass. I looked at him in astonishment. Finally, I explained that any student who had as many "in danger of failing" slips sent home as his son did could only expect to fail at college, where nobody was going to give him the individual encouragement he received daily to keep him even at THAT level of achievement.

That was how I found out about the custodial parent stuff. I told him what I'd done and recommended for his son (a year too late) that would have SOLVED his problem with learning far more than foreign language, as the child was not DUMB, but did not know how to study, and was bound and determined to stay in that rare state of grace.

So, take advantage of it while it is free, or hire a tutor to help while forking out $3500- $10,000 a year for it... To me, it's a no-brainer. I asked if I could use that example (namelessly) to try to motivate other students who thought a D- stood for exceptionally brilliant achievement and would fly in the real world... I'm sure HE passed on his viewpoint, as well. We teachers don't do all that extra work to report on how the students are(n't) progressing for OUR health and well-being! If a parent gets one, they NEED TO PAY ATTENTION to the schooling of their children. Those are CRIES OF HELP, as things ARE NOT okay. If the minor child can't see that it is in his/her own best interests to succeed, then it is time for parents to supply whatever it takes until they grow up enough to realize where their own future lies, and that they GET THERE. Most teachers I know invest a LOT of effort in getting things set so that success is encouraged, not blocked.

But there will always be parents of perfectly bright children who get furious that their son or daughter got an F on the final, and when all is said and done, took the children someplace until way past a good bed time for a day with heavy duty testing scheduled the next day. When the student is prevented from studying by parental actions, the results are NOT the fault of the teacher. The school board member mother who called me about her son's F saw no reason why he should have gone over the list we'd presented in great detail in class that had EVERYTHING he needed to know to pass on it.

Sorry. That's where my help stops. Now it is up to him, (hopefully WITH her active backing, not thwarting) to master the material he didn't pay much attention to while we were going through it the first time. After all, the LD student in that same section earned a C. That should tell her something about the difficulty of the educational task her son failed... She and I both know her son is far above average in intelligence, but intelligence only works when USED, not when sat upon.

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