Show Don’t Tell
With parents, or anyone really, the best argument for comprehension-based teaching is to let them experience the process. So less talking about our practices and more demonstration is always good. Plus we only have 10 minutes so you can’t be long-winded!
This year for Parents’ Night I first told the parents this:
My name is Tina Hargaden and I am a big old nerd about language acquisition. You guys know all about language acquisition – your children all acquired their first language from you, in most cases. So in this class we are going to approach language acquisition the natural way, the way your children have already acquired their L1. We are going to put the horse (understanding the language and using it in a real way) before the horse (grammar) and not the other way around, which is how most of us were taught.
I want to show you how I teach your kids, a glimpse into the classroom. We are going to work together to use our imaginations to create an image right here on the carpet. I need an artist to draw the object as we discover facts about it. (Adults are so much less apt to volunteer for this, but I did get a kindly soul to help me out in every class!)
This worked well and then at the very end of class I told them that there is no homework, that kids have enough to do for other classes, that their grade is based on the communication that happens in class, and that for them at this beginning level, the communication is mostly listening and demonstrating comprehension.
Pics or it didn’t happen…here are the parents’ images: a tiny white dog, a small green cap, a large happy blue hat, and a small red guitar.