Bonjour! My name is Nina, and I am a mother, wife, French teacher, curriculum writer, and coffee lover living in Chicago, Illinois. Welcome to my blog!
When I started my career as an educator several years ago, I knew that I wanted to teach French in a compassionate, fun, and engaging way. I wanted to base my instruction on best practices in the field, and I wanted my students to make real gains in proficiency, so they would feel successful and inspired to continue their language-learning journey. The only problem was, as a new teacher, I didn’t really know how to do these things.
So, I did the only thing I could think to do … I researched! I made Pinterest boards and read and studied. I observed and interviewed and planned. I got to know my school’s textbook-based curriculum pretty well. I implemented ACTFL guidelines. I tried tons of different strategies and activities. Some things worked, and many other things failed.
My story is similar, I suspect, to that of many new World Language teachers. I was working really hard, but deep in my heart, I knew that my students were getting a bit shortchanged. I had good intentions and some fun activities up my sleeves, but my instruction was piecemeal and inconsistent. Aside from following the chapters in the textbook that were dictated to me by my district, I lacked an overarching vision of where we were going as a class and what tools I was planning to use to get us there. I felt like I was searching around in the dark, trying to find a light switch that would make everything clearer.
For me, that lightbulb moment came when I stumbled upon TPRS and Comprehensible Input. This was what I had been looking for—a way to teach from the heart, get results, and have fun with students. A way to simplify planning, minimize stress, and ensure that I would have time outside of work to devote to my daughter, my fiancé, my family, and myself.
Thanks to all of the awesome educators out there who are sharing their ideas about teaching language through CI (like Martina Bex, Ben Slavic, Madame Shepard, Wendy Farabaugh, and Colleen Lee-Hayes, just to name a few people who have helped me on my own journey), I learned about this powerful new way to teach French. I started to incorporate gestures, PQA (personalized questions and answers), and stories into my instruction. My middle school students loved the new methods, and so did I! From then on, I approached my planning with a greater sense of ease, knowing that even without any elaborate supplies or fancy strategies, I could provide my students with the input they would need to become proficient in French.
My purpose for creating this blog is to share my ideas and experiences with you, with the hope that I can contribute positively to the field of World Language education in my own small way. In the days to come, I will write about strategies, lessons, plans, and materials that I have found to be useful in my own teaching. I will also share my takeaways from professional development sessions that I will be attending, as well as interviews with other educators.
I envision this as a space where other teachers can also collaborate and share their insights and creativity. If you would like to join this community, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog. I also welcome you to leave a comment—I would love to hear about your lightbulb moments in teaching!
I look forward to learning, sharing, and growing together. À bientôt!
Merci, Nina. Thank you for sharing your strategy for beginning units with short CI stories. I am experiencing my usual back-to-school angst, and need to feel equipped with some solid strategies. Feeling determined to focus on more CI this year – so all tips are welcome, especially if they feel within my reach. Thanks for sharing and breaking this one down as you have. Very helpful!!