La Maestra Loca, means the crazy teacher. It was a name that was given me by a group of third graders this past year, and before that a group of 10 year olds in China. I absolutely embrace the title.
Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI) is the teaching methodology and approach that I use in my classroom. I also use Organic World Language (OWL) strategies. I am constantly trying to revise my teaching practices to provide the best combination of methodologies to my students. I want my students to ACQUIRE the Spanish language rather than learn about it. There are many branches under the TCI umbrella including, TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling), Circling, PQA (Personalized Questions and answers), movie talk, and so much more. The most important thing that you should know about how my classroom works is that I am
speaking in SPANISH 90% of the time. I am sheltering my language and limiting it to the Spanish I know that the students know and throughout the year this vocabulary will grow and develop and they will acquire the language naturally rather than memorize it and study its grammar.
So often when I speak to adults they tell me that they took a language in high school or college, but “can’t speak a word”. That is VERY normal. Language teachers hear this ALL the time. Next they proceed to tell me that they are just not good at language. That is impossible. If you can learn one language you can learn them all. It is all about how you are taught. I failed Spanish all through school. I struggled and worked SO hard because I desperately wanted to be “good” and communicate. The problem was that I wasn’t being taught to communicate. I was being taught ABOUT Spanish. I was learning the grammar and conjugations, and all of the rules. I wasn’t acquiring the language for communication. My failure in Spanish is the reason I teach the way I do. EVERYONE can learn language.
What Do We Do?!
We use Spanish. We talk about dinosaurs, dragons, Disney characters, "puppy- monkey-baby", and anything else we love in Spanish. We make up stories, and then we act them out. We watch youtube videos and talk about them in Spanish. We listen to real Spanish music and talk about the lyrics. We learn about culture and geography, using the Spanish we know, so we don’t make culture a “day in English”. We acquire grammar naturally just like we learned our first language at home! WE DO EVERYTHING IN SPANISH, because you can’t learn Spanish by speaking about it in English.
What We Don’t Do:
We don’t conjugate verbs, but we use verbs in many different forms and tenses because we are using language naturally. We don’t use English, because talking about Spanish in English does not help students acquire language. We don’t spend the majority of time talking about grammar, but we learn it by hearing it.
Everything I do in my classroom is a culmination of techniques, styles, games, and brilliance that I observed from the incredible teachers I have had the opportunity to work with all over the world. The list is long but some of my greatest genius influences are: Mary Overton, Diana Noonan, Jenny Wetzig, Taryn DuPlessis, Casey Assman Salado, Joe Dziedzic, Jason Fritz, Martina Bex, Carol Gaab, Annick Chen, Mark Mallaney, Nina Barber, Kathryn Kuypers, Ruby Lopez, and MANY more. I grew up in a small mountain town called Leadville, in Colorado. I am accustomed to altitudes of at least 10,000 feet, and ten months of snow is quite normal. Needless to say, I have been melting since I moved to Louisiana. I have a Master’s Degree from the University of Denver in Education and my Bachelor’s is in Spanish and Criminology. I’ve taught Spanish for 5 years, and I taught English for a year in China. I currently teach Spanish to students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade at Saint Martin’s Episcopal School, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Everything I do in my classroom is a culmination of techniques, styles, games, and brilliance that I observed from the incredible teachers I have had the opportunity to work with all over the world. The list is long but some of my greatest genius influences are: Mary Overton, Diana Noonan, Jenny Wetzig, Taryn DuPlessis, Casey Assman Salado, Joe Dziedzic, Jason Fritz, Martina Bex, Carol Gaab, Annick Chen, Mark Mallaney, Nina Barber, Paul Kirschling, Kathryn Kuypers, Ruby Lopez, and MANY more.
Language Acquisition through
CI and OWL Methodologies
St. Martin's Episcopal School
laMaestraLoca | Annabelle Allen