All of this wonderful chatter about teaching languages goes up in smoke in the face of the Grammar Kings and Queens who run departments. They define what teaching a FL looks like. The admins, who took French from Madame or Spanish from Senora or Latin from Magister and cheerfully admit they learned nothing, assume that learning a language is a matter of talent, even genius, and never question the four year student who is dumbfounded in the face of an article in the TL on the League Champions or a new restaurant opening. Their university counterparts will be equally flummoxed because the articles don’t deal with Lit Crit, the only thing worth studying a FL for.
This is why I laugh (HA! HA! HA!) at standards, b/c the admins never look at the standards and the Kings/Queens assume that the standards lay out grammar features to be “mastered”. No matter how wrong they are, they will never be called to task. They function in a world of incompetents and incompetence when it comes to FL. Their power is total and the only weapon against them is that classic of the teaching profession: passive-aggressive behavior (Absolutely, Madame, conjugations on the board every day and testing on them every Friday!). Do what you want and pretend to do what they want and hope they don’t have enough power to bring any admin guns to bear on you. Usually they don’t. You may not get plum assignments (they all go to the teachers emphasizing RIGOR = conjugations) and you may not get your trip to the state conference or ACTFL paid for, but you can do what the hell you want to in the classroom.
To take power is another matter. The growing conferences of CI teachers is a major step. We should do like other groups do, e.g. the Navy: get one of yours in the officer ranks, then he’ll recruit like-minded sailors until the ship is awash, so to speak, in a particular type of person, a smooth-running unit with all hands on board. I do see on moretprs signs of whole schools going tprs. That’s the only way to damp the power of the Kings and Queens, b/c you’ll get no help from the admins who remember Senora, Magistra, Frau, Madame, Gospozha, Sensei, etc. fondly.