I recently attended the Comprehensible Midwest Conference in Ripon, WI. The conference was a great event, but it left me questioning my practice using thematic units. I feel like I teach really well using thematic units, and with thematic units I give my students chunks of language (something that has been supported by many of the trainings and professional developments I have done recently - especially by Helena Curtain).
Teachers who use CI are incredibly passionate about what they do and talk about the progress their students make, and how well students are able to produce language. In one of the sessions I attended, the presenter, Dr. Robert Patrick, said that we need to make our classes comprehensible, compelling, and caring. He works to focus on making Latin attainable to his students, and he stressed the importance of input in both listening and reading. One thing he did not stress was that the input be authentic, in fact, he suggested that you find something that is "authentic" and modify it or rewrite it to make it attainable for students. Modify the text not the activity.
I don't agree with this - probably because my background and education has been modify the activity and not the text for the level of the learner. I want my students to be seeing and hearing authentic language (written for native speakers by native speakers as much as possible). I know that this is not always possible, but authenticity is a scale, and we must do our best for the moment/activity and try to do better next time. There are many readers that are written by teachers in the CI movement that are really wonderful and have their place in my classroom because they are really accessible and high interest to my students as well as fit within the theme/unit, but these are not the only texts I use. I believe there must be a balance, and I am still working to figure out what that balance is for me and my classes. I am ever-evolving my teaching practice as I learn, which is what helps to make me a reflective practitioner and a better teacher for my students.
We need to figure out what works for us as educators, as long as it is within the realm of best practice (giving our students lots of input in the target language), and be the best teachers that we can be.
¡Ánimo, mis compañer@s!