A time comes when one has to recognize that it's impossible to be successful every single time. Sometimes, you have to admit defeat even in things that you are normally very good at. So today I have finally recognized that I failed utterly and completely at teaching my Intermediate Spanish II course.
I really gave it my all, people. I planned each class as if it were going to be observed by the Chair, the Dean and the Chancellor. I prepared original activities for every single class session. I put on videos, created word games, lab activities, and board games tailored specifically to this group's needs. And after all that effort, I am handing out graded mini-quizzes today and the students (every single one of them, too) say "Thank you." Can you believe this? After all my efforts, after a long conversation we had at the end of our last meeting about the importance of using Spanish in the classroom, they cannot even bring themselves to say "Gracias." Two weeks before the end of the semester I can't even get them to say "thank you" in the target language.
Of course, I could have stopped in front of every one of them and insisted they say it in Spanish. I have been doing just that since January, though, and it hasn't worked. I asked, I exhorted, I explained, I threatened, I insisted, and then I hand out oral activities and they proceed to do them. . . in English. "What are you doing??" I ask them. "Oh, you mean we should do this in Spanish?" they respond, staring at me with huge, completely sincere eyes. (Once again, I taught this course at this university twice before, never had this problem. Or any problem, actually.) I start telling them about the oral exam we will have next week. "Will it be in Spanish?" the students ask again. Do I need to mention that they ask this question in English?
So I just gave up and withdrew from this course and this group both emotionally and intellectually. I'm sorry that I've been harping so much on this subject but this is so frustrating that I will either blow off steam here, on the blog, or my blood pressure will start going up.