Dancing Bears

Dancing Bears

Have you ever seen those old photos of dancing bears from European circuses? They usually have some kind of impossible collar around them and are always at the end of a prod. Some dancing! More like torture and subjugation of great beauty to man’s need to control nature.

Whatever it is, I am reminded by such photos of foreign language teachers who force kids to speak before they are ready. Asking a student to speak a language too early, before it occurs naturally after hearing tons of CI, is similar to forcing a bear to dance. It just isn’t natural.

I believe that teachers who force oral output aren’t aware of what they are really doing, and that if they thought about it, they wouldn’t do it. If they could just see a TPRS classroom, where kids aggressively shout out their cute suggestions for the story, completely unaware of the fact that they are speaking the target language, they would know that it is possible to cultivate output in students without torturing them.

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