Degrees and Certifications:
B.A. in Spanish Education from Boise State University Classroom 514
Mrs. Breigh Cruz
Hello! This is my fouth year teaching Spanish at Temple City High School, and currently I am teaching all level one Spanish classes, first to seventh period.
Each class will utilize Google Classroom for announcements, assignments, and other classroom related content. If you're a student and don't already have a TCUSD Google account up and running, please see one of our site administators, secretaries, or your school counselor. If you're a parent, please contact TCHS' main office and let them know you need help getting your parent account set up.
I use Comprehensible Input in my classroom to aid students in acquiring Spanish. The main idea of this teaching theory is to mimic the way we learn our first language. There are two kinds of input: speaking and writing. Kids do not acquire language by speaking and writing. They need lots and lots of personal, compelling, understandable input, and the output will follow. Research says unequivocally that interacting with comprehensible input, through hearing, reading, and understanding language, is the only way to build acquired competence and true profiency in that language. This input should be understandable, repetetive, personalized, and compelling for learners.
In the lower levels of language learning, emphasis is placed on comprehension rather than grammar exercises. Our national standards, set by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) prioritize communication, critical thinking, and literacy, rather than mastering the mechanical, structural, or linguistic aspects of the language (e.g. verb conjugations and grammar paradigms).
Students show up in language classes eager to use the language, but the vast majority of them leave at the end of the year with their heads full of unconnected words and rules, and feel that they are "not good at learning languages". They'll know animals, colors, things, but they can't string together a sentence.
Language Vs. Acquisition
Learning a language is a conscious process, much like what we experience in school. New knowledge is represented consciously in our mind. Language acquisition is a subconscious process during which the students are unaware of grammatical rules and it does not require tedious drill. Our curriculum goal is based on using the language, not learning about the language. We are moving away from instructing languages are if our students were robots, as if memorizing a verb chart, learning a verb list, or filling in worksheets could result in language proficiency. We focus on acquisition in order to build lasting proficiency in all of our students, not just the few who can catch on easily to grammar rules. Conscious learning of grammar or vocabulary leads to learned competence, which is an entirely different process from language acquisition. Conscious knowledge can help students edit and refine their speech and writing. But, in order to produce that speech and writing, students must first build acquired competence- the ability to actually express themselves.
The way we're going to learn language this year is by getting to know one another and creating a strong sense of community in our classroom. Teenagers love to talk about themselves! They are their favorite topic, and in a class where our curriculum is based on talking and communicating, that's exactly what we'll do: we'll talk about them. When communicating about interesting topics, not studying parts of a language, students are naturally engaged in class. The more engaged they are, the more they are able to do with the language, and they will feel more successful and accomplished.
So, why deskless?
We don't have desks in our class- only chairs. Our lifestyles are so much different than they were 100 years ago, so why would our classrooms stay the same? A deskless classroom supports communication and collaboration of 21st century learning.
Without bulky desks, students have more opportunities to easily engage with each other in Spanish, which is exactly our goal! A deskless classroom promotes more class discussions and fewer distractions- students are able to focus on the source of Spanish. It helps build community within the classroom, as it breaks down the invisible barriers created by desks.
My practices are based in large part on the research of Dr. Stephen Krashen. I implement the five hypotheses that constitute Krashen’s Theory of Second Language Acquisition. The hypotheses can be summarized as follows:
- The Acquisition-Learning Hypothesis:Conscious learning about a language, including memorizing, learning, and manipulating grammar paradigms, is a separate process in the brain from unconsciously acquiring a language. In order to build long-lasting proficiency, where using the language to communicate (taking in and producing meaningful, comprehensible messages) is the goal, teachers must teach for acquisition, not learning. Acquired proficiency comes from our internal mental representation of the language, a linguistic system we build in our minds, not from learned facts, lists, and formulas.
- The Comprehension Hypothesis:Understanding comprehensible messages (in spoken and, for literate students, written form) is the cause of language acquisition. There is no other way to feed the Language Acquisition Device (posited by linguist Noam Chomsky) the data that it needs to build a mental representation of the language.
- The Monitor Hypothesis: The Monitor is our self-editing or self-correcting function. It is useful for helping us produce grammatically correct writing and speech. However, the Monitor can also impede our willingness to take risks and try using language. In the beginning stages of language acquisition, teachers should focus on communication, not accuracy, and avoid correcting students’ attempts at output.
- The Affective Filter Hypothesis: Language is best acquired when students are relaxed and focused on something interesting and pleasant. A classroom environment that keeps affective filters low, thus, is key for optimal language acquisition to occur. This suggests that we need to make all our students feel as comfortable and successful as possible, celebrate success, smile at them, and cultivate a warm, relaxed, focused, and stress-free environment.
- The Natural Order Hypothesis: Certain features of languages are acquired in a natural order that cannot be changed by instruction. Students can learn about features of the language (e.g. the difference between the verbs ser and or how to form the past tenses) in any order, but true acquisition of the features is not under our conscious control. Students progress along the natural order in the same order, but at different speeds.
Here are some links to articles and research studies explaining a deskless classroom model more in depth