Speaking about textbooks, curriculum, themes... and "where to place and introduce them."
Here's an idea that I'd like to share and one that we have actually implemented with success where I have taught Spanish and French.
Usually in the USA, we teach the preterito and imperfecto/ passe compose/imparfait in 2nd year.
[Some first year teachers can introduce the preterite/pc in first year, but in most places where you are also stressing oral proficiency and student self-expression as opposed to grammar centered worksheets, you can't. It also depends on your school demographics.]
Traditionally, textbooks teach the preterito/passe compose first before the imperfecto/imparfait. We have tried, with success, teaching the imperfecto/imparfait first. The first past tense that you teach tends to become a student's "default" past tense in conversation. The imperfect has less irregularities than the simple past of preterito/p.c. Of course, more so in Spanish than in French.
Think about it: weather, feelings, time on the clock.... are "imperfect" tense items.
Kids can freely express anything in the imperfect w/o "hurting our ears" as teachers or native speakers.
Eran las dos. Il etait deux heures.
If you teach pret/pc first, you often hear: Fueron las dos. Il a ete deux heures.
Often you plan your activities around definite actions and have to avoid those "imperfect" topics.... or quickly smile and pass over what a student has said with the wrong tense hoping that it does not continue.
If a kid says: Yo iba a la playa, ayer. J'allais a la plage, hier.
No harm is done, even if the kid is thinking a definite past action such as: Yo fui a la playa, ayer. Je suis alle a la plage, hier. No teacher's ears are being hurt.
When a text was going to introduce pret/pc.... we skipped it and went directly to the introductory imperfect chapter. Usually the initial themes in an introductory imperfect chapter are: Cuando yo era joven, yo hacia/era/iba.... Quand j'etais enfant, je faisais/etais/allais.....
After you finish that imperfect unit/theme, go back to the skipped pret/pc unit. Teach it for "definite" actions. (I call it una accion karate/ une action karate.) Imperfect is a nice happy--you're telling me about stuff--preterite/pc is striking, definite, finished action!'' Imperfect is your default tense for talking and preterite adds excitement!
Usually, the unit after the imperfect is the unit teaching about the differences between the two past tenses. You deal with those themes and structures, third.
Oh.... somewhere someone asked about the placement of subjunctive.... usually in public schools the USA, it occurs in third year, during the second semester. These are schools where regular and college prep students are mixed together--unlike math or English. Schools that restrict FL study to college prep students can move more quickly through curriculum.
I hope more colleagues will join in on the discussion.
Robert L. "Bobby" Oliver
Williamsburg, VA firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
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