I had an incredible visit to Lansing Christian School.  The teacher, students, curriculum and classroom environment that I observed were of the highest caliber.  I observed both Spanish I and Spanish II and was astounded by the level of the students’ fluency.  I felt like I was observing a beginning college course rather than high school Spanish students. 

            Before I observed this class, I was informed of the curriculum that Mr. Nesbitt uses to teach his Spanish and French classes.  I learned that his approach resembles TPR (Total Physical Response) but is completely his, and was created in the 1980’s while he taught English in France.  Mr. Nesbitt teaches students languages in a way that resembles one’s native language acquisition process.  Text books are not used and grammar is not didactically taught, rather, Steve Nesbitt has devised a curriculum that uses hand and body gestures to teach students the meanings of verbs, nouns, subject pronouns, and a myriad of other grammatical concepts.  He has created a computer program called ULAT that is comprised of many topical mini lessons.  Each mini lesson has pictures of vocabulary, the gestures for verbs, and the gestures for subject pronouns.  Students then look at the pictures and are able to create sentences that tell a story, which contextualizes their learning, a must in order for students to retain the material they have learned.  In order for students to check their accuracy, Steve has included MP3 files that have his voice recorded pronouncing the sentences correctly.  From what I observed, this methodology is incredibly effective.  Not only do students produce the target language with little interference from their native tongue, but they seem to really enjoy the process. 

On top of being an ingenious man technologically and otherwise, Steve Nesbitt is one of the most passionate educators I have ever encountered.  More than anything, his desire to help students gain fluency in other languages shines through his teaching.  Not only does he have a very strong grasp of the Spanish language, but he has an observably strong rapport with his students.  These two traits make Steve a very dynamic teacher.  The first thing I noticed upon entering Steve’s class was his HIGH energy style of teaching.  With his rapidly paced lessons, friendly smiles, and constant requests for student participation, students were on the edges of their seats. 

            Student participation, which is crucial to acquiring a foreign language, was a must in Steve’s classes.  He holds students accountable for their participation by grading them according to how much they contribute orally in class.  For him, oral assessments are the most practical and common ways to assess students’ progress.  During my observation I noticed that the majority of the students readily participated in class, a few, however, were hesitant to participate.  Steve reminded those students that not participating in Spanish was like balling up a Biology exam and throwing it in the garbage in front of a Biology teacher.  He mentioned that in his class, everyday was a test day.  I liked that approach.  He was very firm yet kind as he reminded the students of their responsibility in his class. 

            I am so thrilled to have had the opportunity to observe this awesome teacher.  The creativity, effort and passion put forth to create this cutting edge curriculum are absolutely noteworthy.  Students that experience language learning in this rich environment exhibit remarkable Spanish skills in the present, and will undoubtedly reap many rewards from this class as they continue their academic careers and studies of Spanish.