There’s time for a variety of “techniques”, right?

Um, no. There really isn’t. Or, more precisely, it depends on what you mean by “techniques”.

The thing that I think a lot of people do not understand is that while it is very accommodating to say “there is time for everything” in the foreign language classroom, the cold hard fact is that there is not.

If a teacher’s focus is to get students proficient (fluent) then literally every second of class time has to be spent on activities that contribute to that goal. It’s like dieting — healthy food will help you lose weight, but junk food will just waste your calorie budget and leave you with poor-quality nutrition.

So the basic question for every language teacher should be: How do people become fluent? Then based on that: is what I am doing right now in class aiming squarely at the things that do make people fluent? There are certainly a variety of things you can do WITHIN your chosen philosophical orientation (CI or rules+output) to address various “types” of learners and to differentiate instruction. But there is no logical reason to do things in your classroom that you believe do not lead to fluency.

If you believe that using rules makes a person fluent, then there is no time and no need for a lot of comprehensible input. It is a waste of time for a teacher who sincerely believes that it doesn’t work.

If you believe that comprehensible input makes a person fluent, there is no time and no need for a lot of rules and grammar exercises. These are a waste of time because they take time away from input, which does make people fluent.

There is no middle ground in acquisitional terms. There IS some possible middle ground given certain social and administrative factors (non-CI things can be good for analytical students and those beyond a certain age, and administrators may impose non-CI requirements out of ignorance or legal requirements). The middle ground must be carefully balanced against the overriding benefit of lots of CI, however, and non-CI time limited because it simply does not help people acquire as effectively.

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