A less brief statement of my teaching philosophy:

Please note that this is always a work in progress and always already in need of updating!

If we think of my career as a galaxy, full of hot gasses and pulsing energies, then the center of that galaxy –– the super-massive black hole around which my theoretical dust cloud swirls –– is the Chomskyan/Krashen-esque tenet that learning occurs in students inevitably: just as a first language is acquired without much explicit instruction, so can a second language be absorbed from experience without a teacher. This is not to say that I think myself irrelevant, but rather that, for me, the student’s mind is the true center of the learning process. What I can do is facilitate students’ innate ability to learn by providing as much support and input as possible.

How to provide such input would be the nascent stars of my galaxy: the Theories and Methods to which I subscribe. My education in theory and methods favored an eclectic approach, with some communicative methods mixed in with notional/functional and audiolingual residues. (Residues I disdain, to be sure.) Grammar translation was a major part of my own experience as a student, and I have happily favored drama-based methods in designing model curricula. The most extreme method that I have studied in depth is Georgi Lozanov’s Desuggestopedia*, in which students meditate intensely on the second language being taught, for several hours, six days a week. In other words, the stars of my galaxy will be a mix of big red giants (communicative approach), neutron stars (the dense desuggestopedia), semi-decrepit brown dwarfs (grammar/translation), and shrunken white dwarfs (ALM). Still the diversity of methods familiar to me further augments my advantage of flexibility: I am comfortable teaching through a range of methods.

The inflexible law that binds my career, the gravity of my galaxy, is experience. As I study other languages besides English fairly often, I am sure I will always have more experience as a second language learner than as a teacher; and so I am inclined to put myself in my students’ place quite often. When planning a lesson, I think about how I have learned Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian and Japanese; or how I have only poorly fumbled through Mandarin Chinese, Turkish, French, Spanish and Icelandic. Yet it is my classroom experience, as a student, that pulls me toward the rich grammatical and linguistic explanations that I have so often enjoyed in class. My experience in learning Italian and Japanese, also drew me away from the classroom to essential interactions with Italian speaking family members and Japanese friends. I know the importance of fostering acquisition outside of the classroom, while providing the maximum in class support for such wanderings.

As far as cultural wanderings go, it seems as though my family has been to many different planets: Because my mother was born in Italy, my second language is Latin. While many sociocultural and affective factors led to this paradox, I am certain that the most important one for me would have to be identity, or group identification.  It was so strong that Latin was able to stand in for Italian, which was not offered at my high school. For me Italian ethnic identity was a source of pride, but for my mother as a young immigrant, it was something to overcome.

Perhaps my mother’s ethnic identity would not have been such a source of shame had my grandmother received letters from school in Italian, or had she been part of a bilingual volunteer program, two good modes of primary language support (PLS) suggested in Wright* (2010, 280, 282) . I will try to provide as much PLS  as possible while endeavoring to eliminate stigma from the classroom. At times, this may require me to reference my personal history, and at times, I am aware, identity-embracing approaches may not work for all. However, I am certain that once I let my students be as comfortable as possible, assured in their identities (ethnic or otherwise), they will be better, more confident English language learners. 

And as for wandering around the galaxy of a young teacher’s career, let us consider the tools of teaching, the technology, to be the spaceships we travel on. In the past, blackboards, paper and pen may have kept us tethered to one method or another. Now, with iPads/Phones, social media, laptops and projectors, we can move at light-speed. I will use, and have used, technology amply to bring as much input and energy into my classrooms as possible, as you can see among the curricula I’ve designed and in my videos. 

Like any galaxy, this longer version of my teaching philosophy is a bit nebulous and slightly amorphous: nebulous in that it is swirling with the many ideas and theoretical possibilities mentioned above; amorphous in that my career has not yet been too thoroughly shaped by experience. These are not at all disadvantages, according to my way of thinking. After all, if my philosophy is misty and protean, then it will easily expand to fit a wide range of courses and students.

Copy of CNazzaro Resume 2022