What to do With “ I Don’t Get It ”

In a teacher’s perfect world, every student would meet every objective of every lesson at the same pace and in the same way.  In the real world, however, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Even when we feel that we’ve delivered some of our best teaching, there is still a student that will give us the infamous, “I don’t get it.”

Have we considered the possibility that they may actually…get it? Many times the problem is that when we ask students questions, we’re doing so at a level much higher than they have learned it.   In other words, it’s not the answer that’s wrong, but rather the question that’s wrong.

I want to introduce you to what may be wrong about the questions that you’re asking through Spanish Curriculum’s Stages of Language and Teaching & Learning:


You’ll see that there are 4 levels that move in a cycle as we teach and as our students learn.

Let’s take a moment to fully understand the four levels:

  • Stage 1: To Comprehend
    This is usually where we begin our teaching and students begin their learning.  Students have little to no prior experience with the material and we are making a direct connection to the new material.
  • Stage 2: To Recognize
    This is where students can distinguish one item from the other when given a couple of choices.
  • Stage 3: To Recall
    At this level, students can determine an answer when given a wide range of choices or a clue.
  • Step 4: To Generate
    Students need little to no assistance determining an answer and can produce it independently.

So: that blank stare you get after you ask a student, “¿De qué color es tu camisa?” could mean that simply adding, “¿De qué color es tu camisa? ¿Azul o gris?” will make all the difference.

This series of blog posts will take a closer look at each stage of teaching and learning by defining it, outlining teaching strategies for each stage, describe what the students are doing at each stage, and tell you how to determine when students need to review or are ready to move on.  Stay tuned!