This has to be shortened and made less challenging, as it will be an e-mail. I seek editing suggestions.
Cher J, et cher R,
When we chose V as a textbook, one reason was that it was the abbreviated version of another textbook we liked (SQ). We had decided that to work toward consistency without sacrificing individuality, we should have a brief textbook that could then be supplemented with readings. We considered several textbooks in their brief versions.
If we had been given the chance to discuss the choice of P, I would have raised the question of its length. It is long enough and ponderous enough that we are unlikely all to cover the same parts of each chapter, unless a decision is made as to what should be emphasized, and which activities should be completed without fail. I strongly recommend that we in fact make such a decision.
The instructor’s edition of P has an introduction but the remarks in it do not necessarily amount to the presentation of a method. (The adoption of V was the adoption of a method, but it was a method with which half the faculty disagreed and was not willing to adopt.) Every other FL department I have worked in had a sheet of paper that was handed to new faculty. It explained what the department’s approach to FL teaching was, what skills and what kinds of activities they considered important, how the textbook addressed or supported these emphases, and how this book was used to the ends of that institution’s program.
Our consistency problem stems from the fact that we have never articulated our intentions in so precise a way. We have bowed to ACTFL and CEFR standards, and we say we are interested in developing all four skills. We have made goals lists pegged to particular textbooks, and decided how many exams we will have and how they will be weighted to the final grade. We have, however, never made a fundamental decision on methodology and approach, and then followed through by considering its practical manifestations in a concrete way. It is thus to be expected that each person teaches their classes in the way that makes the most sense to them.
I suggest we receive, at the very least, direction on which portions of the P text we should emphasize, and ideally, clear information as to the approach and methods the department would like us to use. (The current move to consistency in testing strategies is a good step, but it is a first step).