When learning Chinese I much prefer classes be totally in Chinese. Most of the learning being done in class is in listening to the teachers explanations of a word. Not so much in the ‘weekly grammar points’ or whatever. My teacher doesn’t use flash cards or mimes, he just explains in sentences. If I don’t uderstand the first time he’ll explain in another way, or give examples of situations until I do understand. I feel like I have to use Chinese if I want to communicate - sometimes it’s really really hard, but I can usually get my point across.
Other teachers tell me, “If you don’t know a word, just ask me in English” or if they think I’m struggling they will just blurt out the English. It makes me feel like they’ve given up on me (plus it’s annoying because I’m about the only native English speaker in the class). They could’ve just said a quick sentence explaining the word and I would’ve got it.
I think being taught, especially abstract concepts in the second language makes it much easier to grasp. Sometimes if you translate something into the mother language, you can come close to the real meaning, but it doesn’t always work for every sentence or concept. I think it’s good to just give lots and lots of examples. I think that way, your brain learns it in the second language and doesn’t have to translate it from the native language every time. Makes it much more natural and easier to use in the real world.
I’ve never taught anyone, especially children, so I don’t presume to know anything. But I think, to use the above sentence “…and you?”, to just give lots and lots of examples. Just role play two people. “I’m fine, and you?” - “I’m fine too”, “I like our teacher, and you?” - “I also like our teacher.”, “I would like to offer my soul to Satan to get out of this class right now, and you?” etc. etc. then test on a student to see if they can reply. As soon as one of them gets it, they’ll probably just tell the other ones in Chinese anyway… but just keep going until everyone grasps it and can reply.
But I’d have to agree, trying to explain something that’s not class related to mop something up, or if a student has a problem they need to tell you about is just… well… retarded. Is that what they really expect of teachers? Crazy.
So, anyway, I prefer learning in an environment where only the language I’m trying to learn is spoken… but I am 21, not a 12 year old kid who doesn’t even want to learn a second language.