Apprentice Teacher Information

What is an Apprentice Teacher/Drill Instructor?

Introduced in 1967, The Apprentice Teacher-AT/Drill Instructor Program has become an integral part of foreign language instruction at Dartmouth. In the Department of Spanish & Portuguese where all beginning and introductory language courses consist of master classes, drill sessions and the use of digitized video-based language materials, the AT/Drill Instructor spends an hour a day drilling students on the points they have learned in their master classes, and two hours in preparation, whether it be in correcting workbooks or preparing for drill sessions. Working closely throughout the term with the Master Teacher, the AT/Drill Instructor is responsible for leading students in pattern drills in order to practice and reinforce the grammatical points they have studied in class.

Who can be an AT/Drill Instructor?

The AT/Drill Instructor in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese are Dartmouth undergraduates currently enrolled in courses, but not necessarily language majors. They are students with established linguistic skills who attend an orientation, participate in a three-day training workshop prior to the start of each term, and "try-out" in front of a faculty-led jury. Participation as an AT/Drill Instructor is limited to three terms a year; as it is a very intensive job, we require that you have no other employment.

How do you become an AT/Drill Instructor?

Applicants for the AT/Drill Instructor position are not expected to be fluent in Spanish or Portuguese but should have linguistic competence at the level of Spanish/Portuguese 10 or above and have a very good accent. All interested parties need to participate in all of the AT/Drill Instructor workshops offered at the beginning of each term, whether you are a veteran or a novice. At the conclusion of the workshops, candidates participate in a jury where they are judged on: their ability to successfully perform the drill techniques; pronunciation and intonation; creativity and animation. Enthusiasm, technique and commitment, then, are all are important requirements. In addition, your attitude during the workshops will be taken into consideration during the jury and AT/Drill Instructor selection process.

The number of AT/Drill Instructor selected each term varies according to the number of language sections the department is offering, but each term the Department of Spanish & Portuguese employs between 17 and 26 students in Spanish and 1 to 3 students in Portuguese.

The Goals of the AT/Drill Instructor Program

There are three types of exercises which you will present during "drill": mechanical, meaningful and communicative. These broad divisions represent a graduated progression from purely imitative exercises to others which more closely resemble a spontaneous conversation in Spanish. To be able to converse spontaneously in grammatically correct Spanish is the goal of our overall instruction. The AT/Drill Instructor should be aware of this goal and the different roles that each exercise plays in language development when she/he is planning each lesson. Remember that part of the student's grade is based on his/her performance in drill class.

Responsibilities and Activities of the AT/Drill Instructor

  • To carefully review the syllabus in order to know where the students are, and then to carefully review the drill print-outs before each drill session. If you are not sure of the answers, check the book for the proper conjugation and write the answer on your print-out.
  • To begin and end all drill sessions on time and to find a substitute if you are ill. In the event of illness, contact your Master Teacher BEFORE the drill session in question.
  • To conduct drill only in the room assigned to you by the Registrar's Office.
  • To competently drill each exercise so that all students are engaged and active during the 50 minutes.
  • To encourage free responses whenever possible after the mechanical phase of drilling has been completed.
  • To collect workbooks on the assigned date. The AT/Drill Instructor will correct workbook exercises and discuss the results with their respective Master Teachers.
  • To not spend time explaining grammar. Refer the students to the Master Teacher for grammatical problems. Do not be pressured into giving grammar explanations. Leave this up to the Master Teacher.
  • To meet on a weekly basis with your Master Teacher in order to review student progress.
  • To attend the required AT/Drill Instructor seminars as scheduled.