Archive for the 'TPRS' Category

TPRS CI stuff

Lots going on in the CI/TPRS world right now.  I’m trying to add links to the blog roll as things come up.

So, two big things: First  Sunday afternoon, May 17 at 6 PM CST, a Google handout with TPRS/Comprehensible Input providers from iFLT.

Then, Martina Bex, using Carol Gabb’s acronym for TPRS–Teaching Proficiency is Really Simple, is posting a series of blog posts about getting started with TPRS.  The first was about the acronyms used, then second about what to look for when you see a demo.  Good stuff.

There is great stuff on all the CI/TPRS blogs, and, as I see them, I’ll keep adding them.


Getting to know kids and motivation.

In the grad class on reading I took earlier this year, the first session was all about motivation. Reward systems came up.  Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation.  All that good stuff.  However, both the articles we read and the class discussion led us to what TPRSers already knew: you can’t P enough.

That’s right.  They suggested getting to know your kids.  They suggested caring about your kids as people.  They suggested choosing texts to read based on student interest.

A secondary teacher in our group moaned about how hard that would be with 150 some students.  No, you can’t get to know 150 some students in several days, but we know how to do it.  We know we can use the Circling with Pictures (Scott) or Circling with Balls (Ben–I love the original title) to start to get to know our kids.  We can learn their names.  We can stand in the door and notice them, per Love and Logic.  We can greet them and treat them like people.

It’s a trick, really.  If you remember their name and remember something else about them, even if it is only asking if their colds is better, they think you know them.

Last year I was doing a get-to-know-you activity with some continuing students (I wanted to say ‘old kids.’), and one of them complained, “But this is silly, you already know all about us.”  I must have fooled them pretty well.  I don’t know all about them, but I know a little bit about many of them.

In any case, if the kids perceive you care, they’ll be more likely to work for and with you.  If you can’t love the kids, get out of the teaching business.

Making Connections

I’ve been working on an ESL certification.  It’s really kind of nice, talking with people who know who Krashen is, who know that language is an oral/aural phenomenon, who understand that inaccurate speech and writing is a step towards proficiency.  I’m not busy defending what I do.  I’m sure the ESL people have known this forever, but my original teacher training, back in the disco years and before, taught me how to run various kinds of pattern drills and explain terminology, so it’s a true pleasure to have instructors who talk about lowering the affective filter and reading aloud.  I keep writing ‘duh’ on our handouts instead of being surprised and thinking, “That’s what Susan said.”  In the next few weeks, before school starts, I’m going to try to write some more posts about what connections I’ve been making.

Music sources

At the Indiana Foreign Language Conference beginning teacher workshop, we were asked for some sources for music to use in class.  Besides the always wonderful You Tube for current artists, there are several providers of good ‘teaching songs’.   Please add on to this meager list!

Yaheeda –songs to teach French, some Spanish and English

Todd Hawkins  –Singing the Basics   Spanish grammar songs

Etienne’s Edurock   Available at World of

Sing, Laugh, Dance and Eat (Tacos, Quiche etc.) oldie but a goodie>

I’m sure I’ll think of more later.

Not letting them down

Last year I let one group of kids get to me so much that I let them down.  There were bullies, eye-rollers and several nice co-operative children, and I let them all down.  I didn’t stop the bullies, the eye-rollers, the bad attitudes.  I would try for a while and then let it go.  I’d call a parent or two, but never really decided that teaching them how to act was more important than teaching them French.

Well, this year the groups have been scrambled, the most obvious mean-girl moved, and I get a second chance.  The smallest rude look, rude comment got squashed.  There were several quiet discussions about being polite to everyone.  I’ve worked on personalizing, but it’s an uphill battle with some of the quiet kids from the difficult class.  “What do you want, Betty Sue?” Shrug. “Do you want an iTouch?” Shrug. “A sports car?” Shrug.  “A lot of money?” Shrug. “Chocolate?” Shrug. Sometimes a quiet “I guess.”  Arrgh.

But Friday we had a breakthrough.  With the difficult class I’d stopped playing wild games and defaulted to Bingo.  They sit quiet, listen to French, get candy, no chance for eye-rolling or making fun of someone for taking a chance.  No chance for anyone to be labelled a pencil-head or a kiss-up.  This year I gave them a choice, Bingo or Bonk.  They picked Bonk!  So the class of quiet girls who don’t ever want anything or express opinions or react sat in a circle and whacked each other’s desks with a rolled up newspaper.  They giggled.  They made mistakes and laughed at themselves.  The children without facial expressions smiled.  A month of being consistent, and don’t letting anyone be mean finally worked.

I’m never giving up on a group again.  I won’t let them down.

Circling Pictures a la Scott

I’m trying circling with pictures again this year.  I’m resisting the little voice in the back of my head that wants me to get with the grammar syllabus program–and even the one that wants me to get with the Raconte-moi encore program.  I manage about 2 more kids about every other day, and, while my classes are not as exciting and funny as watching or doing demos with adults, they’re listening.  Now kids are shooting their hands in the air when I grab the pile of pictures, blurting out, “do me!  Do me!”  (Sorry, not in French.  My bad.)  They’ve learned each other’s names and know who went camping in her backyard and who went camping at Flat Rock.  I’ve learned that at Flat Rock camp, the counselors had them eat mud.  According to the counselors, there is edible mud.  Wow!  What a story cue.

Confessions:  I still have trouble continuing for more than 5-15 minutes at a time.  I go to fast.  I feel bored.  I look at the kids and see bored faces.  Are they bored?  Probably not.  They’re probably just intent on understanding, but I feel bad.  I lapse into English.  I don’t stop English from coming out of their mouths quick enough.  I have started a chapter in Raconte-moi  encore with my ‘advanced’ kids.  I have done a speaking test with my 6th graders to keep up with the district syllabus (and to have a grade for them.)  I get all involved in listening to myself speak French and forget to go slow enough.  I haven’t done near enough pop quizzes to keep me on track.  But…

I’m having fun.  The kids don’t hate coming to French.  I’m faking the competent and confidence thing as hard as I can, and screaming ‘shut up!’ at all the little grammar goddess and curriculum covering voices in my head.

Wish me luck!

Musings from NTPRS

As my mind is a messy as my desk, random is the order of the day!

Working with Susan Gross as one of her coaches was awesome, and much better this year than last.  Last year I had to concentrate on being a coach.  What do I say now?  Am I being too picky or too nice?  Do I stand up or sit down?  This year I was able to concentrate on the teacher trying out her new skill.  I think I had a much better feel.  This person has some skills, let her teach until she gets the panicked look.  This person is already panicked.  Let me walk her through that.  Everyone was so brave to get up and teach in front of their peers.  Susan even coached me through contrastive grammar in front of everyone, so I think I finally get the purpose and the steps of it.  Maybe this year when I try it in front of the kids, I won’t look for the non-existent coach on the side.

It was magic to watch teachers improve their skills in the coaching sessions from Monday to Thursday. During the scheduled times, during the workshops, we had no time to let people move on, to let everyone have their chance, but during open coaching, people blossomed.  I enjoyed learning some Catalan (thanks, Charles), some Russian (thanks, Michele) and that Beth wanted to play Twister with Antonio Banderas!  People made huge strides and, I hope, left with some confidence that they could actually do this hard thing.

It was early mornings and late nights every day.  On Thursday I stood in the shower with a wet head, wondering whether I’d already washed my hair or not.  So I washed it (lather, rinse, repeat).  And it was a good thing I’d put my toiletries out on the counter, because I stared at them for a few minutes before remembering what to do with them.  That’s the day I decided that free hotel coffee wasn’t going to do it anymore, and I had to go for Starbucks.

Complaints?  Next time I won’t get the conference lunches.  The chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables were good the first day, but by the third day with the same menu I was a little burnt out.  And it doesn’t last long enough.  Not enough time for coaching.  I wanted to go to Donna’s advanced workshop and Carol’s workshop and work on a few new languages and see Ben and Bryce and Scott’s presentation all at the same time.

And oh yes, who’s bringing the baby next year?

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