MUERE FIDEL By Nathalia Sánchez

El pasado 25 de noviembre murió Fidel Castro. El mayor símbolo de la revolución socialista cubana. Quien estuvo en el poder de ese país por 47 años y entregó el mando en el 2006, por su enfermedad, a su hermano Raúl Castro. Fidel fue una persona amada por unos y odiada por otros, pero sin duda uno de los personajes políticos más relevante para Latino América durante los últimos 50 años. Fue conocido por sus políticas extremistas apoyadas desde la unión soviética y que continuaron incluso después de finalizada la guerra fría. Reconocido por haber logrado la paz en Cuba, luego de cerrar sus fronteras y lograr controlar la isla, como también por su polémica relación con Estados Unidos, que permitió que todo el mundo entero supiera que Cuba exitía. Para los cubanos que viven allá, fue una noticia que trajo incertidumbre, pues luego de 47 años no conocen otra cosa, y no saben que pasará a partir de ahora: ¿habrá liberta o continuarán las políticas socialistas?.Después de la noticia, las calles permanecieron vacías, se declararon 9 días de luto o duelo nacional, llenos de homenajes y ceremonias, pero la gente, al tener una oportunidad, conversa al respecto. Según la reseña de El País por Pablo de Llano (nov. 26, 2016) Yordanka Ferrer, de 42 años, al llevar a su hija a clases de danza, no estaba segura si decir algo o no y al final comentó con cautela: “Qué quiere que le diga. No me siento ni bien ni mal. Yo nací con la Revolución. Él fue bueno en unas cosas y en otras no. Fue virtuoso en la educación y en la salud, pero el cubano necesitaba libertad de palabra. Se vive con cierto temor”. Cuando Enrique López Oliva, profesor de Historia en la Universidad de La Habana, de 80 años comentaba: “Se venía esperando, pero no deja de causar una sorpresa”. Añadiendo “Esto marca el fin de una etapa y el inicio de otra que la gente de la calle cree que supondrá una aceleración del proceso de cambios” (Pablo de Llano nov. 26, 2016). Mientras que, para los cubanos exiliados en Florida, representa el fin de una era de dolor y represión para su amada Cuba. Por ello, en Miami celebraron en las calles la muerte de Fidel, como celebrando un carnaval, con tambores, bailes y gritando: Viva cuba libre!.

The Importance of Tenacity

I got to interview this guy -- Joan Soriano (YouTube and Google him) last week. In the interview -- which literally gave me goosebumps and made my eyes well with tears, I realized the importance of tenacity. What would WE do if we knew we could not fail? What would WE do even if we might fail? So what if we fail? If you know who you are to the core of your being and your core says that you are supposed to do something... be something... go somewhere... what's keeping you from doing it? If it's writing... what's keeping you from writing? I wanted this interview. I Facebooked him asking for it. He said yes -- but call my manager. I called the manager. He said no. Time to give up? I left an inservice in Texas a little early, got on a plane at 4:50pm and flew back to Denver. I got to the concert at 10:30pm, missing the first half. During the show I danced right up front and then went and bought him a shot (yes -- business expense!)

Read more...

How to improve your Spanish/ cómo mejorar tu español

Este es un pequeño artículo con algunas ideas de como continuar mejorando su español.

Primera recomendación y quizás la más importante: ...JAMÁS DEJEN DE PRACTICAR... Pues la práctica es el principio básico para seguir aprendiendo cualquier idioma.

También, utilicen los recursos con los que cuenten a su alrededor. Por ejemplo, se pueden retar a cambiar el idioma a español en su computadora, teléfono, televisor y principal buscador de internet, e inclusive poner en español sus cuentas de redes sociales como: facebook, twitter, instagram, gmail, google+, etc., y así tendrán que esforzarse siempre que las vayan a usar. Se que puede ser incomodo al principio, pues sentirán que les llevará más tiempo realizar ciertas de las actividades, pero estarean justamente recordando vocabulario y poniendo en práctica el idioma que necesita mejorar. Además poco a poco notarán que les ofecerán más información y opciones en español, pues al ser inteligentes los sistemas de búsqueda actuales, ellos empezarán a identificar su interés en fuentes en español e irán ofreciendo nuevas opciones. 

Otra alternativa es continuar leyendo, escuchando y escribiendo todo lo que se pueda en español, intentando siempre hacerlo de manera divertida y a la vez retadora, para que no se aburran. Las redes de bibliotecas siempre tienen opciones de libros y películas en español, Netflix se ha vuelto una opción popular para coseguir series y películas en español y no olviden seguir las publicaciones y el blog de Fluency Fast, donde podrán conseguir ideas y recomendaciones, archivos, videos y links que les serán de utilidad. 

A continuación quiero comartir algunos links de de fuentes en línea que les pueden ayudar con su prácticas en las distintas áreas del idioma, donde podrán encontrar artículos para leer y escuchar noticias en español:

Read more...

Reader’s Theater as a Reading Strategy

Reader’s Theater as a Reading Strategy: One Perspective

A Beginner’s Guide

By Karen Rowan

There's this focus that, once it becomes intense, leads to a sense of ecstasy, a sense of clarity: you know exactly what you want to do from one moment to the other; you get immediate feedback. You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger and once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake. Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en

Why do Reader’s Theater?

I was teaching a Spanish class in South Bend, Indiana Memorial BrainWorks, a division of Memorial Hospital focused on brain health. They asked if they could hook me up to a portable machine that measures brain waves while I was teaching. There is an optimal state that people reach when involved in a pleasurable activity like playing the piano or reading a good book or eating chocolate. This is a measurable state that Csikszentmihalyi calls flow.  (Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1990.Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper & Row)

 I am in flow while teaching Spanish. I am in a state of perfect contentment, happiness and bliss ... while teaching.

My goal, though, is for my students to join me in that state. They should forget they are listening to a different language. They should not perceive it as work, but rather as a pleasurable experience. Stephen Krashen says that “language acquisition is effortless and involuntary.” The brain craves more exposure to things that put it in flow, so my students naturally, unconsciously are driven by their brains to seek out more comprehensible input in Spanish. They do that because it feels good.

Why Reader’s Theater Instead of Decoding and Translating?

This is not a state that can be arrived at through decoding, which is what Wilhelm in You Gotta Be the Book  (Wilhelm, Jeffrey D. (2008). You gotta be the book: teaching engaged and reflective reading with adolescents. New York, NY: Teachers College Press)says we spend most of our time on. We teach students to decode words, to sound them out, to figure them out. That’s not flow. Flow creates imagery. We want students to see pictures in their heads. We want them to create mental imagery around what characters look like and what scenery looks like. We want to bring words to life.

What would it take to get students to forget that they are reading in another language?

When I see a movie based on a book, my first thought is often that the way I imagined the character is not consistent with the appearance of the actor. This is because I can see pictures in my head. I visualize the story as I am reading it. This is a habit my students often do not have. They focus too much on the words and not enough on the images. This very often makes reading an unpleasant chore for them.

Rather than decoding or translating or reading to decipher, Reader’s Theater, acting out reading selections, is an alternative that brings my students into flow with me. My goals are for my students to experience reading as pleasurable, so that they will want to continue to read independently and for them to see pictures in their heads.

Choosing a Reader’s Theater Selection

This article focuses specifically on books that I have written for four reasons: First, I eliminate copyright issues associated with using selections and translations from sections of readers. Second, because I am most familiar with these books and have taught them, specifically, more than most other people. Third, because either I or a student in my classes has videotaped short segments of my classes, giving me video to rely on, study and share. Fourth, because I primarily teach adults instead of children, I did not have to concern myself with parental permission slips and can easily use the videos.

However, Reader’s Theater can be done well with many readers. My first exposure to Reader’s Theater was at a National TPRS Conference in Naperville, Illinois in which Blaine Ray read Casi se muere while Jason Fritze and Joe Neilson were the actors. Successful Reader’s Theater depends a lot on choosing the chapters that naturally lend themselves to being acted out.

Here are some sources for readers:

www.fluencyfast.com

www.CPLI.net

miracanion.com
sabineundmichael.com

1goodstory.net
tprsforchinese.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-great-mandarin-reading-project.html
tprstorytelling.com

blaineraytprs.com

Useable scenes contain exciting or interesting action and motion, involve more than one character and often involves dialogue. When no dialogue is present, it can often be invented. What would he say? What would she say?

Reader’s Theater isn’t limited to readers, though. Any story with a plot, even the lyrics to a song, can be acted out.

Props and Setting

Choose props that help students to visualize the scenario. They can be realistic or ridiculous. A hat can serve as a steering wheel while someone is driving. Feathered boas, children’s toys, hats, Halloween costumes and even cardboard boxes can be used to make acted-out reading selections easier to visualize.

Set the stage so that imaginary locations are stationary. The house is on the right. The park is on the left. Maintain those locations throughout acting out the story. Cars must move to another location. People must open car doors before getting out. This makes the action easier to visualize for those watching.

The Process

Pre-teach the new vocabulary through Total Physical Response, TPR Storytelling® or Ashley Hastings’ Movietalk. Each new vocabulary word or structure should be presented in context multiple times. I pay particular attention to high frequency vocabulary. I want the reading selection to be entirely comprehensible before we even begin reading.

• Choose student actors to dramatize the roles.

• Bring them to the front of the room.

• Actors and students in the room are holding and reading the readers.

• Provide the actors with costumes and props, whenever possible.

• Begin reading out loud in the target language while coaching the actors to dramatize the action.

• Stop to ensure 100% comprehension by both the students in the class and the actors. (What does “wind” mean? / ¿Qué quiere decir “viento”?)

• If pre-taught words are still not entirely comprehended in the moment, it is okay to write them up on the board in both languages.

• Encourage actors to act enthusiastically and dramatically.

• Coach and direct actors who perform unenthusiastically until they do it with energy.

• Insist that actors follow the directions as you read precisely, so that each sentence is completely comprehensible to students. If the actors do not understand the input, they won’t be able to act in a way that makes the input comprehensible to the rest of the class.

Here is an example of Reader’s Theater using Chapter 3 of Las aventuras de Isabela.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nL0ntezkLqE

Setting:

Isabela and her mother enter a church in Mexico to take pictures. Mom warns Isabela not to touch anything with her hands. She follows these instructions literally.

Script for the selection in English:

I also touch all of the statues. I don’t touch the statues with my hands. I touch the statues with my feet. I touch the statues with my head. I touch the statues with my belly button. I want to touch the statues with my tongue. But my mom looks at me. My mom is not happy. She says to me, “Isabela, why can’t you look and touch like a normal little girl.”

“I am not normal. I am famous. It’s obvious.”

The actor on the left is playing the part of the statue, so he stands on a chair to make him higher than “Isabela”, the actress. The third actress plays the part of Isabela’s mother.

Look for these things:

How actors are coached / directed

How dialogue is handled

How comprehension checks are conducted throughout

How actors are supported and their success is guaranteed

How questions are asked of the actors and the class

Repetition of vocabulary and sentences

The objective is to make the selection comprehensible, but also to make it compelling so that students will pay attention and be entertained. If the actors are doing a good job of this, the class will occasionally be laughing. Ideally, all of my students are having such a good time, that they are forgetting that this is in an unfamiliar language.

Comprehension check

0:52 Yo quiero tocar... What’s quiero ? Class: wants.

Coaching / Directing

1:08 Yo quiero tocar las estuatuas con mi lengua. (Hand on shoulder) Mira. Mira. Mira. (Look. Look. Look. Coaching “Isabela” to look at her mom before saying the next line) “Pero mi mamá me mira.” (My mom looks at me.)

(In English to the “mom”) Let’s see your best mom look. Mira.

(In English…) Okay, like this…. Yo quiero tocar la estatua con mi lengua pero mi mama me mira.

Actors are coached in their body language and their enthusiasm and their position on the stage.

Comprehension check

1:45 What’s está contenta?

Questions:

La mamá está contenta o no está contenta? ¿Por qué no está contenta? (The mom is happy or unhappy? Why isn’t she happy?)

Coaching / Directing:

2:45 Showing the mom how she would whisper because she is in a church.

Coaching actors. Handling dialogue. Guaranteeing success.

Mom starts to speak and nothing comes out. I say her line for her. Then we do it again. Notice how dialogue is directed. Students who are unable to or do not want to speak, don’t have to. (We do not force output beyond the level of acquisition.) I turn her shoulders to face the crowd. I speak the words. She mouths the words.

Comprehension check

3:33 What’s puede?

Question to class

¿Por qué no puede mirar y tocar como una niña normal?

Ali: Es especial.

Coaching / Directing

3:57 Isabela le dice… (Isabela says) “Yo no soy normal.” No, como Isabela. (No, like Isabela.)

Isabela says it again. Coaching again to not be a whisper.

Isabela says it again.

Con emoción. (Say it with emotion!)

Interacting with the class / Positive Feedback

4:42 (Before giving the statue a high five) ¿Se mueve o no? (Asking the class if the statue had moved or laughed.)

4:50 ¡Un aplauso! (An applause!)

All the World’s a Stage

When we finish Reader’s Theater, I’m not even halfway done, and we are not yet ready to really read independently. The actors so far have had a vastly different experience than the rest of the class. When we are physically engaged with the language, we remember the language for longer. There is memory in muscle. Just as, according to Dr. James Asher, TPR helps students retain vocabulary, being actively involved in acting out a story deepens physical and tactile memory, as well. I want the entire class to act out the story. However, the class would be long and boring if every student acted in front of the class. The “All the World’s a Stage” technique allows each student to participate actively.

I break the students into groups of three. Each person in the group plays a role. One is the statue. One is Isabela. One is the mother. The entire room acts the scene out simultaneously while holding their books. Every third student is standing on a chair.

I walk around the room reading aloud dramatically while the students act out the scene they have just seen acted out in front of the class.

•Mark Mallaney also filmed himself teaching the same chapter using Reader’s Theater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha-6_JsSFWs

•Here is another example of “All the World’s a Stage”:

Isabela captura un Congo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4i8Vpi5XGk

•This example of “All the World’s a Stage” was done with a song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRx308Hf6xc

•This song, and others from Gale Mackey, are available from www.blaineraytprs.com. I also found this independently created Lego Youtube video set to the song.

•El cuento del gato (Gale Mackey, lego video / All the world’s a stage)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjVGBPGkaAw

Reading

We’re ready to read! By this point every word has been pre-taught. The selection has been acted out once in front of the class as I have done comprehension checks and asked questions. Then the students acted out the story themselves in small groups while I read the story again.

Now students will read.

They will ask each other if there is a word they don’t understand. If between the two of them they don’t understand they can ask me or write it on the board in the target language and I will define it in our common language. This particular class included a group of participants whose first language was Turkish. When they discussed amongst themselves, they used Turkish, not English.

Their first semi-independent reading should be a successful experience for them. They should feel proud and pleased that they are understanding the reading and it is not difficult.

This is what pleasure reading feels like. This is flow.

Adding Advanced Skills

For a discussion of advanced skills, I will switch books. Don Quijote: el último caballero, is a better book for expanding upon some previously mentioned strategies and adding new ones. Chapter 3 is translated into English and printed with permission on the final page of this article. There are a lot of additional resources to use with this book and it has fight scenes, death scenes, and declarations of love that are even more interesting to act out. Because it is in the present and past tenses, it is easier to teach in a multi-level class, as well. I add a number of specific additional strategies while referring to Don Quijote. However, Reader’s Theater can be used with most readers or any short story, song, or poem with a plot.

  1. Assign a class photographer or videographer for each Readers Theater section so that you can watch it later and have another opportunity to provide CI, using the video or still photos as a Movietalk or Picture Talk (Coxon, M. (2014). Talking Our Way to Successful Reading. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching 10(1): 33-37.)
  1. (Yo Soy Yo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoBtQglAbsE)

  2. Props for the Windmill chapter. Stick horses. Metal shaving basin for Don Quijote’s hat. Rubber swords. “Knight” clothing, made from cardboard. Two people to play the part of the windmill. A sturdy chair.

  3. Coaching the stationary objects. The two people who play the part of the windmill will keep their arms moving opposite each other throughout the duration of the performance. This will make it impossible for them to read along. Pay special attention to comprehension checks with these actors.

  4. Coaching Don Quijote and Sancho Panza: Really encourage the actors to over-act. Coach inflection and energy and body position and maintaining space. Actors often face each other rather than the audience. Coach them to play to the audience and to act for the laugh. They must do precisely what I say when I say it -- not sooner or later -- so that what I am saying is comprehensible to the class. I often move them by touching their shoulders to point them the right way.

  5. Dialogue:  These lines can be said multiple times.  Have the actors say them slowly.  Then romantically.  Then violently.  Then quickly.  Then with surprise!  Then from their knees.  Have them sing the line.  Sing it like an opera singer.  Sing it like a cat. Rap it. You will also say the line each time the actor does. Remember that I say the dialogue and it doesn't matter how well the student says that same dialogue. Take your time, as long as you are in the target language.  If a student is unwilling to play along, stand just behind his head and say the lines for him while he mouths the words.
  1. Rewind, fast forward, pause, slow motion. Re-do portions of the action in reverse. Then tell it forward again. Then reverse slow motion. The actors slow their actions to match your very slow reading. Have them pause in the middle of a motion and freeze. Then ask the class questions about what is happening while they are frozen. This allows for a lot more comprehensible input and a lot more repetitions of high frequency vocabulary while keeping the action fresh and compelling for the class. Don Quijote attacks the windmill, he is raised in the air and then falls to the ground and then Sancho helps him up. Stop. Rewind. Sancho UN-helps him up. He UN-falls. He UN-gets raised in the air. He UN-attacks the windmill. Stop. Fast forward in slow motion. Don Quijote attacks the windmill. He gets raised in the air. Stop. Rewind fast. Often when a character does not have a line, I might ask the class what he is thinking or what he might want to say.


The teacher is the one who determines the placement of those directions -- not the students, because the timing is important. Remember that your goal is to make reading fun and memorable and to make pictures in their heads. It's also to give them lots and lots and lots of comprehensible input.

  1. Pause after each time you say “Sancho Panza” or “Don Quijote” so that the choirs have a chance to interrupt by singing.

Here is a video of several of these advanced skills being incorporated and presented by Jason Fritze at the International Forum on Language Teaching (IFLT). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI_IH_feHmk

Other Activities

1. Very often, easy readers skip over a plot point that will seem to the students to be missing. We brainstorm what could have happened and what the characters would have said in the “Missing Chapter” and then act that chapter out while making it up on the spot.

2. Ashley Hastings’ Movietalk. This chapter is also available in a cartoon version. Ask questions and narrate while viewing the clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lDIYlc-V5I

Flow

Reader’s Theater is one of many ways to bring reading off the page, creating rich images and colorful pictures in the minds of the readers.  Battling boredom and fostering an environment of joy and laughter with reading, we can accomplish our primary goal of creating pleasure readers, who will seek out more opportunities to read for pleasure in the target language if they find the experience enjoyable. 

There are many ways to perform Reader’s Theater and many different strategies and techniques.  Variations that accomplish the same goals of providing ample comprehensible input in the target language and fostering an environment of play in order to create pleasure readers, are equally legitimate and should be explored.  Remember that we are trying to get our students into FLOW so that reading activates that pleasure center of the brain.  

Karen Rowan attended her first TPRS Workshop in 1995. She has taught high school, middle school, elementary school, college and adults, at both public and private schools, domestically and internationally since 1995. She was the director of the National TPRS Conference for 5 years and created the first TPRS Coaching workshops. She is the author of the TPRS ancillaries for Realidades and Paso a paso, as well as the Isabela series of readers (Las aventuras de Isabela / Les aventures d’Isabelle; Isabela captura un congo / Isabelle capture un singe hurleur; Carl no quiere ir a México), and Don Quijote, el último caballero as well as several yet-to-be published books. She has also been the editor of IJFLT (ijflt.org) since 2005.

She is available for school district in-services on teaching with Comprehensible Input, TPRS, TPR, reading strategies and creating CI programs. She teaches Spanish to adults as a full-time teacher for Fluency Fast Language Classes.

            


Don Quijote, el ultimo caballero, Excerpt, English translation,

Chapter 3: Giants by Karen Rowan, Published by Command Performance Language Institute, www.CPLI.net

One day Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were traveling through Spain. Don Quixote saw an army of giants. They were enormous. They had four long arms. The giants were about to attack Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Sancho said to Don Quixote,

“What’s wrong, Sir?”

Don Quixote was confused.

“Don’t you see that army of giants with four long arms?”

Sancho didn’t see giants. He only saw windmills. He saw big windmills.

He said to him:

“I don’t see giants, Sir. I don’t see big giants with four long arms. I see windmills. The windmills have four long blades.”

But Don Quixote didn’t listen to him. He ran toward the windmills and attacked them. Sancho didn’t want to leave Don Quixote, so he also ran toward the windmills. A blade hit Don Quixote and raised him in the air.

When he fell to the ground, Sancho helped him to get up. Don Quixote looked at the giants again. He admitted that now the giants were windmills. He said to Sancho that the giants were enchanted and they all of a sudden changed from giants into windmills.

Teaching with Las aventuras de Isabela

Teaching Las aventuras de Isabela

 

This is the Backward Plan from Las aventuras de Isabela.  First I identified all of the vocabulary words that could be taught through TPR.  Then cogates (words that are similar in Spanish and English) and then words that don't fall into those categories or are structures are taught through TPRS or PQA. (TPR Story-Asking or Personalized Questions and Answers.)

 

 This document contains stories for teaching Las aventuras de Isabela that are appropriate for the Middle School level.  I usually teach this book to adults, so there are stories that are a little more risque and personalized to the responses of the adults.  Fluency Fast Lessons contains the stories from teaching Las aventuras de Isabela at the International Forum on Language Teaching, (iFLT).

 

Day 1

Write all the words you know in Spanish.  Remember foods... numbers...greetings... anything counts.  (page 1)  Have the students hand this in, saving the back of the page for a later writing assignment.

 

Page 8 starts the first TPR lesson.  Teach these with novel commands.  An example of novel commands is below.

Write each word on the board in one color in Spanish and in another color in English.

Se levanta---------------------------stands

se sienta --------------------------------sits

La clase se levanta.  La clase se sienta.  La clase se levanta.  La clase se sienta. (Pick one student.)  Student A se levanta.  La clase se levanta.  Student A se sienta.  La clase se sienta.  Student B se levanta.  Student B se sienta.  La clase aplaude.  La clase se levanta.  Student C se levanta.  Student C se levanta.  Student C se levanta.

despacio -----------------------------slowly

rápido ----------------------------quickly

 

 

 

mira -------------------------------- looks at

 

va -------------------------------goes

 

grita ---------------------------------- yells

canta--------------------------------sings

corre --------------------------------- runs

se ríe ------------------------------- laughs

agarra----------------------------grabs

 

 

 

 

Self-coaching

How to Coach Yourself to be a Better TPRS Teacher

 

Are you Self Coaching? Join the Facebook support group and let us know how it's going!  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1290682521014984/

 

Two experiences impacted my understanding of self-coaching.  One was Greg Stevens, who used a chapter from Fluency Through TPR Storytelling to coach himself one skill at a time over the course of a year.  He posted the skill he wanted to focus on on his back wall and didn't add a new skill until he had mastered that one.

The second was doing a small workshop in New Jersey, after which I added a day-long observation of Jason Fritze.  After his first class my comment was:  "You're doing it!"   He said, "Of course I'm doing it" -- as though this wasn't the first observation I had ever done in which a teacher was actually doing TPRS.

Jason and I would later co-teach a Fluency Fast Spanish class.  While one of us would teach, the other would post butcher paper in the back of the room and write and point, silently coaching.  This was a terrifying experience and also taught me that there are no teachers who have perfected their teaching skills so much that they will not benefit from coaching.  It was one of the best professional development experiences of my life.  

Why don't we videotape ourselves and put ourselves out there "doing it"?  Because we're scared we're not.  We're afraid everyone else is doing it right, but we aren't as good as we want to be yet and we don't want anyone to know.

I have seen teachers demand output instead of Asking Stories.  I have seen teachers simply not speak in the target language. I have seen teachers turn pleasure reading into vocabulary translation exercises.  

But we don't need to start with a scary Skype observation by a TPRS coach or a classroom observation (although I admire the teachers who are willing to do that!).  Ultimately, we want to be so confident in our teaching that we don't even care if we are videotaped.  That is the end goal!  But it's not step one.  I will add steps to this instructional blog post.  If you want to try it, let me know how it goes.

I absolutely 100% believe that any language teacher can become an amazing TPRS teacher.  It's not nearly as much about talent as committment to risk-taking.

 

So here's the mantra:  Feel the fear.... then do it anyway!

SKILL 1:

Find out how much you are speaking the target language already.  Assign a student to do that job for you and report to you at the end of the class period.  Do this every class period, every day until you are confidently, consistently with no exceptions, speaking the target language a minimum of 90% of the time.

Rachel Dixon How do you suggest that the student keep track of the percentage of time I spend in Spanish? If they use a stopwatch, do quick comprehension checks count as L1 time?
Karen Rowan
 
Karen Rowan If you want it to be really accurate -- record. But what I do is use the class start time as the beginning of the class... Say... 8:40am is when the class starts.... 9:35 is when it ends. The student is seeing how many minutes out of 55 I am speaking Spanish.. bell to bell. S/he can only time the non-Spanish minutes or stop the stopwatch anytime I'm not in Spanish and re-start. What I saw immediately when I did it was that if the clock started when the bell rang, I could easily lose the first 3 minutes of class. It's was creative math to only count from when I started speaking. At the end you just divide --- total minutes in spanish/total class minutes = x/100. Yes... if you are saying the word in English, comprehension checks count as English. What I started doing was asking, "Que significa" (pointing to the sign that says... "What does this mean" -- and then pointing to the word on the board. I could confirm and answer questions and also do comprehension checks by pointing to the English word on the board and never have to actually say words in English. --- That took some time. It was one of the skills I tried to practice. I still mess it up because I'm SO worried about comprehension.

 

 

SKILL 2: 

Do comprehension checks frequently to be sure your students are understanding this level of Input.  

Possible comprehension checks:

Hand signals by students

Teacher asks:  "What did I just say?"

Check with the pacesetter students -- those who are slower processors -- make eye contact with them and directly ask them when there are words they might not know.

Ask students to demonstrate comprehension by percentage, holding up 10 fingers to represent 100% comprehension.

Use exit tickets.  At the end of each day have students write down:

I understood X%

Class was too fast / too slow / just right

I did / did not stop you when I didn't understand or you were going too fast.

 

 

No step 3 until you've mastered steps 1 and 2.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.  

Hint:  You will need butcher paper posted on the back wall of your classroom for this one. 

 

SKILL 3:

Focusing JUST on Storytelling / Storyasking, we will work on one skill at a time.  That most important skill is questioning.  The lowest level of questions is yes /no / either / or / fill in the blank.  If you do ONLY this, your students will acquire the language, but not the question words.  It's a good place to start.

What you are self-coaching yourself to do is ask more questions than you are making statements.  In fact, my rule of thumb is "never make two statements in a row."  

 

So, start your story.

Ask a question that gets a yes.  (Is this a normal boy?)

Ask an either / or question. (Is this a normal boy or a vampire?

Ask a question that gets a no. (Is he a vampire?)

Use the negative....( No, he isn't a vampire, he's a normal boy.)

Fill in the blank. (He is a normal........)

 

This is called Circling.  If you're a TPRS teacher, you already know how to do this.  But we're focused on "Asking" not "Telling" the story as a skill, so ask a student to tally questions versus statements as you tell a story.  

 

Your poster on your back wall should say:

95% espanol!

Slow Pace*

Comprehension checks

Ask questions

 

But... because I don't want my students to know what I'm doing, my sign might say:

95%

SLOW

CC

?????

 

At the end of each class period, ask your students to give you feedback:  One is still counting the number of minutes in the target language.  One is counting the questions versus statements in stories.  Continue asking students what their level of comprehension was -- anonymously at the end of the period.

 

Self-coaching doesn't mean you stop doing everything else you already know how to do.  Of course you will proceed with your lesson normally.  But your focus will be on the essential TPRS Skills, one at a time.  Once you have the basics solid, you can pick and choose which skill to practice, increasing your mastery of each skill one at a time.  Don't skip over them, imagining you are already an expert at the basic skills.  Someday you may want to teach someone else or mentor a student teacher.  Unless you've applied these skills to yourself one at a time, you won't know for sure if this is the order you would teach them in.  Run yourself through the ringer and see if self-coaching works.

 

SKILL 4:

SPEAK SLOWLY

A note about pace.  The average adult speaks 180-190 words per minute.  Mr. Rogers spoke at 124 per minutes. That's still probably too fast for a second language acquirer. To find this pace, find a reading selection of 100 words.  Read it aloud while watching a timer for one minute.  Tell students... "You know how when I'm talking, sometimes you understand what I'm saying WHILE I'm saying it and sometimes you know what I'm saying JUST AFTER I say it... like you're a word or two behind, but then you figure it out?  (Most students agree with that feeling.)  "THAT is the definition of 'too fast', and that's when I need you to slow me down with a hand signal.  I'm like a car.... press the gas, let off the gas... depending on how fast I'm coming at you."

 

In SKILL 2 the exit ticket gives you feedback on your pace.

NEXT

SKILL 5:

Coaching student responses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SELF-COACHING AT NTPRS After presenting this session on self-coaching for the first time at the National TPRS Conference, I have new resources for you. We used the first 2 pages of Chapter 9 of Fluency Through TPR Storytelling as our list of skills. The content of the handout (abbreviated from what is on this blog) is here: Self-coaching options: Coaching from the back of the room with a partner Videoing yourself Having a student / students record feedback Skype coaching with a partner (paid or trade) SELF-ASSESSMENT CHECKLIST 1. INPUT Percentage of classtime in the TL: Goal: Average repetitions per target phrase: _______ Average student responses per minute: _______ S= Strength WO = Working on NI= Needs Improvement 2. COMPREHENSIBLE _____ Comprehension Checks _____ Pace 3. COMPELLING ____Story-ASKING ____Spinning a Story on my feet ____ Personalization ____ Student responses (engagement ____ Writing personalized readings Making a rule to speed up language acquisition is like passing a law that pregnancy should last only 7 months. – Dr. Stephen Krashen Strengths Working on Needs Improvement Goal How will you coach yourself? How will you know you are done? “Your number one job is to provide comprehensible input. Comprehensible input leads to language acquisition. Your job is to facilitate language acquisition in your students. On September 16th. On May 23rd. Keep your internal alignment even though the voices outside of you are screaming about assessment and accountability and grades and students are bouncing off the wall ready for summer. Self-coaching is like getting yourself to the gym when you'd rather Binge-Watch Netflix. Don't listen to them. You know ---- Comprehensible Input leads to Language Acquisition. Every day. Send them off into summer excited to find ways to expose themselves to language over the summer. Teach them the theory so that if you don't see them again, they know what to be hungry for from their next teacher.” – Karen Rowan The end of the workshop contained this new coaching technique that I encourage other trainers to use. After a conversation with Blaine Ray, Mike Coxon and Laurie Clarq, all of whom were enthusiastic about incorporating it into workshops, I named it, so that we could all experiment with a new technique that had been christened! So.... the Self-Coaching Video Selfie is this: 1. Find a partner who speaks or understands the language you teach 2. Bring yourselves and your phones into a far corner. 3. Hand your phone to your partner. 4. Your first sentence is.... There is a woman. Circle it for 30 seconds while your partner both plays the role of the student and also uses your phone to record you. 5. 30 second later, swap partners. Second sentence is... The woman wants to buy... 6. Partner records and plays the part of the off-camera student for 30 seconds. 7. Instructor... have a third sentence ready in case there was a group with 3 instead of 2. Also, have your own phone ready for whomever says that their phone is full. She wants to go.... 8. Stop. Sit down and watch your 30 second video. With the group process their feelings about how they felt watching themselves. If these fears are the obstacle that keeps us from improving as teachers, we've overcome the biggest hurdle and done it for the first time.

Welcome to the Fluency Fast Blog

How to Acquire a Language as an Independent Learner

Ready to Learn a New Language?

Check out our schedule or purchase an on-line class

Speak a New Language