August 3, 2019, posted to the Facebook page, IFLT / NTPRS / CI Teaching
I have been in this field since 1995. I have seen TPRS and CI Teaching change and grow. Very occasionally, something happens at a National conference that is the catalyst, the lightening, the birth of a brand new technique that later becomes part of the whole. It happened in Naperville in 2002 at the 3rd NTPRS when Blaine, Joe Neilson and Jason Fritze and a woman I don’t know (we should find her) performed Casi se muere as Reader’s Theater and put 250 people in tears laughing. It happened at MTSU — Shelley Thomas’s summer language school where “Circling” was born between classes and the hallway (edited to clarify the word and directions were born. This is Berty Segal’s levels of questioning. We did not invent asking questions) and the idea of Fluency Fast was born. I think 2002. This week in Agen after #Agen19 during a French class with Sabrina Sebban-Janczak and Daniel Kline Logsdon-Dubois something new was born. As this new model of co-teaching (that I will endeavor to explain in the next few days now that I have slept ten consecutive hours) is introduced — remember it was created in France by French teachers — making it… imported ? and in need of a name… obviously in French. I photographed and recorded —- pretty much everything. #agen19 More soon.
August 13, 2019, on the 10 hour plane ride home
The first time I co-taught a language class, Jason Fritze and I taught our first Fluency Fast class in Denver, then still a subsidiary of Blaine Ray Workshops. We took turns teaching and coaching each other from the back of the room. There were moments when he would be telling a story and we were so in sync that I could coach his actors and hand him props because I knew exactly where he was going with the story.
Our model for the Fluency Fast Teacher Training is like this, and it has been replicated at IFLT and The Agen Workshop. Newer teachers are paired with veteran teachers and they take turns teaching. At the Agen Workshop, they experimented with inviting teacher participants to take turns teaching the class, a new spin. This year Sabrina Sebban-Janzcak and Allison Litten co-taught French.
The following week in Agen, Sabrina Sebban-Janczak and Daniel Kline Dubois taught two immersion classes. She taught intermediate. He taught beginning. On the third and fourth days, they merged the classes.
Tandem Teaching (Croisé -Cross)
They did something I had never seen anyone try before. They did not take turns. I do not believe that either of them had any idea that they were doing something new, so this is just an attempt to explain something that might be replicable by other teachers. In Improv Comedy the idea is to always say “yes, and.” Never no. Whatever one person says, the other rolls with it, adding to it.
Personalized Questions and Answers
Both teachers respond to answers by students. This clip is from the morning of the 4th and final day. Sabrina is showing pictures taken by one of the students the previous afternoon. Notice how both of them participate in the PQA.
Wednesday, day 3 of 4, two students were asked what they did last night. One went for a 6 kilometer run. The other slept. Sabrina and Daniel began singing a children’s song about running that they taught us in that moment.
Acting Out PQA
Sabrina pretended to be one of the boys and Daniel the other. She asked him what he did last night. He started running in place and, in the first person saying that he ran 6 kilometers last night. He sang again. He asked Sabrina what she did last night and she said she didn’t run, she slept. This stand-up comedy routine lasted only a couple of minutes, but was an effortless, comprehensible repetition and also provided a change in perspective.
Daniel is from the South of France and Sabrina is from Paris, allowing them to compare and contrast cultural differences. Crossaint-like, chocolate-filled pastries are called Chocolatines in the South of France, and are called Pain Au Chocolate in Paris, which set up a running joke. Sabrina suggested having the students close their eyes to better hear the difference and decide which was better.
Co-directing and orchestrating full class responses
They led a prepared song in the round, each leading a round.
PQA / Content Review
Some parts of the class were prepared the night before. Some were decided on in the moment. Each afternoon there was an immersion experience and part of the class was a comprehensible discussion about the previous afternoon’s activity. Because both teachers and all of the students were there, the content was known, but it had been largely incomprehensible. Reviewing the known information in comprehensible French filled in gaps.
Spontaneous, unplanned silliness
They talked to the class and also to each other. It most resembled a two-person stand-up comedy with audience interaction. PQA about Diane eating escargot for the first time the night before launched Daniel into talking about snails. Sabrina joked that his beard would be full of the snail shells.
In the art gallery we had created works of art with our eyes closed. Daniel shared his and he and Sabrina launched into a rapid auction of his art. Students bid on it and Daniel wrote down the numbers as students bid a certain number of escargot shells in exchange for Daniel’s drawing.
On the final day our class was in a restaurant and Sabrina and Daniel played the part of waiters taking our orders to submit them to the kitchen.
Both teachers relied on their previous knowledge of students to bring it back into later stories.
Class was nearly over and Sabrina asked me what she should do next. She said, I want to tell a story about someone who is bad at something and wants to get better at it. We looked around the room mentally reviewing all of the PQA. She started with some ideas, but no story in mind. She introduced one new structure and Daniel wrote it. (He was also more aware of the knowledge of the beginning end of the class and watched us for breakdown, writing down words we didn’t recognize and were impeding our understanding.) When Sabrina began, she told her story about Daniel, who immediately began to play the role of the character in her story. His name is Chef La Barbe. He interjected, I am Chef La Barbe acting out the role and dashing off to the kitchen for a chef’s hat. (Notice how this completely removed the necessity for student output to model perspective, “triangling”).
She sent him off to Paris to go to cooking school, where he was forced to make Pain Au Chocolate. She relished the opportunity to force his character to say “Pain au Chocolate” and they played off each other, him finally saying “Pain Au Chocolatine….” She refused to let it go, making his eventual “yes, and” all that much sweeter.
In the middle of the story, in which in order to become a Master Chef he must call it Pain Au Chocolate, the restaurant owner walks into the room to place things on the table where we will have lunch next. Daniel explains to him what Sabrina is forcing him to do. The owner laughs. Daniel quips there is no way he believes they are teachers.
Finally resigned that Sabrina will win, he calls it Pain Au Chocolate and the story ends.
Is it replicable?
Could classes be merged and could teachers co-teach twice as many students? Was this a special situation where Sabrina and Daniel, both extraordinarily competent CI teachers and friends were able to do something that couldn’t be replicated?
I can’t answer that yet. I’m going to try it and see and hope that I’m able to create a road map. In the beginning, Blaine Ray taught and we sat and watched and took notes and tried to intuit directions and steps from what he was doing. TPRS was created backward. First it was done and then it was explained so that it could be replicated. Blaine didn’t really know what he was doing or how to explain it until Susan Gross started breaking it down.
Update October 2020: After doing Tandem Teaching online in French and Spanish for over a year, we can say definitively that it works. Sabrina and Daniel have made an instructional video and created a handout of instructions and we continue to offer Tandem classes. We have added a 3rd teacher to manage the chat box and student questions and comprehension to modify for online teaching. We invite teachers interested in learning Tandem Teaching to begin by taking a class and observing a Tandem Class. We will continue to offer classes and invite teachers interested in practicing to volunteer to co-teach a class with us this year.
Feedback from one young participant:
I learned more French in this two weeks than during my whole school time (12 years). It is a wonderful possibility to experience a different way of learning a language. Also you meet other people which are motivated to improve their French skills. Every teacher should know this way of teaching!!
To register for an online Zoom class with Daniel and Sabrina, https://fluencyfast.com/product/french-intermediate-october-december/
Join us online or in person for a Fluency Fast class, and see for yourself what a week of comprehension-based language learning can do for you!