A Presentation to Colleagues by Nathaniel Hardt

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14 thoughts on “A Presentation to Colleagues by Nathaniel Hardt”

  1. I found that assigning people student jobs, such as time keeper, structure counters, quiz writer, story writer, etc. engaged them immediately and somehow seemed to put them “on my side”. There are Fluency Fast CD’s of Linda Li teaching Mandarin which would be good to show, if you can get them. As has been said so often, she is a master teacher.

  2. You go Nathaniel! Skip and I just took the plunge and presented at the Maine FL conference. We did not do a 6 hour thing like you are doing, but I think you will find that the time will go by very quickly. I think we kinda rocked it. The vibe in the room was open and curious. Skip is so amazingly open hearted, joyful and passionate so this set the tone…what’s not to love?!

    I did a demo in Haitian Creole, which all things considered I was happy with. It really helped to not get all antsy about the outcome and just stay present with the group. I used a short script, but mostly ended up doing a lot of PQA / PSA . Only had an hour. I did the students jobs…”who?” and “where?” shouters, structure counter, timer, “journalist” and intended to have an artist, but I had the last session of the afternoon so not a lot of energy, which was fine. I gave them the “opportunity for employment” and also said I would not force it since it was the end of the day. They seemed to appreciate my intention. Enough ppl volunteered for jobs that they got a sense of how it worked, and it also engaged the group.

    Anyway, like you said, if not for the encouragement of this group I would never have stepped up to do that. The way I looked at it too, for myself and I think to model for others…it was kind of like a peer coaching session. I was not “polished.” I had never been in front of any group other than my students. I was just “li’l ole’ me” up there doing what I do…being myself. I stumbled more than once, said “oops, just kidding” and redirected, started over, etc. NO big deal. I like to think this might be helpful / hopeful for folks to see a “regular” teacher up there instead of always the heavy hitter experts! We are all experts at being ourselves, and this is really what we want to model for other teachers and especially for our students.

    One of our big goals, which I think we accomplished, was to do some myth busting…especially around the misunderstanding of CI and the perception that you have to have a certain personality / be an entertainer, etc. Also tried to get across that CI is not a “method,” but a way of connecting authentically with our students. “Speed impresses, slow connects.” Somebody just posted that…was it you? I put that up on the screen along with a quote that Laurie Clarq had posted on Facebook: “Millions of flowers open without forcing the buds. It reminds us not to force anything for things happen in the right time.”

    If you have not already done so, check out Eric Herman’s videos and web page. He has a kickass powerpoint on CI that was linked here recently. I will try to find it in the posts.

    You will do great! “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” Woot!!! 🙂

  3. Demo it in ancient Greek– method will sell itself tho maybe not use ancient greek alphabet for your extended reading (make sure you do a scaffolded one). Jen’s suggestions good. If you have 6 hours you could do a story! My intro German story can be asked in anywhere from 40-75 mins depending on how many scenes I want and how the energy is.

    My exp has been that in these demos, most teachers have zillions of questions so time as Jen said really does fly.

    I would ditch all the CTFL stuff bla bla– just say “research shows what ACTFL recommends: prime driver of acquisition is CI.” Leave it at that– theory/policy is a waste of time as Ben said.

    If you don’t want to do a story– and I think you should, because you have time and because at the end of 1 horu 30 mins they will be reading a 250-word story in a new language!– I would circle two sentences.

  4. I recently got an email from someone who attended a recent presentation by you in Vancouver Chris and they told me it sold them. So I think your stance on just doing as much direct demo work in the target language is probably the best. Who wants to let teachers interrupt a workshop to try to bend the training to what they already know? You will feel the energy from them – it’s like they want a spot light on them to bend the training to their own idea of TPRS/CI. Watch out for that. So Nathaniel, six hours may seem like a long time but if you spend any more than one of those hours in English (preferable much less because the method speaks for itself) that might be a mistake. I always make sure that the handouts* I make available on a back table cover much of what they want to discuss and then when they ask some question I tell them it’s in the handouts and get back to the CI**. Yes, I know that there is another point of view on this, that teachers who are new love to discuss pedagogy in English, but I’m not in that group.

    *https://benslavic.com/tprs-workshop-handouts.html plus Robert’s primer. (Those handouts do need editing and updating.)

    **CWB, OWI, PQA, extended PQA, a story, a reading from a story using ROA, MT (if enough time), L and D, etc.

    1. Wow, I’m stoked ppl liked my presentation. It’s not me– it’s the method that works, specifically the German demo and extended embedded reading– and I am recommending my attendees get on this blog and get a Ben book plus green bible.

      I tell people “I’ll email you my ppt so put away the notes” cos I want them to really experience CI. I think Ben has a great idea re: L&D. I should add a German L&D demo to my presentation. The problem is always time: I have never had more than 4 hours. What I could do in 6…

      Note that when Blaine presents, all he says re: theory is “input drives acquisition.” No theory, no bla bla bla, nothing– right into story. He doesn’t even PQA pre-story, he teaches EVERYTHING through story.

  5. I haven’t read the post much yet or the comments, but here is a presentation on this very subject that I gave at MCTLC this past Fall.


    Page two didn’t seem to transfer well from Microsoft PPT, but the rest looks fine. I can send you an edit-able copy if you’d like.

    A demo in there, if not the whole presentation, would be optimal if you can make that work.

  6. Thanks for all of your input. I wish I had time to get back with you now, but I am processing it, especially minimal theory and your reminders of what to do instead.

    1. This is wonderful, Nathaniel. i have done something similar with just my colleagues a few years back, learned enough to do a Japanese demo, even though I teach Spanish. No one in the room knew Japanese, and I think it really helped them, as you say, to “feel the helplessness” of not knowing the language. You will do great, and it brings joyful tears to my eyes to see how things are rapidly changing in our field, and to get to be a part of it with you, I would be nowhere else. Thank you for doing this, and listen to Jen: just get centered and get into the story with THEM. You can’t miss if you are talking with THEM about THEM. God bless you in this endeavor. Thank you!

  7. “I am currently viewing Karen Rowan’s coaching workshop from 2004 NTPRS to see what coaching looks like.”

    Nathaniel, I am so glad you are including coaching in your presentation and in the follow-up sessions. Just like we know that our students, after absorbing the language for a long time, are ready to produce. Teachers learning this method are the same way. After watching demos and explanations, there comes a time when they have to try it. And if you have a supportive, cooperative group, it’s a wonderful way to experience teaching with CI. (Nerve-racking yes, but helpful all the same.)

    This won’t help you for tomorrow, but I want to put in a shameless plug for something very near and dear to my heart and that is the “Coaching for Coaches” workshop that is scheduled for July 20, the day before the start of NTPRS. It took off from workshops that Karen presented in 2003, 4, 5 and/or 6. We started to train coaches for NTPRS, but it’s turned into a day-long, amazingly personalized workshop in skills for teaching with CI. Tentatively this is our lineup for the day. Laurie Clarcq, Gary DiBianca, Rochelle Barry, Lizette Liebold, Scott Benedict, Kelly Ferguson, Carol Hill, Janet Holzer, Nelly Hughes, Michelle Kindt, Bernard Rizotto, Sabrina Sebban-Janczak, Haiyun Lu, Doug Stone, Clarice Swaney, Amy Wopat, Bryce Hedstrom.

    1. Thank you for encouraging the coaching , Teri. I think that was the part people liked the most.

      They liked teaching (practicing circling) and they liked picking up more language, a little Latin, a little Mandarin and some Greek.

  8. I would like to say thanks to everyone for your feedback last week. At times the question I asked was what to do. And then it became what not to do. Although I could not follow all of the suggestions, I did take your advice: Skip the theory and practice. Now that it is all said and done I heartily amen the wisdom of that advice and suggest it to anyone else.

    There were five teachers from my high school and two from a middle school (actually only, the other got sick). I let them have some chat time to begin with since we were going to be three different schools and they would want to do some catching up (professionally and personally). I passed out sheets of oak tag to draw pictures of what they like and what languages they teach. I expected to use to do CWB, but I ended up not getting back to them.

    Then we spent a few minutes looking at the ACTFL statement from which the workshop title came. (It was called 90%+ Strategies for Staying in the Target Language). I wanted my colleagues to see that this is not just my idea (nor is it Blaine nor TPRS, or something else that could be written off); it is an official statement from ACTFL, the umbrella organization for all language organizations.

    I had thought that I would proceed through several activities. But my focus was on what I understand to be the core of TPRS, viz., circling. And I wanted to show them that they could circle anything.

    I started off with introductions. This was done in Modern Greek: I am Nathaniel and circled that statement (+/or/-). Then I went to another person: She is Stephanie and circled: (+/or/-/ Am I Stephanie?/ Is she Nathaniel?). Then I continued to another.

    To begin with there was some resistance to the technique. 1) Part of that may have been my failure to prepare them for what was coming. (I saw Blaine’s class teaching Spanish to the Chinese kids and saw that I could have done more explicit instruction in English. I do not usually teach true beginners. So when my Spanish students are not coming forth with a Sí or No, I provide the options: ¿Sí o no, clase? [Yes or no, class?]). 2) Partly it was the desire to discuss/analyze what we were doing pedagogically and linguistically. I felt that they had to talk some of this out in order to lower their affective filters. (One colleague expressed gratefulness for me being patient with them in their many questions and not feeling the pressure to rush onto the next thing on the agenda. It was similar to Susie Gross saying, “let the students ask you the grammar questions—it is more effective. Also, my goal was to teach circling, Greek was just the means of making it more real.) 3) Partly was due to the fact that it was all Greek to them. They were presented with real language and they were trying to cope with this new linguistic challenge. I had told them that we were going through a process that would help them to experience what our students go through in our classrooms and reminded them of that intention.

    After a break, I explained better what we were doing and I went through the routine again, including everybody. Things went more smoothly. I felt a breakthrough.

    I then asked for a teacher to do what I had just done, but in Spanish instead of Greek. Then another volunteered to do the same in French. Next was our Latin teacher, followed by our Mandarin teacher. One did not volunteer and another said that she would not do it.
    They enjoyed what they were doing enough that they asked if we could wait until they each had a chance to teach before we broke for lunch. So we postponed lunch for another 45 minutes.
    After lunch there were two activities. One was a Look and Discuss. I had found a video that I thought would work well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMlpAgcXz4c So I circled with There is a dog. It is big. It is a big dog. It is a black dog. There is another dog. It is small. There is a boy. He is small. He is blue. There is food in the bowl. The little boy wants the food. The big black dog wants the food, too. That took a little while. I noticed that during this exercise everyone was able to relax and enjoy the language. During a break they were giving unforced output.

    The final activity stemmed from the previous two. My coordinator had just become a grandmother and so we circled some sentences about the new little boy.
    I asked them to write response papers about 1) How they felt as a student and 2) What can you use in your classes?

    I was thinking that I would get to more activities, but I saw afterward that that would have been too much. After all, we only had 6 hours.

  9. For at least 48 hours after the workshop my whole mind was still reliving what had happened. I felt like a reflection zombie. I wandered around in a daze reliving the moment. I felt like whatever the participants had gotten out of my efforts, I was by far the biggest winner.

    One concept that really stood out to me was x+1. (This was forced on me because I knew that I would be working with true beginners in modern Greek.)

    What is x? X is English. X is Diane or Bob. X is California or Boston. X is Wal*Mart or Kohl’s. X is a picture of a dog or a baby.

    What is +1? +1 is “is” or “has.” +1 is a cognate “perfecto” or “bravo.” +1 is “yes” or “no.”

    I am even more impressed with how brilliant Blaine was in using English person and place names to increase CI, reduce affective filter, and free the mind up to focus on +1.

    I realized how much I take for granted with Sp-Eng and Fr-Eng cognates. Part of my preparation was thinking through vocabulary. I was struck and often dead-ended by how many expressions that I had depended on for latinate language teaching was useless for Greek. What a serendipitous moment when I discovered that a word I needed for my Look and Discuss activity was a Greek-Eng cognate (bowl). And that another word (cat) could be used for contrast because gato/gatos is a Greek-Sp cognate which all of the participants would know (all teach at least one class of Spanish).

    I realized how much Blaine and so many others including many of you have broken ground and paved the way for the rest of us.

  10. It has been a year and a half since this presentation was given. Today was a PD day. We did NEASC (New England accreditation), STEAM, and Middle School/HS articulation.

    At the beginning of the day, I spoke with one of my [colleagues] who attended. She said that she would rather be creating power points so that she could do use a la Nathaniel. She was referring, of course, to the Look and Discuss activity described above.

    Midday, I spoke with one of the middle school teachers who also attended, but just sat back and observed. In ensuing emails she expressed that she preferred to be eclectic in her approach. In time, our communication trailed off and I was felt that I should just let things go. Today she told me that she has been trying to use a TPRS and Comprehensible input in her classes. She has been following Michele Whaley and Martina Bex. I was inwardly shocked, but outwardly excited. “How do your students like it?” “They love it.” She plans to be starting a novela from Carol Gaab’s publication, I believe it is Brandon quiere un perro. She then mentioned Sr. Wooly and I told her I would be going to hear him next week. Where? TCI Maine. She is envious.

    One final thing in an amazing day. A teacher in my NEASC group showed me an article from ACTFL’s The Language Educator co-authored by Kristy Placido. It was turned in as evidence by someone in our department, but they needed something else. So someone anonymously submitted a KP article, implying that we do the stuff mentioned in the article.

    Now I wonder how much clandestine CI is going on in our district.

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