When we PQA structures, not all lend themselves to PQA. We only work with the ones that do.
” … was wearing a hat …” is easy to PQA because we can ask the kids if they wear hats and when and where, making it all very bizarre so that sometimes it becomes an entire captivating (pun intended) class about some ridiculous hat.
“… had a virus …” is not easy because who wants to talk about kids having viruses? – “Johny, do you have a virus today? (circle circle) “Oh, Johnny that is very interesting! You have a virus! What kind of virus do you have, Johnny?”
There are certain kids (I think of the Hogs here) who would, of course, say that they have the herpes virus, and there we would be, not for the first time, having circled our way into some L2 corner that is just wrong.
Another example of a structure we probably should best leave alone is the word “pencil”. Who wants to talk about a pencil?
So, as discussed in an another blog on this topic, PQA that we do in stories sets up the story and is not aimed at P per se, but is aimed at making the story easier to understand via the many repetitions of the target structure before the story begins. That is the purpose of Step One.
I have compared this elsewhere to putting in the big bolts that go through the floors of older buildings in earthquake prone areas to insure their safety in an earthquake. We want our students to be able to instantly decode the target structures in PQA when they arise in the story, and so we PQA the structures not so much to find out if the kid has a certain kind of hat she likes to wear but to get enough repetitions of “was wearing a hat” so that the story flows more easily. (We of course “go” with the hat PQA if it becomes a story, letting go of the story we had planned, which can be used another day).
Once the story is moving, Krashen’s hypotheses moves effortlessly into the classroom. That is something that we all should experience before giving up on TPRS – CI that is rolling, flowing, and housed in smiles and the laughter. It is easily worth all the trouble and doubt that we have gone through to learn the process of TPRS, because it opens up brand new, totally unexpected, beautiful vistas for us as language teachers. When we stay with the CI and get into that flow, a lot changes for us – we don’t have to think about what we are going to do “next” in our classes. we don’t have to worry so much about what to do in class, and we definitely teach a ton more of the language, even it we or the students are not aware of it. TPRS is an unconscious learning process. That means giving up clutching fears and the desire for control of everything.