Q. I am planning on giving out the questionnaires tomorrow or Wednesday, which I haven’t been using up to this point. But I just had a couple of questions about their use. Do you always have them be their “character” in class, their pretend person instead of their actual person? Are they always answering on behalf of their character?
A. The questionnaires make my students “larger than life”, a fact which naturally lends itself to more interesting PQA and stories. And the silly names – mostly in English – are the key to the whole thing. Are not the best stories larger than life with bizarre characters? I always try to keep in mind that the questionnaires have truly valuable information about my students’ personalities, and I must use them for our time together to be interesting.
Those personas come and go as the whim arises. I wait, sometimes for months, until “other part” of whom my students are can be integrated into class, and I pounce on any chance to blend the story or PQA with something from their questionnaires, if I can remember them. The key, as stated above, is in their actual name they wish to be called, which come and go as the year goes along.
The most actively involved students may go through three or four names in a year, or use them simultaneously, which is a triumphant thing, or, as with Anne Matava’s Hogs, actually die and then come back as “the ghost of” their character. (Some of those Hogs have had multiple ghost incarnations as the ghost of the ghost of the ghost of the ghost of the ghost of Madonna or whomever, certainly guaranteeing some fine repetitions on the word ghost, not to mention the kind of silliness that makes TPRS so successful as a way to teach languages.)
So the use of those names is all very fluid and depends on being open to the overall body of information that you have gathered in those early stages of getting to know them, which some of us in this blog community are starting to do again now in January to get to kids we may never have even gotten to last fall – believe me, the kids whose questionnaires (we have only done 8 of the 17 questions on them so far) have not been discussed are well aware of that fact, and very much so, although they may not say it to us.
It is cool that some of us are doing the questionnaires again – we can get a more highly personalized start to this half of the academic hear via the (unending) redefinition of who our kids are. Let’s keep communicating with each other on how this is working.
My prayer is that I am able to put aside thoughts that, because it is now January, I need to all of a sudden rush forward into more stories/reading (and soon they will be ready to write more as well) and just relax and do enough of the card/questionnaire work so that the stories we do this spring come to life even more via this reprise of the questionnaires.