Conversation About Starting the Year

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3 thoughts on “Conversation About Starting the Year”

  1. I was going to try to find a place to post this, but I think this thread will work just fine.
    Oxford University Press has put out “5 Tips for helping students to really learn vocabulary”. Note how at least four of the five tips dovetail with TPRs:
    1. Repeat little and often – that’s the advice Ben just gave
    2. Learn vocabulary in chunks – solid brain-based research; this is the same thing as saying “teach structures, not individual words”
    3. Range of contexts – there it is again: contextualization
    4. Use a dictionary – I think this one was a disguised plug for Oxford Press Dictionaries. A dictionary is useful, but we need to teach students how to use a dictionary, and its usefulness increases with the amount of language a student has. (In other words, it is least useful for beginning students – ironic, isn’t it?)
    5. Extensive reading – duh!

  2. As always, Ben’s and Robert’s words are gold, but I want to play devil’s advocate about not discussing the weekend with first-year kids.
    We talk about weekends on Mondays, in every class, for as long as it is sustaining. For level 1, I put up two lines: “On Friday, Bob went to the zoo (or Safeway, or a local hangout).” Then I start asking Bob about whether he went there. If he didn’t, he can give me another location. Then I can ask who he went there with. If the kids are playing, this single sentence can go on for a long time, and we can do some rejoinders: “That’s interesting,” “Oh, really?” “Wow.” “He was happy/sad/scared.” We can interview others, though often then kids are jumping off their seats to tell me where friends went, and I don’t need to ask any leading questions. If the kids are getting it well, I can add “Saturday” and “Sunday,” contrasting which day, where who went, and with whom. I can have a few celebrity pictures available for added interest. It’s easy to keep in-bounds with just those pieces of information in first year. The upper level groups can add what they did there, why they went, what happened, who they saw, what they ate, whether it was fun, whether anyone cried, and so on. And if I’ve had a couple of days with my first-year kids already, we can talk about whether they played sports or instruments at these locations.
    I would hate not to be able to use the weekend talk on Mondays with all my levels. It doesn’t require planning, is compelling information, and can lead to all sorts of good discussions.

  3. Nice. It is like building a one word image from a verb. My own experience is that it gets too wide too fast and thus needs too much Point and Pause. We each resonate with different things. It doesn’t matter as long as we are doing CI in as slow a way as can, with a million checks of comprehension during the process, like Bob was doing with those simple greetings in Latin.

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