Hanging Verbs

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15 thoughts on “Hanging Verbs”

  1. I often end class with TPR gestures, but sometimes I run out of time. Good idea to start class with those verbs. I need a little more clarification, though–how large a poster is this and what’s the difference between the verb sheet and the poster of verbs?

    1. Oh, and this is off-topic, but I just looked at the calendar and realized how lost I was last winter when the blog was removed. I was left to my own resources, which were paltry and meager.

      Thank you so much, Ben, for finding a way to safely continue this community of CI believers.

    2. I think you can see how this works in


      Of course, this was in the second week of school this year but you can see those Word Wall panels – that is how big they are. At that time I was just building my Word Wall – you can see we are on the second panel here – but now that entire wall is full of those strips of words. But I don’t have any more room for the verbs, since this is not my classroom, and they would create too much clutter anyway. I am big into as few posters as possible on TPRS classroom walls.

      My point above is that I thought, well, since verbs are so important and since I dont know if they really know the basic verbs now in January, I decided to make the same size strips as you see in this video but poke a hole in the top of them and hang them on a hook and take them down after working with them to keep the board clear.

      I wouldn’t do that with the Word Wall because those words are so useful when the kids refer to them as a kind of instant dictionary during stories and in their free writes. If that makes sense. Lori I actually would hang the verb lists from one of those hooks – at the top, those little black spots visible with a light yellow around them in the video – on that board I am using in this video, and then take them off for the regular class.

      By the way, this is a good example of how we just did a few words from the wall to start class and then went right into the story, which you can see me PQAing and starting the story with Peter Pan there. And, to this day, that kid is Pan – I’ve forgotten his regular name. He’s Pan. It sets a mood of fun in the class when all of them have weird ass names like that, but it takes all year to get them, and maybe some won’t have their names until next year or the year after. But guess what? Most of those kids stand a strong chance of signing up for French in future years. Because they like the class. And that in spite of the fact that this student population is a very very reserved one culturally and I was nervous and scared as a new teacher to this school in this video, because the year was just starting.

      As I look back at this video, I see two major mistakes and two good things:

      The mistakes:

      1. I am going WAY too fast, probably because I am nervous.
      2. I am using too many breaks into English.

      The good things:

      1. I am visibly, if not inside, relaxed, which helps the kids.
      2. I braak out of the class every time I need to reinforce one of the rules – here it is the beginning of the year and I am the rule meister.

  2. Thank you lori, for your kind comment. And it is true for me. I started this blog for the same reason that I wrote those books – to learn by writing, which is how I learn. And for many years, had I not done that, my thoughts would have crashed together and driven me crazy because we are involved in some seriously challenging work in unlearning old things here. Then, to get comments and feedback returned to me like I do here makes me realize that I’m not crazy. It’s important to know that one is not crazy in this work. Because there’s some pretty crazy shit going on right now in schools. I truly believe that the models most of us work under are about to collapse as per


  3. Ben,

    My school blocks YouTube so I can’t wait to go home to watch but this sounds AWESOME! I’m so excited to view it….

    P.S. Yes, I’m still here. I’m still struggling. I’m still stressed and worried but I still have a spark inside. Sorry I’ve been so MIA. Btw, Happy New Year to all!

    1. Brian and Grant and a few others are MIA also. Where are you guys?

      I know that that spark will never go away, Jennifer. Keep that and go in fighting every day. Like in Moneyball, where the guy hit a home run and didn’t even know it. It’s a metaphor. We are doing great work every day and it doesn’t feel like it. But it is. We’ll see the results of our work one day. And it will be amazing.

  4. I forgot all about the word lists. I can’t believe it. What a great reminder. I have been trying to always put up on the board the je and tu forms in addition to the 3rd singular. It helps to have them posted to point to when questioning the actors and comparing myself. Through reading, I have popped up the 3rd plural. Truth be told, there is still lurking deep inside me a little voice that repeats over and over: “They can’t conjugate the entire verb in the present let alone the past.” In your old school you always had the big 4 or 5 verbs on posters. Is it the clutter/space issue. Just when I think I am rid of this verb paradigm demon, it rears its ugly head. Anyone else out there bothered by this? Is there a 12 step program for recovering grammarians?

  5. Take a deep breath. Let it go. They don’t need those reminders about endings in different forms and in different tenses. They don’t want them. They just need to hear the language in ways that are meaningful and interesting to them, spoken slowly and with lots of repetitions. Once you encourage involvement of the conscious analytical part of the mind in them, you are pulling the roots of acquistion out of the rich dark soil of the unconscious mind and replanting them in the dry soil of conscious analysis. There, in that soil, the language can be learned but never acquired. I feel the same way Carol. I will never recover from those 24 years of AP French grammar instruction. Oh well. Hey I still owe you a Denny’s from San Antonio, right? Next summer?

    1. My Spanish II students have started this new semester by worrying about transitioning to a grammar/conjugating verb teacher (the one they had last year for Spanish I.) I tried to ease their fears by telling them we can use the last 6 weeks of school to go over grammar to help them transition. I sounded upbeat and positive about it to them, but when the time comes (“looking forward…”) I am going to need all kinds of help from this blog. I remember something about a “filing cabinet” analogy, but that’s about it.

      1. One of Anne Matava’s hogs, in her senior year after four years of non-stop CI with Anne (that’s where the stories in both of her script books came from), when Anne presented the class with what a verb conjugation chart looked like in the spring of their senior year, since they were all going to continue with German in college, thanked her for the “filing system”.

        That tells me that they knew, without any memorization whatsoever, just the CI over years, how to conjugate the verbs. The difference, of course, is that they actually knew (had acquired) them. (By the way, I think Anne told me that this girl (the dancer in the French class I taught them, skip, if you remember that three years ago), so gifted in real German, quit college German the next year.)

        I want to be clear about what Anne did those years. We talked a lot about CI and when I said to her no English, she took that literally. It wasn’t like some people who hear the admonition about English and then cheat down to where they are doing maybe 1/3 L2. She went for it, for four years with those kids at probably 98% L2. Those were the results, the best group of CI kids I have personally ever seen in one place.

        Honestly lori, 6 weeks of grammar is going to go very slowly. Maybe you can do some writing as a class and discuss grammar that way. That might make it tolerable. They tell you a story, you write it on the document camera, pointing out the grammar. Just an idea.

  6. Thought we took care of that in Saint Louis with Laurie and Jacob, but I’m always up for an outing and good conversation with friends! I am not crazy about Vegas as a destination, but I’m registered and ready to go!

    1. Hi Chill!
      I’m going to Vegas too, but I am crazy about it. First of all, the truth is that we will all be in the hotel 24/7 hanging out with one another. Second, there are some things I’m going to want pictures of for next year’s stories near our hotel. I have always wanted an excuse to go to Las Vegas just to see that place, and this is perfect because I won’t have much time to get out there. I would hate it if NTPRS were to be somewhere that I’d always wanted to go and spend real time! I just want it to be somewhere on a direct (reasonable) line from Alaska so that I can get to my TPRS buds faster.

  7. yeah, I wasn’t jazzed about Las Vegas either Chill. But Michele has a point, we will be hanging out with each other. I don’t think I made it two blocks away from the hotel last year. Of course, I was really overwhelmed by my dive into TPRS. I can hardly wait to see all of you again in person. I am really grateful that Ben provided us a place to keep those creative juices inspiried.

    1. The last time NTPRS was in Vegas, I met a wonderful woman who had the most amazing idea. She wanted to take pictures of herself at all of the place in Vegas that looked like different parts of the world…..and pictures at the Wax Museum….so that she could use them in stories with her students. We spent an entire evening taking pictures in NY, NY, The Venetian, at the “Eiffel Tour”, under elephants, in front of Buddhas, next to Michael Jordan….it was a hoot!!!!

      I wish that somehow we could pull off a ‘flash mob” :o)

      looking forward to Vegas! (the adventures there at least!)
      with love,

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