L’Histoire de Bubahkameier

We did some filming of an Anne Matava story called “Lazy” (Story Scripts Vol. 2). The structures were
le patron crie/the boss yells
but since we had an entire extra second day block to film (we decided to try to get as much footage of the story as possible), I added in two other structures that had made their way into the first day of the story:
vous êtes viré/you’re fired
il faut/one must 
I chose to throw in those new structures because, at the heart of this method, is the simple idea that we focus on/teach common structures that they don’t know. The stories are mere vehicles to that end.
In fact, the content of the story is not important at all compared to the repetition of the three structures in the story – the structures are the target. All other words in the story should already (in an ideal world) already be known by the students anyway. Again, we teach common structures that they don’t know – that sums up the method in a simple way.
So, on the second day, I kept in le patron crie because I hadn’t gotten enough repetitions on it the first day, but travaille and paresseux had been sufficiently  repeated on the first day to allow me to add in the two new structures on the second day in what amounted to one big 135 minute story that was created over two days (one regular class period and one block). 
So, to sum up, last Monday, we filmed a 50 minute period of PQA around the first three target structures above in this level 2 class, then we did those two days of filming that grew from the PQA, which produced tons of reps on the five structures above, and that set up the 90 minute reading – also targeting the structures from the story – which we are going to film on a block day this coming Wednesday.
[Please note that the reading class Wednesday will not be formulated or ordered like anyone else does a reading class, as I have my own routine for reading classes that was described here, I think, about a month ago. So I am not saying that this is the way Blaine or Susie or Bryce or Jason do reading classes, just what works for me and what I prefer.]
Since all three steps – all five hours of the the Three Steps of TPRS – will have been filmed, it will be a great opportunity for us to discuss them later here in detail. A link to of this story will appear here as  soon as possible.
Anyway, before the filming of the class on Wednesday, I wanted to make sure that the French is good. So I am putting this reading here to ask any French jocks out there if they have any suggestions about the French.
[One note about the tenses used here in case you are new to what it took us a long time to hammer out: we  – or at least I – do PQA in the present, the story in the past forms, and the readings in the present. Newer teachers, in particular, for some reason, don’t like that format when getting started with the method – they often seem to resist presenting tenses in that way, wanting rather to do stories in the present and readings in the past. I thought that way when I was starting too. So I will just say here, do stories in the past and readings in the present for reasons you will find out later. Do it even if it doesn’t feel right. Just remember to throw your thumb over your shoulder each time you use a past tense form in a story – it really helps the kids. At the very least, for French teachers anyway, with all the accents required in past tense French forms, consider how much easier it is to physically write the reading in the present tense – we don’t have to put in all those accent marks.]
Below is the story. Note how in readings we target the structures that were targeted in the story, while adding in about 30% new vocabulary to stretch the kids’ minds a bit. It is only possible to do this in readings because the story has been so recently deeply imprinted in the minds of the kids who think that they created it. Please make any suggestions to make the text stronger:
Il y a une fille qui s’appelle Bubahkameier. Bubahkameier travaille au Vatican pour son patron, le Pape Alexandre Supertramp IV. Elle vole des crucifix des riches et les donne aux pauvres.
Mais, quelquefois, Bubahkameier vend les crucifix volés, et, après les avoir vendus, elle prend l’argent et elle s’achète un bon verre de vin blanc au Bar du Vatican où elle boit à la santé du Pape et puis s’endort sous le bar. C’est une fille assez paresseuse.
Le Pape n’est pas heureuse de la fille à cause de sa paresse. Finalement, il la tape dessus et lui dit qu’elle sera virée si elle continue à vendre les crucifix volés des riches pour s’acheter de l’alcool.
Mais la fille manque du respect pour le Pape, et lui dit qu’elle s’en fiche de ce qu’il en pense, en lui disant, “…et si je ne le fais pas?” Elle aussi, à son tour, elle lui tape dessus, ce qui rend le Pape furieux.
Le Pape crie deux fois et frappe Bubahkameier dur avec la main droite, en criant “Toi, tu es virée d’ici!” Il dit qu’il le fait “avec la main droite de Dieu” et “au nom du Père, du Fils, et du Saint-Esprit!” Il frappe Bubahkameier tellement dur qu’elle vole dans l’air – comme un cerf volant – à Candy Mountain.
Bubahkameier atterrit au premier étage de Candy Mountain, où sont situés les bureaux du patron de Candy Mountain, un homme qui s’appelle Charlie Sheen. Bubahkameier s’approche de son bureau et frappe neuf fois à sa porte. Derrière la porte, Charlie Sheen chuchote, “Je ne suis pas là” parce qu’il est occupé living the life of a rock star Vatican assassin. En n’entendant rien du bureau, Bubahkhameier va dans le couloir.
Là, elle remarque une petite Oompa Loompa aux cheveux rouges qui passe, un petit sourire aux lèvres. La petite Oompa Loompa lui fait un clin d’oeil, et Bubahkhameier fait le même en lui posant la question suivante: “Que faut-il faire pour travailler ici? Il me faut un boulot parce que je viens d’être virée de mon emploi. Et me voici maintenant à ta montagne sucrée.”
La petite Oompa Loompa, qui est très gentille, dit à Bubahkhameier que pour avoir un boulot à Candy Mountain il faut être petit et il faut avoir les cheveux rouges ou verts et Bubahkhameier n’en a pas et est trop grande pour être acceptée parmi les Oompa Loompa.
Ces mots rendent furieuse Bubahkameier qui frappe Jen, la Oompa Loompa, en criant, “Je vais téléphoner à mon ancien patron – tu sauras qui c’est! – et toi et ton patron vont voir quelque chose! Vous verrez si je suis trop grande et si j’ai les cheveux de la mauvaise couleur!”
Mais il y a un probleme! Le Pape ne répond pas au coup de fil parce qu’il est trop occupé à regarder une émission à la télé qui s’appelle “Two and a Half Men”. La réceptionniste répond à l’appel de Bubahkameier.
Louis, la réceptionniste, travaille au Vatican depuis seulement deux jours et il ne connaît pas Bubahkameier. En entendant la colère dans sa voix, il devient très faché et il dit a Bubahkameier qu’il faut être moins penible et qu’il va falloir être sympa si elle veut parler avec le Pape.
Ensuite, il dit qu’il est très occupé et, étant travailleur, Louis dit au revoir à Bubahkameier, qui reste à Candy Mountain avec Charlie Sheen et avec les Oompa Loompa, triste et sans boulot. Elle se dit qu’elle ne sera jamais plus paresseuse et qu’il faut être toujours travailleur dans la vie.



12 thoughts on “L’Histoire de Bubahkameier”

  1. In the 30% of new vocabulary, are structures and tenses included in that number or is it a mix of nouns and verbs? I think penible needs an e accent aigu. I can’t get accents when I type on the blog. Are all of the details student generated?I cannot resist when typing up a story to sometimes add a detail or to expand a story in order to get some new stuff in for the 4 percenters. Aside from using the frequency lists, are you following a set list of structures? Can’t wait to see “Bubahkameier and the Pope” the movie. This story could easily get me viree!

  2. Ben, you said: “I – do PQA in the present, the story in the past forms, and the readings in the present. Newer teachers, in particular, for some reason, don’t like that format when getting started with the method – they often seem to resist presenting tenses in that way, wanting rather to do stories in the present and readings in the past. I thought that way when I was starting too. So I will just say here, do stories in the present and readings in the past for reasons you will find out later. Do it even if it doesn’t feel right.”
    I think that you still mean that stories should be in the past and readings in the present. PQA seems to go better in whatever tense makes sense, in my room: “Who are you jealous of,” but “Who has dropped a phone in the toilet?”

    1. Michele thanks for the correction on that.
      And great point about how PQA can end up being in any tense. I find it is largely in the present but yes, absolutely, PQA is best, as you said, in “whatever tense makes sense”.

  3. Chill:
    1. It’s a mix of nouns and verbs. If I want to focus on a particular tense, that is beyond the 30%. Like if you notice there are some future tense forms in the second half of the reading. I started messing around with the future with this 2nd year class around January – the actual not the near future which we’ve been doing all along for two years now along with the present and two past forms. I have never been able to make a story work in the future so I have to get it taught in the readings, which works very well.
    2. Nice catch on penible.
    3. I can’t put the accents in here on the blog either. So I just type things in Notepad, paste into Word, and insert the accents then. Notepad is the best. Then it all goes into the blog entry or if I am using it in class the Word file goes up on the LCD in class and that’s it. Also, the blog entry above didn’t catch it, but in Word I go to
    file/page setup/layout/line numbers
    for clarity and easier communication in class when we discuss the reading text.
    4. Yes the details are student generated except for one that caught my eye when I went online to look up why the kids find Charlie Sheen so funny, since I don’t watch TV. I inserted that line. You know me Carol, and I am just not wired to come up with details like that. So I had to do a good job of training them how to come up with those cute answers. What was really weird in this story was that I couldn’t figure out why they thought Candy Mountain was so funny until the Oompa Loompa showed up. I couldn’t even put together Candy Mountain with Willy Wonka. Younger, hipper teachers definitely have the advantage in this area of having straight up fun with some of the things the kids suggest in class. I just keep asking questions and act like I kind of know what is going on. They would reject anything I suggested anyway, right? You’ll see the entire thing when this video gets posted here or however we end up doing that after the editing, as I said hopefully in June. A professional film maker did it because it is also for the district, unlike the other stuff I filmed this year, so we will be able to learn more from it.
    5. Yes, I like to put stuff in for the four percenters but I have cut back on that. It pisses off other kids. Of course I personalize as much as possible, putting their names in the text. I did that above but deleted because the text was too long for the 90 minute block we have for this reading.
    6. No set list of structures. Never have, never will. I take Krashen for his word on this. The words will occur and emerge in a natural order. I just take Anne’s book and pick a story right before class and go. Otherwise, I would have to plan. Again, we have to accept Krashen fully or not. I know I am in the minority on this – teachers love to plan. For some reason, they think that if they don’t plan the structures, they will never occur. Or certain structures won’t be taught for the exit tests at the end of the year and they’ll look bad. I have never found my lack of targeting certain structures to result in anything but extra time for me and a feeling of freedom from planning. I think Krashen’s natural emergence theory and especially his idea that grammar will be acquired selectively by the deeper mind in spite of any planning or ordering of the language into a map is exactly on point.
    7. Yeah it could have gotten me fired and I work in a public school. First they put the cross on the Pope’s hat upside down and when I told them that I didn’t feel comfortable with that because I am a Christian they put a star of David up there. You learn to pick artists you can trust. I can’t wait till you see the artwork. It rocks.

  4. Addendum to Ben’s note #3 to Chill:
    Those who have a Mac or Apple mobile device don’t need Notepad or any other tertiary software for the insertion of accent marks into this blog. You simply write your French text on your “Pages” word processor, using the normal Mac keyboard method of typing accent marks. Then you cut from “Pages” and paste into the blog’s submittal box. You can do the same with “Word for Mac” if you also have and, instead, prefer to use that word processor.
    (On a Mac or Apple mobile device operating within any fully compatible word processor, the option key is used to modify the vowel keys that are prototypically associated with each accent mark. First you use the option key with the appropriate vowel key to type in the desired accent mark. Then you type in the desired vowel under that mark.)

    1. Staying close to the script is not such a challenge as it once was, Frank. I don’t know why. Practice I guess. I used to go in all directions which was a disaster. It made me think that asking a story was really hard. This story, once you see it on film, was very in-bounds and seemed to tell itself because of the involvement of the kids. I just went phrase by phrase as described in TPRS in a Year! in that last section of the book. We can get into details when the film is up here.

  5. Frank a really good way to stay in bounds is to focus more on the three structures than on the story. When we make the story secondary to the structures as we roll along in L2, we stay in bounds with little effort.
    The story line is merely the vehicle for vast amounts of repetitions of the structures. It represents the banks of the river; the actual water is the structures. So we focus on the water, not the banks of the river.

  6. As you say, here’s the deal:
    We maintain our own conscious focus on heavy repetition of the targeted structures while inciting within our students a conscious focus on the communicated content. They thereby unconsciously acquire the structures. In the process, we their instructors, unconsciously acquire an increasingly advanced state of mental, as well as linguistic, flexibility: a flexibility that we, in some large part, are unconsciously modeling for their own unconscious acquisition.

  7. Yes. I have learned so much French since I started this because I was speaking French all day, finally after 24 years of not doing so. Those teachers who fear that their target language skills aren’t good enough don’t know what awaits them if they just keep the faith and keep driving that CI delivery truck. Nice observation Frank, and another good reason to teach using CI.

  8. And, Ben, irrespective of the language, I assume you also mean that we, as storyaskers, are also developed an inceasingly agile ability to readjust our own narrative expectations and, profitably for all involved, pounce upon the potential of whatever good, offbeat one-liners may occur, as most desired even–or especially!– when they are totally crazy and greatly imperil normal conceptions of so called real-world coherence.

  9. Yes, Ben, teachers are supposed to teach how to create an explanatory hypothesis and set up proof its validity or invalidity, its factual coherence or incoherence with the real world. But that leaves out the importance being able to create, or at least comprehend, plausible internal coherence regardless of external fact: the ability to mystify, mythify, create emotional meaning. You follow my drift?

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