Sample Questions for Beginning Classes using Star of the Day

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4 thoughts on “Sample Questions for Beginning Classes using Star of the Day”

  1. Linda, how beginner are your beginners? I teach French only to beginners (middle school) and I know that they are not able to come up with full sentence questions like that on their own. I’ve given them opportunities to try if they want. Many can hardly pronounce the question words correctly (They say them as if they are in Spanish).
    We love doing two truths and a lie, but I do most of the questioning, circling the responses, reviewing the three statements, and then the kids vote.
    This brings me to another question. Do people think that the expectations for speaking are different with different languages? It seems to me that speaking Spanish, for instance, would come way sooner than French, especially if reading is part of the input. I don’t speak Spanish, so this is just my impression.
    In general, they comprehend, read and do fine with the one-word, yes/no, and simple phrase responses, and can cobble together some simple retell sentences and things like that as group, but coming up with coherent questions or doing retells easily is beyond them.
    Am I missing something in the output department? Should I be doing something different?

  2. I observed one of Linda’s middle school classes last week and what I saw was unforced beautiful output. I asked her the same thing, Ruth – how could they do that? I wanted to know how those kids could do that. She gave me two answers – one that they hear so much input that they can output, even if level one at this time of year, but then – and this is the key you may be looking for – she has all the question words right there above the board. That is what she told me is the key – those posters. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t sat in on that class last week, but it’s for real. Her kids are output machines. All of them. They don’t say particularly long sentences, and they falter after the first word chunks of about five words, but man is it impressive. Of course it doesn’t help that she has 12 kids in the class I observed. If she reads this I would guess she will tell you the same thing that it is the question words right there over the board that gets it done. And then another thing that I observed when I was in there last week was how she gets the discussion so completely focused on interesting things (Two Truths and a Lie) that the kids genuinely forget its Chinese. Again, if I hadn’t have seen it I wouldn’t have believed it.

    1. But I have the question words above my board too! Not too high. I can touch them. I do all the time. They are there and clear and just as unpronounceable as ever.
      In fact yesterday, in one class, I had the kids repeat after me. I was so sick of hearing “quand” said like kwande. Grrrrr….
      So what about output in different languages?

  3. Ruth my kids do that when the question words are up there as well. Maybe on an intuition, maybe because I took a break from stories, I erased them all, two weeks ago. I was taking a break from stories and working with numbers, acting like Johnny Carson, and so I was using the question words a lot less.
    Ruth with the question words do you remember that I was putting them down as they occurred this year on one board and leaving them there and that I wasn’t using question words in the same way this year? Well I was getting the same kwande thing going on after a few weeks like you. The question words were still visible in class.
    So I erased the board and started glossing the question words more if they came up in class. I’ve been doing that for two weeks now. I don’t know if that is a factor in this discussion or not but I thought I’d just mention it. The thing I am trying to figure out is how Linda’s kids did that output so well and she said it is her questions words in Chinese above her board that make that happen.
    Ruth I sense that there is something really important in your point about kwande and maybe we need to study it this year. Maybe glossing, which Eric and I think Sean were big on last year if you remember that thread, is much more important than we think for us in French but not for Linda in Chinese – her kids weren’t mispronouncing the words as she told me several times last week but they were in Chinese characters.
    In French it is easy to mispronounce (est, even kwee, nord, etc.) when they are seen written out (I hate that too – it’s grating and makes me want to fall down right there on the floor when they do that and have a fit). Maybe the thing is to stop writing them down and not do anything but gloss them and not even do any reading until the danger period of mispronunciation is over (how long is it is for Eric to figure out – it‘s probably different for every language and really long for French.)
    So to restate: Linda has her question up in Chinese, not pidjin or however you spell that word. I find this most significant. The kids can’t mispronounce the question words because they can’t read them. Hmmm. Maybe we really do need to drop the question words in French. All I know is that Linda is getting visible results that I saw in terms of output last week that we never get. Maybe it’s not just us. Maybe it’s because it’s French.
    Dropping writing down the question words. Maybe we should try it. Wanna try it? Like, starting Monday? I really don’t want to hear another quand/kwande ever. It makes me want to run out of the room and fall down on the floor in the hallway and flail my arms when they do that. The French would never understand them. So how could we then call ourselves French teachers?

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