Some Video from Eric

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74 thoughts on “Some Video from Eric”

  1. I want more time to study this but there are wonderful things happening here. Look at the happiness of the kids. Eric has the discipline piece down with no effort – the kids behave because they are involved and interested. There’s a weird thought for all the classroom management gurus. The quality of the clip is key as well. We all should be exploring MovieTalk more. We kind of got stuck on stories. Tim Bennett in Arkansas has sent me some compelling – there is a key word – MovieTalk links and I will publish a list soon. But back to this clip – Eric’s style is so calm. It’s a good example of how the mythology of TPRS teachers burning out by trying to be cheerleaders is false – he’s just hanging out with the kids in the language. His work with gesturing to lead meaning is excellent. I never could ask questions while gesturing but Eric is providing comprehension not just through in bounds questioning but also through constant gesturing. That is an amazing thing if you have ever tried to ask questions and gesture at the same time. Notice how he freezes the frame, allowing him to get reps on each action involved in pillow fighting. That is big time stuff right there. This is a sixth grade class and he has them in the palm of his hand. And I’ll bet those kids sure appreciate not being forced to sit in their restraining devices in his class. I’ll go back and watch this more closely but I wanted to get this video up there. We can learn a lot from it and thank you so much Eric!

    (I would throw in one word of caution in here – in my high school actually doing the pillow fight prank would probably lead to someone pulling a knife out half the time, so we have to keep that in mind before we give our students any bright ideas. But yes, compelling works for comprehension based instruction.)

  2. Notice also that Eric essentially targets “hits” and “pillow”. I don’t know Spanish so I can’ t really hear what he is targeting, but I get the feeling that he is providing us here with a good sample of staying in bounds and working only with targeted vocabulary in this clip. Those who know Spanish can tell me if that is true or not. Doing that is just so key – making sure that we include targeted words in each sentence we say. I do know enough Spanish to hear that Eric is really aware in each question he asks of only asking verbs that the kids know.

  3. I chose 5 words (hits, pillow, fight, wins, loses) and 1 phrase (if you were the boy, you would ___) to target. That phrase is supposed to be level 3/4 grammar. But no biggie when it’s taught for meaning. You ever realize how the traditional paradigm sometimes makes things harder? Like teaching “para/por” and “ser/estar” at the same time. That’s the same idea as semantic set inference! Kids may mix them up if they’ve never had enough context and if you teach them at the same time. But if understood enough in context then the kids begin to use them automatically and accurately! I love that about TCI!

    The rest of the language I use is familiar to the kids already or made comprehensible (visual, gesture, translation). There is a wide range of Spanish abilities in this class, from Portuguese/English speakers to students who have never had Spanish before this year. I think there are 12 kids total in the class. During MovieTalks, they are in the comfortable chairs. Saucer Chairs are awesome! I want to eventually fill my class with just these.

  4. Just to add that this is proof positive that Eric’s insistence on hitting high frequency verbs from the very start of the year, and hitting them hard, works. Just look at these kids handling a constant flow of verbs, of course with the gesturing helping, without any real effort.

    What Eric is doing in this clip therefore demonstrates an essential concept of CI, that the kids should be totally focused on what is happening in the clip and therefore they are only processing meaning and they are not focused on the words used to deliver the meaning. This is the entire thing wrapped up with a package and tied up with a bow. That’s it.

    And if we think about the value of MT as perhaps more compelling, because more based in clear images, we should probably get some kind of discussion going here about how we (those who want to) might consider doing more MT and fewer stories through the winter. Just sayin’.

    By the way, go back and just listen to the sound track of this class. You will hear a kind voice speaking in a clear and inviting way to students who are in no way stressed and whose affective filter is totally gone and this is in a school, where affective filters define daily existence!

    No wonder Eric blows people away when they observe. Admins want to see happy and engaged kids and here they are. Just think if you were a kid in the back with all sorts of family problems going on. What would this class do for you? It would invite you in to join the fun and maybe take your mind off your difficulties for a few minutes. You wouldn’t dare act out because the class would turn on you – they want to listen to Spanish! And you wouldn’t go to sleep because it is clear that the teacher is not trying to trick or force you to learn – he just wants to get some Spanish going on in the room and you are invited! And talk about peer pressure. When every kid is focused and understanding, you kind of have to as well. Engagement through compelling input – Eric didn’t need to point to a classroom rule once in this clip. All the kids that I could see in the clip were at 8 or above on the jGR scale.

  5. Thanks for posting this Eric… as a rookie teacher it is super helpful getting ideas like this as well as see things executed well. Making a few minor tweaks from what you did I could see this going great in my high school. Ben, if you can post the link of movie talk clips you mention that would be great!
    Thanks again,

    1. Tim do you have them listed all in one file? If you do send me that so I don’t have to go back through your emails. I will combine them with what Catharina found in the Forum and we will have a little treasury of the best MT clips. I feel like it’s going to be a Movie Talk kind of winter for many of us! Who needs stories?

      Actually if we mix the two strategies we will be on to something big, because they are sufficiently different in terms of how the CI is delivered to avoid what always happens to us every winter – by spring the kids are tired of stories. By bringing in lots of MT we change that.

      All we need is a good MT category, maybe a new hard link across the talk for the ones you are going to send me and then we have Eric’s and the ones Catharina found and any others we might get from others – we could have a gold mine of MT clips right here, instantly accessible so that if we don’t want plan we don’t have to – just grab a clip and go.

      We don’t really have to even preview the clip; we can just use Point and Pause to that effect if we really don’t want to plan a class. I never planned a class and I didn’t even know what story I was going to do until the students were walking into class. Doing that is really good from the mental health angle. And we can use these MT clips all through the day from level 1 to AP classes – that is one of the beauties of teaching in this way!

      1. And you can always MT the same video in the future if it’s a good one. Just like a good story.
        I get the same kids for successive years, so this could work out. I use the same clips for all ages, grades 3-8, but I recommend that video be SUPER repetitive (like the video here) if you’re gonna try it with youngins.

        As the “retell” I have a Fluency Speak activity: play the clip with the volume off, don’t stop the video, and kids try to tell the story in real time. Either 2 volunteers retell for the class, in pairs, or the teacher can do it. It’s a good reality check. It’s impossible to apply grammar rules in real time. I see this in my adult class from those who are the grammar survivors. I can show them how useless it is to know the rules if the goal is to fluently communicate.

  6. Tim,

    There is a thread “Movietalk and videos” under “Specific Questions” in the “Forum” where Kyle Carr shares a list long of ca 30 movietalk clips. I stumbled upon it the other day, and realized what an amazing collection of ideas and advice has built up over the years in the Forum.

    Still no matter how much I read and reflect, if I am not 100% focused I cannot give my 50% to the kids. Maybe that’s what Susie Gross meant with “heavy lifting in class = no prep at home”.
    When some classes fail, it’s not always the kids, but sometimes sloppy me.

    Thanks Eric for the videos. I am going to watch with 100% focus to make up for today.

  7. And I really hear that about the heavy lifting in class, Catharina, and in my view if Susie said it then it is true. I would just like to add that we need to look at our salaries and working conditions and the students we serve (all of those things have varying levels of unfairness associated with them) before getting too down on ourselves if our classes aren’t perfect. We have a right to rest in some classes and I think that when we send the message day after day to our students that we are on a big CI fluency quest, it gets old to them. Part of the 50% rule as I envisage it is that the students really must do their half. I guess what I am saying is that on certain it is totally acceptable to relax and take days off to showing a video and just collapsing at our desks. Note importantly that doing that will be almost certainly met with about the same level of non-appreciation by any observers who come in as if we were doing the very best CI instruction in the world. That is how truly ignorant about language learning most people who observe us are and with each succeeding year that goes by I am more and more convinced of the truth of that statement. Bottom line, our mental health comes first and our instruction comes second. Eric has scored a coup in that he is probably not even aware that he is working at a job right now in that video. He is just hanging out. That is a place to be in our instruction but again, if it means handing them a book to do some SSR for the entire period (maybe you can’t do that with your levels but we in high schools can and do) then there’s nothing wrong with that. When Susie said heavy lifting in class she didn’t mean we have to lose our balance and sense of peacefulness. The method provides that naturally and the challenge for us is to find that piece of CI instruction that is soft and easy and get in that place and stay there. Eric gives us a good model for that above. I believe that we are meant to relax in our lives and to trust that it will all turn out all right. Let’s bring that into schools. It’s needed. I am humbled by the progress we have all made in that direction lately. I feel like we as a group after so many hard years are starting to feel the beginning upward swing in the exponential curve. We are doing this. Unbelievably and against all odds, we are figuring out ways to be successful using comprehensible input in our classrooms. Yes, many of our classes will suck. That is a given. But many will not.

    1. Thank you Ben again, for putting things into perspective the way you do so nicely.

      I agree that what stands out at first, watching Eric teach, is how much he enjoys being with the kids and them with him. Eric also takes a relatively difficult structure and manages to “teach” it by using it naturally, as it comes up in the clip. As a student I acquired it watching the video. Eric makes it look easy, but is really juggling 100s of pingpong balls at once and has the courage and generosity to let us watch and learn. 2008 may have been a good TPRS vintage, but I think 2014 is right up there.

  8. I got it thanks, Catharina.

    Also, Eric talks about what he calls “MT scripts.” here –

    These are short, 3 structure repetitive scenes (just like a Matava/Tripp script) written in English that correspond to an MT. I already have a lot written in Spanish and would love to write more and make accessible in English. It would be easy to include an “extended/embedded” version. The difference is that there would not be an underlined, story-asked variable, since MT is storytelling, not storyasking.

    1. Yes. I sometimes TPRS the structures from the MT. More reps. It may be a good idea to do this at some future time, in order to recycle the structures. For example, this MT script would be easy. . .

      Bob fights with _Mary_. He fights with a _chicken_. She fights with a _sofa_. He hits her in the _toe_. He _wins_ the fight.

      or. . . a story in which Bob never wins or never loses. Or a story in which Bob doesn’t fight fair.

  9. Lets’ focus on this idea of generating a reading from a MovieTalk clip. To be able to get a reading generated from these clips is new and important. Then, after the reading, to go back and ask for retells from the kids is not unreasonable.

    As far as I know, the idea of generating a reading and asking for retells from a MT clip here are brand new and proof of the absolute flexibility of this way of teaching.

    It would not be difficult to:

    1. use the target structures from the MT clip to write a script for the next day. As Eric pointed out somewhere, this would be story asking (of the new story) and not story telling (of the MT clip). In this way we personalize the MT clip much more.
    2. then just as we do in Step 3 of TPRS we would generate a reading, and after that a retell along with all the other follow up stuff we do like dictee, Textivate, quick quizzes, etc.

    In this way, we could probably take a two minute MT clip and generate at least a week’s worth of comprehensible input from it.

    1. This year & last, I did a lot of reading in addition to MovieTalk around a full-length Chinese movie. It’s a great film per Ashley Hastings original design for Movietalk. I did a TPRS sequence with key phrases pulled from a section of about 15 min. of film. This year I was finding what the Chinese 4 class didn’t know — so I actually MovieTalked, asking for them to get me to clarify anything they didn’t understand that I said, and then I selected 3-4 targets and worked with those the rest of the week, making up readings based on our discussions as well as sometimes summarizing the movie so far. It’s good. I need some more Movietalk short clips with them – they liked that long movie unit a lot.

    2. The 3-step TPRS process can be applied to anything. My kids read MTs. Often I just rewrite the MT. Storytelling. But then, you can PQA/parallel the story when you read. And sometimes I embed PQA questions into the reading (see Frozen reading in resources linked). I’m sure I’ve shared this before: (video, screenshot reading, and text only). Work done for you (if you teach Spanish).

      1. Eric, I know I’ve seen a bit of this before, but never like this with the 3 parts and such extensive reading material. I actually feel kind of bad for the non-Spanish teachers right now. This is an amazing resource!

        Thank you for all the time you’ve put into developing these, and for sharing them with us so freely.

        Do you typically watch first while stopping and narrating/asking, and then read with pictures, and then read without pictures? Just curious what you’ve found works best for you.

        1. Yes. Share it. It’s linked from my school webpage, along with other resources.

          A few times we’ve read a short paragraph with the target structures before we MT. Usually, I MT before we read. We then read with pictures. We don’t read the text-only version. You could. Or it could be used for assessment purposes. Both screenshot and text-only versions are printed out and binded for reading during FVR.

          1. Eric,
            I really appreciate your sharing these valuable documents! As a first year TPRS teacher this is so great for my mental health when I am trying to process all of the new things.

            I have used the iPad MT slideshow a few times with Spanish 3, following the reading at the bottom. Today it went a little flat with Spanish 2. My students didn’t know a lot of the words, and I think it got overwhelming. Would you just show the clips without the script at the bottom and just talk about it?
            Thanks again,

          2. Yeah. MT it first. The reading should aim for 95-100% words they heard from the MT. So, either ignore the reading and just Look & Discuss the screenshots or change the text.

      2. Wow! Saving these for the long winter when kids get squirrely with novels and stories.

        I’ve taken a stab at Movie Talk in the past (and have just posted the Monster’s Inc. clip I use along with the reading to my website), but I love how you’re stretching it with personalized questions & predictions. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. And lest we stray too far from what got us here, and what you essentially did with that Chinese 4 class Diane, was what we all do when we do comprehensible input, whatever the external form of the strategy we are using looks like:

    1. We find something interesting hopefully compelling and put the focus of the students on translating meaning and not focusing on the words as we talk about it or read it. In that way, with reading, for example, we try to get them to read the text like it’s a movie in their minds (Susan Gross). The meaning hides, camouflages, the words. This is true also with stories and in MT. So as the kids focus on the meaning, the words slip by the guards of the unconscious mind in a massive transfer of the little bits of information coded in word form. It’s like sending email messages, which break up into little bits and get scattered through all sorts of computers to be reassembled at the desired end point. The words go into the unconscious mind to add to the building of the language system while the message goes into the conscious mind. In this case Diane it was those 15′ you chose for your class that you chose to get your students focused on, to tell you as they focused on the message what they didn’t know in terms of the words.
    2. We establish meaning for what they didn’t know. In this case they self-selected what they didn’t know, which is a good idea for upper level teachers, a good tactic. Want to know what to teach them? Ask them to identify (in this case via the movie text you chose) what that is. Yes that identification of vocabulary was conscious on their part, but, and this is such a key point, you did not choose to do worksheets with them to teach them the words they didn’t know. That would have kept everything in the conscious mind. You chose to work with the new material to them in an unconscious way, via CI activities and via the MT selection itself. We saw Eric doing the same thing in his video today. We always seem to forget that comprehensible doesn’t mean it’s a conscious process. It’s not; the students focus on the message and then the words, like butterflies, sneak under the radar unnoticed by the conscious mind and that’s how it happens. Why do I rant about this so much here? Because when we forget how languages are really acquired, we forget to teach that way, in the way Diane did with this Chinese class using MT.
    3. Then we work with that new material so that the students are focused on meaning. (I assume you mean just presenting the new targets in PQA or any other comprehensible setting.) You did that for “the rest of the week”. Yes. It takes a lot of reps for the magic to happen. How many of us are getting to few reps and therefore underserving our students’ deeper minds these days in November? Why? What’s the rush?
    4. Make up readings with the targets in them.

    What will be the result? They will understand the MT clip that they didn’t before because they heard and processed the language for meaning with Diana, who activated their deeper minds in the process all week. The did not think about the words.

    Simplified, the process is:

    1. Establish meaning, practice the targets via PQA, etc.
    2. Get reps on the targets (MT, story, L and D, etc.)
    3. Read.

    Do this any way you like; the core is always the same. The external form only changes. What I sense about Diane’s work in general is that she has flexibility to pick the right strategy in terms of the external form to get max results. That’s just a gift, and a good one because too many people think that there is a formula for teaching this way, which really confuses people and leaves our work on the fringes of language education. There are only the three points in the process described above, and they come from Blaine Ray and in his own journey took the form of the Three Steps of TPRS. It changes externally only.

  11. So I know that for me I avoided MT for a long time because I was very happy with stories but I shouldn’t have avoided it. MT brings a heaping platter of compelling input every time whereas stories only bring it part of the time, less than 25% of the time. The future of this work may just be in MT. The new acronym could well be TPRMT – Teaching Proficiency with Reading and Movie Talk.

    The only awkward thing for me about MT is the Step 1 part of all we do – establishing meaning. My question is how we do that in MT. Do we have to watch the clip and carefully pick structures that the class doesn’t know and teach them first as we do in stories? I keep seeing Eric saying just start the clip. I’m trying to start a thread here, obviously, that talks about some of the mechanical details of MovieTalk so that’s my lead-in question above. Why am I doing that? Because if we don’t do MT then we’re dumb asses.

    1. That is what I am trying to figure out as well. I loved Eric’s demo video about the pillow fight, and he is such a natural with MT. But it doesn’t feel natural when I do it. I know I am new at all of this, so I’m not down on myself. I’m just trying to get better at it. I wanted to teach the structure with a laughing baby video, because my kids know cries, but not laughs or smiles. So, I might just go with it, but I’m afraid it will be so short and I will run out of things to say. Can I get enough out of laughs and smiles? Or do I add in that the dad tears the paper, which makes more new structures?

  12. Katie my advice is to be extremely careful before introducing ANY new structures from those that you targeted originally. The kids cannot handle more than a few structures at a time. Just keep playing off of the kids with the structures you choose.

    I once did a two and a half hour class of adults one evening on that verb smiles. It is written up as Sample Story C in TPRS in a Year! I still remember that class even though it was over ten years ago. I had those adults believing that there was actually a dog in the front of the classroom with a big square head. I used the Portrait Physique, also in that same book, and just kept going.

    I spun out a lot to ask personalized questions like if different students were smiling and if they weren’t I waited them out until they did. Of course, talk about the dad tearing the paper but only if before showing the clip you have decided that you want to teach “tears”. It all depends on what you want to teach in this work.

    So here I think that I just answered my own question about targeting structures first in MT. We are the teachers, so I guess we have to watch the video in advance and pick out what we want to teach. If an MT clip that is 8 minutes long allows us to do that with two or three structures picked out from the first three minutes of the clip, I guess we just turn the clip off at that point.

    I do worry that some of us will go overly wide and out of bounds with MT. Because we like to teach so much. But our kids can’t handle it when we do that. So I guess we pick two or three structures – one is just fine – and stop. The worst thing we can do is go wide with MT.

    1. As long as we’re not going out-of-bounds, though, the fact that MovieTalk has all that compelling visual help means that it does allow for lots and lots of recycling of previous language. I have found that students contribute some of it based on what they see, which is really fun. In this, too, we don’t want to leave off new targets we’re structuring the content around, but it is a nice opportunity for some non-targeted “repeat” input.

      1. I’ve done both. Targeted & non-targeted MTs. The link I shared separates the videos & readings into those 2 categories. Non-targeted works, as Diane says, IF you can tell the story mostly with recycled/already familiar language.

        Because of the visual, an MT does allow you to point at anything unfamiliar and have it still be highly comprehensible, so you can feed your superstars more vocabulary. In that way, MT may be better for building vocabulary, which does give the students more to answer with in the target language during TPRS. My classes naturally like to mix MT events/characters into the TPRS stories. At the same time, you still need to target, because there are kids who need those concentrated reps.

        If I want to use the MT to teach new language, then I look for a video with a repetitive plot, so I can target words/phrases. I do step 1 (establish meaning) before a MT, which for me, in the case of an MT, usually consists of translation and TPR – the first 10:30 of the video I shared.

        MT is less tiring on me than TPRS.

        1. Yes, what I did with the full-length movie in Chinese 4 was non-targeted first so that I could find targets — I was new to their class and they’d had years of Chinese, but I didn’t know what had stuck with them. It was a nice start; I think it felt challenging to them, but their listening comprehension was really helped and I found a sense of where they really were without making them feel shamed, I think. It was so different from their previous teacher, too, which I also wanted.

          I had a superstar student write down (in approximate pinyin) words that I said while narrating that they didn’t understand. I picked from those and targeted those I find most important after the MovieTalk day. (It was Monday for about 6 weeks spending 15 min. of movie through the 50-minute class time, then PQA and other aural work and then reading the rest of the week.)

      2. ya. For me the single biggest best thing about movietalk is that you can make any video as simple or as complex as I want. For example, for “Chicken or the Egg?”, you can use it if the kids know wants/loves (“quiere” in Spanish), goes, eats, has, and say 10 nouns. You could also do it in 4th year and talk about the wall textures or the pig’s clothes, etc.

        And if you can’t remember what you’ve already done– as I did in my first 2 years doing “the freewheelin’ c.i.” as Ben calls it, you say something, and if you get no/weak response, boom, you start there.

    2. Thanks for the good advice, Ben. It is a struggle to not go wide, because there always seem to be some many words that are “necessary”. Eric’s video helped me a lot to know how to do MT, so yesterday’s MT went pretty well.

      Something that has been bugging me lately is that when students do their writings a few will ask how do you say this or that. So I was thinking that to talk about this particular video I would need to use tears paper so they wouldn’t ask about it during the MT or later. But I don’t think it’s really an important word to know, since I had to look it up to be sure which word to use.

      I tell students to work around it if they don’t know how to say something in their writing. I’m not even sure that I would do a writing for this MT, but if a pretty low frequency word is high frequency in a MT or story, would you put it out there? Circle it, or not circle it? Sometimes little details like this make me stall.

      1. Katie, do your kids read the story before they write? If so, then they should have already seen all they need to rewrite the story.

        I give kids the low-frequency words to tell the story, but I’m not giving them high reps on it. For example, I did Ups from Aniboom this week and so I taught “stilts” and “mailbox” and some other low frequency words. Maybe, leave them on the board while the kids write.

        I’m lucky in that no one pressures me to have the kids write. So we don’t. Not at all.

        1. Eric, when teaching 3rd graders do you think reading is helpful or confusing?

          I am trying to focus entirely on the oral-aural part of the language this year. I do write some words on the board with stick figures illustrations, and if we sing a song I let the kids see the words.

          I just wonder if there are any real benefits to have beginner students (kids) read (write?) in a FL class that only meets twice/week for 30mn.

          1. I don’t have 3rd and 4th graders read, besides translating targets on the board. I’m focusing more on aural input in all grades this year. No grade writes.

        2. Thanks, Eric. Usually they read the story, but that is a good reminder. Recently I have felt some personal pressure to get them to write, and this helps me remember that I don’t have to do it if I’m not feeling it. I’m lucky too that no one ever visits my room so I can do what i want.

      2. …I tell students to work around it if they don’t know how to say something in their writing….

        Katie could you elaborate on how and when you ask them to write? I personally wouldn’t do it, but that’s just my own personal aversion to writing before the end of level 2 or so. As in, the only form of writing I ever did in the first two years were very occasional free writes and dictées, and the only real reason I did the dictées was because I didn’t feel like working that day since they are more a bail out move than an instruction tool that leads to real gains. The free writes DO lead to real gains but having a first year student trying to write is in my view like asking a three year old to write – they have all that language in their heads but it’s not ready to come out yet.

        And I have a hard and fast rule on students asking the question “How do you say ____?” They are not allowed to ever ask that question.

        1. I teach mostly 2nd year classes, with one first year class. My Spanish 3 and 4 classes are mostly doing the old grammar stuff with a little CI thrown in.

          This is my first year with CI, so the 2nd year classes are kind of like well-primed beginners. They did their first free write at the end of October and have done two more since then. On the first one I told them to write about anything and on the others I told them to try to retell the story.

          I think I started the Spanish 1 class too early. They did a 5 minute rewrite of the story a couple of weeks ago and one yesterday. They have done some pictados which I have been really pleased with. They were the ones asking for words, so I think that answers my question. I’m struggling with this particular group to not pull out a worksheet, because it’s a huge group that is super active and talkative, although mostly engaged. It’s also a challenge to remember that they are truly beginners. I’m using jGR with them since last week, and that has helped. I think I need to go back to using dictados when I need a break.

          Talking through this helps me get a better perspective on things. I love all this stuff so much that I want to do all the things everyday all the time with all the students! I keep rereading the stepping stones book and trying to focus in a a few things.

  13. Eric,

    What I loved is how calm and happy you sound. I think I get too stressed sometimes in my day with my classes. I want to be calm and happy like you. You are impressive!

  14. Fantastic video, Eric. It is a real joy to watch you teach. Watching Jen and Sabrina’s MT workshop at the Maine Conference, really motivated me to try my first one.

    Honestly…as a teacher in his first year of teaching entirely with CI, I have found MT’s to be by far the most successful activity for me. At this point in the year, my 8th graders in particular, are starting to show the tell-tale signs of checking out. MT days are the only days when I feel like I get complete buy-in with zero resistance.

    Thanks for posting this!

  15. Hello TPRS community! I hope you will forgive my presumptuousness in doing a really LONG therapeutic download here, but this thread has helped me pull together where I am in this, my second year of teaching. I summarize it below, and it has been cathartic to put it down in writing. As a new teacher I am encouraged by this thread that I am on the right track. Thanks so much to Eric for sharing examples of his teaching. As a second year TPRSer (alone at my school) it is invaluable to see examples of others!!

    Last year I had the MOST success and was the MOST inbounds with MT. The visual boundaries are right there on the screen. I limited videos to 4 minutes. I would look at the clips from the tprs listserve and pull out the new words to teach, making sure we already knew plenty of words to describe the action. Sometimes I would search the word I wanted to teach and find an accompanying video.

    As is common, with level one students I spend the first weeks doing TPR gesturing of lots of physical verbs. The kids have fun because they are up and moving and it is different from their other classes. On top of it, the words with gestures, as Eric demonstrated, REALLY make the words stick. Kids will get stuck wanting to say a word and if I do the gesture, the word pops right out of their mouths. Beginning of the year verbs will stick all year. Gesturing is the most powerful tool I have.

    Next, it is easy for us all to refer to colors and basic adjectives (that are lots of cognates in Spanish) displayed on my walls and do some one word images when we do PQA. This makes it simple to build little stories (such as Susan Gross’ first week of school mouse family and cat story). This builds their confidence.

    Then when the TPR novelty begins to wear off, MT is a super next step – flashy, novel, but they are still hearing tons of L2 and now they can chime in. The L2 production is natural and gives more confidence. Show, say, Mr. Bean falling down the stairs and the kids yell “falls!” “it hurts him” “yells” “cries” because those are the words they’ve been gesturing. It’s almost like a step between TPR into the air and talking to another person in a conversation. With the movie you can use as much or as little detail as the class can handle. You just scaffold.

    With MT you can stop the video a million times to discuss the size, color, number, boy girl – whatever depending on the class level. It is a cinch to type up a few scaffolded readings, do a dictation, act it out, read it some more, then get them to write it up for their Friday writing, or if you are good at doing CLOZE worksheets (or just verbally) have them fill in the blanks. Or write up a quiz using question words and give them choices or, by the end of the unit, they should be able to write a short answer.

    I recently combined Blaine’s weekly schedule with Ben’s two week schedule and Reading Option A activities so that I could practice going deeper with the story on hand. That has been the biggest gain I have made this year, I think, is using the arsenal of activities shared here so I can keep using the same material and keep the kids interested. Today was a really low interest day of circling a story from last week that didn’t have lots of acting opportunities and no art visuals. I need to incorporate a class artist each story. But tomorrow I will have them illustrate the story and change some details then share with the class, and Friday do a 5 minute write up.

    I always start with the video first – its a big hook, though if your students have a good attention span you could read it first and circle it and they would be ready to narrate when they see it. For me, however, my students pay MUCH better attention with repetition and circling (into the ground) with a visual (watching the supporting visuals of MT) than without them on a class built story. I know we can illustrate and act a class story, but here is where I use my technology – everyone loves to stare at a screen.

    I struggle getting my actors to illustrate instead of distract, and Story Asking is my biggest weakness – staying in bounds and making the story engaging, even with scripts. But on occasion we come up with a good one, but it is such a Zen activity – everyone has to be in the right place, with the right structures and enough personal input to make it engaging. But I want to conquer it.

    So far this year I have done Story Asking (3 steps with reading, sometimes using Mad Libs format), read Tumba (adding with PQA and acting and the inherent culture in the story) and Movie Talk (Help! and will start another one after Thanksgiving). I feel that if I can rotate through these three tools this year I will have the opportunity to improve my 1. story asking skills – which I know will improve with more time and practice – while giving the students some 2. inbounds variety and interest with MT, and 3. inbounds and (lesser) interest with novels. And for a new teacher, this is giving me enough confidence and success to keep my morale up.

    Thanks for letting me vent – and thanks to all of you for writing here and at moreTPRS – whenever I need help I have been able to tap in and get the boost I needed!

    1. “I struggle getting my actors to illustrate instead of distract”

      You’re not the only one Laura! Because I also struggled with that quite a bit, now when I bring up a kid to be an actor, if I’m not 100% sure they will be a good actor, I will remind them of the responsibility and how important a job it is, and have them affirm to me that they understand and can do it. Always worth the bit of English I use to make sure this is clear to the actor.

      1. Thanks for the support, Jim! It is tricky – the “sparkle” kids that everyone wants to see up front can have trouble with self control when they’re 14 years old. Mine are all sweet, but it is hard to get the perfect combination of maturity and “sparkle”.

  16. Laura said: “the words with gestures REALLY make the words stick. . . Gesturing is the most powerful tool I have.”

    I agree. The method grew out of TPR for good reason – stories based on gestures – was called TPR Storytelling. To me, TPR/gestures is the glue to establishing meaning.

    I’ve been thinking about this lately and it’s what has been said here before. But here is my current order of activities for beginners.

    TPR -> CWB* -> OWI -> Super 7 stories -> Super short scripts -> MT -> TPRS -> FVR
    *CWB includes working with 1 structure from the Personalized Questionnaire

    This is not a rigid order. If you have a video clip that can be narrated with the words from TPR, then you could use MT after some TPR. With the younger grades that I see for a total of only 30-60 minutes per week, I may never get to TPRS and reading. In my mind, TPRS and Extensive Reading are more advanced TCI activities. They work better when the students already have a sizable vocabulary, have a better ability to sustain focus, and can already process input fairly well.

    1. If the idea that TPRS is a later TCI activity is right, then that is why teachers attending TPRS conferences would struggle to make it work. You can’t jump to TPRS. Those other TCI activities get everyone used to how to function in a TPRS class, gives students a listening vocabulary as well as build the implicit linguistic system in their heads, and gives the teacher practice at skills they’ll need for better TPRS.

      1. This seems very sound to me. Another thing: I have found in now teaching older students (grade 9-12) and formerly teaching grades 4-8, that the younger ones really struggle without having concrete help. Pictures and photos are good, video is really good, but the abstractness of having a classmate act and having to focus hard on the meaning is more challenging than many of them could really do for long. But 3-sentence vignettes worked great with those ages.

        1. I would add look and discuss right after TPR in terms of CI technique difficulty. I mean showing a picture, pointing at parts of it, and asking students questions about it. I did that for years before just doing CI stuff.

      2. “a listening vocabulary”

        Thanks, Eric. That’s an expression I need right now. I am currently trying to work it out with another teacher how we can have an identical MidYear Exam. She uses the book approach. She says I use the oral approach. I tried to explain to my dept coordinator that the “same page” approach is a facade, since it does not produce the same level of ability in students. So when I get the book approach students, I have to teach all of them to understand me speaking Spanish.

        Now I know why. They have a very limited “listening vocabulary.”

        I am not really good at putting it altogether. But despite my lack, my students walk away with a “listening vocabulary.”

    2. I am really lacking in the TPR step. I tried it a little at the beginning of the year and wasn’t really sure where to go with it. I attended a TPRS conference last month, but TPR was barely mentioned which made me think it was not really used now.

      I can see the power of TPR in Eric’s video. Thanks for sharing it. Should I try to regroup after Christmas break and use it? Especially with my beginner class?

      I had such a great day with this class today after some struggles lately! I let this class choose nicknames a couple of weeks ago. Even though it is later in the year, I told them that I didn’t want them to have a nickname until I had learned their real names. (Which is true, with my age and having 4 Austins in one class) Today I had them make new nametags with their nicknames and then called up a few of them to interview. I got a lot of good reps on some basic words that I haven’t touched on recently, with high interest from the class. I also used the Word Chunk Game with level 2 today for the first time and it was high interest as well with everyone focused until the bell. Yay for ending the week on a happy note!

      1. I have made the same observation, Katie! I think TPR needs to be taught to teachers. The skills of TPR would transfer and improve TPRS instruction, maybe be like training wheels for teachers and students for TCI. And there is A TON you can do with TPR. And I love how physical it is. It’s easier to see what kids can do than choral responses, especially having them close their eyes and gesture. I’ve only developed my TPR based on what I’ve read about it. I’ve never seen it demoed by another teacher. Scroll down here where I shared a template.

          1. Yay! I was just trying to figure out what a 3-ring circus is.

            I am not a kinesthetic learner, so I have to always remind myself how important that type of learning is for some students. I wonder if many teachers are also not kinesthetic learners as well, so don’t work on the TPR as much.

            Thanks again, Eric!

          2. Eric, thanks again for the video links! Do you think the Asher TPR book would be helpful to me in learning to use TPR?

          3. Maybe. I don’t have it. I learned my TPR from reading Karen Rowan’s TPRS Realidades curriculum which starts with a bunch of lessons in TPR with an explanation of TPR. Then, I read “TPR is more than Commands” and I’ve read the article on the 3-ring circus by Michael Miller which was in IJFFLT. But Rowan’s explanation was enough.

          4. I read Karen’s ancillary first too Eric and it was really helpful. Novel command examples were great. I also benefitted from Ramiro Garcia’s Instructor Notebook on TPR. Never fully read Asher’s book.

  17. What we’re trying to do in the thread is make it less daunting for people who are now just dipping their feet into the MT ocean. Here are some things said in the thread so far that I have found helpful. Is there anything else we can add?

    …because of the visual, an MT does allow you to point at anything unfamiliar and have it still be highly comprehensible… (Eric)

    …the fact that MovieTalk has all that compelling visual help means that it does allow for lots and lots of recycling of previous language…. (Diane)

    …I have found that students contribute some of it based on what they see, which is really fun…. (Diane)

    …when the TPR novelty begins to wear off, MT is a super next step – flashy, novel, but they are still hearing tons of L2 and now they can chime in…. (Laura Cenci)

    …MT is less tiring on me than TPRS…. (Eric)

    …as a teacher in his first year of teaching entirely with CI, I have found MT’s to be by far the most successful activity for me. At this point in the year, my 8th graders in particular, are starting to show the tell-tale signs of checking out. MT days are the only days when I feel like I get complete buy-in with zero resistance…. (John Bracey)

    …last year I had the MOST success and was the MOST inbounds with MT. The visual boundaries are right there on the screen. I limited videos to 4 minutes…. (Laura Cenci) is a struggle to not go wide, because there always seem to be some many words that are “necessary”…. (Katie Holder)

    …what I did with the full-length movie in Chinese 4 was non-targeted first so that I could find targets…. (Diane)

    …I had a superstar student write down (in approximate pinyin) words that I said while narrating that they didn’t understand. I picked from those and targeted those I find most important after the MovieTalk day. (It was Monday for about 6 weeks spending 15 min. of movie through the 50-minute class time, then PQA and other aural work and then reading the rest of the week.)…. (Diane)

    …for me the single biggest best thing about MT is that you can make any video as simple or as complex as you want. For example, for “Chicken or the Egg?”, you can use it if the kids know wants/loves (“quiere” in Spanish), goes, eats, has, and say 10 nouns. You could also do it in 4th year and talk about the wall textures or the pig’s clothes, etc…. (Chris Stolz)

    …if you can’t remember what you’ve already done…you say something, and if you get no/weak response, boom, you start there…. (Chris Stolz)

  18. I would like to ask those in the group who are really comfortable with MT to comment in detail on this statement by Katie. I think it is a very key aspect of this discussion: is a struggle to not go wide, because there always seem to be some many words that are “necessary”….

    1. It’s about making a good selection of video clips. The clip should be able to be narrated with all recycled/familiar language, except for a few targets. If that can’t be done it’s not a good clip for that particular class or your kids aren’t ready yet for MT. Helps hugely to have a clip that is repetitive. And remember that you can just play through parts that have too much new language.

      1. Eric says great things. Just like with a novel, you can skip over some parts of a MovieTalk video if it’s too difficult to narrate or too unappealing. Good thing to remember.

        I also think it gets easier to get used to speaking in a simple, comprehensible way over time: you know the students’ real language acquired and you’ve had practice talking with beginners.

      2. Right, this Pillow Fight Prank video is wonderful for it’s repetitiveness in differing contexts. Zed records himself setting up a pillow fight with different people in different locations and each pillow fight recording lasts like 10 seconds. And Eric got 60 repetitions of “fights” as a result.

        I’m taking away so much from this video. Thanks Eric. I so wish I could have my students sit on the floor like that, first of all. Maybe if I can settle into a school after a few years I can pick up some floor-seat loungers… you know, low seats with backs.

        Here are a couple things that I’m learning from this video demo: 1) Before showing video, describe a little of what students will see. 2) It’s good to ask “What does that mean?” in the L1 from time to time when recycling vocab that hasn’t been used in a while. 3) It’s so important to prep as a teacher by writing a narrative beforehand using comprehended language + targeted structures. 4) I can stop the video much more to discuss. 5) Blend narration with prediction, especially when the video story-line is repetitive.

        you rock, Eric!

    2. I think as long as there is action in the video, and you have started with TPR, it is easy to stay in bounds. The Frozen movie trailer was a gem. Eric’s above is a super, and simple, example. As someone said earlier, you could use the same movie all four years (if the kids liked it) and just scaffold in more detail each year. You just narrate as simply or complexly as your class needs.

      Anyone who is feels ovefwhelmed just needs to spend some time checking out the MT list here and on yahoo (maybe it is the same I haven’t checked) and you will see how with the 2-3-4 minute silent animations (Ringling Brothers has a zillion) that the vocab will truly jump out at you. I have a handful from last year with screen shots and stories if anyone would like to see them. I think the screen shots are most useful (and most time consuming to make) because each teacher will want to write their own scripts with their own vocab depending on what they’ve introduced so far (as we know so well from this blog, we teach where the kids interests are). But if you start with the usual TPR vocab (I was happy to see I use almost all the same gestures as Eric used in his clip!) it will be easy. I used the popular Dia de los Muertos (thanks Martina Bex) with elementary school. We obviously couldn’t narrate every single detail of every scene, but: there was a boy and girl calaca, yellow ballons, a sad girl, a flower grabs her arm, she falls, she is scared, the calacas play music, etc. The kids ate it up.

  19. Eric, I only had time to watch the first five minutes of your video (in the interest of becoming less sleep deprived). Can’t wait to watch the whole things after school tomorrow.

    But can I just say, wow. I am amazed and inspired by your calmness and quiet energy in the way you INTERACT in a REAL (Pay attention grammar grainders!!!) way with your kids. So cool.

    Thank you for not hurriedly rushing into your classroom, telling kids in a frazzled voice what assignment they need to get out or whatever else they are supposed to be doing (Like I witnessed in a FL classroom several times this week). Thank you for instead ENGAGING your kids using clear, simple language, in an unfrazzled way. I love their chuckles and interaction with you. These kids are lucky. They’d have to have rocks in their ears to not be acquiring language in this class. Simply awesome! Thanks for posting!

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