The Super Seven

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21 thoughts on “The Super Seven”

  1. TPRS story = micro-mini story + Super/High-Frequency verbs + recycled language

    You can add a few more, e.g.:

    To be able to (poder)
    To say (decir)
    To do/make (hacer)
    To give (dar)
    To see (ver)
    To know (saber)

    These add-ons + Super 7 = 12 highest frequency verbs in Spanish (Davies).
    To like (gustar) is the only one that is not as high frequency as you would think (verb #93).

    1. Since I teach English the Super 7 are the Super 6. Unless I teach “to be at/in/on” as one verb and “to be a…” as another. Terry’s original goal was to find the minimum number of verbs she had to teach to be able to tell a story, any story.

    1. OK James I am going to address your original wish a few months ago for more discussion on this topic by writing a series of articles on what you endearingly call in your comment above “micro-mini-super-short-intro” stories. Love that term. We have a winning idea here and if I were a casual reader of the blog I would read very closely on this. I think these little stories have the potential to save careers. In the past we found ourselves trying to float regular three location stories from the beginning of the year and look at the drop out rate in TPRS that we experienced. But could you do something for the group? Write up those three verbs (the famous Linda Li trilogy of verbs that she uses with Dr. Krashen each year and neither of them gets tired of it) in a way that a new person reading here could use them in a class tomorrow. What would that look like in the form of a three sentence story as per Eric’s comment this morning here:

      …simplify [everything]. Just use the 3 structures as a 3-line story. They work perfectly together and don’t need anything extra….

      The example Eric gave was:

      Sally wants to go to the bathroom. She goes to the bathroom and does not return for 3 days. The class looks for Sally.

      Could you send us something like that in a comment field below? You’ll see where I am going with this in this series of posts coming up on this topic. I’m all over getting what I hope becomes an eleventh stepping stone into my recent book by that name. I’m on it, as they say, like white on rice.

  2. I appreciate the lists and am happy to say we have used all of the ‘super-seven’ so far and have even done some that Eric Herman suggested–decir, dar, ver and saber. It’s nice to have a ‘checklist’ of sorts to help stay on track. Thank you!

    1. It is nice to the reminded of this at this time in the year. I am getting a bit discouraged that we aren’t doing enough, but then I look at that list and realize that my level 1 kids are almost done with the process of getting comfortable with ALL SEVEN of those words/concepts. Then I think of how kids in traditional/eclectic-“communicative” classes must be feeling right now.

  3. For the past 2 school years, I’ve made the Super 7 the focus of the beginning of the year with level 1. It’s very powerful. I also re-start the subsequent years with sentence frames around as many of these verbs as I can. My next verbs after these 7 are (much like Eric mentions): gives, sees/looks at, says/speaks.

    1. Got that from Robert Harrell in the PLC. Things like:

      Over the summer,
      – I saw…
      – I ate…
      – I went to…
      – I bought…

      And kids share. Circle, compare students, make a reading, embellish with further details (where and with whom).

  4. Great tips like these are helping me stay afloat! It seems like I find answers on this blog to questions I haven’t even figured out that I need to ask. All of the work that so many share here lowers my stress on days when I’m still trying to write a lesson plan. Thank you all! Katie

  5. It’s interesting for me that even though there isn’t a word for “is” in Russian, I still have to use the concept. I saw Katya explaining that this summer and doing comprehension checks to make sure students understood it for ten minutes on the same construction. In former years, I just wrote that “eto” means “this is” and “these are” and expected it to be easy. Now I repeat that over and over. Kids are getting it better!

  6. This is a fantastic list and reminds me what to focus on with my first years just now. Many thanks!

    In my context, things are less straightforward and I’d really appreciate the group’s input on a difficulty I’ve come across with idioms.

    Scottish Gaelic is very idiomatic – for example, saying “I can” translates to “It is possible for me”. In addition to being wordy, it also declines depending on person, ie: it is possible for you, for him, for her,etc.

    When I introduce phrases like these, I’ve put up first, second, and third person forms on the board. Then I circle them extra slowly while clearly gesturing and checking for comprehension like mad. I think it’ll take longer to acquire them due to the extra mental hurdles involved. I try to spin it as ‘talking like an ancient warrior’ to keep morale up. 🙂

    Anyone else having a similar difficulty?

    1. I think you could make it easier for your students by NOT putting up the 1st/2nd and 3rd person forms all at once. That’s waving a red flag at them, saying Watch Out! This is super difficult! I’d start with the 3rd person form: He can …. Can he … He can’t …. and circle that and work it into a story. When that form sounds familiar to them and they recognize it easily, which may be another day, or another week or even another month, try I can … Can you? It will sound much less strange because they’ve acquired the third person form first. And I don’t think it’s really necessary to tell them that it “translates as ‘It is possible for him …'” Some of them will figure that out on their own, the others don’t care.

      And while I’m thinking about it, “I can …. would be great for a sentence frame. Lots of genuine interest in that in any classroom.

  7. I still can’t believe I missed sentence frames the first time around. I put this on my blog, but Señor Wooly just offered a simple one for kids: ____ is better than ____. Kids stand to show agreement when one person says a sentence, sit to show disagreement, and hold their arms out in a “What?” sign to show ambivalence or not knowing.

    A colleague said she has spent several days playing with that simple frame lately.

    Sentence frames are a fabulous way to repeat those verbs we want to highlight, but kids won’t notice the repetition if they’re trying to outdo one another.

    ____ was trying to make a ____, but her ___ looked at it and said it was a ____.

    ___ went to the ___ to buy a ___, but instead found a ____.

    ___ loves ____, but can’t have ___ at ____ (careful with these, now!)

    ___ asked for a ___, but ____ gave her/him a ____.

    ___ found a ____ in the ____

    After ___ watched ____, s/he _____.

    Help! I can’t stop writing these!

    1. I’d really like to know people’s thoughts on framing up subjunctive phrases.

      ___ asks santa that he bring him/her ___. He brings ____ instead.

      ____wants that ____ invite him/her to the dance. ____invites him/her instead.

      The subjunctive makes its way into readings pretty regularly but I don’t feel like it is as present in my class as it is in normal conversation enough for the students to perceive it as a natural.

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