Using Show Me Cards to Teach Indirect Object Pronouns

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37 thoughts on “Using Show Me Cards to Teach Indirect Object Pronouns”

    1. I’ll say one thing Chill. Those young DPS stars are adding new things all the time. Maybe I’m wrong on the vPQA but honestly as they are currently developing it I think a person who is shy of stories could have a good CI career without ever doing a single story as long as they have vPQA. I know one thing – had I known about vPQA earlier on I would have had less trouble getting CI going in my classroom.
      Any predictions on your Phillies? We pick the Rox for being last this year. We don’t even know who the players are out here. They are like a minor league team, like the Sky Sox.

  1. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    the verb ‘show’ (in any form – doesn’t matter) could also appear in a story/ script early on, since it is hi-frequency/essential /survival language for a T/CI classroom to check comprehension via gesturing. I am thinking of revising my (seldom used) hi-frequency target list to better reflect words we need to add (and others that we may wanna dump…)
    Like the ‘paper or technology’ Movie Talk clip – ‘he shows her the iPad, but she likes paper…’
    As for imperative forms, I tend to use them less. Someone (who helped train us) early on reminded us that Ss will acquire the forms that we teach, so when doing TPR, I do not use the imperative, but rather the 3rd person singular, as in: The class stands up. The class marches to the window,” etc. (Not: “Stand up (pl.)! March to the window!”, which is a different form of the verb).

  2. Good point Alisa. Somebody mentioned that at an OFLA conference once; why do we beat command forms into their heads so much (with legacy methods, that is), especially in the lower levels when they are still acquiring so much “survival” language? Her rationale was, “How often would you command someone to do something when asking for help, making small talk, etc?”

  3. Bryan Whitney

    Give, take, put, and pass would also be great verbs to use in this manner, particularly if you have an actual object to pass around. Another idea is that you or a student could make a quick drawing on a sheet of paper or on a small marker board and use that as the “object” to manipulate with the students. With give and pass you could use both the direct and indirect object pronouns. (Examples: Give it to him. Pass it to her. Etc…)

    1. And Bryan your point there is one that Julie addresses when explaining why in vPQA she insists that by the end of August all of her kids know every little object in the classroom. She routinely uses commands in the room all year and those objects increase their ability to instantly identify the verb right away with a minimum of hassle, since they already know the word for pencil sharpener. I knew that there was a good reason to know classroom objects!

  4. Larry Hendricks

    Ben, I’m a bit confused. Are you saying that the teacher holds up the show me card, or the students? And do you use the card to ask for the GESTURE of a certain noun or verb, or something else?

  5. Larry the teacher holds it up and says it. The kids have that brief moment each day to read the text as:
    Show me….
    Show them….
    Show him….
    Shoe her….
    Show us….
    It is just another way to get reps on those pesky pronouns, also throwing in
    Don’t show me….
    Don’t show them….
    Don’t show him….
    Don’t show her….
    Don’t show us….
    And yes the card is used to ask for a gesture for a target structure. The process we go through in Step 1 of TPRS is:
    – write two or three target structures, usually verbs, on the board and teach it (explain what it means).
    – ask the class to decide on a gesture for it.
    – PQA discussion using the structure and gesturing it when using it.
    I don’t mean to make more out of this card thing than it is. We are just fine without it. But one thing we have done over the years in this way of teaching is to always be on the lookout for ways to sneak in any reps we possibly can on grammar that is pesky, like these personal object pronouns are – at least in French – fairly pesky. I personally have not seen these particular pronoun forms mastered even by AP students when I taught the old way, because they couldn’t think/memorize their way to mastery of them. They had to hear them. What better thing than to give the students daily reps on them for a whole year? That’s the idea here. Just quick and sneaky reps in context to add to the mix of the instruction as a way to make sure the grammar is acquired in the real way.

  6. Larry Hendricks

    Well, maybe I spoke too soon, maybe I don’t get it all. Do you write “show me” on the card in English or in the target language (Spanish for me). “Muestreme. ..” Is that the idea? Also, what follows the …? Show me the gesture for what?

    1. So you would say, with or without the card, “Class, show me ‘runs'”. And they gesture it and you all agree and then that is the gesture. You would say it in the TL, and all the card does is let them see it. All this occurs right after you tell them what the target structure means, right there at the beginning of doing some PQA. The card is no more than visual reinforcement of the spoken command. Like in French all it has on it is:

  7. It was working with Blaine’s stories that alerted me to the need to teach verbs with unstressed pronouns. If he started out with “he says,” he moved quickly to “he says to him.” And before he got to “says it to him.” That’s the pronoun lesson. Keep “teaching” it everyday.
    One of our classroom expressions is “repeat.” I changed it to “Don’t repeat it.” Another is “give.” I used it in various forms, but students had to know, “give them to me” or “give it to me.” Once you pick something up from Blaine, it is hard to put it back down.

  8. No actually in truth Larry we can never spell things out enough. The change is that big. This work requires a degree of clarity of discussion that is off the chart. That is, we always assume we are discussing the same thing when often we are not. It’s just amazing. For example, Blaine’s TPRS is considered by many teachers to be Asher’s TPR. We need to spell it out that it isn’t. Another example is with PQA. It took me four years of going to Susan Gross workshops to get a read on what PQA really was. It’s like with this work you have to stare at it all the time to see what lies in it. Kind of rambling here, but back to Asher – some people think that TPR is storytelling and others think that it is just a few minutes of physical movement with a verb expressed via commands. But it has become so much more! We now do TPR all the time, many times in each class period we teach all year. That is all the Word Associations off of wall charts are. We throw TPR commands into class every chance we get, every time we need to solidify a verb in our students minds and bodies. We stop class to TPR verbs if they feel “weak”. TPR is a constant leitmotif in everything we do in comprehensible input instruction. We “throw in some TPR” into class. That’s all the object pronoun practice with “show me” is – TPR. So we have a lot to lose if we don’t keep new people apprised of every little detail. We can’t let this thoroughbred way of teaching get out of shape. We need to keep talking, keep asking, keep those lines open, because things are always growing, growing, and if we don’t keep talking about that we will lose track of the change.

    1. To add to Ben’s comment: I think we should all take a TPR workshop simultaneously (preferably before) a TPRS workshop. There is so much that can be done with TPR (so much more than commands) and it can play such a large role in our TPRS instruction.

      1. I’m attending a TPR session at OFLA next Friday, among several other sessions. I’m going to Blaine’s 3-day workshop in Dallas in July as well. I haven’t had any formal training in either, so I’m glad I’m doing them in the right order (even though the TPR training will be pretty brief).

        1. The best is to go to one of the national conferences. I don’t know how much Berty Segal is presenting these days. Honestly, if you want to find out more about TPR, come to DPS and observe some of our teachers who are taking it to new heights. You should be able to get all you need on TPR at one of the national conferences, though. Is Berty going to be at one of them (St. Paul, Washington D.C or Agen, France)?

          1. Besides, we have Eric Herman on TPR right here on the blog. He is as knowledgeable about it as anyone in the world. I will post a few unpublished (at least not published here) articles by Eric on TPR in the next few days, Matthew. That will be definitive information and save you a trip to some lame conference on it.

  9. Forgive me if I’ve already posted this elsewhere on the PLC, but recently a colleague from another district came to observe; she is interested in transitioning to TCI. I was teaching a third grade class. We were spinning a story, and when something happened, I asked, ‘how does the character react?’ (Como reacciona?) My observer’s eyebrows nearly flew off her head when she heard my third-grader respond, “Lo ignora!” (“She ignores him!”). This is just to illustrate that of course my students acquired ‘lo ignora’ as a chunk, and so it sounded right enough to say out loud. I never used the word ‘pronoun’ with my third-graders; they just comprehended it enough in compelling context to acquire/produce it! If we stay true to meaning over accuracy. They will hear these pronoun constructions over and over, build up some hypotheses as to how they work (in their subconscious?) and just start using them! Prolly sometimes incorrectly…but oh well! It’ll straighten itself out, esp w/an occasional (later) pop-up.
    Gotta learn how to swim before joining the Olympic team….

    1. …They will hear these pronoun constructions over and over, build up some hypotheses as to how they work (in their subconscious?) and just start using them! Prolly sometimes incorrectly…but oh well! It’ll straighten itself out, esp w/an occasional (later) pop-up….
      This is mega. If we don’t use the pronouns they can’t hear them and will not be able to eventually output them. The plant of speech cannot occur without the water of input on the roots.

  10. I’ve been in a funk for the better part this year. The good days feel like peaks amid valleys, if you know what I mean. But then I look here and see cool little tricks that make me excited for next year. I’ve been needing to incorporate “show me” more, anyways. I need to start making a list.

  11. I took a personal day so I started a list of in-class survival communication (apart from -but could be incorporated into- scenes, stories or other ‘content’)-most of which are TPR-able to lay-in and practice throughout the year, to stay in TL. This, so that we don’t resort to English, like when Ben would say, “Show me, Il dort [he sleeps]”.
    Using these, a few at a time, would be a seamless and ongoing part of the norming and TPR- Ss demonstrate their comprehension as the class works twd increasing TL use.
    The class:
    (either imperative or 3rd person- which I prefer):
    Show/s me
    Enters/Lines up
    Turns the lights off/on
    Opens/closes the door
    Raises/lowers your hand
    Oh, and many of these can be combined with pesky pronouns at will….

    1. My experience has been that introducing the words with a pronoun (e.g., reads it, hits them) establishes the pronoun notion right away. “It” and “them” are clarified by pointing to an “it” or a “them.” By focusing first on the “it/them” we make sure we keeping the natural complete verb notion (verb and complement) at the fore. I propose that it is a very brain friendly shift to replace the pronoun complement with a noun complement (reads it –> reads the book or reads the sign?). So, yes, establish meaning with an “it” or a “them” whenever possible.

  12. I love this “show-me” card idea! Thank you. I’m going to make the cards right now! Students will definitely have a better understanding of the command with different pronouns by the end of the year if started in September!!

  13. Matthew DuBroy

    If the goal is to use 99% in the target language, how do teachers explain directions for a new activity without going out of bounds, or without pointing and pausing them to death (esp. with lower level)?

  14. I think that the worst thing is to try to explain some directions about how to do some activity in the TL. It would take all day.
    Does anybody use a light? I think it was Erin who had a little light she flipped on when she wanted to be in the TL. I wonder how that works. It ought to work.
    This is a very very difficult area for us and I don’t think we can actually make up a protocol since we are all so different. I don’t think it is a bad thing to quickly explain an activity in English. But the little commands should be done as per Alisa’s list.
    That is only my opinion.

  15. It is a balancing act. It takes time to establish kinesthetically instill meaning for routine activities, but the dividends are great. If a new activity permits use of inbounds language, we can stay inbounds. If the new activity is too complicated to explain in L2, then we must use the English necessary to make sure everyone understands what is about to happen to minimize confusion and lower the affective filter, and quickly get the L2 show on the road.

  16. Who was it that said “Use English so that you never have to use it again”? If we can figure out how to give the directions in English once or a couple of times, then transition to the TL , we might be able to balance the efficiency and need to stay in TL.
    Sometimes I put written directions on the board Twext style, where the Spanish is in big bold letters and underneath in small grey letters is the English translation. As I do an activity more frequently, the need to give directions drops out, and all I need to say is “Okay clase, escribe los números 1 a 3 en una hoja de papel” or whatever the directions are, and they know what we’re about to do.

      1. I have no idea who said it originally!! But it is very powerful and stops many “doubters” in their tracks. (although I am not sure why….but I’ve seen it happen over and over!)
        with love,

  17. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    While I don’t do many complicated or multi-step activities requiring lengthy directions,
    Here’s an example of how I coped – I am very sensitive to try to scaffold instructions in the TL.
    When we did a lapboard draw for the first time (and subsequently), I wrote the words and drew pics of “board”, “marker” and “eraser.” in another column the verbs ‘draw’ & ‘erase.’ I explained that when I said, “ALTO” [STOP] all markers must be capped.
    We TPR’d it for a few practice rounds. Draw a circle (cognate.) STOP. Erase it. Draw 3 boys and a girl. STOP. Erase them. I am trying to get them to NOT doodle, and make quick sketches.
    I have also worked on ‘distribute’/’collect’ and ‘put’ to make the materials part go smoothly.
    I do make a big deal of treating the materials (esp books) respectfully – no fanning, bending, folding, rolling, tossing etc. though I usu do this in English. I think if there are no cognates (Mandarin) and the language is too out-there, low-freq & complex, the teacher models it and asks some jobsters to “please do this, or ‘follow me.”
    Maybe complex instructions for a reading/writing or game could be reduced to a short phrase or word per step. Naming the activity descriptively can also help, i.e. ‘Running Dictation.’
    The first time through, the T explains the expectation and the mini-TL step; Next time, the Ss understand what the mini instruction is. Modeling/narrating the whole thing through before the Ss do it is worth the time, esp for wee ones.

    1. Isn’t that how dual immersion programs work? They get instruction in both languages, which then gives them more familiarity and background knowledge to have success when the class is only in the target language? Krashen and others are not 100% against target language use. It should be used to make input more comprehensible.

  18. Larry Hendricks

    I agree with you, Ben. Trying to give instructions in the TL would take all day, especially with first-year students. But once I start teaching, that’s when I tell them, “Ok, let’s stay in the target language. Except for the two-word cute answers in English. Or when I ask, ‘What did I just say?’ “

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