The classrooms of yesterday were places where a studious and obedient group of submissive learners hung on every word of the teacher-narcissist. That is old thinking. It is not what a TPRS classroom is really about, certainly. If happiness is the goal (happiness naturally generates gains in all facets of life), then we need to allow for a new kind of TPRS classroom, where, as long as the kids are focused on the language, it doesn’t have to be all studious and everything. The magnitude of this change continues to impress and amaze me. We are working for language gains, equity in American schools, and, now, the creation of a genuinely new picture of what learning actually looks like in a language classroom.
CI and the Research (cont.)
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could
10 thoughts on “What Does Learning Look Like in a TPRS Classroom?”
I was doing a reading of a Matava scipt “Cheap Jewelry.” We had done the story the day before. I asked about 50 questions to my students and tallied up the correct responses (45/50 or so). There are only about 5 kids who ever miss a question. Most of the answers can be found and read from the script. However, I finally found a question that was not in the reading. It was “When did DJ Khaled NOT LIE to Kylie Jenner?” One of my “average” students raised her hand and came up ON HER OWN with “When he bought the expensive earrings.” This is a level one class who has been doing Matava stories all year. And it was then that I knew that my kids were learning and not just reading me answers off the script.
Hey, Jeff! I just did ‘Cheap Jewelry’ too! What a cute story!
Wait — how do you set up the ’50 questions’ thing? Are they out loud? Do the kids write down answers? How did you grade it? Thanks, Jeff!
I just sat in front of all the students on my podium. Their bell work was to silently read the story to themselves. Then I told them the deal. If they got 90% or higher on my questions I would help them with the quiz (i.e. read the story together in English or let them take it as a partner quiz). I ask direct questions to students at random, but if a student volunteers to “save” the student to whom I directly asked the question then I’ll allow them to do that. Then I tell them it’s 27/30 but I always ask closer to 40 or 50 questions. Then I ask, easy questions to lower level students, harder questions to smarter kids. I take volunteers if a student is struggling. After a half hour, I’ve asked 50 questions and repeated every answer for more reps. Then we read the story start to finish together (in English if they win). Afterwards, I have a MC quiz read for them on these clicker machines we have. They do really well.
Cheap Jewelry? I just did that story last week in one of my classes too!
Right on, Jeff. The girl who suggested it was when he bought the earrings reveals the big dog CI fact that when it is interesting to them, they will follow along and get into it. When they suggest stuff like that it means that we have succeeded in making our comprehensible input into a story that they focused on. That is what I see in what your wrote – that it is about their focusing on the movie being created. That girl certainly did! Right on.
Ok, this is tangentially related, but I wanted to share some good news with the PLC. Yesterday afternoon, I gave a Chinese class for some friends from my church (9 people, mostly English-speakers who’ve learned some Chinese before, plus a Korean and a Cantonese speaker). Several had tried Chinese classes or self-study and none could read much (except the Cantonese speaker, who reads characters, but the sound & grammar is quite different in Mandarin). Some could understand a fair amount; one can also speak a fair amount.
I did my usual first lesson, which could sound boring, but it works:
I, you, is (etc.), is not, likes (etc.), doesn’t like. Later on: he, she, a little bit, a lot/very, also, but. We added “plays” into the conversation. A lot of them “knew” some of those words aurally. We spent about 25 minutes talking, with a good bit of laughter along the way. Then I started them reading characters including those words. Beautiful. They caught it really fast, probably because the language really is in their ears already (for the most part). People who never read characters before were reading aloud confidently. It was so cool. (I read aloud for a while, they join in when ready, & later on I didn’t need to say anything.) I mean, they were false beginners to some degree, but still, I was so impressed.
I was worried that some who knew more Chinese would be bored. Here’s what one who’s probably already Intermediate-High in Mandarin (but doesn’t read much) said by email afterwards: “Thanks so much Diane! I really enjoy the class today! You really make it fun and engaging! I can see how you get your students to speak which is really helpful with Chinese. I have never taken a Chinese class before but I have taken other foreign language classes and I wish they would have taught the same way. I was telling my mom about it today and she is interested in coming. I don’t know if you can accommodate more people but I can show her your videos to help her catch up. If not I can try to use what I learn from you to teach her!”
I had a really nice email from the Cantonese speaker and another Anglo woman, too. (Yes, my friend’s mom is welcome next time. We videoed the class so people could watch later.)
It was so nice to hear, because I really didn’t do anything different from my classes at school. When people want to be there, honestly want to know the language, and cooperate so fully with the process — wow, amazing. Teaching in a school is so tough! I think anyone who wants a rewarding experience that reminds you CI WORKS, one answer is to teach some adults who’ve been discouraged by other methods but still want to try. I feel so much less to blame for some students not excelling. It is so not about me. There are so many factors affecting those kids. I can only do so much; they have to do their part, and if they miss class, they miss significant experience every time.
I’m not meaning to brag about myself — I know you all would have the same kind of experience in a similar circumstance.
Thanks for sharing Diane! It is great to hear these good stories and to be reminded how much baggage (not always or maybe usually not their fault) kids bring into our classrooms – which is often a place where they are more or less forced to go (even if they get a choice among languages they must pick 1). I particularly appreciate this because while I am currently teaching 4th-8th graders I plan on teaching adults in the near future.
I can imagine even the ones who know the language to some degree enjoy it simply because they feel so much AT EASE. Our goal in a way is make it easy for them and almost everyone who is not an advanced speaker can probably gain from a “first class” done in the way that you (we) do. I know I would love to sit in on some level 1 Latin classes even though I “know” Latin to some degree.
Let us know how it goes teaching adults–I am curious how it is different.
…teaching in a school is so tough!…
…I’m not meaning to brag about myself…
How could this success be interpreted as bragging? We must learn to share our success with others. In my opinion we misunderstand the meaning of humility in our society, with all the blow-hards around us. Being humble simply means stating who you are. That’s real humility. We need more humility in our society.
I agree entirely with your definition of humility. But I have been misinterpreted before on this very point! And more than once, so I’ve learned to be cautious.
I think where a wrong kind of pride comes in is when someone can’t celebrate others’ success, & can only handle getting approval oneself. Then it becomes competitive, as if only a certain amount of great stuff that can happen to people in the world at once, and that someone else succeeding means that other person took your chance at some of it. That’s not true.