Getting in First and Second Person Repetitions

Most teachers I’ve talked to seem to begin their transformation to Comprehensible Input (CI) teaching (also known as TCI) with a Blaine Ray Workshop.  This is where my own journey began four years ago – at a Blaine Ray Workshop early August in a hotel in Council Bluffs, IA with Scott Benedict (tweeter: @teachforjune; website:  Everything he said made sense and I was hooked!  Many of my early posts related to TPRS were based on what I had learned from Scott.  I am forever grateful for all he taught me in those two short days.

This past year I was fortunate enough to go to another Blaine Ray Workshop with Blaine Ray’s son Von Ray.  I’m going to confess that I went because I wanted a day outside of the classroom.  I was exhausted from teaching seven out of eight periods with three different preps, and from being right in the middle of Speech season.  I was also in the middle of writing my Capstone Project for my Master’s.  I was burnt out and felt a day recharging my batteries with other likeminded teachers was in order.  However, I am SO glad because Von helped me solve a problem I was having with TPRS teaching, and I often hear that this is a common issue non-TPRS teachers have with TPRS: most students only acquire the third person (she/he) forms of verbs.  Von Ray did an EXCELLENT job of getting in extra repetitions of the first (I) and second (you) person forms of verbs!  Here’s how he did it:

First, Von wrote all three forms (I, you, s/he) on his paper before we even began.  The s/he was on top with a box beneath it.  Inside the box he had the you form written and beneath that was the I form.  I have found this has helped me IMMENSELY use these forms more often.  The box calls my attention to them and by writing them ahead of time I find I use them more often.  This is what my board looks like:

Getting in First and Second Person Repetitions | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Getting in First and Second Person Repetitions | Shared by Elizabeth Dentlinger at

Secondly, Von continuously interviewed the characters in the story.  This is not something I used to do.  I would simply narrate the story and let students in the audience choose some details.  Now, I like to allow the characters in the story decide.  I will ask them deciding questions while the class listens.  It’s a good idea to repeat what the character says in the first person because it gets in extra repetitions so I often do this and will follow up comprehension questions about what the character said in the she/he form.  It also gives more correct input if you end up with a student actor who struggles with pronunciation.

I do not have any quantitative data yet that this is highly effective.  I began doing it last year after the workshop and noticed my kids did a much better job using the first and second person perspectives with the new verbs (but struggled to apply the concept to pervious verbs), but I am at a new school and have only been on this journey with my new students for a month.  I will say my new students in Spanish 1 seem much more comfortable using first and second person perspectives.  While I still hear some grammatical errors I used to hear, I hear less of them.  Generally speaking, my Spanish 2 students this year struggle with the concept of interpersonal communication which I think stems from talking about what is going on rather than being involved in the story; however, they’re coming around and doing better each and every week.  I still struggle to effectively work in the we and they forms, but students seem to pick these up slightly easier than the I and you forms.

Do you have other ways to continuously work in other perspectives?  Please share them with me!




3 thoughts on “Getting in First and Second Person Repetitions

  1. Thank you so much! This is a great reminder for me, as I tend to stay in third person. One other way that Blaine Ray did an awesome job of incorporating the first person was adding yourself a parallel character by point of comparison.

    For example, If I was working with the board of vocabulary above- “class do I speak Russian? (referring to myself, the teacher) “No, I don’t speak Russian, that’s ridiculous. – does (student actor) speak Russian? yes, he speaks Russian but I don’t” and then like you said turning to that student actor saying to them “do you speak Russian? Yes, you speak Russian I don’t speak Russian but you do.”

    Thank you for the reminder- I MUST IMPROVE UPON THIS! Having the structures on the board should help

  2. I just went to a conference with Blaine a few weeks ago. One of my biggest takeaways was exactly this! One of my goals was to incorporate student actors into my stories and Blaine’s conference was so helpful. I also started narrating my stories in the past tense in level 1 and asking the actors present tense!

  3. Pingback: Setting the Scene for TPRS Stories, Reader’s Theatre & More! | La Clase de la Señora Dentlinger

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