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: teachforjune.com). 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:
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!