Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.
- How do you design activities so that students will use new vocabulary and grammatical structures to express authentic personal preferences/interests?
- How do you take advantage of current events such as the Olympics to create a teachable moment of linguistic or cultural relevance? What are some events you have used recently?
- What are some recent examples of lessons in which you saw significant language development during a single class period? (For example, this lesson began with students developing an initial understanding of an oral story and proceeded through a sequence of activities that ended with them rewriting that story in their own words in paragraph form.)
Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.
Food Facts and Stories (Spanish) illustrates the use of TPRS with beginning students, and Communicating About Sports (Chinese) features comprehensible input using a character language.
Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom.
- Design a lesson that begins with a TPR story and ends with a writing experience. You can invent a story, as Ms. Tanner did, adapt an existing children's or young adult story, or use any text that has a beginning, middle, and end. Have students first work on understanding the story and any new vocabulary, then practice by retelling the story, and finally use their writing skills to recreate the story in their own words. Research* has found that students often benefit more from working with longer texts than with sentence-length exercises. The combination of TPRS and writing tasks gives them the opportunity to use oral and written skills with a cohesive narrative.
- Introduce from your target culture's perspective current events that your students may be following, such as sporting competitions, elections, or holidays. Also, be prepared to adjust lessons (or even entire units) when major current events affect your target culture. For example, Ms. Tanner used her students' interest in the winter Olympics to introduce them to new sports vocabulary not in their texts and not among the basic sports terms. She used the German medal count to keep the discussion in context and had students record on a worksheet the similarities between the German and American cultures. Adolescent magazines and Web sites are good sources for learning about high-interest topics in the target culture. You can often find surveys, polls, and short articles that students can read to learn about their peers around the world.
*Oller, J. W., Jr., ed. "Reasons Why Some Methods Work." In Methods That Work
. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1983.
Riley, G. L. "A Story Structure Approach to Narrative Text Comprehension." Modern Language Journal 78 (1993): 199-221.