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Automatic English For The People

Thursday, April 28, 2005

My second (real) TPRS in Japan

Today, I taught English to Junior 2 students through TPRS. There were only four students in this class. In my first TPRS, I used the story in the textbook. However, this time, I decided to create my own story. The target words and phrases are: collected, went, riveside. And the target grammar is "Did you?"

This time, I followed the 3 steps of TPRS exactly. At first, I taught the target words and phrases through TPR and pictures. I did not do PQA because I'm not good at doing this yet. (I believe I am really good at storytelling.) So, after I assess their comprehension of these words, I immediately moved to the step 2, which is storytelling.

Before I started to tell my story, I explained to my students that they could contribute to making the story. I said, " I need a main character, so can you give me some funny names or names you like?" One student responded "Pooh." I said to her "Great!!" (I believe letting students create the name of main character is really important. In this way, I can make my story more personalized for my students, not for a teacher. Also, a theory of brain based learning tells us that students generated example is very powerful in terms of helping students retain information.)

The story that my students and I created are the following.

Pooh enjoyed his spring vacation. Pooh was very cute but he was very strange. Pooh loved trash. Pooh went to the Niyodo riverside. There, he walked along the riverside and collected a ton of trash. Pooh returned home with a ton of trash. He was very happy. But her mother was very angry. She cleaned Pooh's room. Pooh cried for a second.

I can say that this TPRS lesson really succeeded. The bold words means the words that students created. I had students create the main character of this story, the name of the river, amount of trash that Pooh collected, and the duration that Pooh cried. I believe this story has a very good balance. Even though I controlled the framework of the story, I had students create some parts of the story. In this way, the story becomes theirs, not mine. Yet, I was able to give them enough repetition of target words and grammar. I also personalized really well, especially when I asked circle of questions. I used some students' name when I asked questions. (This is an example. "Class, Pooh loved trash." Students said "Oh no!!" I asked the circle of questions "Did Pooh love trash? Did Poor love Mika?" Students responded very strongly "No!!!!!!!" "Did Poor love trash or Mika? Who loved trash? What did Pooh liked? Why did Pooh love trash?" Some students responded "because Pooh was strange.")

Moreover, I believe I was able to do a lot of students-generated BEP(bizarre, exaggerated, Personalized). It was very interesting that students used "Pooh", the character of animation. I expected that they used the name of cerebritiy. Then, I just realized that they were still junior two students. Also, I found that their ways of exaggerating the length of cry is very interesting. Brain always exaggerated the duration. For example, he used, "He cried for two weeks." However, what my students suggested was the opposite to that of Brain, which is "He cried for a second." I realized that shortening the duration of time is also a way of exaggeration." They laughed so hard that I acted out this sentence. Since they are not familiar to dramatizing the story, I acted out throughout the story.

As I said before, there were only four students. Three students' English is really excellent in terms of comprehension. So, I used one student as my barometer. It worked very well. Whenever I wanted to check their comprehension, I asked her to translate what I said. Actually she answered very well.

Yesterday, when I asked her about some questions in workbook. She was not able to answer with confidence. The questions was about grammar drills. She faced down and had a lot of pause. She did not seem to answer about my questions. Later, I asked her why she hesitated to answer. She told that she had been very afraid of making mistakes. She did not want to be embarrassed in front of her friends.

However, in this TPRS lesson, she was so involved with the story that she could answer my questions without worrying about making mistakes. Moreover, she completely understood the story. I was just amazed by how effectively TPRS can help students lower their affective filter. Also, I reconfirmed that TPRS really helped me connect with my students so that I could find out about my student. I got to know my student more. She is usually very quiet. However, during the storytelling, she really contributed to making story funnier. She is really good at creating funny exaggeration. So, this is why I love TPRS.

After the storytelling, I used the textbook as a extended reading material. It was really exciting for me to see my student understand the target vocabulary and grammar in the little bit different context. They understood all the sentences in the textbook.

One thing that I have to keep working on is how to help my students to match spelling and sound. My baromerter student understand the meaning of "cleaned" if I tell orally. However, she is not able to recognize written word "c-l-e-a-n" as clean. For instance, I found that she could not write the answer. I pointed out the word clean and read it out. Then immediately comprehended.

Even though I still have to work really hard, I am really happy to know that TPRS works really well even for Japanese students.

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