An Elementary Question

I got this question this morning:

Hi Ben –

I’m new to TPRS. In the fall I will be teaching Spanish K-5 and would like to incorporate TPRS/CI. The classes meet once a week. This is a new school and position for me and I have full reign to build the elementary Spanish program. So far I read most of Ray and Seely’s Fluency through TPR Storytelling , watched Carol Gaab’s video, NTPRS Elementary Track and have started reading blogs.

School is 3 weeks away and it would be quicker to digest than a book at this point. I’m so excited to use TPRS… but I’m starting to panic a bit.

Any and all help would be greatly appreciated!

So elementary people please step up here and let’s try to get some concrete information back to this person right away. I know that we have a category here for Elementary (on the right side of this page), but in general there is sufficiently little information on this topic in one place so please add your thoughts and comments and advice below. Merci d’avance!



8 thoughts on “An Elementary Question”

  1. Once a week? That’s not enough. I ALSO have 3rd and 4th graders for 30 minutes per week and I’d say in terms of developing any fluency, it’s a waste of time. I guess what you can hope for is to get the kids excited, accustomed to TCI, and start some good habits. But again, I don’t see why that couldn’t wait until they’re older . . . IMO, I think these short classes for younger kids are a bad use of time. Any gains, any motivation, would be quickly recovered once they are older and get more time per week. Sorry to discourage. Just my feelings. And I have to live with my program, so what I have found works better with young kids, and I’ve only been doing TCI with young kids for 1.5 years, is:

    -TPR (really work the novel commands)
    -Extend TPR into short scenes
    -Drawing PQA (see Charlotte’s Wall Zoo)
    -MovieTalk – it may be hard to stay comprehensible, but at the least they’ll sit still when their attention is on a movie.
    -Storytelling with actors*

    *I’ve not been very good at applying TPRS to young grades. Storyasking, especially, can be challenging as far as classroom management. Shorter, 1-scene TCI, like OWI, may work better. It really depends on the class. This past year, my 3rd graders had much more ability to sit still and listen, than my 4th graders.

    The young ones love the Student Jobs.

    I suggest always having an easy picture book on hand as Plan B or as a filler. You don’t read the book, since it probably won’t be comprehensible unless you wrote and illustrated it, so do a “BookTalk,” which is the same procedure as a MovieTalk (point at the things in the picture and say a sentence, and then you can do some light circling – or just make it a strict read-aloud, doing your best to make yourself comprehensible).

    Catharina has provided us with plenty of insights into working with young kids – search her name on this blog and the forum.

  2. I watched an amazing lady teach young students on Schooltube under Denver Public Schools. She uses a refrigerator to get lots of reps. Someone posted the link recently but I can’t find it. Does anyone remember what that link is?

  3. I worked with a small group of incoming 1st and 2nd graders during the summer. I have to say that the most challenging part was getting them to not respond, or talk period, in English (L1). So, whatever you can do to mute their English tongues, the better! Maybe have no talking rules, period?

    Otherwise, as I stole from Eric a few months ago, the idea of storytelling instead of storyasking worked well. Direct student actors as you story tell. And using activities that students like to do as the content of the story. One storytelling experience worked well where I had Paola trying to play tennis (her favorite activity) in the swimming pool where Mary likes to swim (Mary’s favorite activity).

    Oh, and when I passed out talliers to these little ones, that was way too much for them to handle. When one remembered to click the tallier, he would blurt out, “Did you get that one. The teacher just said ‘quiere’ before…. …… …..” on and on. Oh lord!

  4. There are many talented elementary TCI teachers out there: Leslie Davison, Liz Hughes and the other superstars in Denver, Annie Ewing, Michele Baker, Jason Fritze, Eric H., Diane N., Martha N., and many more. Carol Gaab has some interesting 30 mn video clips on her website Fluency Matters that are specific for little kids. If you do some research you will find elementary hand-outs from the recent conferences presented by Leslie D. Ben also posted on this blog the whole curriculum week by week for DPS elementary teachers. It will give you some ideas on how the language builds up over the year. It is specific for Spanish teachers with suggested songs-books-games etc.

    You need to understand the theory of TCI and how languages are acquired, and then slowly through trial and error, build up an inventory of simple short 3 sentence stories, keep a list of practical ideas on how to manage little kids, hands-on activities and games that suit your style.

    I basically teach the same lesson to preK+K, and 1st+2nd+3rd. Same story, same puppets, pictures, games, songs. They are all beginners and need massive repetitions. I may write more words on the wall with the older kids, read a little, and build longer sentences, but basically I have 1 lesson plan for all the grades. It keeps me sane.

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