Brain Breaks

I have a question for the group. Should brain breaks always be in the TL? That is, the kids may be batting a ball around the room but should they be allowed English during that time? I think the answer should be no, because if we do not establish a clear culture of only using the TL when the kids are in our classroom, from the time they walk in to the time they walk out, then we will be guaranteed that no English blurting will occur in our classrooms. Without that happening, we can’t really make CI work in our classrooms. We can use English in our classrooms to an extremely limited extent at the beginning of the year to establish procedures and over the course of the year to clarify meaning, again to an extremely limited extent. But I am currently rethinking how I have used English way too much in the past and would like the group’s opinion on brain breaks and the use of English.



8 thoughts on “Brain Breaks”

  1. I would have thought L1 for brain breaks but I asked Diana Noonan while visiting Maria’s class Friday and she said no, that it would throw the kids way off and into whacky English land and so be difficult to get them dogies back into the corral. I tend to agree. They play silent ball, as per:
    or they jump on one leg, etc. with all the directions in L2. I just don’t know but seeing Maria only in L2 for the entire class really made things simple. Otherwise, with kids as we know, grey areas and blurry areas are not good for classroom management.

  2. I watched Linda Liu at NTPRS do a balloon bobbing brain break- (how many pats will keep it aloft?) and (limited) instructions plus activity were in English. I asked myself Ben’s question, and concluded Eric’s answer. It was so difficult for me to follow the Chinese that had the break been in TL, it would not have constituted a break for me.
    I often think I’m doing a brain break but actually I’m just doing a silly TPR sequence, sometimes incorporating story elements or target vocab that I’ve been circling, but that’s not always a true brain break….Brain breaks are not only for switching /alternating from auditory input to another modality or activity…they are to provide a rest for the processor, no? I gotta work on that…I have a new book on it and will start mining it, along with all the great BB’s here and on Martina’s site.

    1. Can we build the same community and relationships with kids all in the L2?
      Would I know as much as I do about my students if beginners could only use L2?
      Does some judicious use of L1 help instructions and classroom management?
      Does checking comprehension in L1 aid processing?
      Will class be as comprehensible if we only use L2?
      You can see where I lean 😉
      I don’t think my kids get confused about when to use L1 and L2. Whatever language I’m speaking, they can speak the same. And when I remember to, I flip an arrow from “English” to “Spanish.” The kids remember to do this more than I do.

      1. I think I agree with you, Eric (I’m hedging :). I think it’s different with beginners. You need to build the community, make them feel safe, do all those things you said. And sometimes English helps this. Does anyone do it all in the TL and really connect? I’d love to know.
        This conversation goes right along with parts of the Blurting post. I am trying to find a balance that feels right and then to stick with it, so the kids are clear about expectations and so I’m clear. My kids still struggle with too much English. Or at least I struggle with them speaking too much English.
        Maybe I need to be strict with myself first, make sure I am comprehensible but stay in French REALLY as much as possible.

      2. I feel the same way about use of English because of comprehensibility issues. Comprehensibility is king, and if a little bit of English is needed to make sure that happens, it’s a good use. I ask them to tell me what something means (ie, tell me the English meaning). I can use Chinese to ask that question — because I have it on a poster in Chinese & English — but without hearing what they think it means in English, there would be times they’re misunderstanding or missing a nuance.
        But I do think I need to split up my one classroom expectation of “Respond appropriately” (that is, when asked to respond chorally or individually, and in the proper language) into two: “Speak in Chinese” “…unless asked for English meaning” or something like that. But I think my students do understand the expectations about use of English: to clarify meaning. (They just don’t all follow that all the time.) They can use it to ask a question about meaning, and I’ll use it to give that answer.

  3. I’ve been doing something to keep brain breaks simple and fun (and not hearing English): I’ve been showing a few minutes of the Monkey King classic 1964 cartoon movie. This is in spoken Chinese with English subtitles. I’m doing this with all my classes and they love it. I like that it’s a really well-known story and they’re getting to know it a bit at a time.
    I might do this each spring quarter with some kind of famous cartoon.

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