Going Swimming

Ben:
Your recent comments about the hit and miss nature of TPRS, depending on moods and relationships, was really encouraging.  I have had some fun conversations with students the last month… the Olympics, the Superbowl, and the phrase “what are you going to do this weekend?” were really fun with various classes. 
I found a little trick on that last one for playing the game.  I asked my students what *I* was going to do on Monday.  They said go to school, eat.  It was really easy for me to completely deny those things as ridiculous because we were talking about me. Nobody got offended or confused.  And it was totally believable. (Sometimes it’s not so easy when it’s about them… that’s one of the missing pieces for me.)
I just kept asking “what else?” until they said I was going skydiving. Then I asked them what they were going to do on the weekend.  They were a lot freer and more playful about the whole thing. 
Even my class who’s least likely to bring themselves into class… it turned into so much TPRS fun.  I was going swimming with the dolphins off the gulf of mexico.  And so was J, just the weekend before.  She was going to go with D, but he wouldn’t swim there because the water was dirty.  He was digging to China that weekend because he likes fortune cookies. As we fished for why J was swimming with the dolphins, we found out that she wasn’t trying to catch penguins, but S was, to make them to fly.  She thinks every bird has the right to fly.  S is one of the least likely to involve herself, so this was highly encouraging!
Thanks again for your seemingly tireless commitment to students and teacher training.  I am ever thankful for your gift of starting good conversations on important topics related to teaching language.

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1 thought on “Going Swimming”

  1. The kids naturally want to know about us, but I don’t allow personal questions. That is another huge benefit of having an L2 culture in the classroom. It is almost unbelievable to me that, in a classroom that allows random L1, kids reveal an upbringing that makes them think that asking personal questions about us in English – at the most unexpected times – is normal.
    That is not normal and has no base in a Krashen based classroom. It certainly is something that I won’t miss as I have moved now from roughly 70 or 80% L2 use to over 90%. The difference is huge. The culture is different. The learning occurs at that exponential end of the chart when it is over 90% L2. Nor do I ask my students personal (huge difference between personalized – won’t go into here) questions.
    However, I might try allowing some personal questions about me in the target language, as suggested above. It’s a great idea. Anything that approaches the genuine. One thing we can say about kids is that they smell what is fake. Trying to get kids excited about double object pronouns is just stupid.
    Krashen has used the word compelling to describe the input we strive for. So, yeah, ask me questions, but do in L2. (I would not feel safe asking them personal questions, since their prefrontal cortex is not fully formed, but I can sift out anything I don’t want them to know quickly and still keep the CI going).

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