Stories in the News

A big reason I got attached to Anne Matava’s story scripts is because they fit in so well with my need to be guided along through a story. A more honest way of saying that is that my CI train went off the track all the time when I was just learning the method and scripts kept the bowling ball in the lane, as it were.

But I went into Barb Vallejos’ room today (Barb has been doing TPRS since 1995) and I saw these structures on the board:

got into
signed
could give him

Those structures intrigued me, so I asked about them and Barb explained that she doesn’t really rely on story scripts, preferring to just pull from current events and let the input flow. She explained to me that some of the kids in one of her classes are really into football, and so she just put up those structures. She had, in her mind, a vague script from today’s Denver Post, which was roughly:

…Peyton Manning got into a plane today and flew to Denver and he signed a big contract with John Elway to join the Denver Broncos, a contract which could give him millions of dollars and could give Denver another Super Bowl title….

So, we don’t need story scripts. Current events can furnish us with all the script details we need.

There are so many ways to do comprehensible input!

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Stories in the News”

  1. This is a brilliant TPRS avenue that I don’t use often enough… telling true stories from the news. I think it was Nathan Black who was doing this a lot a couple years ago (maybe he still is). I love the way she threw in “got into” in there. Not necessary for the news story, but a great way to get anticipation up and also get some reps of it. You could really say anything huh? And you could add some make-believe details in there if you want. did they sit and have some coffee or tea or milk? etc etc.

    Ben, how long did they talk about this with those structures?

  2. Jim they went the whole period with these structures. Barbara’s style is different in that she can do that. I need the structure so I am a script guy. But yeah, for the right person this is great stuff. Don’t forget that Barbara is a 17 year veteran with comprehensible input. That helps. She is part of this awesome Lincoln High School WL team.

  3. I’m with Barb!! Language is organic…if we find things to talk about that are interesting, the naturally high-frequency phrases that we need will show up!!!

    with love,
    Laurie

  4. You’re right Jim, I still do. For my intermediate to upper classes, I’ve discovered that not only is truth stranger than fiction, I get a longer and more sustained burn off of news than stories.

    Last week I found an article in a German newspaper about chess boxing (a true sport). We read through it in my advanced class with me falling back on Ben’s reading with love technique (which is especially good for authentic texts that are just a bit beyond their level), and all of a sudden several of my German II students were asking me when they could learn about chess boxing.

    As it turns out, last weekend our school (and several of my students) won the State Chess tournament, so that just fed the topic even more and now they’re talking smack about how they could take chess boxing too. Then we discovered yesterday that some German schools offer chess boxing classes after school (self defense coupled with chess club). I’m just taking the interest and spinning it as far as the interest takes me. Hasn’t stopped yet.

    So sign me up with Laurie. Not only is language organic, but so is the process of how they engage the world out there. It’s just fun being along for the ride.

  5. I for one would like to see more examples of how this looks in the classroom, i.e. what you write on the board before class starts, how you introduce it, and how you shelter new vocab. The problem I’ve had with this type of discussion is the overwhelming urge to talk about something in L1 with more complexity, as we would weigh in on it in normally. It’s as if we’re all so eager to share our real feelings about it, but we don’t have the language yet to say the things we want, without needing quite a bit more language. Is it a matter of training students in simplicity speaking? Does it need to be more directed?

    Sign me up too! (as long as I can stay signed onto made-up stories, I love them ONCE A WEEK.)

  6. I used the chessboxing idea in class today. Before class began I put up the following questions in German:
    1. Which sport is the most physically demanding?
    2. Which sport is the most mentally demanding?
    3. Which sport is the most demanding combination of physical and mental?
    4. Think up a new sport that is both physically and mentally demanding.

    I gave students time to write down ideas. Then they told the class their answers while I wrote them on the board. Then I asked why that sport was demanding physically or mentally or both. For the first three questions students usually chose a sport in which they are involved, though mixed martial arts made it onto the list in both classes. Chess was mentioned as mentally demanding in both classes. We had some interesting ideas for new sports.

    Finally we read the article about chessboxing. We only made it through the first two paragraphs, but students were able to understand it with only a little help.

    1. Excellent work there Robert. Nice set up with the discussion questions, and the beauty of them being used to storytelling is that they never really know which direction you are going with this. I love the look on the students’ faces when you drop an entirely true bit of insanity on them, and you set them up well for it.

      And I was also really impressed with the accessibility of that article. I’d guesstimate that my level 3s could handle around 75 percent of the words. I wonder if the interview format made things more conversational/accessible? Hmmm. I might need to look around for a few more interviews. BTW, note that the chess boxing article is part of a series called “Auch das ist Sport” (the collection is linked in the article), so there might be some other goodies around.

  7. Today we looked at an article about tattoos that vibrate when your cell phone rings. I led the discussion as I would lead storyasking….with questions…using either / or choices if they felt “stumped” Is this a fantastic or ridiculous idea? Would you get one of these tattoos? Would your parents get one of these tattoos?

    Since several students already have tattoos, I asked them if they would prefer their tattoo or a vibrating tattoo. These tattoos can also be invisible. Several girls said that they would get an invisible one because it would make their parents really mad if they had a visible one.

    One boy kept jumping around in his seat. When I asked him what was wrong, he said that he had one of the tattoos and all of his friends were sending him text messages at the same time. :o)

    with love,
    Laurie

    1. Laurie and Nathan,

      I have saved both these ideas for upcoming classes. They are just too amazing!

      What I like is that when I find out about such stories, I can just google them in Russian, and the article will come up on a Russian website. It might be worth having a link to “weird news stories.” Last year, there was a horrible/ironic (so sad that the only response was laughter) story about a man who thought monkeys were in his fruit trees, and he shot his wife. We did a whole story about that, and the kids could not believe that it was real. The nice thing was that then they were actually all mad at me for letting them enjoy such a story. Man! Did that stick.

      So…I couldn’t find any articles on chess boxing in Russian, until I went to Wikipedia (I know, I know) and looked in English, then switched it to Russian, and then I got the right term. It’s a great word, sort of like Chebox. Hope the kids won’t believe me.

      Right now I have a great romantic music video that will take some time to set up, an entire unit on Putin from Natalia, (separate) stories about a horse and a pair of elephants rescued from mud, the chess-boxing thing, and the vibrating tattoo story ready to go. I am set all the way to the end of the year, thanks to you all. I have a boxer in my advanced class, so that will be the perfect story for that group, and a bunch of sweet giggly girls who find great ways to get their cell phone messages in intermediates, so the tattooing story will start with them. But both stories can then switch. I just want to get to them before they’re old.

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