It’s not like we’re on a world cruise with our students, although Robert has approximated it:
The truth is that we are in a box with our students. Not a lot to talk about unless we make the class all about them.
Being in a box in a limited setting, if you think about it, with few natural stimuli to spark discussion, we really have to trust that things will come up to talk about. Can we do that?
For me it means taking a verb and writing out what it means, having them show me the verb, playing around with that standard TPRS Step 1 opening routine, and then just being open to what comes up.
I always have Personalized Statements and Answers if get scared:
Just see what comes up. No plans. It’s scary, but it also works. Something will come into your mind. When it does, talk about it. We have rarely shared here how important it is to react to stuff that comes up in our minds. But those “little things that come up” are zephyrs, little promptings for us from the invisible realm, which is so real in classrooms. Angels are there to help us as well. I believe that as a fact.
For example, say the word is “listens”. Ask them to listen. Bring your instruction into the moments of class and wrestle the verb into the class if you need to.
Maybe in asking them to “listen”, you feel as if you want to ask if they “hear” anything. Ask them that. If they don’t know the verb already (1st and 2nd year classes), write it down. Now you are working with two verbs about hearing stuff. You are creating communication that is real. You really want to know if they hear what they are listening to.
Each time you bring in a new verb, write it down and then smulch it around in your mouth while letting the ideas come. You are experiencing language with your students now, not teaching them language, which Eric emphatically states cannot be done and I agree with him.
Watch how much you can do with those two related words. Make something happen with the sounds they report hearing to you. No English. Like a game of listening and hearing.
Maybe you need to ask them to wait while they listen for the next sound they are about to here. Throw in the verb “waits for”.
“Class! Wait! Everybody listen! What do you hear?” Work with them in the moment. Like John Bracey said:
…whenever the desire for communication precedes the selection of structures, the lesson goes great. Whenever the structures precede the desire for communication, the lesson falls flat….
Just be open to what comes up. Follow the energy. You are not required to produce something. You are not on stage. You are taking a verb or two or three and playing with them.
This requires curiosity and trust. Play. It’s at the heart of it all. So don’t start a class thinking you have to be the one to make the class happen. Give the kids a chance to play as well. They want to. They want you to hear their cute ideas.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could