A ‘Whoops!’ lesson


I love this methodology called TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling).  It’s all about the students receiving sufficient comprehensible input.   I often remind my classes of middle-schoolers the following:

  • if you don’t know the meaning of a French word or phrase, it’s not your fault.  You just haven’t heard and understood it enough times
  • science shows that ‘on average’ we need to hear and understand a word or phrase up to 70 times before it’s IN us
  • swear words generally take fewer repetitions, say….TWO!

Monday, I had misunderstood an email from one of the other 6th grade teachers and THOUGHT I wouldn’t be meeting my level one 6th-graders.  So I didn’t plan anything.

When they streamed in, I was caught momentarily off-guard.  I hurriedly checked with the teacher and learned that the ‘absence’ was for next month.

Aucun problème‘ – no problem. It was a Monday, so we spent about 15 minutes conversing in French about the weekend – great for acquisition and packed with reenforcement and ‘real-life’ language.  Then we discussed what we knew about the book I had begun introducing the previous week.

Pauvre Anne

We continued then with the slide presentation I had put together to lay context for this, their 2nd French reader in their level one French class.  Like I said, repetition is golden.

The period ended at 2:30 and I was once again sold on this way of teaching a foreign language.  I can use ANYTHING at hand to teach a class, because the class IS the curriculum, with a little outside structure.  Everyone’s favorite subject is themselves.  Dale Carnegie taught that years ago in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

So what looked like a ‘whoops’ period turned into a very productive class with no additional prep.



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