A great simple Blaine Ray novel trick

 Say you’re reading Blaine Ray’s Pobre Ana/Puavre Anne (or any other good novel) and you want to personalise vocab.  You want kids to understand the story, and you want them to be interested.  They probably don’t care about the language and grammar, but they’ll certainly care about characters, each other, and their own opinions.  So let’s turn from simple read-and-understand to personalisation.

If you get to dialogue, you can have the kids “use” the written dialogue for answers.  So for example on P17 one character asks another “¿Que estudias en la escuela?” (What do you study in school?) and another answers “Estudio el inglés, las ciencias,” etc.  (I study English, science).

All you do– after you’re sure the kids understand the vocab– is get them to say the words they need from the character’s answer.

So YOU ask the kid “What do you study in school?” and the kid answers (reading from text) “I study” and s/he can add whatever is specific to their schedule.  E.g.

Teacher: “¿ Qué estudias en la escuela?” (the question written in text)

Student (reads from text) “Estudio el inglés.”  (answer from text, or changed)

If the student does not study English, s/he can answer with something else…and if that’s a new word, put on board and circle.

You can also ask a y/no question: “Do you study ____?” and the kid can answer “yes/no, I study, don’t study…” 

This way you get accurate quality output plus it’s personalised.  You can of course go on and circle this if it’s interesting (Do you study English or geography?  Is English interesting or boring?  Who is your teacher?  Is your teacher Mr Smith or Ms Jones?  Is Mr Smith funny or serious?).  Quality personalised output– which becomes input for other kids– is always wonderful…but it has to be quality.  Junk output is bad modelling which is not helping very much with acquisition.


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