Today on Twitter a #langchat contributor said “my kids like culture but not grammar. How do I get them interested?”
Dude…by teaching something interesting, as Blaine Ray said. Or, as Stephen Krashen writes, the relative clause [or any other kind of grammar] is not very compelling.
The great Canadian teacher-trainer Faye Brownlie said once, “Okay, so you went through the superlative and the comparative in class today. Great. Whoop-de-doo. Did you bring anyone else with you?” That pretty much nails it. You, Mister or Misses Teacher, know– and have shown that you know– the _____. Why should anyone else care? Cos they’re in school, there’s a test, and they have to? BAD reasoning. How about, “because the girl who was hungry and was looking for food finally decided to go to _____ where there was the world’s biggest ____ ready to eat!” Stories are just inherently interesting.
Story plus parallel story example. I get asked sometimes “how do I do a parallel story?” and I have found it confusing so this is what I did today.
I asked this story from Bryan Kandel. Structures: knew/did not know (sabía), put on (se puso), the most ____ in the world/more ___ than (el más ___/ más ___ que), truth, lie
There was a boy named John He the handsomest man in the world and the dumbest man in the world.. There was a girl named Suzie. She was the most beautiful and brunette and smartest girl in the world. Suzie saw John and liked him. John did not like Suzie.
“I hate brunettes and like blonde women” and Suzie was sad.
Suzie put on a blonde wig and John liked her. It was a lie. They were together 30 years. John did not know the truth. One day the wig fell off. John said “you told me a lie!” and Suzie said “yes I told you a lie” and John killed Suzie with a wine bottle. Then John saw Kim Kardashian and liked her. Kim Kardashian was the most beautiful woman in the world now. But oh no! She was friends with Suzie! She did not like John so she killed John with a wine bottle.
As I asked this (and we developed zillions of extra details) I wrote each verb on the board in Spanish in order that we used it. At the end, I was able to ask t/f questions and answer with a word questions, pointing to the verbs.
The next day, we did Bryan’s extended reading.
The day after, I improvised a story about a kid in the class: Hamid was artistic and smart and liked to draw. He lived with nuns in a gas station. He was the most artistic guy in the world. He had 21 girlfriends. He was more artistic than Picasso. One day Kim Kardashian saw him and liked him. She put on 27 t-shirts and a bikini. She told him a lie. She said “I know how to draw ” and showed Hamid a drawing. But Hamid was smart and knew it was a lie. He knew the truth. He said “I know the truth. You told me a lie” and Kim Kardashian got mad. They hit each other with wine bottles and Kim Kardashian ran away.
Today I reviewed both asked stories. So this is my first attempt at parallel characters. Basically, same structures and plot, but diff characters, locations and slightly different problems. Blaine does these simultaneously– first girl, 2nd girl, etc– but I can’t keep track so I’ll do them one by one but vary the story more. The writing-on-board is crucial: kids can see the verbs, and I can keep track of story, and I can re-ask, point etc.