How Do I Get More 1st & 2nd Person Verb Practice?

There was a recent comment asking “how do I get more reps” (repetitions) on first and second person verb forms?”

This is one of my many weaknesses, but I am getting better.  I read somewhere that in language classrooms, the third person is overused while other forms are under-represented.  I can see why.  Here’s what I recommend based on what I have done.

FIRST, When we begin T.P.R.S., we start with first and second person questions, on the board if we must, and ask our actors.  It’s Sept 2015 and I just finished asking Los Gatos Azules.  I teach fully unsheltered grammar, so I narrate in the past (or whatever) tenses, and I talk to actors (and kids in class) in present tense.  The following questions go on the board:

¿Eres __ ? – Sí, (no, no) soy __ .  (Are you ___? — I am (not) ___.)

¿Quieres tener ____? – Sí, (no, no) quiero tener ____ . (Do you want to have ___?  — I (do not) want to have ___)

¿Te gustan ____? – Sí, (no, no) me gustan ____ (Do you like___?  — I (do not) like ___.)

¿Tienes ____?  –Sí, (no, no) tengo ___. (Do you have ___?  — I (do not) have __.)

¿Vas a ____?  — Sí, (no, no) voy a ____ (Are you going to ____?  — I (am not) going to ___.)

¿Estás en ___? Sí, (no, no) estoy en ____.  (Are you in/at ____?  — I am (not) in/at ___.)

¿Qué necesitas? – Necesito ____.  (What do you need?  — I need ___.)

This is a fair bit for first story so we go slowly.  I will narrate a sentence in the past — e.g. el chico estaba en Watts– and circle that a bit, then I’ll ask the actor one of the present tense questions, like “¿Estás en Watts?” and s/he answers “Sí, estoy en Watts.”  You go s.l.o.w.l.y., you point-and-pause, and you do a LOT of comprehension checks (in unsheltered, comp check focus with verbs is on meaning and tense).  I have two actors right now.  Miguel knows some Spanish from his Salvadorean Dad, and Shyla is just very enthusiastic.  If they can answer, great; if not, they read off board.

This is my beginner PQA chart which I also use for stories.



SECOND, we do P.Q.A.– personalised questions and answers.  For this, wejust ask the class members the same questions we ask our actors.  We can do this mid-story, or after.  We start with our “fast processor” kids and just ask one, say, ¿Te gustan los gatos? and have them answer Sí, me gustan los gatos or maybe No, no me gustan los gatos.  If they aren’t comfy saying the whole sentence, they can answer Y or N, and we rephrase: “Class, Baninder just said me gustan los gatos.  What did he just say?”

For PQA, it’s important to figure out your kids’ output skills and tailor questions to that.

  • You ask everyone y/n questions.  E.g. ¿Te gustan los gatos? (Do you like cats?)– Sí/no.
  • Faster processors can handle one-word answer questions, e.g. ¿Te gustan los gatos o los perros? Do you like cats or dogs?)– Los gatos.
  • the fastest processors you can ask whole-sentence questions e.g. ¿Por qué te gustan los gatos? ¿Son cómicos? (Why do you like cats– because they’re funny?) — Me gustan los gatos porque son cómicos.

I have trained myself to always model answers– with a comp check– before moving ahead and asking the kids.  So if we’re working on, say, trabajo (I work/am working), I’ll say “yo trabajo en la escuela. Yo no trabajo en casa.”  (I work at school.  I don’t work at home).  Then I ask “what did I just say?” to make sure they get it.  Then I ask a fast processor ¿trabajas? (do you work?), get a y/n answer, comp check– “class, what did Johnny just say?”, and ask again, pointing to board.  I model for the FPs and everyone else, and the FPs model for the SPs.  I usually seem to end up with 1-3 kids in a class who immediately pick up how to say something so I just use them.

Third, do P.Q.A. with Movietalk and Picturetalk. Just throw the same questions at the kids– using vocab from your movie or picture– as you did in your story.  If there’s a girl in the movie who is happy, you ask a kid “are you happy?” or ask her and her friend “are you guys happy?”

Fourth, for plural verbforms (“you guys, they, we”), there are two strategies.  First, we have a “double parallel character” e.g. two girls or two guys.  Or have two protagonists doing the same thing.  All our questions to them will be “Do you guys….?” and all their answers “We…” and you will narrate in third person plural.  For example, we narrate “Class, the girls asked for 37 hamburgers” and after we circle that for a bit, we ask the girls “Are you guys asking for 37 hambugers?  Yes, we are asking for 37 hamburgers”). Second, we do P.Q.A. in plural.  So you ask a random fast-processor kid “Johnny, do you and Mike play Call of Duty?” and Johnny says “Yes, we play C.o.D.” or “No, we don’t play C.o.D.”  We then do a bit of circling– “Class, do Mike and Johnny play G.T.A. or C.o.D.?  That’s right, they play…”  

Of course, we must write the verbs on the board or overhead with translation.

I have a restaurant story for which I use two girls as protagonists (and they encounter a series of very handsome but very stupid celebrity servers), so the whole thing is “they” and “we” and “you guys.”

Fifth, reading is essential.  If you follow storyasking with embedded readings (a reading which uses the same vocab as your asked story to tell a different story, and which comes in three (or more) progressively more complex versions), make sure one version of the reading has plural verbforms.  Also do P.Q.A. during (or after) the reading process in both singular and plural verbforms.  If the embdded reading says “John went to the theatre at 6;30 A.M.,” you then ask a kid “do you go to the theatre at 6:30 AM?” and s/he says “Yes, I go…” or “no, I don’t go…” Or you ask a pair of kids “do you guys go to the theatre at 6:30 AM?” and they say “Yes, we go” or “No, we don’t go…”

Sixth, I loooves me some text messages like this one….you can build this in 2 min on any computer, using this free website, then print or project…

A few things to remember:

a) this takes time.  We cannot expect kids to pick this all up in one go.  A skilled T.P.R.S. practitioner will recycle this stuff in every story, and with time the kids will pick it up, first just understanding, and later spontaneously saying things.  My 2s I am expecting will be fully online with plural verbs (we, you guys, they) after about 2 months.

b) we must write what we want on board when introducing first and second person verbs

c) we must do comprehension checks.

Say you ask a girl ¿Te gustan los chico estúpidos? and she says No, no me gustan los chicos estúpidos.  When you ask “Class, what she just say?”, they will often answer with “She doesn’t like dumb guys.”  This is wrong– she said “I don’t like dumb guys.”  We have to stay on top of this because this is a classic easy way for kids to “acquire”  the wrong thing.

Anyway, that’s all I can think of right now for upping our first-and-second person input.


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