This is a bail-out move when stories fall flat, or it’s the day before a test and you don’t have another video to Movietalk, and you are out of readings. I think the idea originally came from Ben Slavic’s dictation suggestion. I just thought, why not have them read and write instead of listening and writing?
I have a basic “script” version of each story. It is the skeleton of what I ask. Last year, I found that I was unable to keep the stories 100% comprehensible during asking, unless I circled everything sooooo muuuuch that the stories got boring. (This year, I am better: using multiple characters = waaaaay more reps). So, one day when the kids and I were equally grumpy, I went to the photocopy room, made 30 copies of the basic script of the story, and got the kids to translate. Surprisingly, the kids were quite happy to sit and work quietly. My guess is that this is because a C.I. class has a lot of listening and talking, and reading & writing is a break from this.
The next day, when we did extended embedded readings, the kids seemed a lot more focused and I realised that the extra repetition– read and translate– had upped comprehension. So this has become a regular move.
It’s very simple, it gives the teacher a break, it lets the kids slow down with reading, and it’s easy to mark.
a) Hand out a printed version of the story. You want 100% comprehensibility.
b) Get the kids to copy the story out in the target language. They should leave TWO blank lines under each line of the story.
c) Under the T.L. writing– in different-coloured pen– have them translate into L1.
d) Under the L1 translation, leave a blank line. This is to keep things looking neat.
e) Keep going, and remember to indent paragraphs and dialogue, etc.
For marking, I’m a big believer in random sampling. Pick three sentences at random, and see how accurate the translation is. The kids get a mark out of three. I am fairly strict with meaning on these, because they have vocab sheets and we have been through asked story and retells, and I am in the room where they can ask for help, etc. I can mark a class set of these in under five minutes.
I usually give them 40 min with a story. 75% of kids can get it done in class; for the rest, it’s homework. While this sounds boring, the kids are fine with it, I know I am getting them to really read, and it’s low-tech. My inner rebel also likes it: zero tech, no prep, non-“communicative,” super-high levels of comprehensible input, older than old-school, etc. Above all, it works.