Month: September 2019

Oct 25th Languages Pro-D in Surrey, B.C.

Hello languages & E.L.L. teachers!

For Mainland teachers who aren’t going to the Island, there will be some C.I. Pro-D on Oct 25th in Surrey!



1.  A demo & explanation of Beniko Mason’s Story Listening method.  You will leave with an awesome method AND all the free resources you  need!.  We will do the demo in German (no experience necessary  ) so you feel how easy acquisition is.

2.  Zero-Prep C.I. No lesson plan? Want to add to a story? No problem! Four very simple strategies to deliver interesting C.I. content without planning.

3.  C.I. Opening Routine. A simple, easy and student-centered way to teach boring necessities (numbers, time etc), as well as early introduction of past-tense forms.

4. C.I. Round Table. Bring your C.I.-related questions and ideas, and the group will discuss them. I also have some good short discussion items about SLA science to feed our brains.


Fri, Oct 25th, 9-3. One hour for lunch.

Room S208, Tamanawis Secondary, 12600 66th Ave, Surrey, BC V3W-2A8


Teachers of all languages, E.L.L. teachers. Everyone welcome!

How much:

Free! Bring your own lunch, or contribute $10 for an amazing lunch of acha dhesi khanna—good Indian food!  (veg options too!)

RSVP—I will only have room for 30 people. Bonus: French and Spanish teachers get a free copy of my kids’ novel Berto y sus Buenos Amigos/Jean-Paul et ses Bons Amis.  

Feel free to forward this email.

chris stolz

tamanawis secondary

What is my C.I. Workload?

Recently somebody asked how do I reduce my marking load? This is a crucial question. Anyone who is overloaded/tired makes poorer, short term choices (and is functionally less intelligent than) the non-overloaded.

Blaine Ray once joked that TPRS was developed partly to improve his golf game. There is a solid kernel of truth here: when teachers have family lives, hobbies and rest, they are much better focused in class. Same for kids!

So…here is a look at the workload in Spanish 1 to offer people perspective.

Background: my language teaching is about 50% classical TPRS. On top of that, we have Movietalk, Picturetalk, opening routine, Story Listening, zero-prep activities and of course reading (and I use OWIs in TPRS-style stories. I more or less base everything around a story cycle.

I also want to spend as little time as possible testing and marking (these take away input time, and are boring).

The Marking Workload

I deliver C.I. for 75 min/day for a total of 6 hrs/week for five months per year. My testing includes

• one or two 5-7 sentence-story listening quizzes per story cycle (about teo weeks). I read a 5-7 sentence story aloud, sentence by sentence, the kids copy them down, then translate into English.

• one reading assessment per story cycle. Here, kids translate any of the following: a short story (using recent story vocab), a Wooly story, sentences from the novel we are reading, or I upload a class story to Textivate and use that.

• At the end of every story cycle, we test writing. First, kids have 5 min. to describe a picture. Second, they have between 15 and 50 min. (depending on grade & time during semester) to write a story.

It takes me about 15 min/block to mark & enter quizzes, so 30-45 min every two weeks for quizzes (faster if it’s Textivate or I’m using Wooly for listening).

5-min writes = 15 min/class to read & enter.

Stories take about 40 min (you don’t have to read all of each story— reading 5 random sentences will give you a very accurate picture of their writing.

So 95 min biweekly of work.

Marking load per block per week: 45 min.

The Preparation Workload

I have a vague idea pre-story what vocab (usually verbs, adverbs and prepositions) I want in each story. So prep is zero.

Once a story is asked, I type it up (15 min), look for & cue up some Movetalks (5 min), look for & load pics for Picturetalks (5 min) and type up the most recent bits from the Soap Opera (10 min). So the prep takes 35 min/two weeks = 20 min/week.

So Spanish workload = 1 hr 5 min per block per week outside of class time.

This seems to be a bit lower than the workload in English, about comparable to Philosophy, and much higher than for guitar. One thing is for sure: I get waaaaaay better results, have much more fun (as do the kids), and work a lot less than I did when I used the textbook.

In other words, as research shows, C.I. is not just fun and effective, it’s efficient! 😁😁

So…what did I do to reduce marking?

  1. I stopped giving out & marking stupid cahier/cuaderno homework.
  2. I stopped planning “activities.” C.I. stuff delivers everything we need to acquire language.
  3. I ditched huge projects. Output and translate-into-TL don’t do much for acquisition.
  4. I got rid of most electronics. I’m too lazy to plan QR-code this and Quizlet that. A flashcard on a smartphone is still a flashcard.
  5. I stopped giving stupid “unit exams” complete with multiple-guess questions which took forever to mark.