C.O.F.L.T. Conference Reflections

The energy-loaded Tina Hargaden, vice-president of the C.O.F.L.T. in Portland, organised a conference and I got to do the T.P.R.S. part of it– a one-day workshop with German storyasking demo, reading, Movietalk, Picturetalk, method explanation, Q&A, etc.

To say I had a busy weekend would be an understatement:  work Fri, drive 7 hours to Portland (through Seattle traffic, its own special Hell, thank you NPR for making it bearable), have a beer and talk shop with Tina, sleep like a baby at the Kennedy School Hotel (a high school converted to hotel– awesome– “fall asleep in class” is their tag), do presentation, drive back to Canada, time change, it’s now 1 AM, sleep three hours, get on plane to Cuba…where thank God they have mojitos  and overhung limestone rock routes.

Anyway, we had the most people of any workshop at the conference (almost 30) and Tina told me that we were the only room where people were regularly laughing.  There were a bunch of Chinese student teachers doing their degrees in Portland, a few TPRSers who were in for a tune-up, and a whack of curious rookies.

So I got my evaluations back.  You can see the COFLT 2016 Stolz TPRS feedback forms if you want to see how awesome I am ūüėČ and how much Oregonians appreciate their gluten-free, salad-based, vegan or organic meat, locally-sourced artisanally-cooked dishes, etc ūüėĄ.  But mostly what is interesting in the comments are the themes that recur.

1.  A lot of people said they really appreciated the German demo aspect of the presentation (an idea I got from Blaine Ray).  People wrote along the lines of “it was great to experience what it is like to be a student.”  I remain convinced that the only way to make any language-instruction method convincing is to teach people part of a language they don’t know.  It is so easy for us to forget how tough it is– even with good C.I.– to pick up a new language.

2.  Recognising that, and because we had some native Mandarin speakers at the workshop, I asked participant Yuan to teach us some Mandarin (Blaine Ray also does this).  She parallel-circled two sentences:  Chris climbs mountains and Tina drinks beer

This put me into the students’ seat and it was enlightening.  I noticed two things:

a) I needed a LOT of reps to remember the Mandarin, and I was glad Yuan went s.l.o.w.l.y.

b) Mandarin does not seem very difficult.  No articles, verb conjugation, etc, though word order seems crucial.

3.  Most people wanted more time with T.P.R.S. (or even me as presenter).  There seems to be a need (in OR and WA) for more C.I.-themed language workshops.  Luckily, Tina Hargaden and C.O.F.L.T. on it and there will be a conference Oct 13-15 which will feature Steve Krashen, Karen Rowan, etc.

4. I talked to another presenter who had a workshop called something like “using authentic docs to design authentic tasks for authentic assessment.” He did some explaining and I wondered two things:

a. What do you actually do with the info from an “end of unit” assessment?  If Max and Sky do well, and Rorie and Arabella terribly, now what? How does that info shape your next “unit”?  I guess if you want a number, awesome, but numbers help neither teachers nor students. 

b. How much energy is a teacher productively using when they design #authres-based activities for assessment? I mean, most #authres don’t use high-freq vocab and are often more of a guessing game for students.  

As I talked to this guy, it struck me that you would get a lot better assessment with exit quizzes for reading & translating, and with comprehension checks along the way– especially with what Ben Slavic has called “barometer kids”– so that, in the moment, you can provide more input for what the kids are misunderstanding. 

5. Laughter matters. Laughing bonds people, lightens any mood, is a brain break, comes from when unexpected ideas are conjoined, etc. So I am glad that we got to laugh at our workshop (yet another practice that Blaine Ray is all about with his dancing monkeys and girls without noses). 

6. There were some experienced C.I. teachers there and I was super-stoked (sorry I can’t remember names). These folks asked good questions, and they often said “well Chris does ____ but I do _____ instead.”  Which teaches us that while there is a basic C.I. recipe– use a story, limit and recycle vocab, have people read the story, add images and short films for more vocab recycling– there are many cooks with a panoply of flavours.  Also,  the experienced people generated great lunchtime discussions over craft organic artisanal salads and quinoa vegan quiche ūüėČ. 

So, thanks COFLT and Tina for a great opportunity for all those language teachers. Their Oct confernce will rock– stay tuned. 

My Marking System for a Language Class Summarised.

“How do we mark kids in T.P.R.S. classes?” asks a C.I. newbie on the Yahoo listserv. ¬†Assessment and evaluation are always hot topics.

First, definitions.  Assessment is observing how people are doing, and based on that observation

1. changing what you the teacher do and

2. giving students feedback in order to

3. improve student performance.

Assessment in a comprehensible input classroom means checking whether individual students (or the class)¬†understand both statements and questions, and– if they don’t– clarifying. Weak choral responses? ¬†No response? ¬†Wrong answer? ¬†Go back and clarify. The same goes for individual kids. ¬†If Johnny can’t answer the question “What does ___ mean?”, go back and re-explain. ¬†BOOM! that’s assessment.

Evaluation is assigning a number to student work based on a student’s performance in relation to standards (criteria). ¬†This we do at the end¬†of instruction.

Second, principles. ¬†If you havn’t been in-serviced about “assessment for learning,” google it, I can’t explain it all here, but let’s make three things SUPER CLEAR.

A. ¬† We only evaluate “final products,” not practice, homework, behaviour, attitude, etc. ¬† The long and the short of this surprisingly controversial statement is that we expect our kids to do X, Y and Z, and the mark we ultimately assign them at the end of Year ____ of Blablabian Language Class should reflect how well they do X, Y and Z. ¬†Whether Johnny is nice (or a total jerk) in class, and whether or not Suzy does her homework are¬†irrelevant: what matters is how well they do in relation to criteria.

B. ¬†We only evaluate what has been taught. ¬†No random new vocab, no activities on tests the kids havn’t done, etc. ¬†You test what you teach, period.

C. We always let ppl re-do work so they can improve their mark. In my class, this means that their mark is always their most recent writing, reading and speaking mark.

Assessment should be fast, simple and minimal, because people learn from interesting comprehensible input and not¬†from testing, and because teachers need to see their families & have a life ūüĎć. ¬†

Now, here is what I do.


  • 10% all work done during year
  • 10% two culture projects (5% each)
  • 80% final listening, reading & writing exam (speaking for Level 2 & up)

First, this is how I mark writing.

Second, for reading and listening marks, the easiest thing is the exit quiz. ¬†One a week for reading and one for listening. ¬†Speak– or write on the board– five sentences. ¬†For listening, the kids write in the target language and translate into English. ¬†For reading, they translate into English. ¬†You can have them trade papers and mark. ¬†You can do an exit quiz in ten minutes, the marks recording is quick, and you’ll know immediately if they understand or not.

Another great ideaРthanks, Ben Slavic and also ironically legacy methodsРis dictation.  For dictation, read a very short (e.g. 10-sentence) story aloud.  The kids write down what they hear.  Then, they translate.  Finally, you project the story, and they fix their errors.  I have no idea how to mark dictation.  Suggestions?

I also mark my kids’ comics for a reading mark. ¬†This is Adriana’s idea from her special-ed course and it’s simple & excellent:

  • read the extended version of the most recent story (if using embedded readings, read the most complex one)
  • make a 10-16 panel comic (Internet clip art etc fine) of the story
  • each panel MUST have at least one “narrating sentence,” (e.g. “John was hungry and went to the store”)
  • each panel MUST have EITHER dialogue or thought-bubbles (characters either describing themselves, e.g. “I like girls” or thinking, e.g. a girl thinking “I am hungry”)
  • the pictures MUST accurately support the meaning

This is what Adriana calls “deep reading.” ¬†It makes the kids read, extract the main points, and illustrate them. ¬†It’s also fairly easy, and the results– which I say should look decent, be in pen, have a bit of colour and not use lined paper– go on the wall, where the kids read each others’. ¬†If you have Adminz or Headz who get excited about Technologiez, the kids can make them using Computerz!

The comic marks are cumulative: if they don’t do them, they get zero until they are done. ¬†A comic typically takes a kid about 30-40 minutes to do, and is the only homework I assign (other than occasional reading).

Third, I do not assess “speaking skills” in Level 1. ¬†Shocker, I know, but there’s a few reasons. ¬†I know¬†exactly how well each student can talk. ¬†And–unless your modus operandi is hand out worksheets and put your feet up– so do you. Level 1 is where we lay foundations, where we plant seeds, and if the kids are getting a load of input, these seeds, as Ben Slavic puts it, will bloom in Level 2. ¬†And practising speaking¬†does not develop speaking skills. ¬†My kids¬†can talk– a¬†lot— but I don’t pressure them with “prepare for your oral test” nonsense (how¬†do you “prepare” for an oral test anyway?!?).

I assess speaking skills in one three-minute interview at the end of Level Two¬†(and up). ¬†These interviews are 100% random questions. ¬†For Level Two, I am basically looking for their ability to understand and respond (they should be able to answer a question like “What do you like to do?” or “What did you do last weekend?” with 1-3 sentences). ¬†I also get them to tell me a story. ¬†For Level 3 and up, they should be able to provide longer answers and ask me questions as well.

Now, how does it all hang together?

Well, what I have is a “rolling” gradebook. ¬†That is, their mark¬†always reflects their latest performance (the exception: ¬†the comics, which are all added together under the reading mark).¬†¬†Their mark is always the most recent thing they have done (for writing, listening and reading). ¬†We do assessment during the story-asking process for listening and reading skills, and at the end of a “story cycle” for writing.

This allows me to say “right now, you are getting ___%” and also “if you blow off coming to class, reading etc, your mark can drop.” ¬†With T.P.R.S., most kids do quite well, so I have very few parent or kid complaints. ¬†In the last three years, one parent has complained…and when I told her that her son missed an average of 60% of classes, she said “oh, I see” and that was that. ¬†Also, the kids know that if they have a crappy day on writing assessment day, they can boost their mark next time around. ¬†Generally, the marks are quite consistent.

When I get the dreaded question “how can Maninder improve her mark?” from a parent , I say¬†all you can do is listen in class, read, and try to find easy listening or reading in Spanish outside of class.¬† This also happens to be the only thing that really helps. ¬†There is no edubabble like “look in your portfolio and revise your ____” or “master your ____ verbs” or whatever (feedback is useless: if it adresses the conscious mind, it will be either forgotten or unavailable in real-time interactions).

Teachers say “well, a kid could do nothing all year and then try to ace the final.” ¬†Yes, they could. ¬†But…for one, as Bill VanPatten reminds us, the “work” in a language class is processing input. ¬†No processing input = no (or very little) acquisition. And sure enough, the kids who blow off listening and reading (and/or skip classes) see their marks drop. ¬†If they keep re-writing the same story, and don’t learn new vocab, the end-of-year writing criteria takes that into account. ¬†They are also expected (in Level 1) to write about 75¬†more words in each 40-min story-write and 10 more words per 5-min speedwrite (describing themselves or a picture) than they did the previous time. ¬†Kids who skip etc¬†see their marks drop, because their output has¬†less varied (and less well-used) vocab, and lower wordcount.

In 2015 Spring semester, I had two kids who missed about 50% of classes. ¬†Sure enough, at the end of the year exam, their wordcounts for stories were in the 300 range (the rest of the class could do 600, and the top kids almost 900), their 5-min speedwrites were about 60 words (every other kid was over 100), and their reading and listening comprehension was significantly lower. ¬†Most interesting: ¬†these kids did not badly…but would have failed under the grammar grind/communicative system.

So, they have “ongoing” evaluation where their marks are¬†always the last thing they’ve done.

For final evaluation, I do a 45-min story write and a 5-min describe-a-picture write.  I use this Timed Writing Rubric (from Kristin Duncan) at the end of the year.  In Level 1, the story word target is 800 words in 45 min; for Level 2 it is 1,000.  For the picture,t he target is 100 words in 5 min.

For listening, I do dictation:  they listen to a 20-sentence Spanish story, write it in Spanish, then translate into English. For reading, I give them 20 questions relating to the embedded (long) reading versions of the asked stories, and they have to hunt through the stories (re-reading! reps!) for answers.  The answers are 1. copy from the text and 2. translate.  The evaluation here again is of comprehension, not output.

Generally, I use 80% final evaluation¬†(read, write, listen; oral for 2s and up), 10% culture projects and I make the entire year’s work worth 10% for their final Spanish mark. ¬†Interestingly– I kept stats this year– there was¬†very little difference between kids’ final exam marks and their during-the-year marks.

This has never happened, but I tell kids, if you blow it on the final writing or reading exam, you can re-do it.  As Vancouver T.P.R.S. teacher Steve Bruno remarks, one of the great things about T.P.R.S. is low test anxiety.  The kids know what they have to do, they can do it, and there is zero difference between a final exam and a regular test.

So anyway…to sum it up:

  • students are always marked on their most recent work
  • no oral evaluation¬†for beginners
  • this is¬†real¬†“assessment for learning” where¬†only final products are evaluated¬†with reference to criteria
  • there is¬†no marking of attitude, homework, participation, etc. ¬†If kids screw around, or don’t work, I deal with it– but not by using marks as carrot or stick

How do I start the Year with T.P.R.S.?

Craig West asked me, “how do you start your year?” ¬†Good question. ¬†So here is what I do on Day 1.

A) Kids come in, I take attendance, they sit where they want, I make a seating plan. If it turns out they can’t work together, I will move them later.

B) I hand out the COURSE OUTLINE , the INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION rubric¬†(a modified version of Ben Slavic and Jen Schongalla’s jGR)¬†and kids fill out paperwork.

C) I basically tell them two things. First, general expectations (no swearing, sexist or homophobic etc language, don’t make a mess, yadda yadda). ¬†Then, I ask them “if you took another language, and it didn’t work for you, or you didn’t like it, I want to know why” and they tell the class.¬† Usually they say things like “[language] was boring, hard to understand, bla bla.”

Then, I tell them, “Ok, here we learn through stories and it’s really easy. All you have to do to learn a language is listen¬†to words you understand in it, or read¬†it.” I also tell them, the amount of fun in class depends on how much energy they bring to it (suggestions), I show them the rules poster, and I tell them how to do responses.

Then, I hand out my vocab sheet for my first story–Los Gatos Azules— where the words are written in Spanish. ¬†They write down the English. Then I start asking the story. I write a few of the first sentences on the board. ¬†Hab√≠a un chico. ¬†Viv√≠a en ________. Se llamaba ________.¬†¬†I get the kids to suggest funny names etc.¬† I ask for a volunteer to act, or appoint a native speaker if I have one, and I ask him questions from the PQA chart. ¬†On Day 1, I probably won’t get much further than quieres, eres¬†and tienes– questions.

This (below) is my PQA chart.

So if I narrate Hab√≠a un chico, I ask my actor ¬Ņeres un chico?¬†and he answers soy un chico by reading off PQA chart. ¬†(If I have a native speaker, I’ll use him/her.) I’ll also ask ¬Ņtienes un perro/gato?¬†and he answers S√≠, tengo un gato¬†and/or no tengo un perro,¬†and I’ll ask ¬Ņc√≥mo te llamas? –me llamo _____¬†and ¬Ņvives en _____? — s√≠/no, no vivo en.¬†I make sure I do a LOT of comprehension checks with both actor and class. A comp check involves asking either one person or the class “what did I just say?” or “what did I just ask?” and checking if they understand.

I’ll also start with another kid as my first parallel character. ¬†Usually a girl (so we can start in on feminine nouns etc) and my parallel character stays in her seat but I will give her a prop to help be a visual anchor. ¬†So, with Los Gatos Azules, the main character (boy) has a dog (I give him a stuffed dog) but wants 10 blue cats. ¬†The parallel character– a girl, seated– has a cat (and prop) but wants 27 purple dogs.

I have realia– for this story stuffed animals– which are good “meaning anchors.” Anything you say which is comprehensible– and which has any other kind of meaning support, such as realia, props, gestures– will help kids acquire language. ¬†Below, gato¬†and perro¬†are vocab from the story;¬†rat√≥n¬†is an obvious easy cognate that provides easy contrast for circling a pair of sentences. ¬†I could even vary the story…el chico quer√≠a tener diez gatos azules…but…el gato quer√≠a un rat√≥n blanco

I will stop my story 10 min before the end, and then I’ll do an exit quiz. This sets tone– yes, T.P.R.S. is fun BUT you still have to tune in– and also an exit quiz is easy. The kids “get” Spanish on their first day and that feels good.

For homework for day two, I’ll have the kids make simple desk signs. On one side goes their name (can be fake), a picture/drawing of something they like to do, and another of something they own (or a pet). ¬†On the back goes ¬Ņpuedo ir al ba√Īo?¬†and ¬Ņpuedo ir a tomar agua?¬†and ¬Ņpuedo ir a mi armario?¬†This is a Ben Slavic idea. ¬†You can always pick one kid’s sign, write a sentence about it on the board (or write a sentence about another kid’s sign also) and presto!, instant mini-c.i. activity. ¬†Plus, the signs help me learn the kids’ names and get to know them better.

There are a zillion other activities you can do on start-up day/week (Ben Slavic has a whole book called Stepping Stones to Stories¬†where he describes his start-up system). Some teachers have to “norm” their classes, i.e. teach them how to behave. ¬†But I have found that, for me, the best thing is to go straight into stories. ¬†It seems that kids learn best when vocab is “packaged” into stories, and when they have to read embedded versions of stories. ¬†I have basically learned that said in September, forgot by December, so¬†if it gets said, it has to be read¬†if I want the kids to remember it. ¬†I do enjoy scene-spinning and improv though…

On Day 2, I start by circling weather and date (good to put boring stuff in background). I review the story, and we continue on– I’ll be able to introduce vas, te gusta(n) and queria— and this day I start personalised questins and answers.¬† For me, P.Q.A. is basically asking the class members the same question as the actors.

So, if this was Day 2 PQA, I would do the following before reviewing and then continuing the story. ¬†I would first say “OK, yesterday we started a story, and today, I want to get to know you guys, so I’ll ask you some of the questions I asked [actor and parallel character]. Answer with whatever you are comfortable with: s√≠/no, a word, or a sentence.” Then I’ll point to the PQA chart, make sure they know what the questions mean– and how to answer them– and off we go.

I pick a random kid and ask ¬Ņeres un chico?¬†and he has to answer s√≠, or soy un chico. ¬†I’ll repeat the same with a girl, then I’ll do ¬Ņtienes un gato/perro?¬†This is where personalisation¬†starts. ¬†Little by little, you start to learn about your kids. ¬†Who has a dog? Who likes/hates cats? ¬†I also tell them, if you want, totally lie, as long as it’s not inappropriate (e.g. if you said it to your Mom, would she laugh or perma-ground you?) so some kids will want to say tengo un dinosaurio¬†and that can become part of class culture. ¬†It is also fun to ask a boy ¬Ņeres una chica?¬†etc.

Then, we go back to our story. I’ll review details from Day 1, then ask for more details, introduce the problem, etc. This year, I started changing things a wee bit– I now ask¬†characters in my stories present tense questions about other characters– e.g. Donald Trump, ¬Ņes¬†un chico Barack Obama?–¬†¬†which gets me present-tense reps.

So there you go– starting the year with t.p.r.s.

How should I teach boring stuff, like numbers, weather and pronouns?

At a workshop, somebody asked me how T.P.R.S. deals with boring stuff.  Some things are essential, but boring.

  • Hellos and goodbyes
  • weather
  • time
  • numbers
  • days, dates &¬†months
  • the alphabet
  • pronouns
  • colours
  • location words
  • Connectors, like “she said” and “then” and “afterward”
  • verbs such as “there is/are,” “to go,” etc

YAWN.  Some textbooksРe.g. AvancemosРdo entire units on this stuff.  DOUBLE YAWN.  I used to make games to teach this stuff TRIPLE YAWN I AM FALLING ASLEEP!  Boring stuff is like a nice salsa: a bit makes everything better; an entire jar at once will turn you off Mexican food forever.

Today’s question: How do we teach boring stuff without boring students?

a) Days of the week, months, numbers 1-31.  Every day, you write the date on the board in TL.  Under the date, write how to say the date in TL.  E.g. hoy es lunes, el 4 (cuatro) de mayo.

At the start of class, circle the date for a bit.¬† Clase.¬† ¬ŅEs el lunes?¬† Si, es el lunes.¬† ¬ŅEs el martes? No, no es el martes; es el lunes.¬†¬ŅEs el lunes o el martes?¬† Es el lunes.¬† Clase. ¬ŅEs el cuatro o el cinco de mayo?¬† Si, clase, es el cuatro.

If you don’t know what “circling” is, it’s easy.¬† Make a statement, then ask about it.¬† Ask a question with a yes answer, then with a no answer, then an either/or answer.¬† For every question, restate the positive. ¬†Don’t keep the same question order for circling.

This should, over 5 months, help the kids acquire #s 1-30 and days of the week.  You literally need 30 seconds per class.  After awhile, the kids will start saying them.

b) Colours and #s¬†greater than 30.¬† Throw one colour– and one number the kids don’t know– into every story you do.¬† The boy doesn’t want a cat; he wants a blue cat.¬† No, no; he wants 54 blue¬†cats.¬† You can do the same for hellos and goodbyes— throw one or two into every story.

c) Weather.¬† I start the year with one weather expression on board for the weather that day and circle that.¬† If the weather is different the next day, I write that on board and circle it for a minute.¬† 30-40 seconds of weather circling every day = weather done by end of year.¬† This eventually extends into PQA.¬† Once the kids know a few expressions, you can then feel class energy and start circling something like “When it’s raining, Suzie dances in the street!” ¬†You can also add weather as background in stories– “when Suzie went dancing, it was raining” (bonus: imparfait/imperfecto¬†input!).

If the weather where you are never changes, ask “what’s the weather like in ____?” and circle that for a bit.

d) Also works for location words: in most TPRS stories the characters move somewhere.¬† So when you say “there was a boy in Spuzzum, B.C.” and then you ask “where in Spuzzum was the boy?” (and kids make suggestions) you can add something like “the boy was in the purple Ferrari behind his Spanish teacher’s house.”

e) Time is easy to deal with.¬† I just randomly once/class point to the clock and say “Clase, son las diez y veinte” or whatever, then translate.¬† I circle that.¬† Clase, ¬Ņson las diez y veinte or son las diez y quince?¬† Si, clase, son las diez y veinte.¬† If I said “son las nueve y diez, what would that mean?”¬† I also throw time into each story once– great chance to toss in the imperfecto/imparfait— and briefly circle.

f) For connecting words— like asks, answers, then, after, before, etc– just translate. ¬†The kids will see these so often during the year that they will pick them up. ¬†Every¬†story has “she said” and “then he answered,” etc, in it.

g) for boring and high-frequency verbs, throw them into every story, use them over and over, but don’t circle them obsessively. Verbs like to like, have, be, want, go, come and need¬†are going to be in every¬†story, basically. ¬†The first¬†time you use one, circle it by adding interesting student-suggested detail. ¬†(“Class, was there a boy or a blue turtle? ¬†That’s right, there was a boy….”). After that, use the verbs (in various person and tense forms) but don’t circle them, and do comprehension checks.

Students will see/hear the “boring” verbs a zillion times during the year. They will¬†get the reps, so keep things interesting.¬†

Blaine¬†Ray does this in his Look, I Can Talk books and it’s simply brilliant: the boring stuff is simple easy background.¬† If you get rid of the idea that students must learn all “things in a category” at the same time (which they don’t, and can’t, and it’s boring and silly, and even if they do learn it, they forget), you’re set.

H) The alphabet. ¬†Oh God what is more boring? Nothing. ¬†Also note that the only place the alphabet is regularly used is the classroom. It is¬†low frequency¬†and therefore not important. WASTE NO TIME ON “ALPHABET ACTIVITIES,” PEOPLE ūüėŹ. Label your parallel¬†characters with letters (chica jota = “Girl J”) and just write and point during quizzes (e.g. label your exit quiz questions n,o,p,q,r, point and say). Also note that if you do alphabet (or number) “games” or songs with your kids, they are probably learning the song a whole lot better than the numbers and letters.

i) Pronouns. ¬†Put them into the¬†background of stories. ¬†You are narrating¬†el chico quer√≠a a la chica. ¬†La quer√≠a much√≠isimo¬†(the boy liked the girl. ¬†He liked her a lot). ¬†You say “la means her” and then you check to make sure they understand the sentence. ¬†Then, you use that (and other pronouns) for the rest of the year. ¬†Because they are of low communicative value, pronouns are late-acquired, so don’t stress if your kids don’t start using them right away. ¬†Whatever you do, do¬†not make a “unit” around pronouns, and do¬†not expect to teach your kids a song or rap about pronouns and expect them to pick them up.

If you’re teaching with a text, just locate all the boring stuff for the year and spread a nice thin layer throughout your year rather than forcing your students to swallow the whole Boring Jar in one tedious go. ¬†The greetings unit (eg Avancemos 1 Ch1)? ¬† Use one new greeting and goodbye per story.

One final note on circling: do not beat boring stuff to death (i.e. don’t¬†let boring stuff take over your story).¬† Do NOT spend 3 minutes per class on the weather, or circle the time in a story for 5 minutes.¬† A few reps each day over the year adds up to the same thing as 60-100 reps in one story.¬† If they know that hace buen tiempo means “it’s nice weather outside,” it doesn’t matter if you repeat it eighty times in one day, or eighty times in one year. ¬†However, if you do it eighty times in one story, some kids will tune out…and your boring stuff will, sadly, have become boring.

There is also research regarding memory which states that “distributed” practice beats “massed” practice for retention. If we need, say, 100 repetitions of hearing something to remember it, we have (broadly speaking) two options: repeat it 100 times in one class (massed practice),¬†or repeat it four times per class for twenty-five classes (distributed practice). ¬†It turns out that for learning sports skills and music, distributed practice wins hands-down. ¬†However,¬†I havn’t seen S.L.A.-specific research on this topic, so caveat magister.