Today the learning labs started. The masterteachers who teach these classes already started Monday to get to know the students and start their lessons. The beginning TPRS teachers first went to observe these lessons and the experienced TPRS teachers could choose the workshops and after the fisrts break the groups changed. I chose to go to the workshop by Katya Paukova about teaching higher levels. She started with the ACTFL guidelines; I saw kind of ressemblances with the Common European Framework, which is in fact something completely different with a different purpose. Katya told that she and her colleagues developed thematic units and she showed examples of current topics that they treated, which had to be interesting and controversial, in order that the students finally could have interesting debates. As resources they used : Youtube, articles and literary texts, announcements, advertisements, letters, maps and tables and also for the auditif part interviews, podcasts, public service announcements.
In the second round the experienced teachers could observe in the learning labs and I went to the beginners French class of Sabrina Janczak. She taught a small group of 8 kids. They were cute and they did very well! Sabrina did lots and lots of repetititons; het three main structures were repeated more over a hundred times. Three students had a counter from a sports shop and every time they heard the structure, they had to push the button. Sabrina also did a few brainbreaks in between, like a song about the body with TPR-movements.
We had a long lunch break of about an hour and a quarter and had a lunch; me outside in the warm Denver sun.
In the afternoon I went to the workshop of Jason Fritze: Language acquisition? it’s ELEMENTARY! It’s always so inspiring to see Jason performing! A few important messages from Jason: TPR is underestimated! Not only use it with lower levels! Jason uses TPR as “a commercial break”. TPR is so important for classroom management, not only with the little kids. In TPRS chunks of language: formulaic sequences that can be learned as wholes or may be fused. Chunks build fluency. There’s grammar build into these chunks. Chunks are likely to be produced as whole units.
After that I went to the workshop of Karen Rowan, Xtreme personalization, part 1. Karen asked us to walk around an meet two new persons and ask each other: if we were stuck in an elevator with a celebrity, which celebrity it would have to be? After it she asked us if we still remembered the names of the new persons we met and that most of us had forgotten. She said our own name is the most important and dear thing to ourselves and that it’s important to know other people’s names. Karen says that her ideas are not always understood at first, but later on everybody is using or doing it. Her point now is, to make your lessons Xtremely personnal, that’s the most important. Not the techniques; if you concentrate only on the techniques your teaching will become too sterile.