Stepping stones to stories – Ben Slavic’s #PLC

The first part is in English – the second part in Dutch (like the days before)

The coming weeks I’ll be writing about Ben Slavic’s newest book: Stepping stones to stories! Ben’s system of Starting the Year with Comprehensible Input – the book is available at his site: follow the link. Ben shows in his new book how to start out the new schoolyear using comprehensible input.

Ben Slavic's war room at NTPRS14. Picture by Brian Peck

Ben Slavic’s war room at NTPRS14. Picture by Brian Peck

What I did not yet mention is that Ben has a Professional Learning Community (PLC) of which you can become a (paying) member. In his book he also mentions links to his PLC website for his members.

BTW, I’m not a member of this community, nor does Ben ask me to write about his book: I want to read it and write about it to see if it’s interesting to add to my CI teaching skills. So I try not to comment on it too much; you as a reader have to try it out in your own CI lessons and decide if it’s helpful for your lessons or not.

During iFLT14 and NTPRS14 Ben had a “War room” for his PLC and the group always met in the evening and they practiced CI teaching with coaching until late at night. The term War room looks a bit strange to me; the translation tells that it’s a place where strategic decisions are made, especially for military and political campaigns.

Here you can read what Ben wrote about the War room experiences of iFLT14 and NTPRS14 and the comments from a lot of the War room participants.

The picture above of Ben in his War Room at NTPRS14 is made by Brian Peck; he tweeted it with @bcpeck23. I saw Brian perform in Von’s & Blaine’s workshop. He was amazing! On Ben’s blog I read he only started TPRS in October! On the picture to the right are Pilar Reyes and César Gonzalez, English teachers from South-West Spain, who have their own language institute. I met them when we were getting out of the train when I arrived in Chicago Sunday evening. I was just wondering how to get to the hotel and then suddenly I heard someone say my name and it was Pilar! We also met last year in Dallas. Together we travelled to the hotel with the shuttle to the hotel in front of ours. The second person on the left is Jason Bond (no, not James 😉 . He’s American but he teaches Gaelic in Scotland, on the Isle of  Islay! Here you can see where Ben’s PLC members are situated.

And tomorrow I’ll write about Stepping stone #1 Word Associations.


De komende weken schrijf ik hier over Ben Slavic’s nieuwste boek: Stepping stones to stories! Ben’s system of Starting the Year with Comprehensible Input – het boek is verkrijgbaar via zijn site: volg de link. Ben laat in dit boek zien hoe je het schooljaar kunt beginnen door te werken met begrijpelijke input.

Wat ik nog niet genoemd heb, is het feit dat Ben een Professionele Leer Gemeenschap (PLC) heeft waarvan je (betalend) lid kunt worden. In zijn boek geeft Ben ook links naar zijn PLC website voor zijn leden.

Overigens ben ik geen lid van Ben’s PLC en ook betaalt Ben mij niet om over zijn boek te schrijven: ik wil het lezen en erover schrijven om te zien of ik er dingen uit kan halen voor mijn eigen Begrijpelijke input vaardigheden. Dus ik probeer om niet teveel commentaar erop te geven, want ik vind dat je als lezer het zelf in je eigen lessen uit moet proberen en beslissen of het nuttig is voor jouw lessen.

Tijdens iFLT14 en NTPRS14 had ben een “Oorlogskamer”; ik vind het een beetje vreemde term, omdat het een ruimte is waar strategische beslissingen worden genomen, m.n. voor politieke en militaire campagnes.

Hier kun je lezen wat Ben geschreven heeft over zijn ervaringen in de War room tijdens  iFLT14 en NTPRS14 en het commentaar van zijn deelnemers.

Bovenstaande foto is gemaakt door Briuan Peck ; hij heeft de foto getweet via @bcpeck23. I zag hem een les doen tijdens de workshop van Von en Blaine en hij was geweldig. Op Ben’s blog las ik dat hij pas in oktober is begonnen met TPRS. Een natuurtalent! Op de foto aan de rechterkant zitten Pilar Reyes en César Gonzalez, Engelse docenten uit Zuid-West Spanje die hun eigen taalinstituut hebben. Ik ontmoette hen toen ik zondagavond voordat NTPRS14 begon uit de trein stapte in Chicago. Ik sotnd mee net af te vragen hoe ik naar het hotel zou komen toen ik opeens iemand mijn naam hoorde zeggen en dat was Pilar! We waren elkaar vorig jaar ook in Dallas tegengekomen. We zijn samen met de shuttle gereisd naar het hotel dat tegenover dat van ons lag. De tweede persoon aan de linkerkant is Jason Bond – niet niet James 😉 Hij is een Amerikaan uit Maine, maar hij doceert Gaelic in Schotland op het Isle of Islay! Hier kun je zien waar Ben’s PLC-leden zitten.

En morgen ga ik dan echt schrijven over Stapsteen 1, actitviteit 1, Woord associaties.



NTPRS14 Chicago – The fifth day – Friday the 25th of July

And again time flew! Already the last day! The last day is always a half day up to and including lunch.

Betsy PaskvanFrom 8.15 – 9.45 I went to Storytelling to Reading Japanese in an Hour (or so): Learn to read with the hit film Frozen! by Betsy Paskvan. As ever I’m the barometer, but Betsy knows how to repeat so often in a not-boring way, that I get what I need. And it makes me remember very well to takes this into account when I’m teaching myself: to give my students what they need!

From 10-11.30 I hesitated going to Raising Enrollment and Achievement by Focusing on Comprehensible Input: One District’s Journey to Transform Language Education by Grant Boulanger or to Navigating Novels: Plundering Literacy Treasures by Mira Mira CanionCanion. I went to the last one. I alwasy get the idea that Mira wants to tell us so much, that it’s in fact too much. Her speed is very high because of that, but it’s for me as an imageformer too fast; it does not stick. I think it’s beter to do less, but deeper and a next time give your next points. Her slides are also very filled. Compare it to Grant Boulanger. He wants things to be simple. His slides contain little text.

NTPRS14 closing luncheonAnd then from 11.45-1.30 already the closing luncheon!

Carol GaabThe keynote speech was by Carol Gaab. Unfortunately I had to go to the airport to catch my flight and I had to leave at the beginning of her interesting story how she got into TPRS. Hope I an read or see it still somewhere!

I went with the shuttle to the Chicago metra, but the train was too late because of works. I was afraid I would miss my plane, so I took a taxi ($40…). The taxidriver happened to come from Congo and so we spoke French. He happened to have had Leslie Davison also in his taxi the day before (he showed me her cart). He already spoke English quite well, but he had asked her how to improve his English. She had told him to watch television with subtitles. He told me he did not agree with her and that it was a bad idea. I asked him why. He said that the subtitles went so fast, they already disappeared before he could read them entirely. I told him that this happened to me too when I was young. In the Netherlands all foreign television programms, films, series etc. were subtitled. In the beginning I could not read all, because the subtitles disappeared to fast. But with practice my reading got faster and faster; so I told him this would happen to him too if he persevered. With my explanation he could agree. Fate first brought him Leslie and because he did not agree I was brought to complete the details ;-).

NTPRS14 conference programmWhen walking to my gate I happened to meet Bernard, native French teacher and one of the coaches. He told me we also went to the airport before (I had forgotten, but yes, we did); so it was bizarre we now met again at the airport before leaving. And if we had known: he also took a cab to go to the airport on his own ($40…).

Well, and then my flight from Chicago left with an hour delay, so we got in 10 minutes after the last departure to Albany (from Minneapolis – I had to fly from Minneapolis). So I had to stay in a hotel and the next morning to get up at 3.45 to get the shuttle of 4.00 and have a plane to Atlanta (!) at 6.30 and then a plane to Albany from there. All planes for Albany or near Albany were completely (over)booked! This was the only possibility in the daytime… With a direct flight I would’ve had to wait until 7 pm…

And then I sat next to someone in the plane twice or three times my size. You should have seen my face: there he was sitting in the seat next to mine, partly sitting on my seat and half in the pathway. I thought it would not fit with the three of us ont those three seats, but somehow we managed, but I could not avoid ‘getting in touch with him’ (literally). How I was happy when we arrived! But I had Dave Burgess’ book “Teach like a pirate” to entertain me, so I managed to forget (mostly).

Here you can find all the downloads for NTPRS14.


NTPRS14 Chicago – The fourth day – Thursday the 24th of July

Karen LichtmanThursday the 24ht of July, the fourth day. The beginning workshop with Katya Paukova and Donna Tatum-Johns continued until 12 o’clock. The workshops carrousel for the advanced was over and now we could choose for a lot of other sessions: always difficult!

From 8.30 – 10.00 there were 5 sessions and I wanted to attend three…
How not to commit readicide – Bryce Hedstrom
Milking the story with tech tools – Leslie Davison
Research on TPR Storytelling – Karen Lichtman

I decided to go to Karen’s Research on TPRS. What a wonderful presentation! Karen knows how to present stuff that might be boring in a dynamic and interactive way, using all kind of didactic trics, to make us think and react and also remember. She also mentioned a recent TPRS study from the Netherlands by De Vlaming, which Karen translated with Google. Tip: give also a summary of the research and it’s conclusions in English!

Janice Holter KittokThere was a preview of a new research by Janice Holrt Kittok and Barbara Ann Cartford and Karen Lichtman : measuring fluency development in content-based Storytelling elementary Spanish instruction.

Then sessions from 10.15 – 11.45. Now I wanted to go to two of the 5 sessions (I had already heard about La persona especial by Bryce Hedstrom in Denver)
– Deeper reading, Mira Canion
The art of engaging beginners, Grant Boulanger Grant Boulanger

Because Mira’s was also more about the common core, which is not something we use in Europe, so this made my choice easier. So I went to Grant’s. The room was packed! I already met Grant a few days earlier and I told him I liked the ideas of “Teach like a pirate” Dave Burgess. Grant told me – and this was also an item in his presentation, that he always tries to keep things as simple as possible, e.g. only using one prop like a set of glasses. For me it’s more, how can I stick to the ideas of Dave Burgess, who very much works from the idea of Multiple Intelligences, like I do in my lessons and yet still keep it simple?!


In the afternoon I think I skipped the session of 1.45 – 3.15 and had a long talk with Jim Tripp outside in the sun. We Jim Wooldridge (Señor Wooly)talked about his book Tripp’s scripts (which has scripts & structures in English). We laready talked about this last time we met, about having the scripts also available in other languages, like Spanish. French, German etc. and how this could be realized.

The last session from 3.30-5.15 I went to Finding the story: How Sr. Wooly learned to create engaging stories with the simplest Spanish by Jim Wooldridge. It was a personal story about how he used to teach and how this changed and how he started using songs and clips with the songs. Karen Rowan and Jason Fritze

Afterwards I shortly looked at the showcase of Karen Rowan and Jason Fritze and in the coaching room, but I was too tired! IMG_2889 NTPRS14 coaches singing about ChicagoI ate my Wholefoods dinner outside the hotel with my French colleague from Turkey and then I went to the open Mic night until the batteries of my camera were empty (as were mine).


Keep calm we know science