A week or two back I spent some time introducing something cultural, and then realized at the end that I was probably boring them to tears. Reflexes from my former life as a grammar teacher kicked in; Bad me. So at the end of my harangue I asked them what THEY wanted to learn about Germany, as we don’t always cover that so much. A sample list follows:
ACTIVITIES: How they handle money, Most popular attractions and why, what they do for fun, Children’s games
PICTURES: Pictures of towns and huge buildings inside Germany, Roadway signs, Types of vehicles
FOOD: Food recipes, Types of restaurants in Germany, Watch a movie on how they make chocolate, make more German food
DESTINATIONS: Good German recreation areas, Best Skiing mountain in Germany, Best places to go fishing, History behind German castles
GENERAL: How people act differently in different parts of Germany, What kind of fish in Germany, History, Family crests in Germany
Duh. I’ve got tons of German children’s games; there’s a Friday. How cool would it be for each student to select (or design) a crest to put on the front of their notebooks? I want to see that chocolate video myself. I have to admit, I’ve never even asked what types of fish they have in Germany.
For all the strengths of TPRS and its focus on creating a vibrant interactive classroom culture, sometimes I tend to forget to bring in enough aspects of the target culture of Germany/Austria/Switzerland because we can roll right along just fine talking about ourselves.
So now I need to figure out how to get my kids to experience all that cool stuff (plus plenty of detours) in a TPRS fashion rather than the traditional lecture and quiz. I think what I want to do with this is treat Germany/Austria/Switzerland as one big sandbox for us to play in.
This upcoming quarter (ours starts after our Spring break next week) I’m going to introduce a new destination/activity/whatnot every week or two (Berlin, castles, cooking pretzels, hiking the Alps, etc.) complete with PowerPoint presentations that THEY create for me (a quick groupsourced effort using Google Docs), which we will then play around with. After learning about downtown Berlin, for example, we’ll have some of our recurring characters visit the capitol building and see what happens: possibly pass some new laws, possibly hijack a tour group and spread misinformation, possibly get themselves kicked out of the country, etc.
It’s always a bit of a balancing act finding the right amount of classroom culture and target culture, but I think I can do a better job with the latter without sacrificing the former. Anyways, I always tend to jigger around with something at the beginning of each term, and I think this will be my latest attempt.