Michael’s way!

I was just looking at my upcoming structures for the intermediates and advanced. Two of them are “house” and “year.” Earlier I wouldn’t have really known how to get to those at the higher level, but now, thanks to Michael Miller (see two days ago or so), I have some great ideas. First, I can ask kids to draw or just envision their real/imaginary house/home, and talk about what those are. Then we can talk about what’s in a kid’s house/home, and who’s in that house (thus covering three different forms of “house”), and finally we can talk about what is in a typical Russian house. In Russian, the word that translates as house/home is also “building,” because most people live in an apartment, and that means that there is a longer phrase for a home that is in a house.

And the same for “year.” I might have to think about that a little more…maybe what do people do at various times in life…I am very excited to realize how I can “use” Michael’s plan.

Here are some random notes from the session I took from him:

“Message matters more than structure.”
Talk about places the kids like to eat, rather than “there was a girl…”
Use teacher talk to get more personal, have a real-world discussion about culture, and to have more fun with the kids. (Don’t abandon storytelling, but spend more time in this “first gear.”)
In first-year classes, do more of the who/what/when/where/what color/how many/yes-no questions. Later ask how/why/did you…/will you…/would you…
Funny is not the goal. The goal is to be interesting and interested.

Wish I could link to his class videos. They were awesome. The kids were right on task, and Michael was buzzing around the room. I wanted to be one of them!

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2 responses to “Michael’s way!

  1. Totally agree. My classes used to be almost entirely based around storytelling (and re-telling, and activities, and…), but I found that kids get bored with the make-believe of it all pretty quickly. They can only handle it for about a year! Talking about their lives and the lives of others (cultural discussions, for example) can sustain students’ engagement throughout years of language study. Right now, we are studying some words that will help us learn about Las madres de la plaza de mayo in Argentina, and we did a story that some kids were into, but mostly they LOVED talking about the difficulties that come with old age, the children in their own families, and ultimately Las madres. What class is it that you are talking about??

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    • It was Michael’s session at NTPRS in Las Vegas this summer. He is amazing.

      He also dove into Embedded Readings, and he credits those with bringing his class’s average National German test scores up to 62%. That’s eighth-graders, in their second year of German, taking the second-year high school exam. He was very happy about it.

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