New Quarter

We had Russian visitors again today, but they sat in the back of the room and listened. I was a little worried, since they had said they were impressed by how much the immersion kids knew. They wanted to know how we could teach them that much. Three hours a day since kindergarten adds up!

I explained that this is the normal track, and that the kids are in their first year. They enjoyed our story about a kid who went three different places and stole stuff (then returned it). The point was to practice the phrases, “Excuse me! Forgive me!” because those are the kinds of phrases that students often don’t come out knowing, now that I am not teaching traditionally. That’s not to say that they knew them well earlier, but at least I knew I’d covered them!

The visitors said that they were impressed by how much grammar the kids know and that they were going from past to present tense so well. I was happy too, but I had to admit they don’t really know the grammar. Some of them can explain why some of the endings are there. It’s not like the whole class can, or like they would know all the cases. They know the ones I’ve popped up a few times.

I’m trying to remember that “last three minute” response that was on a Ted talk or in some research. It’s the bit that says that your memory recalls the end of an experience, so if people are laughing and cheering at the end of a lesson, they’ll recall it favorably, and if something bad happens at the end (like a difficult quiz), it leaves a bad taste in their mouths. That’s why I am now trying to give quizzes mid-way through the lesson, not at the end, and am also trying to make the last couple of minutes really fun.


2 responses to “New Quarter

  1. I don’t think your kids need to explain the grammer at this stage of the game anymore than English students can. They just know it doesn’t sound right in their heads. That means they have acquired the process even if they can’t explain it. And in the end that is a much more natural speaker.

    How many of us have tried to explain a grammer rule in english to a new English speaker and been at a loss of words for why it the way it is. I just tell kids–it’s English.


    • You’re right, Kate. I’m not sure when they “need” to be able to explain it. I do want them to notice different forms and understand that they convey meaning though, so I was doing my grammar pop-ups as usual. They thought that a few correct answers from a few kids meant that everyone had it down. TPRS classes always make people think kids know a lot more than they do; but on the other hand, without TPRS/CI, the kids would know so little that it wouldn’t be measureable. I wish my old, proficiency-activity self could watch one of my today’s classes. I wonder what I would have thought.


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