Just talking

I have a wonderful period 4 class. We haven’t finished doing interviews with all the students, so today I sat one down in front of the screen and started doing our simple “Our star” interview with him. We milked the interview. I remembered part-way through that the point I’m trying to stress right now is use of the infinitive, and that I hadn’t told the kids. (Some of them like to know what our grammar focus is.) I wrote up three major times we use it, and students were suggesting extra pieces to add to the explanation (in Russian). Then we continued doing the “Our star.” I honestly don’t know what we were doing but talking to one kid, making comparisons, and answering questions, but all of a sudden, some of the girls started giggling. I wanted to know what was going on. In little fits, they pointed at the clock. We had interviewed this one poor boy for almost an hour. We hadn’t gotten to our song, to the end of our “Are you an American?” survey, to the story we were working on, and I had completely forgotten that it was “Thursday Quiz.”

I asked the kids if they minded. No. Were they bored? No. Did they know more about the student in front? Yes. Was spending all this time simply speaking Russian okay? Yes.

Whew! Sigh of relief. I played the song that the last question reminded me of: it was “What kind of person are you?” and he had agreed that he is kind and dear, so I played the song, “Oh my dear,” at which the students laughed…and left…because the bell rang.

I could have used the same slides for a first-year class (and have), but they work really well for any group, because every answer leads to many more questions, if a person is interested. The one thing that I have added lately is that we backtrack through the slides so that the class gets to practice telling the critical information about the student we’re interviewing. I put the correct verb forms up so that they see them as they review. I’m hoping this tactic will help with spelling in the end.

My ah-hah moment (which I’ve had many times now) is that it’s easy to use the same material for every class level.


3 responses to “Just talking

  1. MJ, I love your blog, and this post is especially inspirational! It seems like you structured your interview around an Our Star slideshow. Would you say more about that?


  2. Nancy, you made my day!

    I’m not sure what else to say about the Our Star. Here’s the link to the one I’m using with every level of kid. You can see there’s lots of support, even if a person doesn’t know Russian.

    I ask more advanced kids to lead this interview with others (they covered it every day while I had a sub), and noticed that students started asking follow-up questions. Yesterday, I was the one asking follow-up questions, then pointing at the board whenever an infinitive popped up, handing out rubles when kids used them, but really just having fun learning about the kid. Maybe I’ll ask whether we can video the lesson the next time. Today I want to spend some time catching up on what we didn’t do and showing them some Russian kid short videos.

    Speaking of that, Russian teachers, Eralash now has both Russian and English subtitles. I’m going to show it with the Russian ones:

    Nancy, was that the “more” that you were wanting?


    • That was exactly the “more” I wanted! 🙂 Your slide show is a great frame for the interview, and I’m always looking for ideas to steal/adapt for my adult beginning ESL class. Thanks!


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