My particular brand of TPRS/CI has long been focusing on structures that include verbs, especially the “sweet 16,” or highest-frequency verbs. I want to have those strong in the kids’ minds.
But this year, I’m morphing again. It has a lot to do with having mostly upper-level kids. For these first seven weeks, I had been concentrating not on structures and the tenses that they are in, but one kind of structure, infinitive verbs. That means that we’re always focusing on just a few HF structures; loves/loved to (to X), wants/wanted (to X), must/had to/will have to (X), will (be Xing), didn’t want (to X), etc. But now I’ve changed over to working on a slightly different kind of structure: “that which.” In Russian, it comes in a second clause and requires the same case ending as the noun that it is replacing. It’s a more complex clause, the kind that we expect kids to use as they start demonstrating higher levels of acquisition.
This feels really different from what I’d been doing. It feels more like I finally understand how to do Susie Gross’ contrastive grammar. I’m making sure that the kids know all the vocabulary around the structure, and am calling their attention to the reasons that “that which” changes in the cases (it can have officially 24 different adjectival case endings, depending on how it is used in the sentence). There’s no way I expect they’ll nail these down anytime soon, but I’m excited to see whether they start trying.