TPRS AND CI TEACHER, AUTHOR AND PRESENTER
Adriana Ramirez works in Canada, in the province of British Columbia as a Spanish teacher. She has been a language teacher for more than 15 years. She is a well-known CI author and presenter. Adriana has published several books with stories, as well as short novels (in Spanish and French), to teach through storytelling and comprehensible input. She constantly presents workshops and coaches teachers on applying CI techniques in the classroom, and has presented workshops in Canada, the U.S and France.
Adriana has a YouTube Channel where you can see her in action teaching Spanish with TPRS and CI methodologies
You can follow her on tweeter @veganadri
How I teach:
I teach first year Spanish (grade 9), second year Spanish (grade 10) and IB Spanish SL 11 and 12. From day one until, three years later, the day they write their IB Spanish exams, I only and exclusively teach using Comprehensible Input methodologies. I use a variety of strategies in my classes to provide my students with comprehensible input: I use TPRS, Storytelling, Movie Talk, Picture Talk, Personalized Questions, TPR, Novel Reading, FRV (free voluntary reading) and scaffolded class discussions.
Depending on the grade level, I use some things more than others, but there is one thing that is a constant in my classes, I never, ever teach grammar explicitly.
We language teachers have to understand that second language acquisition resembles first language acquisition. If we think about the way we learned our first language, we realize that explicit grammar learning came after we had already completely acquired the language per-se, never before.
Our brains are built to decode and map languages in a specific way, and this is not through grammar. When we teach grammar in our classes, students are learning about the language but not the language. Grammar teaching does not translate into language acquisition. If you are interested in learning more about this, I strongly recommend that you read “WHILE WE ARE ON THE TOPIC” by Bill VanPatten.
So, everything I do in my class is an excuse to provide my students with more comprehensible input. We are communicating in a meaningful and unrehearsed way 100% of the time. Here is where you need to start feeling your gut and reading the class energy. For example, if you had planned 10 minutes of Personalized Questions, but the class is very engaged and the conversation is evolving, just keep going with the flow! As long as you are in the target language and you keep providing them with comprehensible input, you are facilitating their language acquisition. If a Movie Talk, that was originally intended for 20 minutes, is a hit with the class and you see they are engaged and you can stretch it for 40, well go for it! At the end that is what you want, engagement, attention, and comprehensible input in a meaningful way.
Why do I teach the way I teach?
- Because there is nothing more rewarding as a language teacher than seeing, in your students’ eyes, the joy of learning, understanding and being able to communicate in a different language. I make them promise me they won’t study for my class. My promise to them is, if you come to class and actively pay attention and engage with the class dynamic, you do not have to study and you will do well. If they do their part and I do my part, going home and memorizing things is out of the equation.
- Because you get students that hate learning languages based on their past experiences, and after a month in your class, they tell you that, actually, Spanish is easy and they have learned more in a month in you class than in a semester in a previous class.
- Because it is a different class, it is relaxing, funny, it builds community and success.
- Because it works. You can actually become proficient in the language in a relatively short period of time, with no suffering, no memorization of endless lists of words and grammar rules, and not studying.
- Because you learn to feel the new language. You pass on to your students not the thinking but the feeling of the target language. They stop translating it, and they start feeling it.
- Because it makes me a happy teacher.
COMING UP WORKSHOPS:
- February 22nd Surrey School District
- May 3rd STA Convention
- May 17th Thompson Rivers University - Indigenous Languages Conference
- July 7th to 12th NTPRS Chicago
- August 11th to 15th NTPRS Canada, West Vancouver.
Please contact me directly for more detailed information @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Telling a Story while Drawing it
Storytelling is one, of many, comprehensible input methodologies. It consists of telling a story, in a pause, slow and simple way, while drawing it (as much as possible) to enhance its comprehension. The level of complexity of the language depends on the level of the students. If you are going to tell a story, while drawing it, to your beginner students, this one will look very different from the same story told to a more advanced group. The teacher should adapt the language, vocabulary, complexity and details of the story to her audience.
During this process students simply sit back and enjoy. Active participation is not required from them (although it never hurts, and I personally love when they answer my questions and help me with some details), but they are expected to be engaged and actively listening. The drawings are a very important part of the process, as they are the aids that will help you convey the message and will make most of the language comprehensible.
To provide students with a more robust representation of the language behind the story they just heard, it is recommended for them to read a version of the story, once this one has been told orally. This way you are providing students with both aural and written input, repeating the message in a meaningful way.
Storytelling is part of the pool of CI methodologies that I use in my classroom. With my beginner students, I have two stories that I know for sure I will do using this strategy. One of them is a story that is part of my “Learning Spanish. First Year Book” (my curriculum series that are available in both French and Spanish), that I specifically wrote as a review of the previous four stories (story #5). Because it is a review story, students are comfortable with most of the vocabulary and the meaning of the new words is convey through the drawings and my physical expressions. After I tell them the story with the drawings and the movements, we read together, as a class, a more complicated version of the story (1+), then they re-read it with a partner, and then they answer comprehension questions on it.
The second story that I tell them this way is Little Red Riding Hood. Being this a folk tale that everyone is familiar with, they immediately know what I am talking about which helps me a lot when trying to convey the message of the story, and making the language comprehensible. I have written a version of this story, similar to the one I tell them in class, so we can read it after.
A master in this technique is my friend Alice Ayel. She does a great job telling stories in French. She goes slow, uses simple language, repeats the words and expressions in a very natural and compelling way, and uses her drawings to make her words comprehensible. In this series of videos, she is telling a simplify version of 10 of the stories from my “Learning French. First Year Book”. You can have your students listening to the stories, and then provide them with a 1+ written version that will help them take their language skills a step forward. I invite you to watch her videos and fall under her spell.
© 2019 – Adriana Ramirez - Copyright adrianaramirez.ca