Storytelling in Other Disciplines

In this article Elizabeth Peterson talks about using storytelling in other subject areas, such as history, in order to make the content come alive for students. I’m sure all TPRS teachers will agree with her that “actual storytelling is something we don’t do enough of in school.”

Mi Vida Loca

Mi Vida Loca is an interactive video series developed by the BBC. While it was not designed with TPRS or comprehensible-input methods in mind, it is a nice break from stories for both the teacher and the student and it could easily be integrated into a TPRS curriculum. For example, students could watch the episodes and then you could ask stories based on the content in order to reinforce the desired structures. Due to the cultural focus of the video series, it would be easy to work some Spanish culture into the stories as well.

This series has been designed with beginner Spanish students in mind. There is audio as well as subtitles in both English and Spanish that can be turned on or off, so students can listen individually with headphones or it can be played on a SmartBoard for the whole class. Each episode takes about 20-30 minutes and after that students can replay the whole video or choose to skip around and only re-watch certain parts. Students seem to really enjoy the videos, and they get a chance to participate in them by doing such things as choosing which way to go on a street, paying the taxi driver in Euros, etc.

The series starts out with the student as the main character arriving in Madrid, where they meet a new friend. A mystery develops over the course of the series and situations arise throughout which help students to learn and practice the following:

  • essentials
  • ordering at a café
  • basic directions
  • meet and greet
  • ordering at a bar
  • buying a gift
  • times and days
  • buying travel tickets
  • booking a room
  • introductions
  • the formal ‘you’
  • shopping for food and basic items
  • ordering a meal
  • saying ‘I like’
  • months
  • checking in at a hotel
  • buying clothes and shoes
  • hiring a car
  • asking about property
  • taking about being sick
  • taking about the weather

See here for a more descriptive syllabus and to find out which aspects of grammar are covered in each episode. Full transcripts of each episode are also available on each episode’s individual page.

I have developed questions in English for each episode as well as the answer key. Please feel free to use them with your students!

Silent Sustained Reading

An article that was published in The Globe and Mail once again supports what TPRS teachers have been doing all along. It states that letting students choose which books they read makes them better readers. This idea has also “been linked to improved scholastic achievement” for students.

Since reading is the best way for students to enlarge their vocabulary, I often have my classes read in Spanish for 10 minutes during class. I usually read with them.

I do Silent Sustained Reading with my students and they get to choose any book to read from my collection of books. Some of them choose children’s books, some read magazines or comics, and some ambitious students read entire novels (like Harry Potter) that they have already read in English. I have noticed that letting students pick what they read seems to make it a lot more enjoyable for them than if I were to assign something to the class.

Classroom Visit

The Superintendent of the West Vancouver School District recently visited Michelle Metcalfe’s Spanish 9 classroom and was impressed with what he saw there.  Why?  Because he saw how well TPRS works with kids!  Read the post he wrote about his visit here.