Blog

  • The Nature of a TPRS Curriculum (4/5/2018) - Last night, I received an email from a Chinese teacher who has been wanting to try out TPRS for a while. Although she hasn’t had any official training, she has been learning everything she can […]
  • Meet the Main Characters in Kittens’ Series (4/5/2018) - I hope you are interested in finding out what these 7 books are about. Well, they are about cats. Yes, we used cats as our main characters. They all come from different background and have […]
  • Not the Same as Kittens – Story Intros (4/6/2018) - Book 1: I am Beibei! Beibei is a newcomer to Wonzel Town. He is cute, but timid. He really wants to fit in and make friends. So, who will he become friends with? Will it […]
  • Navigate Through Kittens’ Supporting Materials (4/6/2018) - I have received quite few emails from teachers who are using “Not The Same As Kittens” curriculum. Two of the most frequently asked questions are: 1) Where do I start with all the supporting materials […]
  1. 为什么要上钢琴课? (4/24/2018)

    儿子在三四岁的时候,看到周围很多朋友和熟人的孩子都开始学乐器玩运动,心里也蠢蠢欲动,担心如果只让儿子荒玩儿,这不,连起跑线还没走到就被拉下了。
    刚好,我有一个好朋友是罗马尼亚音乐学院毕业的,她毕业的时候,创奇迹般地拿到声乐,指挥和小提琴三个博士学位。人也非常好,于是就决定让儿子跟她迈出他的音乐之旅的第一步。
    老师是科班出身,她建议从小提琴开始,因为弦乐器最难学,但是, 一旦基础打下了,以后的音乐生涯就有可能是如鱼得水。可是,问儿子对什么乐器感兴趣的时候,他说是架子鼓。我和先生都孑然反对,我们可不愿意让我们的耳朵天天遭殃。给一个四岁的孩子架子鼓,家里还会有安宁吗?上小提琴课首先需要有小提琴,在老师的陪同下,我们去了一家琴行,租了一架回来。儿子以为是老师送给他的礼物,可是,这不是他想要的礼物,所以,一直悻悻不乐。
    一旦开始后,就知道这会是一个艰辛的旅程。儿子不喜欢小提琴。老师的要求太严格对他也很不适合。老师期待着每个来她这儿的学生都是一个神童,将来都会现身于音乐事业。但是,四岁的儿子不这么想,也不这么认为。每天需要的练习对我们来说都是挑战。小提琴对小孩子的要求太多了:站直了,拿好了,指法要对,身体要正,另外,每一个音符如果小手指头没有按好按对,音就会不准。
    每天从幼儿园回来都又累又饿的,不到6点就开始犯困,闹人,那时候,晚饭才刚结束。开始练琴真的是一件让人筋疲力竭的事情。再加上那段时间,我常常出差。我先生有很多优点,不过,时间观念和组织能力并不是他的强项。只要我一出门,儿子练琴的时间,准时睡觉的时间,按时到校的时间…基本上都泡汤。所以,有好多次,儿子拉的很好的时候,我一不在家,学到的东西就都丢下了。等我回来后,一切都要重新开始。这样反复多次,对儿子打击太大。所以,他的抵触情绪也越来越重,我们为此对他吵闹呵斥的凶度也逐渐加强。一年后,觉得再这样下去,我们全家都要为此事开始看心理医生了。就沮丧地在心里彻底认输,所以,就把课给他停了。
    先生是个音乐人。儿子有很好的音乐天赋。除了在小提琴上的挣扎以外,他从来做什么都是一学就会的。在我家,脑力最强的其实是我父亲。读书一目十行,过目不忘。小时候,看新年联欢晚会,好听的歌,他当场听一次,不但歌词记住,曲调也能记住,大年初一,他就开唱了。儿子也继承了很多父亲的脑力。小提琴停了后,我们就开始练习跆拳道,然后,加上了数学题,后来,他老妈觉得下象棋锻炼脑力,也是背着儿子想玩儿的愿望,硬是在学校给他报了象棋班。还好,后来,他还真的喜欢上了,我沾沾自喜了很久。
    小提琴课不上后,老师觉得我太纵容孩子,这样,对孩子的意志力和韧性得不到发展。我了解自己的孩子,知道他在什么情况下会有弹性,什么时候会像弹簧一样崩断,所以,不愿意把孩子马上带回去。结果,伤害了我们之间的友谊。跟老师的交往也被冻结了。
    就这样过了两年。儿子7岁生日的时候,问他想要什么礼物。他又提出了架子鼓。这两年期间,我们偶尔会提起让他重新开始学一样乐器的话题,每次都是一谈即崩。在去年五月,一个朋友因为搬家的缘故,把她女儿的电子钢琴送给了我们,就在家里一直放着。唉,儿子又在想架子鼓。先生和我对视了一眼,想出一个对策。于是,我们说:如果你愿意开始上钢琴课,并且很努力,那么,在圣诞节的时候,我们可以评估一下,看看,是否你可以用自己的行动挣来架子鼓做圣诞礼物。儿子觉得这是一个好交易,就欣然而应。
    一个夏末的黄昏,我约了老师一起去散步,轻轻地提了一句儿子准备好开始学钢琴了。她一听非常兴奋。又很婉转地告诉她,儿子是一个天生敏感的人,在批判中不会茁壮成长,只会枯萎。所以,在方式上恐怕要对他多鼓励,更温和些。老师很爱他,哦了一声,没有接话,不过,我知道,她会尽力而为的。
    于是,在去年秋天,儿子开始了他的钢琴之旅。最初,儿子的动机完全是为了赢得他的架子鼓。每次练琴之前,都要商讨好多少次。即便弹得不对,也不愿重新开始。每次练琴的时候,都得有个大人陪在旁边,如果我们指出错误,他就开始争辩也不愿更改。不过,一旦一首曲子练好了,他就会很开心的弹来弹去。逐渐地,我意识到,他其实并不是不喜欢弹钢琴,他太聪明了,体能也很好,无论在课堂还是在球场上都很得心应手,不过,弹钢琴对他是一个真正的挑战。对于一个聪明的孩子来说,挑战给他们造成巨大的挫折感。所以,他希望的是逃避。这也是为什么,每次学了新的曲子,开始练习的时候,他都会哭闹。
    我意识到,如果在这时顺从儿子的意愿,那么,他就会缺乏一种面对挑战的勇气和解决困难的能力。所以,面对儿子的疑问:我又不想做一个钢琴家,也不想做一个音乐家,为什么我必须弹钢琴?
    我总会很平静地对他说:儿子,我没有想着让你成为一个钢琴家或者音乐家。目前来说,弹钢琴是你生活中的最大的一个挑战。你看,你下象棋得冠军,跆拳道比赛也得冠军,数学好,体育好,而且还会说双语。弹钢琴每个星期都让你品尝到挫折感。我希望你做到的是具备调节自己情绪的能力,面对挑战的勇气,还有会动脑子解决问题的一个习惯。等你做到这些,练不练钢琴都没有关系。说久了,儿子也就慢慢明白了这个道理。
    圣诞节到了,儿子不是太想要架子鼓了。他在朋友家看到一个桌游,觉得更好玩。所以,我就在亚马逊上买了回来。结果,先生不买账,说我们不应该失言。跟他争吵了几次,觉得心太累,就说,“随便吧!” 先生兴颠颠地买了架子鼓回来,装好之后的第一天,儿子狠狠敲了一阵,然后就说,“不是我想象的那么好玩。” 又把钢琴打开去玩了。现在,7个月过去了,儿子开始弹贝多芬的《致爱丽丝》。每次上课,老师都对他赞不绝口。“有天赋,真有天赋。” 可是,儿子每天练琴的时间从都不操过20分钟。以前有了新曲子,左右手分开练,然后再慢慢加到一起。一两个星期一首曲子。现在会读五线谱了,左右手同时上,弹个5,6次就差不多合到一起了。老师夸他有天赋,是真的。不过,儿子的认真精神不知道什么时候才能磨练出来。如果他愿意花时间,会怎样呢?
    那天,跆拳道课之后,儿子在练琴,他把眼睛闭起来,还能一字不差地弹出来,自我感觉好的不得了。我心中一种温情油然而生。儿子,我没有期待你做一个钢琴家,希望的是无论你做什么,都会尽力而为,做到你最好的。

  2. Screenagers Review: 拥有电子产品就优越吗? (4/23/2018)

    周末晚上,经一个家长介绍,我带着8岁的儿子和15岁的侄女去看了一部关于给青少年电子产品的纪录片“Screenagers”。看后,两个孩子不但对影片发表了很多看法,对自身的生活也有很多反省。其实,在观看影片的同时,我也一直在反省自身。因为,电子产品对于我们生活的侵犯不仅仅剥夺孩子的身心的发展。

    Screenagers的制片人是一位医生,Dr. Delaney Ruston。在医院,她看到形形色色的上瘾症:毒瘾,酒瘾,是人们的生活中比较常见,无论在医学上还是在社会上都有很多相应的措施。可是,游戏瘾,电子产品瘾,是新出现的现象,科学研究还比较少。在她12岁的女儿强烈要求得到一部智能版手机的时候,她没有很多现成的答案来帮她回答,所以,她就决定做一些调查。

    她所关心的问题也正好是天天悬在我心头的一些疑问。儿子在两岁之前没有给他看过电视。先生是个电视迷。为了给孩子创造一个良好的生活空间,在孩子出生之前,经过多次的艰辛的商讨,我们终于达成在儿子睡觉之前,他不能开电视的协议。先生是个很守承诺的人。这也是为什么谈判的过程很辛苦。一旦协议达成,基本没有破规。除了个别情况之外。

    儿子在家从小就说中文,除了偶尔给他看一点中文动画片帮他学语言之外,我们也尽量不让他看电视。不过,他上学后,很多情况就变了。第一,是他说中文的时间少了,回到家一些财米油盐酱醋茶的词语帮不了他在中文上进步。第二,是他的功课逐渐增加。这就意味着他回到家也需要用英文做功课,英文阅读还有参与课外活动。第三,随着他年龄的增长,他感兴趣的东西多了起来,很可惜,很多话题我都没有现成的答案,所以,我们就成了YouTube的常客。第四,朋友之间分享的动画,儿子回家也想知道。

    慢慢的,他的中文在退步。渐渐的,跟我的对答都被英文主宰了。没办法。所以,就给儿子增加看中文动画的时间。后来,他迷上了国际象棋。最开始,我快快学了一些规则,还能抵挡。他开始在学校上象棋课之后,一个学期就把老妈打得落花流水。又是没办法,给儿子下载了几个下象棋的APP,让他在网上找对手操练。学校很多孩子都玩“mindcraft”的游戏,儿子也说服了我。有一天回家,儿子对我说有一个很好的APP,叫”Geomatry Light”,是他在学校看到的,可以帮忙学习数学。一听就激动,连着点头说好好好,一下子就给他下载了。坐在他旁边看他玩这个游戏时才意识到,这是一个跟数学没有任何关系的游戏。有时候长途旅行,让他看会儿窗外比坐牢都难受。手上一没有电子产品就大叫无聊。

    同时,我读到很多报告,电子产品的辐射影响孩子们的睡眠。电子产品的滥用影响到他们的注意力。电子产品的侵入剥夺了他们的想象力,减弱了他们的交流能力,消减了他们的意志力…哎呀,难呀!

    我和先生都是苹果产品迷。一家三口,基本每隔一两年都会更会一次手机,电脑或者iPad。到今天,家里有4台电脑,5台iPad,还有2部新换的手机。渐渐的,连给儿子读的睡前故事都被电子书代替了。所以,我们对电子产品依赖越来越深。家里真的没有小时候的那份简单宁静的 生活了。

    Screenagers记录了很多案例。有一个关于小白鼠的实验。把一群小白鼠放在屏幕前一段时间,结果发现脑细胞减少,跟没有在屏幕前辐射的小白鼠相比,需要多出3倍的时间来学到一项新东西。对人的大脑会不会有同样的影响呢?

    还有一段是关于一个女孩的故事。她喜欢上了一个男孩,想要赢得他的青睐。有一天,那个男孩对她说,很想看看你只穿内衣的样子。所以,她就照了一张照片发了过去。结果,他把那张照片转给了她的情敌。情敌借机就把她的照片公开了。等到第二天去学校,感觉到所有的人都在用异样的眼睛看着她。也有人开始欺负她。很快就从一个好学生变成了一个天天想自杀的孩子。小侄女看了,倾过身来说:“小姑,真可怕。”借此机会,赶快说教。“不要傻,在青春期,不要以为爱上一个人,他就成了你的整个世界。永远都要爱惜自己。”小侄女听了连连点头称是。

    今年二月在我学校也发生了一件让人痛心的事情。一个高三的女生在麦当劳买小鸡块。那天晚上比较忙,等的久了点。服务她的是一个黑人。于是她就照了一张自拍,还写了标题,是关于歧视黑人的话语。发给了一个朋友。结果那个朋友贴到了脸书上。后来,两个人都被开除了…

    影片结束后,我们开家庭会议。一起讨论了怎样合理地在家用电子产品。儿子觉得他一个星期应该玩3个小时的电子游戏。时间放在周五,周六,和周日。我们同意了。他下象棋的时间每天减到15分钟,然后,他可以天天看半个小时的中文。

    对于两个大人来说,我们规定了”Electronic Free Zone”。每天从下午5点到晚上8:30,全家人都不许用任何电子产品。妈妈不在电脑上工作,爸爸不在iPad上看新闻,全家一起活动,交流。我现在躲在星巴克写这篇博客,马上就要到托管接儿子了,所以,电脑要关闭几个小时。不能在儿子在家的时候上电脑。

    希望每个家庭都会更幸福,更和谐。

  3. 小喵电台采访第三期:TPRS的具体步骤 (4/8/2018)

    作者:卢海云

    再次感谢小喵电台的采访,音响工程师Shawn又是马不停蹄地剪接,第三期节目出来了。

    如果有时间听广播的朋友,请点击这里

    对于没有时间听广播的朋友,下面是我整理出来的讲稿。虽然并不是一字一句的对照,基本的主题是一致的。

    那么什么是TPRS呢?

    要想谈论什么是TPRS, 我需要解释一下TPRS的一些基本特征。说到这些我们就需要先讨论一下 Dr. John Medina的 “Brain Rules for Baby”. 真是一本好书,我建议每一个父母都应该读。其实我在教学上的转型也是在我儿子出生之后,我首先呢想做一个好妈妈,一个称职的妈妈,所以就开始读一些关于育儿方面的书。最大的收益就是养儿育女和教书育人是相通的。所以是在无意中想做一个好妈妈的同时,我变成了一个更好的老师。我的学生其实是需要感谢我儿子的。
    那么,在Brain Rules for Baby里呢,有一节视频叫”Parentese”,就是说父母是怎么跟小宝宝对话的。Dr. John Medina总结出几个特点:1)把元音拉长。2)把声母剪短。3)把声调提高。他没有说第四点,我自己觉得也是很重要的,就是 4)把词汇或者交谈的内容简化。

    好,让我们再次回到什么是TPRS这个问题上。TPRS就是用一个模拟式的好像是妈妈跟小宝宝互动的一种方式来教学。比方说,妈妈跟小宝宝说话,是要把语速放慢的,所以,一个TPRS的课堂,老师对于新生说话的语速是非常慢的。其次,妈妈不跟小宝宝长篇大论地谈论问题,妈妈跟小宝宝说话用最常用的词汇,并且把这些词汇简化。第三,妈妈跟宝宝说话很耐心,要指着呀,用动作呀,用实物呀,总是就事论事,而不是玩儿空手道。其实在一个TPRS的课堂上,一个好的TPRS老师也是这样上课的,因为我们的目标在于让学生100%地懂得我们上课的内容。是可理解输入吗,如果学生不理解,就没有办法输入。没有办法输入,就无法习得。没有办法习得,就无法输出。

    TPRS的教学有三部曲

    第一部曲是”establish meaning” – 就是说首先,我们需要奠定一个词汇确切的含义或者一个结构的确切的用法。这一步其实是有很多方法的。比方说:

    用实物

    用手势

    肢体语言

    用图片

    用简洁的英文翻译

    或者全部都用。

    但是最关键的一点是不要把学生蒙在鼓里。有时候我们自己觉得很一目了然的东西,由于文化上,语言上,年龄上甚至个人习惯表达上的差异,对于学生们来说,其实并不是一目了然,而是一头雾水。所以,我们一定要检查学生到底了解了没有。如果没有,快快地用英文解释一下,几秒钟,省事省力。

    TPRS的第二部曲就是问故事了。问故事可谓是TPRS教学法中的精华。它所问故事的技巧叫 ”循环式提问“。一句话,用循环式提问,可以轻而易举地问出很多个问题。

    问题的基本模式有三种:

    是不是?
    是这个还是那个?
    还有就是所谓的 ‘WH’问题,在哪儿呀,谁呀,什么时候呀,怎么呀?为什么呀?等等。

    并且这些个问题不只是针对一个人,一件事或者一个动作提问的。我们的问题是要对这句话里的主谓宾一一提问,所有的方方面面都问到才可以。

    比方说,”Obama喜欢打篮球。” 我们可以问:

    Obama打篮球吗?/ Obama喜欢打篮球吗?

    Obama跳舞吗?/ Obama喜欢跳舞吗?

    Betty White打篮球吗?/ Betty White喜欢打篮球吗?

    Obama 和Betty White打篮球吗?

    谁打篮球?

    Obama喜欢做什么?

    Michael Jordan打篮球吗?

    你喜欢看Betty White打篮球还是Obama 打篮球?

    为什么?

    你喜欢看Michael Jordan打篮球还是Obama打篮球?

    为什么?

    H Clinton打篮球吗?

    Tyler Swift 打篮球吗?

    Tyler Swift打篮球还是跳舞?

    Obama打篮球还是跳舞?

    Obama不喜欢打篮球吗?

    Obama不喜欢打篮球还是跳舞?

    Obama喜欢什么?

    谁可以像OBAMA一样打篮球…

    (我举得这些人名基本上是高中生感兴趣的人物,如果读者教不同的年龄阶段的学生,另外在不同的国家或者地区,请找到你们当地学生,在他们的年龄段所感兴趣的人物或者东西。举一反三地用这些人物。)

    看一个会问故事的老师问故事是一件非常享受的事情。因为他会动用学生演员,对话,课堂画家多种角色将全班的学生都带入进来。这个故事的方向完全是由学生的兴趣主宰的。是真正的以学生为中心的教学。说句实话,问故事是故事教学法中最精华的一块,同时,也是故事教学法中最具有挑战性的一块。很多人都觉得“怎么办呀,我没有那么多问题?我怎么问了?再说,要是学生给我的答案不是我想要的,怎么办?”

    其实,问故事是有很多不同的方法的,比方说你可以只问学生的信息,或者观点和感觉,再者对某件事的反应或者看法。在问的过程中,把不同学生的观点不时地进行比较。这就可以是一种问法。循环式提问的经典就在于让大家有很多问题来回答或者讨论,其实TPRS教学并不是说你一定,你必须得发展出一个故事来。只要你一节课都在跟学生互动,在给他们提供“可理解输入”,就是成功。第二种问故事的方法是,你可以列一个大致框架出来,比方说像我刚刚举得Dr. Krashen上课的那个例子。我在上课之前是有一个框架的。我知道我想要一个主人公,他想要某个人做他的朋友。这就是我的故事框架。至于他是一个男孩还是一个女孩,我的学生可以决定。决定性别之后,我们再一起讨论他叫什么名字,他贵姓,他住在哪儿,他多大了,他在哪儿上学,等等。这些,学生们都可以决定,我只要问问题就可以了。然后我要看那天的重点词汇是什么: “想要SB做朋友”。我就又开始问了,他想要谁做他的朋友呀?是JB?Harry Potter?Braca Obama? 自己班上的同学?问来问去,就出来了。就这样一步步走下来,其实一点都不难。

    “比较的目的在哪里?” 或者 “循环式提问”的优势在哪里?

    “首先,我们的大脑在习得语言的过程中需要大量的有意义的重复。如果我们的教学目标是让我们的学生可以达到一定的流利程度(Fluency)和一定的精通程度(Proficiency), 以便他可以得心应手地与人在用二外,三外交流的话,我们就需要给学生提供大量的有意义的重复。第二点就是我们的大脑喜欢猎奇。如果我们只给他们重复的信息,没有变化,我们的大脑和耳朵会自动关掉。我想大家都听说过”Autopilet” 这个词,就是这个道理。第三,在比较的时候,我们才可以把很多个不同的问题在不同的语境中,把对主谓宾的提问都一一涉及到。这样就会避免课堂变得重复单一。第四,在比较的时候,我们是以学生的答案,也就是他们的兴趣为中心的,就可以把轻而易举地把学生的学习情绪和兴趣都带动起来。”

    TPRS的第三部曲就是阅读了。说到阅读我们就需要提到Embedded Reading. Embedded Reading就像俄罗斯的套娃一样。由简单到复杂,一环套一环。Embedded Reading有很多优势。比方说它给学生提供一个徐徐渐进的阶梯,在心理上给学生提供一个安全网。另外在当今社会汉字要怎么学?怎么认?

    在ACTFL的时候,有一天晚上,我请Dr. Krashen读了一个我新写的一个小故事。《什么都吃的Willy Goat》。他老人家一开始的时候是结结巴巴的,我一边给他做手势,一边在旁边当他实在想不起来的时候就提醒他一下。因为故事的重复性非常的高,他读着读着就看着眼顺了。那些本来陌生的汉字也慢慢的变成了熟人似的。所以,他在ACTFL提到我的时候说我给了他一个personal demonstration,当我们把汉字放在可以理解的故事里的时候让它们多次反复地出现,汉字就会顺理成章地成为我们的朋友。作为一个native speaker, 这种写法是很违背我们的作为母语者在我们写作过程中的训练的。给母语者的读物是:语言要简洁,同一个词尽量不要重复,表达内容要有深度呀,要显示我们的文学修养呀等等。不过,我们也可以考虑一下美国的Step readers. 给孩子们的读物都是语言很简单,重复性很强。TPRS的读物以及Embedded Reading其实遵循的就是这个一个原理。

    对第一期感兴趣的朋友,想了解一下Dr. Krashen是怎样上中文课的朋友,请点击这里

    对第二期节目感兴趣的朋友,想了解一下 “可理解输入”的基本理念的朋友,请点击这里

  4. 小喵电台采访第二期: 可理解输入在教学中的具体体现 (4/8/2018)

    在录音那天,沈老师半夜从国内开启了三路视频。那晚,我们一聊就是将近两个小时。

    所以,沈老师也是昼夜不分地连轴工作,第二期也就做出来。

    感兴趣听录音的朋友,请点击这里

    如果有兴趣阅读手稿的朋友,请继续。

    您上课用什么教学法?

    我上课的时候主要用的就是根据 “可理解输入” 而延伸出来的实际的教学方法。 在上一期的节目里我们已经提到了 “TPR” – TOTAL PHYSICAL RESPONSE, TPRS – TEACHING PROFICIENCY THROUGH READING AND STORYTELLING, MOVIE TALK, 等等,这些都是从“可理解输入”延伸出来的实际教学方法。

    TPR是可理解输入里最简单易懂的并且最容易上手的。比方说我在这里举几个例子,我们的听众朋友就可以随时拿回到自己的教室里试试。

    我在最开始接触到TPR的时候,我对这个方法的理解比较肤浅,我以为只是给几个COMMENTS,让学生站起来,坐下,走,跑。每一次,做几个动作,动作之间也没有多少联系,怎样和其它的教学内容结合起来呢?这些都没有多想。后来接触到的多了,其实TPR IS MORE THAN COMMENTS. 用这个方法其实是有很多的变动的。比方说,老师可以先一边说一边示范。然后,老师可以说,但是把示范延迟或者去掉。再者呢,可以让学生们闭上眼睛,听老师的指令,看看学生能不能听懂,做出动作。这样我们就知道哪一个指令还需要加油变换花样让学生们习得。另外,我们可以让一个学生出来做,或者将学生们分区,分别给他们不同的指令来做。还有呢,这个其实是TPR最重要的一点,很多人都不做,那就是在学生新习得的语言中,有没有可能把那些词汇重新组合?比方说,开学的第一天,我们是以这三个词汇开始的:好,看,听。我给他们做手势,学生们做手势,然后就是上面所描述的全部的过程。突然,我把游戏规则给变了,我说:“好看!” 我说:“不好听!” 或者,我会说:“看好!” “听好!”。学生们就要想,就要猜一下了。我们的目的当然不是把他们留在一个迷谷里,但是善于运用新合成词可谓是一石多鸟。

    那么TPRS 呢?这个说起来就话长了。TPRS的全称是 TEACHING PROFICIENCY THROUGH READING AND STORYTELLING. 因为主要是以问故事为主,我经常简称为“故事教学法”。用故事来传承语言文化在人类的文明史上可谓是源远流长。比方说苗族人,他们是没有书面语言的,但是,他们的传说,风俗,语言及习惯是怎样保留下来的呢?一是故事,通过老一辈人讲故事,还有一个就是他们的歌谣。苗族人唱山歌非常的厉害。

    现在我们再回到TPRS 上。TPRS的创始人叫 BLAINE RAY。也是一个非常温和有趣的先生。他当时是一个西班牙文老师。很年轻,家里有很多小孩。上了一年课之后呢,学生的评估很低,大家都不喜欢他的课。他的校长就把他叫到办公室去,对他说,“你这个教学方法需要改进一下,不然,我无法续签你的合同。” 他这一听就着急了。家里有一群孩子等着吃呢。所以,快想个办法呀。在他的收索的过程中,他就读到了DR KRASHEN的可理解输入的理论,他一边读一边想,“这个太有意思了,这个听起来很有道理呀。那么,到底什么方法是可理解输入呢?” 然后,他就读到了 JAMES ASHER的 “LEARNING ANOTHER LANGUAGE THROUGH ACTIONS”, 也就是 “TOTAL PHYSICAL RESPONSE/TPR”. 一开学,马上就跟学生尝试,最初的两个月,大家都兴致非常的高,两个月之后,动作做完了,上课就又走到了这个瓶颈之处,没办法,只好再给学生题写生词,做练习题。一下子,学生的学习兴趣又降低了,学生们又开始抱怨了。
    怎么办?
    创新呀?世界上最好的一位TPR的老师是在加州,她叫BERTY SEGAL. BERTY SEGAL 对第二语言教学的贡献也很大,她创作出了 “THREE RING CIRCUS”. 另外了,她开始了 TPR PLUS STORYING. BLAINE从这里开始,不断地完善,不断地创新,在这整个的过程中,很多其他的老师也开始运用,大家一起改进,所以就有了今天的TPRS的模式。

    那么什么是TPRS呢?

    要想谈论什么是TPRS, 我需要解释一下TPRS的一些基本特征。说到这些我们就需要先讨论一下 Dr. John Medina的 “Brain Rules for Baby”. 真是一本好书,我建议每一个父母都应该读。其实我在教学上的转变也是在我儿子出生之后,我首先呢想做一个好妈妈,一个称职的妈妈,所以就开始读一些关于育儿方面的书,最大的收益就是养儿育女和教书育人是相通的。所以是在无意中想做一个好妈妈的同时,我变成了一个更好的老师。我的学生其实是需要感谢我的儿子的。那么,在Brain Rules for Baby里呢,有一节视频叫”Parentese”,就是说父母是怎么跟小宝宝对话的。Dr. John Medina总结出几个特点:1)把元音拉长。2)把声母剪短。3)把声调提高。他没有说第四点,我自己觉得也是很重要的,就是4)把词汇或者交谈的内容简化。

    好,让我们再次回到什么是TPRS这个问题上。TPRS就是用一个模拟式的好像是妈妈跟小宝宝互动的一种方式来教学。比方说,妈妈跟小宝宝说话,是要把语速放慢的,所以,一个TPRS的课堂,老师对于新生说话的语速是非常慢的。其次,妈妈不跟小宝宝长篇大论地谈论问题,妈妈跟小宝宝说话用最常用的词汇,并且把这些词汇简化。第三,妈妈跟宝宝说话很耐心,要指着呀,用动作呀,用实物呀,总是就事论事,而不是玩儿空手道。其实在一个TPRS的课堂上,一个好的TPRS老师也是这样上课的,因为我们的目标在于让学生100%地懂得我们上课的内容。是可理解输入吗,如果学生不理解,就没有办法输入。没有办法输入,就无法习得。没有办法习得,就无法输出。

    如果读者朋友对第一期的采访感兴趣,请 点击这里

    对第三期采访感兴趣的朋友,请点击这里来具体了解TPRS的具体步骤。

    卢海云

  5. 小喵电台采访第一期: 可理解输入和 Dr. Krashen学中文趣事 (4/8/2018)

    在2015年的圣诞节前后,有幸通过在西雅图的Xiaofeng Foster老师的搭桥和牵线,我在小喵电台录了几期关于怎样将“可理解输入”在课堂中的具体运用起来的话题。
    今天,终于,我将手稿整理出来了。现在连着小喵电台的录音,供没有时间听录音的朋友可以快速地阅览一下。请多提反馈意见。

    小喵电台采访第一期:可理解输入和Dr. Krashen学中文趣事

    什么是“可理解输入”?

    关于可理解输入的定论和解释有很多资源。要是想深入理解的话,肯定是需要到Dr. Krashen本人的网页上。Dr. Krahshen把他一生的心血基本上都转为免费的资料放在互联网上。所以,如果听众朋友到 www.sdkrashen.com,在他的左手边就会看到一个链接,叫“Principles and practice in second language acquisition”. 可以免费下载。有时间的话,大家慢慢拜读一下,一共是202页,一定会受益匪浅。不过今天我要给大家所解释的可理解输入的简化版,是由 Dr. Terry Waltz总结出来的几个特征。Dr Terry Waltz是也是一个做TPRS的专家,她的总结和分析能力是超人的。

    那么,我们再回到正题上:什么是“可理解输入呢?” 可理解输入就是说我们的大脑习得语言呢是当她听到她可以理解的可以听懂的语言,她才可以习得,才可以把听到的信息转化为自身的一部分。

    可理解输入有几个特点:1)我们的大脑需要多次的有意义的富有变化的重复才可以习得新的信息。所以如果我们只给学生过几遍新词汇后者结构,就都期待着他们会自己灵活运用,是不现实的。2)掌握一段新的语言是需要时间的。并且每一个人需要的时间都不一样,就像孩子们学说话一样,我们不知道哪一个孩子会在多大的时候开始说话。所以,作为老师,我们不应该期待每一个学生都是我们的super star学生,特别是当我们遇到比较慢一点的学生,我们就感到很失望。3)语言输出是在语言输入积累到一定的基础上自然发生的。好比是泡茶, 你的茶壶里需要达到一定的水量,你才可以把水倒出来。不然那就真的成了“巧妇难为无米之炊“。4)i + 1。要是想让学生每次习得新的东西,我们需要在他们现有的基础上,加上新的信息。如果过难,学生的 “affective filter”就会过高。如果过于简单,学生得不到新的挑战,就会觉得课很无聊。

    Dr. Krashen学中文的时候有什么趣事吗?

    有呀,有很多。比方说有一次我们在用几个新的句型跟学生们一起创造一个故事。当时的两个句型是:”对…说”, “跟…玩儿…” 在这之前的一堂课是 “想要…做朋友。”

    在我们教 “想要…做朋友” 这个句型的时候,刚好DR KRASHEN亲自到我们的班上观摩上课。当时我们用的是大头儿子作为我们的主人公。故事开头是,在中国有一个男孩,他没有名字也没有姓,但是因为他的头很大,所以大家都叫他 “大头”。然后就是说大头有家,有爸爸有妈妈,但是没有朋友。他想要朋友,不光是想要朋友,而且是想要一个美国朋友。所以他就去了美国,在美国他问问这个 “你想要我做你的朋友吗?” 再问问那个 “你想要我做朋友吗?”,结果,我的学生都挺捣的,他们都说“不”。我当时有一个学生扮演大头,于是他就走到DR KRASHEN那儿,问他,“KRASHEN 老师,您想要我做你的朋友吗?” KRASHEN老师很认真地想了想说,“当然可以”. 当时,那节课就这么结束了。快乐结局。

    所以,在我们要开始用 ”对…说”, “跟…玩儿”的时候呢,我的学生就很自然地把DR KRASHEN又带到了我们的故事里。也就是把大头的故事向下走。我们一节课全部花在第一个句型上,我在课堂上来回问,“如果是你,你会对DR KRASHEN 说什么?” 因为我的教室的墙上贴有很多最常用的表达语,所以,有的学生看着墙上的句型就说,“我要对DR KRASHEN说 ‘行行好’!另一个说,“我要对DR KRASHEN说 “拜托!” 还有一个学生呢,他最喜欢吸人眼球,他就不合常规地说,“我要对DR KRASHEN说 ‘你疯了?’”

    就这样说来说去的,等到我们要开始下一个句型“跟 DR KRASHEN玩儿…” 我就开始问了,“大头想要跟DR KRASHEN玩儿什么?” 你知道我的学生是TEENAGERS, 大家就又开始争了,争来争去,但是没有一个结果,然后就下课了。

    我就在想,太好了,这是一个非常好的机会,让我问问DR KRASHEN他想要跟大头玩儿什么。

    所以,我就给他写了一封EMAIL。在我的EMAIL里呢,我就解释了我们那天上课的内容和情况,问他,如果你跟大头玩一个游戏的话,你会跟他玩什么游戏?

    结果,他很快就回了一封信过来说,‘我不要跟大头玩儿游戏,我要给大头弹钢琴,我要他听我弹钢琴。” 在英文里,这个PLAY GAME 和 PLAY PIANO都是同一个 “PLAY’, 但是,中文就不是了。这不是同一个词。这样就需要更改故事的航线,另外还要再加新的词汇。所以,我就回了封信过去说,如果是一个游戏呢?比方说WII呀?或者MINDCRAFT呢?

    结果,他很坚持地说:“我喜欢弹钢琴,我要给大头弹钢琴,我想要大头听我弹钢琴。”

    所以,我就说 “好吧,好吧。” 我还要到课堂上看看学生买账不买账。所以,第二天,又上课了,我就问学生,“大头想要跟DR KRASHEN 玩什么?”

    TEENAGES, 就说, “大头想要跟KRASHEN老师玩儿球。” 我就看看我的那个扮演DR KRASHEN的那个学生,一边摇头一边问他,”DR KRASHEN,你要跟大头玩儿球吗?” 学生演员马上就得到我的暗示了,就说,“玩球?我不要跟你玩球!” 然后,大家就得继续猜下去。把运动和游戏都猜遍了,DR KRASHEN就是不跟大头玩儿。最后,我告诉了我的学生我给DR KRASHEN写EMAIL的事情,然后告诉他们 KRASHEN老师不想要跟大头玩儿,他想要给大头弹钢琴。

    所以,学生也都买了帐。我跟DR KRASHEN也可以交差了。皆大欢喜。

    如果读着朋友对第二期的录音感兴趣,请点击这里,或者点击这里

    对第三期采访感兴趣的朋友,请点击这里来具体了解TPRS的具体步骤。

    祝各位老师快乐!

    海云

  6. Navigate Through Kittens’ Supporting Materials (4/6/2018)

    I have received quite few emails from teachers who are using “Not The Same As Kittens” curriculum. Two of the most frequently asked questions are: 1) Where do I start with all the supporting materials which you have built? 2) Could you give me a timeline for how long each book would take from start to finish?

    I thought I’d answer the first question here.

    As in the video on my webpage I have said, “Many Chinese teachers are the hardest working people on the planet. Often, they have to share classrooms, teach multiple levels and travel to different locations…” I’m deeply convinced by the power of teaching with “Comprehensible Input”(TCI) based instructions. However, under current working condition for many people, without building a supportive and mentoring center first, it would not be practical for many teachers to switch over to TCI. It’s my mission to make TCI accessible for as many people as possible.

    Now, let’s assume you have ordered a class set of the first kittens’ book, I Am Beibei. So you are eligible to subsccribe to our supporting materials. Here is what you will see after you click open the book 1 folder.

    This is what you will see. The most essential folder you should open, before you jump into anything else, it is Teacher’s Guide. It spills out in detail how the whole book is structured and how each lesson is evolved in a spiral sequence. How to start a class with Total Physical Response (TPR), how to do “Daily Report” and mini story units. Once you have gained a comprehensive understanding of the course structure, then it is time for the first folder on the top: the Mini Reading folder.

    Personally, I think the Mini Reading folder is the most valuable component of the supporting materials.
    When you open it, this is what you will see.

    The “Mini Reading” folder contains 8 more sub folders. This year, Yuan created a Mini Self Intro folder, it contains two lessons of self-introduction. The second sub folder is called “1.5 Super Seven”. This is a folder which contains several “Super Seven” asking stories. The goal is to ponding these Super Seven phrases into one’s head and lay out a solid foundation for a learner first.

    The third and fourth folders have the same contents but in different file types (PPT and Word document both are available).

    If you follow the Teacher’s Guide, at certain points, after few mini readings, your students would be reading for chapter stories. Now, it would be the right time to open it. All PowerPoints, reading/listening comprehensions as well as audio files are available in this folder.

    If you follow the mini stories in Teacher’s Guide, after students read it, there are interactive activities as well as assessments designed for them.

    The Homework folder contains many different hanzi sheets for students to practice as well as other activity suggestions.

    Feeling this is quite enough? There are more! What about Movie Talks and Embedded Readings? Yes! You could find those in the supporting materials as well.

    It normally takes me about 4 months to finish Book 1. We teach for proficiency. Let’s focus on the students and go slow. Let’s don’t lose anyone at this crucial beginning stage. “Less is more” and “Slow is fast” leads to optimal acquisition results.

    I sincerely hope you will pick up a kitten’s book and start to enjoy using it.

    By Haiyun

  7. Not the Same as Kittens – Story Intros (4/6/2018)

    Book 1: I am Beibei!

    Beibei is a newcomer to Wonzel Town. He is cute, but timid. He really wants to fit in and make friends. So, who will he become friends with? Will it be the active and energetic Bravo? Will it be the mischievous and impulsive Piano? Perhaps it will be the kind, friendly and intelligent Xingxing? What about the beautiful but sensitive Xiaotian? Or the mysterious and distant black cat called “13”?

    This book employs 75 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suited for beginning language students.

    Book 2: Dylan’s Birthday

    Dylan’s birthday is coming up and everybody is excited. Bravo and Feifei long for the birthday feast everyday. Piano is looking forward to all the fun. Beibei is still curious about the mysterious “13” who is the only one Beibei is not friends with yet. He wonders about why 13 keeps his distance. Beibei soon discovers an unacceptable stigma in Wonzel Town – a black cat is viewed as unlucky here! Elves, which is 13’s real name, was abandoned by his owner right after his mom named him! Beibei is determined to break the stigma. Can he succeed? Will Elves become his friend? Will Elves eventually become accepted by others? …

    This book employs 59 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suited for novice level language students.

    Book 3: Elves’ Family

    “Who are Elves’ family – his mom and his 12 siblings?” The townspeople whisper. Elves’ new friends go on a quest to find his family. Will Elves reunite with his family? Will his previous owner accept him back in? Is the quest in vain? What if no one from his past can be found?

    This book employs 40 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suited for novice level language students.

    Book 4: Time for School

    Besides the obvious catwalk, meowing, and purring, what else do cats go to school for? Do they take a strategy class in order to survive from their enemies or to become a successful predator? Should they jump on the trendy bandwagon and take Chinese? Who would succeed in the classroom? Who wouldn’t?

    This book employs 58 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suited for novice high and intermediate low level language students.

    Book 5: Miss Basil’s Thanksgiving

    Bitten by wanderlust, Miss Basil, a beautiful and charming turkey, traveled all the way from France to Wonzel Town, unaware that she has blindly entered into a life-threatening situation. On Thanksgiving, roasted turkeys are served in American kitchens. Will Dylan, Elves, Xingxing and friends be able to find her in time to warn her about this holiday custom? Has she been eaten? Is it too late? Will a miracle save her?

    This book employs 29 high frequency Chinese phrases. It is a perfect review or novice high and intermediate level students.

    Book 6: Feifei’s Field Trip

    Food lover Feifei can be proud of his ability when it comes to eating, but not so much with sports. There is a field trip planned for his strategy class. In order to prepare for surviving Wonzel Town’s harsh winter, they will be going on a ski race. Will Feifei be able to challenge his inner demons and try his best? Or he will break down and embarrass himself in front of his classmates?

    This book employs 56 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suitable for Novice high and Intermediate low level language students.

    Book 7: The Last Dance

    Ms. Basil is leaving Wonzel Town. But not until after a dance party! Dylan really wants to ask Xingxing to the dance. He is also thinking of telling Xingxing his feelings about her but he doesn’t know how. What can Dylan do? Will Dylan and Xingxing go to the dance together? Or will Xingxing dance the night away with others? Will she ever find out Dylan’s true feelings for her?

    This book employs 32 high frequency Chinese phrases. The author uses a special technique – “visual circulation” to increase a learner’s reading comprehension via meaningful repetition. Its structure is perfectly suited for Novice High and Intermediate Low level students. It is also a perfect review for them.

  8. Meet the Main Characters in Kittens’ Series (4/5/2018)

    I hope you are interested in finding out what these 7 books are about. Well, they are about cats. Yes, we used cats as our main characters. They all come from different background and have their own little personality.

    Gosh, a friend has asked me that which cat I could identify with? Well, honestly, all of them! Wait, I’m not saying I’m an overly complex person. All I’m saying is that I could identify myself with different aspects of each cat.

    For example, I could relate to Xingxing’s (星星”) “nerdyness”, well, is this a word? When I was in school, I was just a book worm. Honestly, my social skills have just started to develop recently. Shhhhhhh, please, please don’t laugh at me.

    At the meanwhile, I have always been a food lover. I’m a great cook. My kitchen is an international cuisine hub. Over the years, I have really fallen in love with the simplicity in life. But, being a good cook it could also means to be a picky eater. So I have lots of recipes in my head which are “fool proofed”. So Feifei, as a food lover in the story, you can certainly see me in him.

    I used to be a shy and timid person. Xiaotian (小天) and Beibei (贝贝) have all of my heart with them. I’m very clumsy when it comes to sports. When you meet Feifei (菲菲), you would understand. Well, I didn’t grow up in an all boys’ family. But, there is a mischievous Piano, she’s naughty all the time. When I was growing up, I was a model girl. When I was in school, I was a model student. Deep inside, I wish I could be like Piano – a happy, sunny and free spirit person who can be so careless and boyish.

    Of course, there is elegant and royal Dylan. He’s so graceful, friendly, warm-hearted and supportive. In contrast, I have been so worried about the outcast black cat, Elvis! Homeless, friendless, foodless… Is he ever going to make through the harsh reality of his life…

    The only person I don’t like, or you wouldn’t like much is Tugger in series one. I have actually been thinking that I might have been little too cruel with him. In the next series, maybe, maybe, I’ll give him some opportunities to prove himself? Hmmmmm, it almost feels like a strange thought.

    Okay, okay, don’t let me spoil everything for you. The stories really get interesting after the 2nd book because there are more vocabulary available. After Yuan proof read the 3rd book, 《Elves’的家》,Yuan really wants to know what would happen to Elves’ family? Well, I haven’t told her the answers yet. So I won’t tell you here either. Zhe, my illustrator, cried when she was reading the 5th book, 《Basil老师的感恩节》。Let me tell you it’s not that easy to get a native speaker, who is also an adult, to cry over your stories.

    Now, would you like to hear more about each book?

    By Haiyun

  9. The Nature of a TPRS Curriculum (4/5/2018)

    Last night, I received an email from a Chinese teacher who has been wanting to try out TPRS for a while. Although she hasn’t had any official training, she has been learning everything she can online: reading blog posts as much as possible, watching teaching demos on Youtube and trying out with her students on a small scale. Her biggest challenge is not the lack of training. The most delicate aspect of her teaching is that she has to coordinate her curriculum with others in her school. Here is a part of the email I received from her:

    ……By the way, I would like to know: Do I need to follow the sequence of the book?
    I am thinking to try TPRS with one of my classes first, but this year I still need to follow the curriculum as we planned since I am not the only teacher. Would you please let me know about the other two books, I would like to have some materials on the stories about families, three meals, ordering food, asking directions, traveling, visiting drs. I am working on applying for budgets to purchase your other books with the supporting materials.

    It’s always heart-warming to receive an email like this. A teacher’s eager to offer the best for her students, and at the same time, dilemmas she faces in real teaching situations are all clearly displayed here.
    In a nutshell, I want to say that TPRS materials don’t copy a typical thematic unit per say. You just can’t put all the vocabulary together and call it a story. However, a TPRS curriculum provides way more authentic communicative topics and mocking “real-life communications” than any existing materials out there. Here are few reasons.

    One nature of the TPRS materials is using the high frequency words repetitively in a spiral manner. Typically, it would be best to follow the sequence in these supporting materials (mini stories), as they build on top of each other. Occasionally, if you skip one here or there, if you do lots of circling, it wouldn’t be too big of a problem.

    Another nature of the TPRS materials is that it breaks thematic unit patterns. We touch on many different topics, at the same time, over and over, which is very similar to how we communicate with children.

    For example, I start to introduce food right way in book 1, I Am Beibei. This topic becomes frequently revisited, in book 2, Dylan’s Birthday. Well, ask oneself, which birthday party comes with no food nor drinks? It reappears in book 5, Ms. Basil’s Thanksgiving and lastly in book 6, Feifei’s Field Trip, the book finishes with a banquet and karaoke party in a restaurant (ordering and Chinese cultural practice – karaoke).

    Same with family members, the topic is first introduced in book 1, then it is brought back in book 3, Elves’ Home. However, a TPRS curriculum is much more in depth than the existing thematic unit that I have known of. In book 3, although the chapter stories are focusing on helping Elves finding his family and family members, In its mini stories, students are reading and acquiring biographical information about Yao Ming and Lang Lang. Their reading assessment is on Li Na and listening assessment is on Jeremy Lin. (A special shout out to Erika Cheung for designing the assessment.)

    Currently, my Chinese II is in book 4, School Starts. This is a story unit about school life. Besides acquiring typical subjects, our students go in depth to talk about being mischievous, making friends, bullying and other social aspect of their school life. However, this same unit is revisited in Chinese III, we are using 《匆匆那年》第一集 as our movie talk topic to make cultural comparisons, how the teacher-student relationships are different from China to America? What’s the main transportation in China vs. in America? What’s the advantage and disadvantage for each mode of transportation? What’s a typical school day like in China vs. here in America? Where do you prefer? Why?… Along with few other short video clips on “bullying”. Students’ end of chapter project is an anti-bullying campaign. To Read More, Click here and this unit.

    Students in level 1 acquire about directions, left, right, front, back… In Chinese II, we add in walk toward left, right… In Chinese III, we add in more. Typically, by Chinese III, kids are proficient on these topics.
    Similar with visiting doctors. My kids in level 1, just begin to acquire how to express “I’m sick, my ____ hurts. I throw up or… ” In level 2, they acquire all the body parts and ___ hurts and go to a doctor. In level 3, the topic is revisited again, they acquire detail symptoms, tell personal injury stories… Everything becomes more elaborate, meaningful and personal.

    Kittens’ series offer completely Teacher’s Guide and supporting materials. Each book is aided with movie talk clips and embedded readings in its supporting materials as well. I really encourage more story-writers to provide interesting and meaningful level appropriate readers for our students; more curriculum writers to supplement your materials to better support teachers.

    I have not only witnessed the power of Comprehensible Input, I have experienced it and I’m living in it daily. It is my dream and passion to introduce Comprehensible Input based instruction to every Chinese teacher.

    By Haiyun