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. Re-approach Novice Level Student with TCI (10/12/2018)

    This year, I have decided to start my Novice level classes little differently than before. Instead of jumping into TPRS immediately, I started with Total Physical Response first. 1. I have two sessions of Novice level classes, which include students from 7th grade to 12th grade. Due to the attention span of my youngsters and the nature of how our brain works, getting students out of their seats with movement and ignite their brains on fire would be very beneficial. 2. I hope to build up a big repertoire in high frequency phrases faster for students so they would be able to communicate earlier. There is no other tool better than TPR to achieve that.

    At the meantime, the guiding principles of my curriculum design have shifted as well, here they are:
    1. We acquire language through Comprehensible Input, when we read or hear a message which we understand, then we can acquire it. Therefore, everything I do in the classroom needs to be comprehensible.
    2. Our brain seeks patterns to connect new information with prior knowledge and craves novelty to stay engaged.
    3. Our brain is evolved through constant motion and threat. Human species are built to survive first, therefore, creating a safe environment fosters better learning.
    4. Students have different learning styles, creating a multi-sensory input classroom will help a teacher to meet different students’ needs, strengthen their weakness and expend their strength.
    5. To prepare students for the unpredictable future, teaching is no longer about how to deliver content. There is a paradigm shift in education to help students to develop their critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, resilience and self-care, etc in order to succeed and live in a happy and productive life.

    How?

    A. Find ways to woven each lesson with actions/gestures, songs, video clips, pictures/illustrations, and reading.
    1. Use actions and gestures fall into TPR’s realm, here it is a post I wrote on how to TPR. please click here.
    2. Connect TPR vocabulary with a song and a video clip: Tim Urbonya, A native Wiconsin from Action Learning, has composed and recorded an album of catchy action songs in Chinese. I often connect my TPR lessons with his songs and few video clips, then create reading for students. For example, I TPR “walk”, “run”, “jump” and “stop” along with Tim’s song “Walk, Walk, Walk, Walk!”, then I embedded an Ad from Nike, The Greatness, to PQA and Circle. Then, I add directions in, such as: jump up, walk forward, run toward left, etc. I use another Tim’s directional song to strengthen the lesson again.
    3. Use illustration as comprehension check, also it gives students another path to process information. Students are instructed to use stick figures to illustrate each action, then we spell out the pinyin together.
    4. After they have successfully stored the sound and meaning of each words in their head, then it’s time to introduce reading. Action packed reading not only develops students literacy, it allows them to get out their seats to act out again.
    5. Implementing various mindfulness practices into the classroom. In recent years, teens’ mental health situation has worsened dramatically. While technology connects people globally in an instant, more and more people feel isolated and disconnected on the contrary. The rate of depression and anxiety has been on the rise. Therefore, helping students to develop effective self-care strategies has been another earnest effort which I make is in my own classroom. Typically, it takes a novice level student about two weeks to get down a practice in English, during these two weeks, designing your lesson mindfully to include body parts as well as essential phrases that related to meditation. Then, you will be able to conduct your meditation instruction in the target language.

    Results:

    I asked my students to give me a quick feedback on what they thought how our classes have been going. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
    They love the multi-sensory approach and they shared that they have acquired more Chinese in 6 weeks than spending few years in their previous languages. One girl said: “Please don’t change anything! It’s fun and effortless!”

    So what can my novice level students do now?
    Today, I created a mini drama in Chinese with them: Grahm likes to eat ice cream. He has ice cream and he’s eating happily and slowly. Mike also likes to eat ice cream, but Mike doesn’t have ice cream, Mike is sad. Mike stands up and walks to Grahn, Mike hits Grahm and eats his ice cream. Grahn yells at him: No, no, no! My ice cream!” Mike quickly runs away while he’s eating Grahn’s ice cream. Grahm doesn’t cry, Grahm wants to hit Mike, Grahm runs after Mike. Mike runs quickly, Mike runs away.

    I have paused the actions, asked questions, check for comprehensions and dramatized the input over and over. They giggled and laughed the whole time.

    They have also finished the first two chapter stories from I Am Beibei. TCI rocks!

  2. Everyday Heroes (9/4/2018)

    There are many teachers in the world. Lots of them are great teachers. Among the great teachers, quite a lot are outstanding.
    In my desire to better meet students’ needs and become a better teacher every year, I have encountered many marverlous teachers. If opportunities allow, I love to observe them in action, or attend their workshops and presentations, read their books or blogs, or talk to them in person. After a while, I have noticed a pattern that all amazing teachers share. Here, I’m going to share three.

    1. Humanity

    This summer, I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Project Zero Classroom Summer Institute (PZC18) at Harvard. Nearly 400 educators came from 67 different countries and 20 different states. The intellectual stimulus and engagement, the diverse cultural and ethical background of the participants, the fascinating conversation I had and the lectures I heard from the educational icons such as Howard Gardner, David Perkins, Ron Ritchhart, Tina Blythe… had all contributed to my daily experience beyond being blissful. However, what truly was awe-inspiring was being a witness of these giants’ humanity.
    During a book-signing session, Many PZC authors were presented. The line for Howard Gardner stood all the way outside of the library lobby. Gardner, with a head of shinning white hair, a sincere smile and a calm demeanor, took his time to chat with his fans and stroke a short conversation as meaningful as time would allow. He never rushed anyone, nor only asked about your name in order to write on the page. When it was my turn, he smiled at me first and then said: “What do you do?”
    “I’m a language teacher, I teach Chinese.”
    In his best effort to start a meaningful conversation, he continued: “I heard that learning Chinese is difficult, especially, to master the writing system.”
    Being a TCI teacher and Stephen Krashen’s follower, of course, not only I have a different answer, I have a totally different perspective based on my own students’ experience. Therefore, the nerdy side of me started to explain to him about Comprehensible Input and why everyone can acquire language at any time. How easy and fun TCI has made for students to acquire Chinese…
    He listened with a big smile on his face, truly engaged and I felt I was so valued in front of this educational giant. The humanity in him brought me into tears that night when I was meditating. For an outstanding teacher, there is no important student or powerless student, there is no good student or bad student, there is only a human who is seeking knowledge and striving to develop intellectually, psychologically as well as socially. An outstanding teacher is like everyday heroes, she’s there to support, value, recognize, calm, inspire, nurture and mentor… a learner.

    2. Empathy
    Anyone who uses embedded reading might have heard of Laurie Clarcq and Michelle Whaley. These two are amazing TCI teachers who were the inventors of the embedded reading. Laurie Clarcq has a unique story to share regarding how she started with embedded reading. She had a student, Justin, in her class. Everyday he came in with a hood on, sat in the back, head on the desk… Justin was an unbreakable wall, there were only walls surrounding him. One time, Laurie asked her Spanish class to write something. Justin did some bare minimal work in comparison to his more proficient and fluent Spanish classmates. Laurie didn’t despised his meager production. On the contrary, she cherished it! She cut out the sentences he wrote, along with others, pasted together and created a reading piece. By the time Justin figured out his own writing had become a part of a reading, that was the true transformational marker when Justin started to get involved in class, put down the hood and let down his guard… Laurie is a true embodiment of humanity and empathy. As Dalai Lama has said, “Many of the problems we face today are our own creation. Creating a more peaceful world requires a peaceful mind and a peaceful heart. As human brothers and sisters we must live together in tolerance and affection.” Amazing teachers teach with empathy, let’s become one of them.

    3. Courage
    We live in a culture where people idolize big heroes and anticipate catastrophe to happen, therefore, one or two individuals could shine through. However, people typically ignore small heroes in life. In my opinion, it is much more challenging to be an everyday hero. An everyday hero is super courageous and patient. They are the one who challenges the status quo, they act based on their conscious, they don’t follow rules blindly. They are the ones who have often been ignored and unrecognized, however, they do what’s right, not for a show.
    The most important aspect about everyday heroes is that they are courageous at pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and striving to become better daily. Amazing teachers never stop learning. They don’t cover up their vulnerability and pretend to be a giant. They foster their skills by grasping on all possible opportunities to learn and share. That’s why many of them are attending conferences, workshops, online learning communities and take classes… That’s why a conference like Comprehensible Midwest (CIMW) exists .

    Comprehensible Input Midwest conference was born out of passion, in a dear effort to provide equal, equitable and inclusive professional development to everyday teachers. We are projecting 350 attendees at CIMW18 this fall. 40 partial scholarship will be awarded to 40 Chinese teachers who register and attend the conference. 25 scholarship spots have been filled, only 15 remains as I’m typing tonight.

    Everyday heroes never let their daily life gets in the way of their passion and pursuit. They keep their eyes open to discover, often, something unexpected would happen.

  3. Total Physical Response and Its Classroom Application (8/22/2018)

    This article has been published by Chinese Language Teaching Methodology and Technology, Vol. 1 [2017], Iss. 3, Art. 4
    Special thanks to my editor, Huiwen Li, for giving me permission to post it here. Click here to read from the journal.

    Part I: What Is Total Physical Response?

    Total Physical Response (TPR) is one of the most powerful tools we can use in a language classroom. It is a comprehension-based strategy and built on the coordination of language and physical movements. In TPR, instructors give commands with body movement to students in a target language, students respond with whole-body actions.

    Dr. James Asher (2009), the initiator of TPR, was puzzled by his own language learning experience in school, because he had no trouble mastering other school subjects, but only had trouble with languages. Therefore, he was determined to embark on a journey to discover the secret to foreign language acquisition. He observed that children spend at least the first year of their lives in listening comprehension before they even utter a single word. The caretaking languages that children often receive are full of commands and directions and are filled with facial expressions, emotions, and gestures which helps make them comprehensible and compelling. In addition, many children have acquired a large amount of vocabulary before entering school which indicates that language is not acquired in school only.

    Also, to determine whether or not the popular belief of children’s superiority in language learning is a myth, Dr. Asher designed an experiment in which they offered similar Russian lessons, synchronized with body movements, to adults as well as children. The result was inspirational. When adults had the opportunity to acquire language through body movement, they actually outperformed children of all ages. Children’s superiority only remained in the domain of pronunciation.

    Here are the characteristics of TPR that can help understand the reasons for the practice. First of all, it offers multi-sensory input: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Secondly, it provides memoizable chunks rather than isolated word-by-word instruction. Thirdly, it helps students to internalize input faster and retain what has been acquired longer. Fourthly, TPR instructions create a unique phenomenon in which “output-is-more-than-input”. Learners can not only respond to the exact utterances used in training, but also understand novel commands as well. Fifthly, TPR instructions create a pleasant and enjoyable learning atmosphere. In terms of current theory, it reduces the Affective Filter. Last, it taps into the power of how the brain acquires information best.

    Part II: TPR Instructional Procedures

    Some teachers use TPR solely for 6 weeks (approximately 150 – 200 words) and then ease into other Comprehensible Input based instructions. Others might mix TPR with different TCI (Teaching with Comprehensible Input) strategies from Day 1.

    1. Classroom Set-up
    (1) Seating Arrangement:

    A classic TPR classroom typically contains three “Home Base Chairs” in the back as Ramiro Garcia (2009) explained it. This is where TPR instruction starts. The teacher often sits in the middle while she invites two students to sit on her side. The rest of the classroom is divided into two halves, facing each other. The advantage of this particular set up is that it provides more flexibility when offering varied instructions: in different groups, pairs and individuals, using modeling with oral commands, or oral commands only, etc.

    However, different setups are possible. Some teachers have their students sit in a “U” shape in class and some others have a semi-circle formed in their classroom.

    (2) Visual Aids:

    Classroom expressions, survival phrases, rejoinders, and high frequency verbs are made into posters and posted in the classroom. Realia and props are stored in the classroom as well. This allows the teacher to offer rich and dynamic instructions and easily make input comprehensible. It also helps to lower students’ affective filters.

    (3) Grouping:

    There are many ways to assign students into various groups: by country, by famous landmarks, cities, historical events, and figures, or simply by different favorite foods, fruits, beverages, or animals. Often, teaching thematically is still required by many school districts. For example, I like to start with famous cities in China: Team of Xi’an, Team of Beijing, Team of Hong Kong, or Team of Shanghai. Similarly, there could be the Team of Great Wall, Team of Hua Shan, or Team of Yellow River. The most outrageous teams I came up with are: Team of Stinky tofu (臭豆腐队), Team of Chicken Feet (鸡爪子队), Team of Roast Duck (烤鸭队), and Team of Dumplings (水饺队). Kids often love these names. On a piece of paper, I have a team name in both character and pinyin accompanying by a photo. If it is possible, I suggest laminating them for reuse.

    2. The Classic TPR Procedure

    The classic TPR procedure normally contains the following steps: demo, delay demo, remove demo, and assess. During the assessment stage, there are some specific strategies as well: eyes closed, in sequence, in random order, various groups, to illustrate the actions, novel commands, and chain commands, etc. Lastly, reading can be added.

    (1) Steps in detail

    “Demo” means that a teacher demonstrates an action or gesture while giving verbal commands. After students become confident in responding to the teacher’s commands, then, TPR teachers use “delay demo,” that is, the teacher gives the verbal commands prior performing the action, acting out the commands soon as she observes hesitation. The next stage is “remove demo”: upon sensing that the majority of students show great confidence in what they are doing, the teacher removes her demonstration completely.

    “Assess”: Assessing students’ acquisition takes place throughout the whole class period. In this way, teachers know how to pace the class, who needs extra attention or assistance, and who needs extra challenges.

    A simple requirement such as “eyes closed” reveals a great deal about who has acquired what, and who is still struggling. It also discloses which vocabulary items have been stored in the brain, which ones still need further input.

    (2) The 9-squre activity method

    One of the challenges many teachers of Chinese is face is the difficulty of “thinking on their feet” in creating different combinations and providing instructions as well assessing students in random orders. Seasoned TCI practitioners and teachers’ coaches, Teri Wiechart and Gary Dibianca (2014) invented a 9-square activity to be used in these situations (see Table 1). It’s quite simple yet effective.

    Table 1 A 9-square Form Developed for Learning Activities

    走 跑 停
    站起来 坐下 看
    快快地 不 慢慢地

    Steps to break down the 9 square activity:

    Step 1: Choose any three vocabulary items as a group. You can choose vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Introduce one group at a time using classic TPR procedures and various assessment strategies.
    Step 2: After all three groups have been introduced, mix them up. You can give oral commands by simply following the square from left to right, right to left, top to bottom, bottom to top or diagonally. This will guarantee covering all possible combinations.
    Step 3: Novel commands. Input can be made more interesting by combining the words you have introduced. For example, “don’t”, “slowly”, and “walk”. Which combination could you come up with?
    Step 4: Chain commands. Even more interesting are chain commands, e.g., when teachers feel students are ready, presenting 不慢慢地走, 快快地跑, 不停不坐下.

    Subsequent commands include illustrations. Students can be commanded to draw a representation what of what the teacher has said.

    In addition, TPR teachers can point to commands written on flash cards (Pinyin or Pinyin and Chinese characters together).

    Part III: Additional TPR based strategies: The Three-Ring-Circus

    There are some limitations on TPR. The first one is that the vocabulary has to be concrete and result in an observable action. It is difficult to use TPR to get across words such as “ideal”, “hope” or “greedy”. If one solely uses TPR and gives commands, a dead-end will be reached rather quickly. Another limitation of TPR comes from the usage of command forms. Commands forms are not much a problem in Chinese. However, for a language like Spanish or German, when gender, pronoun and tenses, etc. all require agreement, teaching only command forms runs the risk of introducing incorrect grammatical patterns. Therefore, a world-renown TPR trainer, Bertha Segal Cook (1998), invented a technique called “Three-Ring-Circus”. It allows presenting input with a variety of tense, conjugations and agreements from the beginning and in a natural way.

    The Three-Ring-Circus Procedure: 1) Select three TPR words; 2) Use the classic TPR procedure to present these words; 3) Enlist three student volunteers and assign them one action each; 4) Place them into different corners in the classroom; 5) All students perform their actions individually at the same time; 6) The teacher asks questions about who is doing what.

    Example for the Three-Ring-Circus Procedure:

    Scenario:
    Sam is looking at Celia.
    Johnny is crying.
    Charlie is running.

    Questions teacher asks:
    Is Sam crying?
    Is Sam running?
    Is Sam looking at Celia or Johnny looking at Celia?
    Is Sam looking at Celia or Ivy?
    Who is Sam looking at?
    Who is looking at Celia?
    Is Celia looking at Sam?

    Typically, the class only needs to respond with one-word answers: Yes, no, a name or an object. As the class progresses students eventually start to respond with two and three-words, short phrases or longer phrases and complete sentences.

    Here is an example of teaching numbers with TPR: 1) Write a number on a flashcard and create a deck of numbers (1-10). 2) Give two numbers (5 & 8) to a student. 3) Ask questions such as:

    Sam, 把5给Carson。
    谁有5?
    Sam 有5吗?
    Charlie 有5吗?
    Carson有5吗?
    Sam 有8吗?
    Carson有8吗?
    Sam有5还是Carson有5?
    Sam有8 还是Carson有8?
    谁有5?
    谁有8?
    Sam有什么?
    Carson有什么?

    Part IV: Expending TPR

    Krashen (2013 & 2015) suggests that there is even more we can do with TPR, especially if we are not limited by having to work on target structures.

    We could expend TPR into the following areas:

    • Exercise and Yoga instructions
    • Cooking
    • Martial arts and simple self-defense moves
    • Simple magic tricks
    • Origami
    • Party games
    • Party tricks
    • Dance
    • Outdoor survival skills

    Slocum-Bailey wrote “Linear procedures—a repeated sequence of actions, for instance, or step-by-step instructions—tend to work well, because they involve a limited amount of vocabulary, much of which is naturally repeated, and students listen for understanding in order to be able to follow or complete the action.” (Slocum-Bailey, 2016, p. 20)

    Personally, I have implemented “Guided Meditation”, in several ways, e.g., “body scan”, “mindful eating” and “tapping” in class as well. It not only provides compelling comprehensible input, but it also helps students to acquire life skills for self-regulation and self-reliance.

    Conclusion

    Krashen 1998 has pointed out that “TPR is not a complete method. It cannot do the entire job of language teaching, nor was it designed to do this.” (Krashen, 1998, p. 94) There are other ways to provide comprehensible input to beginning students, such as TPRS, Story-Listening, Embedded Reading and Movie Talk. TPR has made an important contribution and nearly all successful methods have included movement as a means of making input more comprehensible, though.

    References

    Asher, J. (2009). Learning another language through actions. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.

    Cook, B. (1998). Teaching English through Action. Brea, CA: Berty Segal, Inc.

    Carcia, R. (2009). Instructor’s notebook: How to apply TPR for best results. Los Gatos, CA: Sky Oaks Productions.

    Krashen, S. (1998). TPR: Still a very good idea. Publicado en NovELTy (A Journal of English Language Teaching and Cultural Studies in Hungary), 5(4), 82-85.

    Krashen, S. (2013). The case for non-targeted, comprehensible input. Journal of Bilingual Education Research & Instruction, 15(1), 102-110.

    Krashen, S. (2015, July). TPRS: Contributions, Problems, New Frontiers, and Issues. In Keynote address given at the National TPRS Conference, Reston, VA (Vol. 20).

    Slocum-Bailey, J. (2016). Non-targeted comprehensible input: How it works for my students and me. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 12(1), 17-26.

    Willis, J. (2008). How your child learns best: Brain-friendly strategies you can use to ignite your child’s learning and increase school success. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, Inc.

    Wiechart, T., & DiBianca, G. (2014). Delivering CI: Kinesthetic connections – Classic TPR and gesturing, transition to reading and speaking, transition from TPR to narratives. Presentation, iFLT.

  4. Book Review: Feifei’s Field Trip (5/23/2018)

    儿子自上幼儿园起,就开始有”field trip”了。记得他上4岁幼儿园的时候,他们的实践学习是去湖边的一座公园探索。那天,儿子跟爸爸一起,兴奋地在密西根湖边的沙滩上捡了很多石头回来。等他上5岁的幼儿园的时候,学校组织了他们去动物园。虽说他从小就去动物园,但是坐着校车,跟着小朋友们一起去的感觉就是不一样。他回来后兴奋了好几天。儿子上6岁幼儿园的时候,他的老师给他们上经济课,并且要在教室里设置模拟商店。所以,学校就浩浩荡荡地带着他们参观不同的商店,采访店主,店员和顾客,并且仔细观察店内的布局设计。儿子挑选的职业是收银员,他骄傲的不得了。
    今年,儿子上二年级了。学校给他们组织的实践学习是参加一个野地营会,还要带着家长在小木屋里过夜。开始的那天下着雨,儿子穿着雨靴雨衣,在爸爸的陪同下出发了。他们在指导员的带领下,一起做了一个鼓,画了很多印第安人的符号作为装饰。在雨里跟小朋友们一起做了很多游戏。等我下午上完课去看他的时候,他的两只眼睛发着光,玩得实在是太爽了。当我踏进他的小木屋,想看看他的居住条件的时候,他对我说:“妈妈,这是男生专地。你不要进来了。”
    据说,那个晚上熄灯后,一群8岁的小男生,打着手电筒,在睡袋里玩不同的游戏玩了很久。”Filed Trip” 实践学习对于儿子来说实在是太开心了。可是,那个晚上,当我跟他们一起联欢的时候,看到有两个男孩,无论他们的父母怎么劝说,都拒绝参与。看来,不是所有的人,即便在这么小的年龄,也不见得都合群,或者喜欢大众游戏。
    所以,就让我想到了菲菲。

    菲菲是猫咪从书中第六本书的主人公。菲菲是我最喜欢的人物。真的!因为菲菲让我看到我的一些学生,身边的一些朋友,当然还有我自己。每年,每当学生读到菲菲这本书,他们也都有很多感想和共鸣。几年前,一个学生在推特上说:“菲菲是我,我是菲菲。”今年,当我要求我中文二的学生来写读后感的时候,他们的见解就更多了。
    在这里,我跟大家分享一些。

    如果你不知道菲菲这本书,请看看封面的图片吧。

  5.  你会被学生气着吗? (5/22/2018)

    头天晚上,你为了把教案准备好,一直熬到午夜才睡觉。第二天早上进到教室,却发现有几个学生功课没有写,你辛苦熬夜设计的活动中,有一项是根据他们的作业而设计的,现在,你会生气吗?
    你全身心都在投入地上课,手脚并用,激情澎湃,但是,有个学生把课本竖到桌子上,开始睡觉,你会生气吗?
    你对学生说把电脑打开,到某个网站上做某个练习,有的学生借机开始打网络游戏,你会生气吗?
    有几个学生,功课常常不做,上课也不专心,但是抱怨是因为你不喜欢他们,所以,他们的成绩偏低。告到家长那里,家长写信跟你抱怨抗议,你会生气吗?
    有几个人,在上课的时候,聊天说话怎么都制止不了,还洋腔怪调地挑衅你,你会生气吗?

    如果我是你,我一定会生气。正常人都会生气。
    你注意过,当你生气的时候,在生理上你会有什么症状吗?比方说:血往上涌,面红耳赤,呼吸急促,胸部发紧,有时候胸闷气短,手脚出汗, 或者,不知所措… 有时候,生气的时候,你感到想要爆发,不然,那份怒火憋在心里会把你焚烧。有时候,生气的时候,你会惊慌失措,因为这不是你想要看到的自己。有时候生气的时候,你会逃避现实,把幻想放飞到一个虚拟世界中…

    生气的时候,无论你有什么症状,都很正常。因为从脑科学的角度来说,人们面对创伤或者危险的时候,通常会有三种反应模式:Fight战斗,Flight逃跑,和Freeze冻结。其实这样的反应模式不光光是在受到威胁的时候才发生,这种在进化过程中演变而来的生存的本能目的是在保护我们的生命,不过也会让我们在遇到压力,挑战或者冲突的时候,开启我们默认的反应模式。

    生气不可怕,关键是生气之后,怎么办?
    当生气的时候,你可以不承认,你也可以怒火冲冠然后不计后果地爆发。或者,自我批判折磨…不过,要是你可以深呼一口气,然后仔细观察你体内的感觉,关注着它的流动和改变,关注着,关注着,不动声色地关注着,不声不响地关注着,不要害怕,不要抵触,不要抱怨,不要谴责,不要羞耻,不要挑逗…什么都不要,只是关注着,关注着…出其不意的是,那份感觉会转移然后消失…不知不觉地,如果你不动声色地关注那份感觉,感觉就会改变,“气”在你不执着的时候,最“无常”。其实,即便是在你执着的时候,也会无常,只是变换得慢一点。

    还有,当你生气的时候,请关注在你脑海里的那个小声音,它在说什么?
    这个学生太讨厌了,他竟然敢不尊重我?我辛辛苦苦为这个班,这些学生还有这个学校在付出,值得吗?天呐,真的是我在某些方面还不够好吗?是因为我是外国人吗?我的英语不地道吗?是因为我教的不好吗?我天天都在熬夜,他们上一节几十分钟的课,都不能好好专心,太过分了!…

    在你脑海的小声音里,有对自我的怀疑和他人的谴责和批判吗?
    在我们生气的时候,有一个主要的原因是因为我们想要寻得别人的接纳和认可。所以,我们往往会把别人的过错加在自己的身上,有时候,我们会觉得某个学生的挑衅行为是针对我们来的。特别是,如果你是一个新来乍到的老师,觉得身处弱势…

    其实,我想要告诉你的是:接纳自己,接纳那个不完美的自我。你不需要别人的批准和认可。我们的体内流淌着鲜血,我们的情绪有着千变万化。这都是“我”的一部分。你每天都在成长,如果你做到你今年的课比去年好,你明年的课比今年好,足够了。有时候有点小低潮,有点小挫折,不算什么。不要让学生的行为或者态度影响到你的心情和处事。

    你可以生气,你有权利生气。不过,生气后,对自己说:“看来,我真是一个正常的大活人,有血也有肉呀!我很好奇,我想要仔细观察这个气在我体内会停留多久,什么时候会改变。我也想好好探索一下当气聚集在体内的时候,我都有什么感觉。”

    要知道,我们无法控制别人的行为,但是,我们可以改变自己的反应。

    你可以生气,你有权利生气。生气后,不要自我惩罚,也不要谴责别人。

    请做几个扩胸运动,使劲跺跺脚,深深地吸上几口气,提醒自己:“她的行为不是针对我来的。我不需要所有人的接纳和认可。”
    试一试,告诉我,对你会不会有帮助。

  6. Everybody Eats, How Many Cooks? (5/7/2018)

    Talking about food could be a fun and nonthreatening topic for anyone to strike up a conversation with others. Especially, for me, an immigrant who lacks knowledge of cultural insights, jokes and references, when awkwardness falls upon me during a social gathering, I try to steer the conversation into food and cooking, to cover up my inadequateness. Often, it is an interesting topic for students to be engaged in the classroom early on as well.

    Everybody LOVES to talk about their favorite foods and restaurants! However, for teens, how many likes to cook?
    When my students reach Intermediate Mid level according to ACTFL’s Proficiency Standard, most likely, I’ll launch a cooking show project.

    Here is what I do normally.

    1. Preparation on students’ understanding of Chinese Regional Cuisine
    Students research Chinese regional cuisines. To find out how geographical locations, weather and local resources, etc impact the development of Chinese regional cuisines. Then, they use a thinking routine, “Connect-Extend-Explore “, an adaptation from “Connect-extend-challenge” and “think-puzzle-explore” to activate their previous knowledge of Chinese cuisine, to expend on their understanding by researching more and eventually, they are asked to choose one representative dish from two of the regional cuisines which they are interested in, eventually, they will narrow down to one, that would be the dish they will cook and make a cooking show on it.

    2. Cooking instruction preparation via TPR
    One of the most challenging grammar structures in Chinese is the “Ba” construction (把字句). . Because it changes the Chinese sentence pattern from Subject + Verb + Object to Subject + Object + Verb. Quite many students can get confused. In cooking, “ba” construction is essential in giving instructions in Chinese.
    This portion takes place way before we launched into our cooking show unit. It takes 5 minutes of daily practice at the beginning of each class. We divided the TPR verbs into four categories: A. Cooking method B. Cooking Preparation C. Cutting method. D. Describing/tasting a dish
    A. Cooking method: pan-fried, deep fried, stir-fry, boil, grill/bake/roast, and steam (煎炸炒煮烤蒸)along with different food items which typically associate with these cooking methods. For example: pan-fried potstickers (煎锅贴), deep-fried chicken (炸鸡块) or steamed vegetables/fish (蒸蔬菜/鱼).
    After they have required these essential phrases, create a personalized Q/A session regarding their diet preference, frequency and health projection.
    B. Cooking Preparation : wash, cut, stir, flip, put in, pour in, mix together, add in, take out, put on side, pinch together, and wrap together. (洗一洗,切一切,搅一搅,翻一翻,把…放进/倒进,把…搅在一起,把…加进,把…拿出来,把…放在一边,捏一捏,包一包.) Be creative during this part. Each phrase can give so much fun when you are flexible and focus on having fun. For example, “to wash”. I brought in different body parts, doing laundry/dishes (in Chinese, it is the same word), different food items, acquiring about their/siblings’ personal hygiene habits including whether they wash hands before meal and after using bathroom. Trust me, I got lots of laughters out of them.
    C. Cutting method: in Chinese, this part could be tricky. as “dice”, “mince” or “cut” are different in English. In Chinese, it all starts with cutting, plus a complement. “把…切成块”, “把…切成丁”, “把…切成条”, “把…切成丝”, “把…切成末”, “把…切碎”.
    D. Describing/tasting a dish: smell, taste, sweet, sour, bitter, salty and spicy (闻一闻,尝一尝,酸甜苦辣咸).

    3. Cooking Show Project guideline
    Now, it’s time to warm students up for the actual cooking show project. The project guideline and rubric are posted. Chinese Cooking Show Rubric Cooking Show Project Students are asked to narrow down their choices to one final dish. They are asked to get their ingredients together and be ready to cook in 3 weeks.

    4. Movie Talk authentic Chinese dishes
    At this point, I start to Movie Talk some typical dishes in China. Some is based on its popularity such as “dumplings” and “steamed baozi”, some is based on its regional representation. I often chose a short video clip less than 4 minutes. The video includes a clear ingredients list, preparation process, cooking procedure and final product. Few samples I used are: Orange beef, Hong-sue spare ribs, park dumplings, Kongpong chicken, mopo doufu, tomato and eggs, stir-fry vegetables, etc. Students are asked to narrate along the lip, describe it to each other or write about, depending on which skills need to be enhanced at different points.

    5. Draft their recipe and cooking procedure
    Once they turn in their recipe and cooking procedure, I discuss each one with them individually. Some choices could be either too simple or complex, some procedure could be too minimal. After students receive a constructive feedback from me, they will be sharing with each other about what they were going to cook and how.

    6. It’s time to cook and share your dish. Here is a cooking show sample for you to enjoy!

    7. Reflect
    During this project, most students were excited. However, there was one student in particular who dragged his feet through this whole process. When I contacted his mom, mom was very protective of her son. She explained to me that this kid doesn’t like cooking at all, that was why he was procrastinating so much. I replied as: “I could totally relate to him as at different points, we all have to do something which we are not 100% passionate about it. The chance to challenge oneself under this circumstance, to build grit and resilience is much greater than staying in a comfort zone.” That kid, in the end, came through. He made delicious potstickers for his family, his mom praised him so much.
    Due to this unique episode in class, I thought it would be beneficial for students to reflect on this process. Therefore, I used two more different thinking routine to help them to think deeper.
    I took a big post paper and divided it into four sections: What went well. What could be improved. I used to think of cooking as… Now, I think cooking as…

    It helped students to become aware of their effort and areas for improvement. Most importantly, to realize that cooking is not as tidioues, strange or difficult as they had thought. It is an important skill to have, it is simple and can be fun. It bonds a family together.
    So, what are you waiting for?

  7. Edcamp Lake County Experience (4/26/2018)

    The Edcamp organized by a group of Chicagoland educators back in December had all the wonders! I felt so inspired and stimulated and I felt like a sponge to soak up my new learning experience. Now, I’m excited to share some with you.

    That morning was snowing. The dense, drizzling and fine snow made the feasibility to be very low. On a 70 miles per hour speed limit freeway, I could only drive between 45 – 50 miles per hour. I knew I would be late. My thought didn’t dwell on the road condition at all, I simply kept on driving and reminded myself to see God in everything. As it turned out, the drive was as beautiful as on a sunny day.

    I was there for the first TCI session on time. Elaine Winer, a season TPRS Spanish teacher, demonstrated the whole process on how to ask for a story within 45 minutes. She started with TPRS step 1: Establish meaning. She used TPR, illustrations, props and realia during her establishing meaning process. Then, she called an actor up front and started TPRS step 2: ask a story. For Elaine, she prefers to have a storyline developed before she starts a new lesson. This technique is called “story-telling”. For me, if we are creating a new story, I often select few essential phases I’d like to weave into a story, I then start to ask for details, often, students provide details to drive the story. This technique is called “story-asking”. If I use a legend or an existing story, then often I use story-telling technique.

    Elaine’s storyline was simple: There is a man. His name is Muhammad. He wants to have dinner with a woman. He enters a restaurant, sees a woman there and asks her whether she would be interested. She rejects him because he has 11 fingers. He goes to another restaurant and experiences the same rejection, until he finds a woman with 12 fingers who accepts him wholeheartedly.

    That was a typical TPRS story which meant to be funny, entertaining and comical. In recent years, a group of TCI teachers have also become conscious about expressing equity and inner qualities in our stories. The shift is to focus on characters and values instead of physical treats. The leading figures are Anna Giltch and Rochelle Adams. If you have time to attend NTPRS18 this year, please make sure you check out their session.

    The second Edcamp session I attended was on “A teacher’s journey through Ben Slavic’s Invisibles and One Word Image- No stress storytelling” by Greg Schwab.
    I am familiar with Ben Slavic’s One Word Image, however, in recent years, Ben and Tina have developed a new technique called “Invisibles”, which I have not had an opportunity to learn about. I was very happy that Greg presented on this topic.
    From One Word Image to Invisible has a total of three simple steps.
    Step 1: create a character by using One Word Image.
    You start with a one word: What is there? (有一个…?) And then you start to create a character from there by asking the following treats:

    Size: Big Small

    Height: Tall Short (if applicable)

    Color:

    Mood: Happy Sad

    Cheerful Depressed (add on later, you don’t need to use the same ones)

    Excited Nervous (add on later)

    Wealth: Rich Poor

    IQ level: Intelligent Stupid

    Characters: Friendly Mean

    Often, as Gregg has said, the character is an animated cartoon like object or talking food. Once your character is created, then it would be time for step 2.

    Step 2: Develop a character. Students take a total of 30 minutes to finish step 1 above and step 2 here. The following information are included in step 2.

    Name:

    Likes:

    Dislikes:

    Job:

    Problem:

    Secret:

    Fear:

    Favorite phrase in the target language:

    Favorite greetings in the target language:

    Date of Birth:

    Step 3: Ask for a story. Creating a story for an invisible involves 7 steps.

    Town Hall Meeting – choose a character from students’ drawing collection

    Who? –

    Where?

    W/whom

    Problem

    Solution

    Retell

    1. Town Hall meeting is held in English. Because the class needs to agree on what the main character would be and whose storyline is most appealing to them. This is a process which needs to be dealt with efficiency and clarity. Teacher selects the best creation from step 1 and shows to the class. Students discuss and choose one out of the samples.

    2. Who?
    Even though the character has been created. This is a process for everyone truly understand and develop a deep bond for the character. Teachers don’t spend too much time on circling.

    3. Where?
    This is a step where students’ imagination at work. Teacher makes many suggestions, from a desert to an island, a mountain top to a farm house, a evil forest to a disco place, students stay in the target language and make their argument. Teacher personalizes it and circles.

    4. W/whom?
    This is another creative step when students suggest another character to be in the story. During Greg’s demo, participants cleverly brought all the 3 characters into the story. Or it could be a totally unrelated person for a good reason to be there.

    5. Problem
    This step has already been established by the author. Teacher doesn’t spend too much time here. It helps to get to the solution party quickly. For many people who really need a closure for a story, this could be a good strategy.

    6. Solution
    This is another creative step. It takes time and patiences to reach a satisfying conclusion.

    7. Retell
    Wait, wait!!! Retell right away? Don’t panic! Here, let me reveal one extra set-up during the Invisible process.

    Illustration. Greg had a big poster size post-it ready. He has the illustrator to divide the paper into half. The upper half is a scene focusing on “problems”. When the character starts to have problems, with whom he’s having problems, what are the problems, where they are…

    The bottom half is a scene focusing on “solutions”. How the problems have been solved.

    By the time he finishes the Invisible, the illustration is ready to use. Students could look at the illustration and retell.

    The third session I attended was presented by Meg Grossnitz. She is an elementary teacher, fun and dynamic. Meg’s presentation was on “Special Person Interview”.
    Meg was intended to interview Greg, however, being a busy organizer, he was not there when her session started. Meg selected me to be her “special person”.

    I am a quiet introvert who prefers to live behind the scene. I am also a unique person who is into meditation and nature. Not a common type who enjoys social, party or sports. I was feeling self-conscious about my answers to her questions. While I felt the needs to stay true, I was concerned about that I might sound off-putting to others. It was an interesting insight to gain through this whole process. I have done this activity many times in class, only when I was pushed under the spotlight, I realized that how stress this could be for some people. Meg’s handout is here.

    The biggest takeaway for me is that Meg has created a quiz templet by using Google Form, she asked a fast processor student to fill out the form (with my answers) while she was interviewing me. When the interview was over, Meg was ready to launch a Quizlet Live game for us. We got to play a game and review the interview. I LOVED it!

    The last session was presented by Sean Lawler, the title was Asking Stories with Anne Matava Scripts.
    Sean used chalks and a chalkboard. Along with a stuffed animal (dragon) and an actress, very low tech! Then started a mesmerizing story! The basic storyline is typical TPRS style: a dragon is hungry/thirsty, he goes to location #1, #2 & #3, then…

    What I LOVED about Sean’s session is how charmingly he infused his personality treats into the class. Sean seems to be very musical and he incorporates rhythm into his lessons. Would you like to get a glimpse of Sean’s rhythmical raps? Here is a sample.

    Each Edcamp session is 45 minutes in length, then there is 10 minutes Q & A session followed immediately after the presentation. I love how efficient this organization can be to introduce new ideas and expose participants with new tools.

    Certainly, I was feeling very grateful for this learning opportunity.

    By Haiyun

  8. 你有学生抱怨你偏心吗? (4/26/2018)

    作为老师,最难做到的是当一位在学生眼里,对所有的学生都一视同仁,对好学生没有偏心,对有挑战性的学生没有成见,对谁都公平对待的人。并且,要做到是达到学生的一致认可,而不是你的自我感觉。
    几年前,我有一个学生家长,她是印度人。身上充满了爱意和平和,对任何人都非常友善。在她帮我装饰了我们的新年庆祝活动之后,我就完全被她的人格所折服,我们变成了好朋友。她女儿在我班上。所以,很自然地,每次她女儿走进来,她都会主动跟我打招呼,我也会充满热情地答复。但是,在成绩上,她女儿的成绩大多都在A-/B+之间。我没有因为私人的关系就把她的成绩提上。我觉得我对她可是一碗水端平了。可是,连着两个学期的学生反馈都有人抱怨我偏心。还有一个同学说:“我们都知道她在班上最喜欢谁。”
    看了之后,就要反省了。我真的偏心吗?我怎样才能让学生觉得我对他们都一视同仁?
    经过这几年的反省和自我调整,最近两年的学生反馈,没有人再说我偏心了。所以,现在跟大家分享一点小小的心得。

    1. 爱自己,才能爱别人。
    我是一个对自我要求非常严格的人。我是在一种善于牺牲和奉献的家庭环境下长大的。不由自主地,对别人的要求也会很高。如果,当自己做了一件自己觉得没有达到最理想状态的一件事情,我对自我的批判会非常严厉。近几年,我学会了尽力而为,随遇而安的态度。另外,我接受了一个新的信念:任何事情的发生都有一定的原因。就像塞翁失马,焉知非福一样,要淡定也要豁然。这样帮我逐渐关掉了内心里那个苛刻的挑剔声。对学生,也不再期望着每一个人都同时到达一个终点。

    2. 每一个人习得语言的速度都不一样。引用猫咪从书中贝贝的一句话:“黑猫,白猫都是好猫。”所以,快学生,慢学生,都是好学生。在我中文三有一个学生,他在开始上中文课之前,没有任何学习外语的经验。所以,他不像其他的同学会有不同的方法应用在语言习得上。再加上天生有点慢,也比较坚持己见。因此,每年都在班上给人垫底。我给他推荐了很多电影,都不看。音乐,也不听。在我们进行评估的时候,他每年都不达标。说句实话,我在心里还真替他着急。终于,在去年夏天,他跟我一起去了一趟中国。回来后,学习兴趣一下子被激发了,也愿意听点中文音乐了。就在上个星期,我问了一个关于奥林匹克运动的问题,他突然举起手来流利地说出了他的观点。把在场的人都惊得目瞪口呆。说完后,大家都拼命给他鼓掌。那天的感觉,就像在迪斯尼大片,花木兰里的爸爸说的:“你看,这朵木兰花要晚开了。等它开花的时候,也是一样的美。”

    3. 学生不写功课敷衍了事的时候,不要把行为和人格混在一起批判。儿子星期二回家报告他在班上捣乱了,又被老师点名批评了。差不多一个星期以来,我们都在为儿子在课堂上遵守秩序而教导。那天晚上,我终于生他气了。要把他最喜欢的一套神奇宝贝卡拿走。儿子大哭一场后,过来说:“妈妈,对不起,我不是一个好男孩。” 我用手捧住他的脸,看着他说:“你从来都是一个好男孩。你善良,勇敢,充满同情心。你也很幽默,你很会别人着想。但是,你犯了一个行为上的错误。犯错误不等于你就是一个坏孩子。犯了错误要反省的是我怎样才能改进。”学生也一样。也在我中文三,有一个学生,几乎什么功课都不做,每次上课都迟到,每次下课都主动道歉,可是,没有丝毫改变。我能够做到的就是以“初心”来看待他。我真的不知道他什么时候会醒悟过来,什么时候会真正开始改变。但是,我看到在他的掩饰的无奈中,他渴望被人重视,理解和尊重。

    4. 每一个同学都会有闪光点。看到你想要的行为,马上指出来。不是所有的时候一个优秀的学生都会做令人满意的事情,也不是所有的时候,一个调皮捣蛋或者不爱学的学生都会让你头疼。当你看到一个人的闪光点,马上指出来。比方说:同学们,看张三,他的眼睛随时都在跟着老师走。老师指哪儿,他看哪儿。老师走到哪儿,他看到哪儿。或者,你向大家指出李四同学:她一看到老师在白板上写下一个词语,她就会马上抄到笔记本上。还有,你可以表扬王五同学:看到没有,王五没有只跟她的朋友互动,她主动跟每一个同学都结成组,一起做活动。这样下来,每一个人都会觉得你看重他们,因为每一个人都有优点,他们在你的课堂都会发光。

    5. 一个令人失望的项目,不代表失败。那可以是反省和成功的一个新的起点。今年是我第七年在中文课带学生做我们的MTV。7年来,除了去年一组学生没有按时完成他们的MTV之外,每年都会有非常好的作品出来。特别是我们有名的”Tribe of 5″团体,每年的作品都让人刮目相看。

    可是,今年,有一组男生,因为种种关系,对于我每次的建议都置之不理。结果,当他们的MTV交上来后,我失望的感觉自己好像在教育上,彻底打了一场大败仗。我记得那天晚上,我独自坐在书房的一个角落静坐了很久。直到我彻底平静下来才去休息。我怕因为我的失望,从而把负情绪带到课堂。全班一半的同学都得了“D”。我很担心所有的人都会抱怨我,从而撒手不干,干脆放弃。我这个学期在上一门哈佛大学的网络课程。想来想去,决定还是让学生跟我一起反省反省。我忐忑不安地带着学生做了一个指南针的活动。从四个不同的方面来反省:当初,你最为这个项目的哪方面而激动?你最担心的是什么?现在,你的态度是什么?下一步,你有什么打算?
    没想到,这成为我教育生涯中最辉煌的一次成功。学生不但诚恳地反映出他们之间的摩擦和挑战,同时,意识到,如果他们采取不同的手段,他们就会有很多不同的结果。最后,我问大家感觉怎么样?他们都说,如果没有一起反省,那么就会觉得就这样吧,自己能做的也就这么多。但是,现在,意识到,自己有很多方面都可以改进。我很庆幸我有很多的工具帮我成为一个好老师。

    6. 不要加入教师休息室的聊天组去抱怨你的学生。有一次,我偶尔跟一位数学老师坐到一起吃午饭。我们在聊我们的一天。“都还好呀,没有什么特别的事情。”我们两个好像都轻描淡写地说。在沉默中过了一会儿,他突然说,“在我即将成为老师的时候,我父亲对我说,儿子,我只有一个建议。就是不要天天跟其他老师扎堆,一起抱怨你的学生。现在,我教了快20年了,那条建议真的是金玉良言呀。” 所以,不要觉得没有跟其他人一起抱怨,就好像你落单了一样。闲言蜚语吸收的是负能量。把一份淡然带到你的课堂,一切都会好的。

    我呢,我还在为一个更明媚的明天而努力呢!

  9. 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。

  10. 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。

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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