Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Look I Can Talk (edition 2015) - review

*Disclaimer* I am very grateful for the Blaine Ray workshops that I have attended and for the TPRS method in general that he adapted from TPR.  I am indebted to him for helping me transform my classroom into a place where we can explore themes, topics, etc in the target language and where there is so much more laughter and genuine interest than ever before. The following are my opinions on his new teacher's guide: Look I Can Talk, which was published in 2015. And I continue to wish Blaine Ray and his company great success!

I recently bought the newest edition of the Blaine Ray Look I Can Talk book (May 2015) thinking that I could finally have something to follow and do a little bit of auto-piloting with my lesson planning instead of coming up with my own stories and/or scouring other people's books/blogs for storytelling.  First semester, we got through about 4 or so of the stories in addition to other activities (PQA, TPR, etc) and reading Agentes Secretos.

This semester, I looked at the up-and-coming stories and wondered where all of the funny and interesting story-lines have gone!

I'm finding myself nostalgic for the sillier story-lines from the edition I used to use (June 2006).  I guess a lot has changed in 9 years of TPRS.

I know that for some, TPRS is equated to "just telling wacky stories to students". And the discredit the method because (1) they aren't wacky or (2) the wackiness detracts from their perception of the methods professionalism and efficacy.  So maybe Blaine Ray's company has decided to put out a book that is more friendly to less goofy personality types to give more seriousness to the method. And also to align with textbooks and traditionally accepted curriculum more.

But in my experiences the wacky helps things stay compelling and unpredictable. It also helps us reduce the affective filter by creating laughter in the classroom.

For example, in the 2006 edition, one of the story-lines is that a person thinks they are a gorilla and go to various doctors. Finally one gorilla expert tells them that real gorillas have "__". Then they go to another doctor who gives them "__".  It was silly and lighthearted and dealt with high frequency stuff. In the embedded reading, a teacher could add more doctor/patient vocabulary as needed.

Granted, not every story has to be a side-splitting tale, because each class is different. Most of the stories in the new edition give very little to the imagination. They are just about kids wanting xboxs, videogames or iphones.  Each story  from what I can see so far follows the exact same formula and revolves around what technology the kids want/have, I find that materialism has tried to butt its head into my curriculum.  Whatever happened to the girl who wanted white chocolate (to practice colors and food) or the boy who wanted a bed between two animals?

I am not here to tell you whether to buy it or not, as we quite possibly have different personalities and priorities in our classrooms. But I had to ask myself the following question last night as I determined what I was going to do this semester for storytelling: If I am not excited about the story lines (because they are goofy/silly/quirky), how can I possibly get my kids excited about them?  

And with the new LICT, I personally am not finding myself very excited about teaching the stories.

*Edit* Yet upon more reflection, maybe those storylines from the new edition are what have helped my students to better than ever before use the first / second person forms of the verbs.

1 comment:

  1. I will be going to my first workshop this summer. What materials do you recommend? My students seem to like suspenseful stories--I guess I have to write them myself.