Friday, May 4, 2018

Teaching interrogatives with TPRS

(someone asked on the Spanish for Teachers in the U.S. group on Facebook about how one might go about doing a model lesson with interrogatives and I replied with, “Any TPRS story EVER”. Here is my explanation on how one might set that up)

Setup the question words displayed somewhere in class like so. Notice the translations are there.

Have a prop like a stuffed animal or maybe something from target country like a Carlos Quinto chocolate bar.

(You might consider downloading the FREE interrogative posters I recently designed for TPRS books here.)

In all honesty, I never was incredibly good at using language with my students before TPRS (relating to students in the target language). So beforehand I might do a lesson on all of the question words, give some ways to remember them and examples and then give a quick quiz or test and assume they would remember them. But I didn’t manipulate the language to help them acquire them. 

Now that I use TPRS, the students not only learn the interrogatives, but learn to use them in context and to make novel questions. So let’s move on to TPRS. 

The Steps to TPRS are as follows:
  • Establish meaning
  • Ask-a-story
  • Read and discuss
The focus isn’t really the question words but we’ll use them a lot each lesson so the students stop having to look at them eventually. So we’ll embed them into a simple storyline. 

So let’s imagine my story had these three words/target phrases. 
  1. (No) está feliz ahora.
  2. Tiene / No tiene __.
  3. Toma __.
I will repeat them in a variety of contexts and will ask a lot of questions. But first let’s establish meaning to ensure the class understands. 

I like to establish meaning in the following ways:
  • word/phrase in Spanish with English translation in different color; 
  • with picture of possible 
  • and with a gesture if possible
  • maybe ask for association to help class remember based on what word reminds them of

Now, if we move on to the question words, in TPRS, we can ask-a-story by making a statement and asking a lot of varied questions. We are always eliciting a response from the group to determine breakdown in understanding so we can do better and also providing repetitions of words they might not be familiar with and giving more opportunities to acquire the word.

Assuming I have a chocolate bar prop, I might start out by saying:

Teacher: ¿Quién tiene el chocolate?

[The class can respond; or I can have pre-planned; or a student can volunteer]

Teacher: Clase, es obvio, [student 1] tiene el chocolate.

[In TPRS, a class would now respond to show they understand that’s a new statement with something like OOOOH.]

[Teacher gives chocolate bar to student to HOLD, teacher explains, don’t eat it, it’s a prop]

[Teacher now starts asking questions to class to check for comprehension while pointing at question words (as needed) and words on the board]

Teacher: Clase, ¿[Student 1] tiene un chocolate?

[Class: Sí.]

Teacher: Sí, [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: ¿Quién tiene un chocolate?

[Class: [Student 1]]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: Clase, ¿[Student 1] tiene el chocolate o [Student 2] tiene un chocolate?

[Class: [Student 1]]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate. [Student 2] no tiene el chocolate. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: Clase. ¿[Student 1] tiene un chocolate o un elefante?

[Class: [un chocolate]]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: ¿Qué tiene [Student 1]?

[Class: [un chocolate]]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: ¿Cuántos chocolates tiene [Student 1]?

[Class: uno]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate.

Teacher: ¿Quién tiene dos chocolates?

[Class can guess or teacher can have already decided on someone who will be a good sport.]

Teacher: Clase, es obvio. [Student 2] tiene dos chocolates.

[Class: OOOOOH.]

[Teacher goes over and hands two chocolates to that student.]

Teacher: Clase, ¿[Student 1] tiene dos chocolates?

[Class: No]

Teacher: Correct, [Student 1] no tiene dos chocolates. ¿Cuántos chocolates tiene?

[Clase: uno]

Teacher: Correcto, clase. [Student 1] tiene un chocolate. ¿Cuántos tiene [student 2]?

[Clase: dos]

Teacher: Sí, clase. [Student 2] tiene dos chocolates. ¿Cómo está [student 1] ahora?

[Class can guess. But answer is “no está feliz”]

Teacher: Clase, no está feliz ahora. 

[Class: ¡Es terrible! (or similar cue agreed upon for sad information)]

Teacher: [Student 1] no está feliz. ¿Por qué no está feliz ahora?

[Class can guess. Answer is “No tiene dos chocolates.”]

Teacher: No tiene dos chocolates. ¿Quién tiene dos chocolates?

[Class: [Student 2]]

Teacher: Sí, [student 2] tiene dos chocolates. ¿Cómo está [student 2] ahora?

[Class guess. Answer is “está feliz”]

Teacher: Está feliz. ¿Por qué está feliz?

[Class: Tiene dos chocolates]

Teacher: Sí, tiene dos chocolates. ¿Quién está feliz porque tiene dos chocolates?

[Class: [Student 2]]

Teacher: Correcto. [Student 2] está feliz porque tiene dos chocolates.

Teacher: ¿Cuándo no está feliz [student 1]? 

[Class: Ahora]

Teacher: Correcto, [student 1] no está feliz ahora.

Teacher: Clase, [student 1] tiene un plan. ¿Cuál es su plan?

[Class can guess.]

Teacher: Es obvio. [student 1] toma los dos chocolates de [student 2].

[Teacher has them act out.]

Teacher: ¿Quién toma el chocolate?

[Class: [student 1]

Teacher: ¿Cuál persona toma el chocolate?

[Class: [student 1]]

Teacher: [Student 1] toma el chocolate. ¿Cómo está [student 1] ahora?

[Class: está feliz.]

Teacher: Sí, [student 1] está feliz ahora. ¿Quién no está feliz?

[Class: [student 2]]

Teacher: Correcto, [student 2] no está feliz. ¿Por qué no está feliz?

[Class: no tiene chocolate]

Teacher: Correcto, no tiene chocolate. ¿Por qué no tiene chocolate?

[Class: [student 1] toma el chocolate.]

Teacher: Correcto. [Student 1] toma el chocolate de [Student 2]. ¿Cuántos chocolates tiene [student 1]?

[Class: tres]

Teacher: Correcto, [student 1] tiene tres chocolates. ¿Cuándo tiene tres chocolates?

[Class: ahora]

Teacher: Correcto, [student 1] tiene tres chocolates ahora. ¿Cómo está [student 1] ahora?

[Class: está feliz]

Teacher: Correcto, [student 1] está feliz ahora.

Etc… etc.. etc

You could add dónde in the beginning to establish where they are, where they have chocolate, where the crime takes place, etc. You can add additional characters to take the chocolate away for more repetitions. Again, the target words would be used in a simple lesson, but as you can see, the interrogatives are used so much in context, that they will be taught all year.

I hope that gives you more of an idea! It might not work as well for an “interrogatives” explicit lesson. For that you could teach some gestures and have the class go along with the gestures. Maybe try a little scenario. The goal would be to ask 8+ questions a minute. So if you taught for 10 minutes, the would be 80 questions or more. That’s a pretty good way to get more comfortable with the interrogatives! 

Of course, it's impossible to go over all of the additional things you can do with TPRS. Your best bet would be to attend a workshop over the summer or during the school year! I did it 8 years ago and it changed my teaching forever.

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