Meeting our State Education Minister – Susan Close!

I have just returned home after a very exciting meeting and half an hour later, I am still grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I am on such a high that I want to share it with you!! 

Last Friday,  Annie added our 3 names to the invitation list of the Country Cabinet State Government visit to the Fleurieu. 


The aim of the Country Cabinet visits is to provide regional residents with a community forum so they can speak directly to the premier and his ministers about issues directly relevant to their region. We were thrilled that this would  provide us with an opportunity to speak with the SA education minister, Susan Close. 

Last year we heard her speak at the MLTASA conference about the importance of language learning. All the language teachers were delighted to discover that we had such a powerful ally in our state government. 

During our car trip home after the conference, we decided that it was a priority to speak directly to the minister about TPRS but could not find a time that suited us all. It was a gift to hear that she was visiting our region and schools this week.  

Tonight the 3 of us joined the throng at the Victor Rec Centre enjoying a BBQ dinner cooked by the brilliant Lions Club. It was lovely seeing such a huge cross section of people representing the Fleurieu. We caught up with friends while munching on sausage sandwiches (or in my case, a veggie patty) while waiting for the cabinet to arrive. 

We had deliberately chosen seats at the back of the room to give us an excellent vantage point from which to peruse all who entered. Annie immediately spotted Susan Close as she arrived. We allowed her time to grab a sausage sandwich before making a beeline for her and totally monopolising her until she had to make her way to the front. 

Susan was very gracious and listened intently to us as we explained to her about TPRS and all that we have achieved down here on the Fleurieu for language teachers. She asked many questions (when she could get a word in!) and was delighted to hear that she will get the opportunity to observe TPRS in the classroom tomorrow during her school visit. 

It was so exciting to have the opportunity to speak directly to the minister of education about TPRS, a largely unfamiliar methodology in Australia, that has the potential to reverse the decreasing numbers of students choosing to study languages across secondary and tertiary sectors in Australia. We took great delight in sharing Ian Perry’s amazing 2016 student retention numbers as evidence of this!! 

Let’s hope our chat and the brief observation opportunity tomorrow will tweak her curiosity enough to investigate TPRS further. It would be awesome to have her support!! 

TPRS Step 3: Reading

Our Inaugural SA TPRS conference has just finished. It was 3 days full of information, explanations, demos and coaching. My brain is full to bursting and my body is absolutely shattered (note to self: participating in a language class is a physically and mentally exhausting brain workout) I am now in a particularly weird emotive state where I would just love to be heading back again this morning for another day of listening to Terry & Lizette and yet on the other hand, I am so excited to have some time to start thinking about the ways in which I can incorporate the skills that were demonstrated over the past 3 days into my teaching.

What an outstanding team Terry Waltz & Lizette Liebold are! They work together seamlessly and complement each other beautifully. Terry skills as a presenter dovetailed nicely with Lizette’s coaching skills. Combined they have countless years of TPRS teaching, in fact Lizette is one of the original pioneer TPRS language teachers who hopped on the TPRS train right back when it first began and has consequently attended all NTPRS conferences bar one!

Terry’s skills as a presenter are remarkable. While this was her 3rd consecutive Australian conference, delivering (I assume) exactly the same program, at no time did I feel that it was rehearsed or a repeat of a previous presentation. Terry’s manner assured us that she was genuinely enjoying her time with us and that we in no way compared poorly against previous cohorts. Which is exactly what happens in a TPRS classroom! While the target structure may be the same with consecutive classes, each class provides different details which lead us in different directions each and every time.

My brain is reeling with all that I heard throughout the conference and thank goodness I took notes, because right now it is still aching and overwhelmed. If I reflect on the biggest take away for me from my 3 days at the conference, it would without a doubt be the clarification of the 3 steps of TPRS. I now understand that the stories I’ve been using for the story asking are in fact the final reading text.

Terry demonstrated this with two very different languages; Hawaiian firstly and then on day 3 with Mandarin. Being unfamiliar with both languages, I was incredibly fortunate to experience the 3 steps of TPRS as a student twice. This really helped me consolidate my understanding and appreciation of the 3 steps which are:

  1. Establish meaning
  2. Story asking
  3. Reading.

Prior to the conference, step 3 for my classes was the story the class had created and revolved around various TCI activities to keep it engaging while achieving repetitions within that one story. I completely understand now the value of reading a different story (the original story or maybe another modified class’s story) for step 3.This enables students to consolidate the acquired language in a totally new setting. Depending on the level of your students, this final step also has the potential to provide your student with longer stories with a variety of the newly acquired target structures in it, each targeted separately prior to the final reading in steps one and two. This understanding is going to turn the way I plan upside down and I am sooo excited. Can’t wait to get started to experience it!

To clarify:

If the story is this one with the Lucy wants a jacket story
(credit Judith Dubois):

Ada perempuan.

Nama perempuan Lucy.

Lucy dingin.

Lucy mau jaket.

Lucy tidak pakai jaket.

Lucy lihat laki laki kecil.

Nama laki laki kecil Will.

Will punya jaket tetapi jaket Will terlalu kecil.

Lucy lihat Pak Hudson. (principal’s name)

Pak Hudson punya jaket tetapi jaket Pak Hudson terlalu besar.

Lucy lihat Jane.

Jane punya jaket dan jaket Jane pas.

Jane kasih Lucy jaket.

Lucy pakai jaket.

Lucy berkata, “Terima kasih Jane.”

Jane berkata, “Sama sama.”

The first task is identify the target structures your students will need to acquire to read and comprehend this story. When I do this story, the target structures are grouped and ordered like this:

Group One

  1. topi
  2. sepatu
  3. jaket

Group Two

  1. dingin
  2. panas

Group Three

  1. terlalu besar
  2. terlalu kecil
  3. pas.

Because my students have acquired the remaining language from previous stories, I can incorporate it into fun songs and TPR activities to target each group of target structures one by one. I usually begin with panas/dingin which is easily incorporated into the roll call if the weather is extreme and the students come in hot and sweaty or conversely wet and cold! My lessons generally begin with a roll call asking “Apa kabar?” This in itself is an awesome opportunity for circling. Kelas, Joe panas! Joe dingin atau joe panas? Joe dan Mary panas dan Betty dingin!

If you look back through this blog, you’ll find various songs that I’ve made up which my students have enjoyed singing and then acting out. The one I love the most is sung to the tune of baa baa black sheep:

Lucy dingin.

Lucy mau jaket.

Will panas.

Tidak mau jaket.

Will kasih Lucy.

Lucy pakai jaket.

Lucy berkata, “Terima kasih Will.”

(NB names are substituted with the names of the actors)

These type of activities are then repeated for each list of target structures. which are each targeted separately because each set may take several weeks till acquisition.  For target structures like the ones in group 3, I love looking for weird and wacky pictures on google images that incorporate familiar and popular characters from recent films/books/tv programs and then use them to create a powerpoint. Harry Potter is reliably popular and easily identifiable by all year levels at my school so one powerpoint had a page with harry potter wearing a tiny hat, the next page with him wearing an enormous hat and the following page showed Harry wearing a hat the perfect size! Thus I was able to consolidate ‘topi’ while introducing new structures! The following pages were pictures of familiar characters or cognate animals (orangutan, komodo) wearing oversized, undersized or perfectly sized jackets, hats or shoes. My students are generally riveted to the screen, wondering what kooky picture will be next. It also provides opportunities to circle using mau and punya. Billy punya topi pizza besar? Billy mau punya topi pizza besar?

After the structures have been acquired to my satisfaction, I move on to step 2 – story asking – using actors. The actors help in a variety of ways; they make the story engaging for the class (& me), they help me circle each part of the story (especially if the acting requires more expression – I love OTT acting – sneaky way to get reps), they can also be a tool for me to measure class acquisition. Story asking is incredibly important as it allow classes to create unique stories through collaboration, its how students buy into the story. Afterwards, the class story can be written up to be used in a variety of ways as listed on the TCI activities page.

Then finally step 3 (the one I will work on this year) is reading together the original story as printed above. I loved how Terry did this. She had a powerpoint ‘book’ that the class could read together and each page had a line of text with a quirky picture that provided opportunities for circling, popup grammar, funny stories/gestures to help students remember conjunction words (eg. tetapi = point to your but) or other useful words that need a boost. (imagine the ‘cultural’ story you could create for bercakap-cakap!!).

For me as a student, this final step was incredibly powerful. It made me feel super confident that I could read it and understand the story even though the characters and setting were not familiar. With those changes, the story felt foreign yet still achievable. Soo cool. It truly demonstrated for me the concept of  i+1. Fully comprehensible yet stretching my acquisition just the right amount.

With this text, there are a variety of reading activities that can be done with students to further consolidate acquisition. With Terry, we choral read the book on the tv screen, firstly in pinyin and then with Chinese characters. Boy, did this hit home for me how fortunate both my students & I are that Indonesian is a roman alphabetic language!!

Here are a list of the reading activities & games  that Terry shared with us:

  • kindergarten reading
  • whole class choral reading
  • group reading
  • Echo reading (teacher reads in TL and students read in English)
  • volley ball reading
  • paired repeated reading
  • readers theatre

Reading games:

  • Musical readings – students in pairs each reading a sentence each one by one with each student double checking the sentence was read correctly & if not, the sentence is reread. The teacher plays music and when the music stops, whoever is not reading gets a point.
  • Reading Bingo – each student has a 3×3 =grid. In each box, the student writes a different word from the story in each square. Students cross out the word when they hear it.
  • Stupid Teacher (Guru Gila?) teacher reads the story and deliberately says a word not in the story or changes one word. Students in pairs, competing against each other, tally up the mistakes and compare tally at end of reading.
  • Comprehension Questions – to measure comprehension, ask the questions in English. They could include true/false questions, short answer questions, multiple choice questions, cloze from story with multiple choice options for each cloze empty space.

Now all I have to do is decide which story I want to begin with this term!! What story are you using?

Meeting Blaine Ray in Sydney

Annie and I are heading home after 2 unforgettable days in Sydney with Blaine Ray. What an amazing time and I still can’t believe how fortunate we have been.


Firstly how lucky were we to have Blaine Ray to ourselves almost for 24 hours! We did share him on Tuesday with Stef and her son Daniel, but considering that she is heading up to the conference in Brisbane this Friday, this was a bonus! We were able to pepper him with questions and then listen to his explanations while taking notes. It felt like our own personal workshop specifically tailored for our needs and level. Words simply cannot express how amazing this was and we’ll always be indebted to Blaine for his kindness and patience. 

Secondly, we were able to practise our note taking skills ready for next week’s inaugural TPRS conference on the Fleurieu Peninsular with Terry Waltz & Lizette Liebold! It has been fascinating comparing our notes and seeing the huge gaps in my notes where at times I must have become so engrossed in the conversation I forgot to write anything down! Annie has diligently cross referenced both sets of our notes and created a version that incorporates everything and then on top of that has presented it out beautifully.

(This is from Blaine’s advice that whenever you get universal agreement with a response, never accept it. Choose the opposite and surprise them! Never accept the obvious; eliminate the expected!) 

And thirdly, it was simply a lovely break spending 2 nights in Sydney and being a tourist in such a beautiful city with like minded people. We spent most of our time together either walking or eating along the scenic waterfront. Except for the initial trip to our hotel from the airport, all of the travel we (Annie & Cathy) did in Sydney was either by ferry or by train and this is definitely the best way to travel. The ferry system is efficient and relaxed. It was just lovely sitting or standing on the ferries enjoying the gorgeous scenery and the cool breezes with the added occasional bonus of sea spray. The trains too were great. So much quicker and took us directly to the domestic terminal which was in direct contrast to our long and tiring trip on arrival which took at least an hour of zig zagging throughout the CBD streets of Sydney. I’m so grateful that Annie talked me into exploring alternative travel options for our return to the airport!


What a generous and gracious person Blaine Ray is. He happily and enthusiastically shared his knowledge with us and was genuinely impressed to discover that we are 2 of 3 language teachers on the south coast who have been teaching with TPRS in since 2014. He told us afterwards that he had presumed we had only recently heard about TPRS and therefore surmised that our discussions would lack any deep TPRS connection. In fact we spent every single minute chatting about various aspects of TPRS and Blaine answered all of our questions and gave many demos to illustrate his points. He also encouraged us to share all that we learned; a huge relief because I couldn’t wait to write up this post!  I particularly appreciated his personal stories which clearly illustrate his open mindedness towards improving TPRS, unlike others who have created a successful model and then constantly ‘protect’ the model/concept fiercely. Blaine told us of several instances where he had witnessed or discussed with a practising TPRS teacher a successful idea of theirs, which he  immediately saw the value of incorporating it into TPRS procedure and then gave that teacher full credit for that update! Alina Filipescu is one such teacher and after seeing several of her youtube videos, I fully understand why Blaine Ray would be impressed by her teaching.

His explanation and demonstration of the 5 steps of teaching a sentence is a procedure I aim to focus on this upcoming term. I particularly would like to work on this to ensure that I am story asking rather than story listening. I can finally understand how we can create a class story based on the target structure. His advice of writing out a script beforehand with a few planned surprises (should the student ideas be too predictable) would help as my mind goes blank when I am in front of a class. He did reassure us though, by saying that once you get started and students get the hang of suggesting the unexpected, we will begin to build up a bank of great surprises perfect for our cohorts that can be drawn upon when needed. I liked his mantra of rejecting the expected; I can fully understand now that choosing an idea that is sooo off the planet ramps up the class stories to make it even more compelling. Blaine demonstrated this with us all at Watson’s Bay with a sentence about a chicca called Annie. He circled this sentence using his 5 steps with us as the class. Whatever we suggested, he would shake his head and reject it with a disappointed look on his face and so we would dig deeper to outdo each other to come up with even better unpredictable ideas. However he continued to reject our suggestions and would then use his own which were always better than ours. I also loved his comeback when I told him that his story didn’t make sense to me; “This is my story and if you don’t like it, go and write your own story.”

Here are the 5 steps of teaching a sentence:

  1. Annie was a girl.
  2. Annie, are you a girl?
    (If the actor doesn’t have the language to answer in the target language, she/he can either read it or mouth it while the teacher provides the voice.)
  3. Yes, I am a girl.
    (The actor must answer in complete sentences confidently as this provides input for the class and is also a clear indicator of the extent to which the whole class ‘gets it’. Any errors or hesitation are indicators that more repetition is necessary.)
  4. Yes, you are a girl.
    (teacher verifies the response)
  5. Class, Annie was a girl.
    (Teacher speaks to the whole class)


This leads on nicely to Blaine’s comments about actors. He made it very clear that choosing good actors is critical. He explained about having auditions to select the best actor which is an idea I’ve tried but not while focusing on the target structure which would be an awesome way in which to add additional input, rehearse the structure and develop student confidence. A good actor must be enthusiastic, must want to try and must have the mindset that this is a cool class. We loved his line that actors have the opportunity to be in the movie rather than to just watch it!

If however, the actor is not performing (maybe he/she is shy or reluctant to act in an exaggerated fashion), try whispering in their ear hints or even demonstrating the required action and if they are still unable to act in the engaging manner required, it may be necessary to replace them. Choosing a bad actor gives negative messages to all the students about our subject. Blaine’s statement that every teacher has a battle for the students hearts resonates for me in my school where we can have up to 5 specialist teachers on top of their class teacher and other support staff. He says the way to win their hearts is through comprehension and play!


Our meals with Blaine were spent juggling our plates & cutlery with our notebooks & pen. Meal times were perfect times to focus on specific aspects of TPRS. The first evening, Annie took notes while I hesitated to pull out my book. Afterwards back at the hotel, I quickly wrote down all that I could remember and was horrified at how much detail I couldn’t remember. From then on, as soon as Blaine began talking, I would whip out my note book and note down the salient points using some of the shorthand I haven’t used since teachers college lectures! 


Over our first al fresco breakfast in Pyrmont, Blaine discussed circling. Questions are the backbone of TPRS and are the key difference between TPRS teaching and everything else. He told us of studies which showed that TPRS teachers ask 3-4 questions a minute whereas legacy teachers rarely ask ANY questions. Questioning is critical because it gives students the opportunity to rehearse while giving the teacher the opportunity to get repetitions on just one sentence.

Here are his 7 rules of circling:

  • Never circle in the same order (too predictable)
  • Use either/or on any part of the sentence (subject, verb, object)
  • Always have a bias towards asking negative questions as they are more challenging
  • Use your question words and point and pause to give processing time
  • Add information to the sentence to create a new sentence. Either circle the longer sentence or part of the longer sentence; whatever is necessary for your students and this is evident through your actor. Eg. Girl wants a monkey, Girl want a big/small monkey, Girl wants a big monkey that speaks Chinese/dog,
  • add a new character (parallel character)
  • add yourself (teacher)

It’s all about asking different people different questions based on the same structure. If it feels boring, ramp it up by adding another character, a celebrity, a celebrity’s pet cat. Adding something new makes it more interesting. Speak to each character. Eg. Are you a cat? What languages do you speak? You are very clever. Each new piece of information can be added to the sentence being circled or just circle the new addition depending on the level of actor confidence and continue till the actor ‘sooo gets it’! If a student actor hesitates or has errors in their answer, this indicates that the class also needs more circling on that sentence. Blaine requires actors to respond in complete sentences to provide further output for the class however class responses are limited to one word responses. In this YouTube video you can see him demonstrating this:

 https://youtu.be/9DRblDN2sXY

Just as critical though are student responses. He told us about Alina Filipescu who coaches her students to give powerful responses. I am definitely going to investigate that idea as I agree it is a skill that needs explicit teaching. 

Answering questions demonstrates comprehension and understanding.
Blaine has 3 procedures for evidence of student engagement

They are:

  • Respond to new statements with ‘ahh’.
  • If I ask a question, respond in the target language.
  • If I ask a question and you don’t know the answer, guess in the target language. Surprise me with your guess and if you don’t surprise me, I will surprise you!

This conversation led us neatly onto the 2 Rules for Students in class:

  • NO social talking
  • Never speak negatively about this class.Regarding point 2, Blaine recommends teaching early on a phrase such as, “I like this class” (Kelas Bahasa Indonesian keren) and whenever a student speaks negatively about the lesson or class, insist they repeat this phrase while reminding them of rule no 2. Personally I can’t remember anyone stating publicly in class that they dislike my classes or lessons, I just get occasional glowering glares or disengaged expressions which I usually do not draw attention to and work harder to turn their attitude around. For one student this happened when she became the class artist.

 

A major theme that underlay every discussion we had with Blaine was student confidence and teacher patience. He highly recommends all language teachers experience learning a totally new language to fully enable us to  empathise with our students. Teacher thinking about language learning is usually wrong. We have forgotten just how it feels to be a learner and why students want and need patience from their teacher. Teachers can not make their students learn any faster, the only way we can help with their acquisition is to provide more repetition.

Always respond with love and patience until your students CAN:

C= Confidence

A= Accuracy

N= No hesitation.

 

We want new language learners (slow processors) to become confident fast processors which is the goal of TPRS. Writing translations up on the board can make a big difference with this. Did you realise that your brain starts from the point where it is confident? How much sense does that make! It explains why we can hear the same talk/ explanation several times and yet pick up different facts each time! This is relevant for language learners too! Each time we repeat a structure, it solidifies in the learners mind and helps them become more confident. Every learner is different and begins at a different point. TPRS students are at one of the following stages:

~ understanding

~ getting it

~ soo getting it.

Obviously it the final stage we are aiming for with our students!
 

Post Script:

This post is my grasp of Blaine’s explanations. I hope it is true to his understandings and should there be any errors, I fully accept that they are evidence of my ongoing and constantly developing comprehension of TPRS. 

Inaugural Australian TCI/TPRS Conference: QLD & SA

Have you heard our exciting news yet?? For the first time ever, a TCI/TPRS conference will be held in Australia! How exciting is that!  Terry Waltz has accepted our invitation to work with us in both Brisbane & here on the Fleurieu Peninsular. This is a dream come true for all Australian TPRS language teachers who for many reasons have yet to fly to America or Europe to attend one of the conferences held there. We are so thrilled that the internationally recognised Terry Waltz will be leading us at the Australian inagural TPRS conference.

terrywaltzauthor

The two conferences will be very similar however a couple of major differences need to be noted. Firstly, the conference on the Fleurieu Peninsular does not include lunch. We plan to include a 2 hour lunch break to give participants the time to walk to the nearby main street with sufficient time to  network and discuss specific details before heading back to begin the afternoon session. Annie attended the Agen conference in July and found this time so useful. Another major difference is that we are limiting the total number of participants to 50. This is for several reasons but  mainly because we wish to recreate the community atmosphere Annie experienced in Agen.

The Fleurieu based conference will be held at Port Eliot Primary School from January 19 – 21. While the program is still being finalised, registrations are open and there is an early bird option available until 9th December 2016 for the South Australian conference. Follow this link to access the registration form:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxtA-NkdsB6hSVhFQ2ZlSDlUMGs

It will be a 3 day conference with the first 2 days relevant for all language teachers regardless of sector or language taught. On the 3rd day participants will be divided into 2 groups:

Group 1 = (Non Roman alphabetic Languages eg Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Russian) will work with Terry Waltz who will cover specific TPRS topics relevant for scripted languages such as cold character Reading, TOP tonal spelling, directional gestures.

Group 2: (Roman Alphabet Languages. eg Indonesian, Spanish, French) will be invited to attend  & participate in skills labs that focus on specific TPRS skill development. Time will also be available for participants to work together to create the resources necessary for implementing TPRS in their classes from day 1 of the school year.

If you are keen to attend, download the registration form asap. The early bird registration for the Brisbane venue finishes 19 November and for the Port Elliot venue, it finishes 9th December. Once you have completed the registration form and emailed it off with payment, we strongly encourage you to investigate accommodation options. The more popular ones book out early, so be quick.

If you have any questions, either write them below or contact us via the TCI TPRS Teachers Australia group on Facebook.

We really hope to see you at either one of the conference venues. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed! 

ASILE 2016 – Games & Activities for Language Classes

One of the workshops we attended on Sunday was led by Pak Irianto Ryan Tedya. It was a very enjoyable workshop with songs and games, 2 of which would be ideal as a brainbreak or for TPR.

The first game he shared was ‘dam dam sut’ which is his own variation of ‘suten’ (gajah, orang, semut). This game reinforces the target structures:

  1. Kita seri (we draw)
  2. Saya menang (I won)
  3. Saya kalah (I lost)

Each with their own hand gesture:

  1. Hands crossing left to right horizontally palms facing downwards
  2. Hands up in the air, fingers splayed
  3. Hands down wards, palms facing opponent.

The game is played in partners and together players say dam, dam together while clapping and then together say sut and on sut, players choose to either do:

gajah (elephant),

orang (person) or

semut (ant).

When first introducing the game, Pak Irianato recommends just focusing on;

  1. Gajah beats orang (elephant steps on person)
  2. Orang beats semut (person steps on ant)
  3. Semut beats elephant (ant gets into elephants ear and irritates the elephant – ant is small yet powerful)

Pak Irianto asked us to play 3 times with a partner and then swap partners choosing someone new. When he judged that we had mastered that, he asked the whole class to synconize our games; meaning that the entire class clapped & said dam, dam, sut at exactly the same time, starting very slowly and encouraging everyone to keep the rhythm.

Once this is mastered, I would introduce the above target structures yet Pak Irianto encouraged us all to use it right from the beginning. One participant suggested the following rhyme sung to Frere Jacques to consolidate vocabulary:

Saya menang

Saya menang

Saya kalah

Saya kalah

Kita seri

Kita seri

Marilah bermain!

Marilah bermain!

All up, it was a fun game and I loved the way that the game increases in complexity which makes it appealing to all ages of students.

The final activity he did with us was awesome and perfect for TPR. This song could be adapted to any verb. I love the idea of asking students for action suggestions!! I was thinking of how much fun ‘menangis’ (cry) or ‘jatuh’ (fall) would be. Pak Irianto first taught us the song and actions then suggested adding the jumping left, right & centre afterwards to add a further challenge.

I didn’t take any notes, just this video!!

Two Introductory TCI/TPRS Workshops -MLTASA & CLTSA

Over the weekend, Bu Annie, Ibu Sharon & I attended 2 conferences; 1. MLTASA (Modern Languages Teachers Association SA) in the morning and 2. CLTASA (Chinese Language Teachers Assoc) in the afternoon. When we first heard that both associations were holding their annual conference on the same day, we were incredibly disappointed as we were committed to present at MLTASA while Ian & Caitlin (2 TCI Chinese teachers from QLD) were presenting at CLTSA. Luckily our presentations did not clash and we were able to get from EDC to Napier House in good time. However the locked door into Napier House cut short our celebratory hand pumps and thankfully Ian had his phone on! 

The MLTASA conference began with a plenary by Sean Keenihan, who spoke about ‘the role and value of Languages education in schools – a business perspective’. Sean wears many hats and most relate to his Chinese proficiency, dating back to his high school days. When asked how to encourage students to learn a language he reflected with this: after graduation as one of hundreds of lawyers, he was the first from his year to be employed and this was entirely due to his bilingualism. His graphs illustrated recent growth figures in the SA tourism sector and he also talked about the growing state of global business. These two sectors are a just 2 of many that have a huge and growing demand for bilingual employees and thus being bilingual is giving many job seekers  an X factor, making them highly desirable in a competitive job market. Apparently only 30 of the 700 2015 SA lawyer  graduates were employed! I wonder what their X factor was? 

Our workshop, ‘Teaching Languages with TCI/TPRS’ was to be held in the larger room at EDC due to the large number of participants who had signed up for it. What an awesome way to begin!! We began by asking participants to bring their chairs to the front of the room and to sit in a semi circle facing the screen. As this was our first ever presentation and indeed our first ever attendance at MLTASA, we had no idea what to expect. One thing we were looking forward to was an audience of largely non Indonesian speaking teachers, who would experience our demo lesson from a student perspective and therefore hopefully feel the power of TCI even more dramatically than our Indonesian speaking colleagues. Our presentation began with introducing ourselves, outlining our TCI journey, and giving a brief explanaton of the acronyms TCI, TPRS & TPR. Due to the short amount  of time we had available and that we were a little late starting (domino effect of the 2nd plenary speaker running over time), our introduction was minimal. We felt that a demo would be more powerful than heaps of information. 

Our demo focused on the Pleased To Meet You (written by Jim Tripp) story. We began with establishing meaning of the target structures (siapa nama, nama saya, astaga, berkata – what’s your name, my name is, OMG, said), before giving a circling demo on siapa nama & nama saya. Sharon then established the ‘Stop – I don’t understand!’ gesture before telling the story. Afterwards she did a comprehension check and everyone gave her a thumbs up!! We had a little time for questions and we were very relieved that attending MLTASA was a high school French TPRS teacher!! It was awesome to connect with Zelda who has been working alone for 2 years – we take our hat off to you! Zelda was able to respond to questions that came from secondary language teachers – a cohort we have had the greatest difficulty connecting with as we have no secondary experience. Our promise to them that TPRS was designed initially for secondary students by a secondary language teacher rarely helps. Zelda’s contribution and support was invaluable.  

It wasn’t till much later, that Sharon realised that in our nervousness, the reduced workshop time and our determination to leave punctually, we forgot to mention anything about the unit of work we had created around this story to help participants trial a unit in their classrooms!! Oops. So if you were one of those participants and you would like a copy, contact me via my learn link address on the handout and I’ll happily forward it to you. 

We arrived at Napier House just before the post lunch conference sessions were about to begin, to our relief. Ian & Caitlin opened the locked doors which gave us time to quickly introduce ourselves to each other and chat briefly while heading upstairs to the auditorium. The entire afternoon schedule had been assigned to Ian & Caitlin! Imagine your only time constraint being getting to the airport in time for your flight home! We were slightly in awe and also a teeny (OK- a lot) envious!! Maybe next year, we need to ask for a double workshop session? 

Ian & Caitlin spent the first hour talking to a powerpoint which introduced TCI/TPRS to their audience of Chinese teachers. The powerpoint thoroughly explained TPRS, outlined how it differs from traditional/currrent language teaching methods, included several short videos of Ian teaching highly engaged year 7’s, year 10 free writes (290 words) , cold character reading , students talking positively about learning Chinese via TCI methodology, students reading unfamiliar texts fluently and a short yet highly engaging demo by Caitlin establishing meaning for ‘wants to eat’. As a student, I could immediately see the value of having the target structures clearly written on one side of the smartboard page and on the other side were other necessary vocabulary just as Diane Neubauer does.I hadn’t actually understood the beauty of this until that point! I also think I need to investigate buying a clicker gadget next year – it would be so convienent to turn the powerpoint pages from wherever I am in my class room!  

Ian & Caitlin stopped talking after an hour to give everyone a break and they were immediately swamped with people asking questions! The amount of interest was brilliant.  During their presentation, I could hear teachers around me commenting to each other quietly but unfortunately it was all in Chinese. 

During this break, it suddenly became clear, that the next session would have to be shortened significantly to prevent Ian & Caitlin missing their flight home to QLD. Particiapants were quickly called back into the auditiorium to answer any last minute questions. In no time at all, they were being presented with bottles of SA wine and the mad dash to the airport began. 

Thankfully we had offered to take them to the airport as this provided us all with a precious window for solid 2017 planning. We all acknowledge the need to arrange high quality training in Australia asap and are keen to collaborate on this by inviting a guest out to Australia next January to provide us all with much needed expert training before the 2017 school year begins! It would be awesome if the person  who comes out, is happy to travel as then we could offer training in a few states which will be much more affordable to participants! If this all happens, would you be interested in attending and how much would you be prepared to pay to participate? Considering our only option at the moment is a flight to either America or Europe ($$), it would be considerably cheaper and so much easier if this eventuates! Please comment below with any thoughts. We need your feedback! The more interest, the better!