Archive for January, 2009

Books are in!

I just received a large, lovely box full of “Anna Mei Banfa!”, two weeks ahead of the estimate the company had given me for delivery — nice surprise. Just in time to start the second semester of school on Tuesday, we’ll start in with extensive reading. No more pressure to write something great every other […]

What if…

teachers who taught communicative methods had to prepare their kids for input-method classrooms at the upper levels? Would they be concerned with cramming fluency into their kids the last month of the school year because they anticipated the input-method teachers complaining vocally that the kids weren’t ready to succeed in input-method classrooms? Would they sacrifice […]

Squirrelly Classes

I’ve got a Squirrelly Class this year. Actually, I usually have one most years, I think. There’s always one class full of the ADHD kids, the ones that are (or should be) on the autism spectrum, that can’t sit still, that can’t be trusted to have anything in their hands (don’t even think about plastic […]


What do you do when you “failed” one day, not going slow enough, not getting in enough reps, or the kids were just too squirrelly (in the real world that happens, unlike in the seminars!), or there were several days of testing or some other weird scheduling snafu that meant that the kids are essentially […]

How easy is easy?

When kids are reading in the L2, how easy is easy? I think it depends. It’s easy to quote the numbers, and just say no more than 10% unknowns or whatever. But that’s one unknown word in every 10, which sounds like it would lead to a lot of frustration — particularly in Chinese, in […]

Slow works

Proof that slow works: 1. Out of 22 students in one class, 20 got 100% on the last listening quiz; the other two missed one question. 2. When I paused after using one of the new words from yesterday, they looked at me like I was nuts and gave me the “for heaven’s sake, we […]

First chapter of “Patricia Yao Bukao” complete!

At the kind requests of many people who have purchased “Anna Meiyou Banfa”, I’m going ahead with the next, just slightly more difficult, chapter “novel” in Chinese. This one will be called “Patricia Yao Bukao” (“Patricia has to take the college entrance exam over again”) and is set partly in Taiwan and partly in the […]

Letting go

TPRS teachers shelter vocabulary, for the best of reasons, but we do think of the mental “list” of what a particular class has had or has not had. And most “traditional” teachers like to “know” what the kids “have had” in the past. All of us seem to be, in a way, holding on to […]


When the classes are dead, exhausted, giving that leaden stare, the tendency is to try to push them, insert some energy, or otherwise jar them into looking alive.  But it just doesn’t work. However counterintuitive it is, slowing down is what does the trick. Slow enough is painfully slow. Slow enough is painfully boring to […]

Input vs. communicative

First day back at school after the break. The usual question: What did you do over vacation? Only one TPRS-taught kid out of 50 said “Nothing.” Four or five traditionally-taught kids out of forty said “Nothing.” Weird that a method that emphasizes output is producing kids who are unwilling to speak. Meanwhile, the TPRS kids, […]

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