Monday, June 29, 2009

The summer so far

I won't write any more about it here, but most of it's in the captions of two new Picasa albums of summer photos. Look at "Back East" and "Fun in the sun...and snow." Enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dancing with Barack

I got to dance with Barack Obama today. At Machu Picchu. In French. As part of a French lesson, in fact. Never mind that "Obama" was really a Spanish teacher named Joshua, or that "Machu Picchu" was the staircase in the hotel conference room. It was still the highlight of my day...and I could tell you the entire story, in slightly imperfect French, without ever having studied the language before: "Il y avait une femme. Erin voulait danser avec Obama parce que Obama ├ętait intelligent et sexy..."

I'm in the middle of a three-day TPRS workshop in preparation for my new Spanish teaching job. (I don't think I've mentioned the job here before, which reminds me just how far behind I am in blogging, but I'll save that for a later date. If I tried to catch up on everything in one post, it would be scandalously long, and no one except my mom would read it.) TPRS is a relatively new language teaching methodology that stands for Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. (For you other language educator junkies out there, it's no longer Total Physical Response Storytelling, although it still makes good use of TPR.)

TPRS is the main method I'll be expected to use in my classroom this coming school year, and I'm super-excited about that. In a nutshell, TPRS involves teaching a few new phrases or structures in the target language (in my case, Spanish) by using gestures or pictures or translation, and then creating a silly story, full of audience participation, using those structures and including celebrities and characters from the class. The students act out the story as it's invented, add funny details, and answer myriad questions about what's happening to get as many repetitions of the target structures as possible. The whole process is highly entertaining when it's done right, and it makes learning a language much more engaging than if you're doing worksheets and reading textbook dialogues.

During the practice sessions today, I got to teach a TPRS Khmer lesson to my group and had them understanding and answering questions--in Khmer--in no time. I'm sure my elementary kids will love this stuff. Heck, I love this stuff, and I'm a full-grown adult. When else would you get to disco with the President in Peru, or watch your classmate and Johnny Depp take the dance floor in McDonald's? Brilliant. I almost didn't notice that the teacher was speaking in French.