A big piece of class every day for at least the first month is the Get-To-Know-You component. I call it ¿Quién eres? (Who are you?). In TPRS lingo, we might call it “circling the student” because with circling we use a grammatical structure over and over until it is acquired. Here, we keep talking to and about a student until the class as a whole (as measured by the speed and volume of responses) have learned something interesting about a him/her.
This is similar to and inspired by Ben Slavic’s “Circling with Balls” idea, but it is not always sports-related and it includes a lot of personal information that uses greetings and Novice level Spanish.
Everyone realizes that the message clearly is: Don’t worry, we will get to you. We will shine the light on you and let you tell us about yourself, so kids are content to wait and to listen to one another.
We also quiz students on their classmates. Every five students or so, there is a quiz. I point at five different students in the class one by one. Students have to write the name and at least one thing they know about her/him.
Here are the answers that a student wrote on his quiz yesterday (all students in Spanish I classes are non-natives with little to no prior Spanish):
1. Se llama Robin.
2. Vive en Greeley.
3. Se llama Ben.
4. Le gusta correr.
5. Se llama Charolette.
6. Le gusta escribir.
7. Se llama Avery.
8. Juega voleibol por cuatro años.
9. Se llama Ethan.
10. Le gusta el futbol americano.
Virtually every student in every Spanish I class got 100% and that kid of success is what we want at the beginning of the year. Perfect Spanish? Nope. Pretty close and pretty good for two weeks in level I? Yep, I’ll take it. They are listening and therefore acquiring because the CONTENT is compelling–each other. So far, so good.