The gains from personal interviews continue to amaze me. In the last six days we have been doing only two activities: establishing procedures and conducting personal interviews. Drilling procedures is crucial for classroom management and the time invested now pays off hugely in the weeks ahead, but the gains really come from the interviews. Student interviews are the definition of compelling input in my book. As we spend more time, students grow in their language ability and just as importantly, they grow in their trust. With that trust comes more and deeper revelations about who they are. Real personalities (versus the cardboard cutouts of themselves they present in some classes) begin to emerge. The language is not there yet for them to express everything that they will want to, but it is coming along. When we do this type of activity, students share what they want to share about themselves and i do not push it. In the examples below you will see varying levels of engagement and self-revelation.

Today was a late start day and classes were shorter, so rather than beginning a new interview, I asked students what they could say about their classmates that we had interviewed. Volunteers raised their hands and I wrote down what they said on my computer as it was projected on the screen at the front of the room. These are from students with very little to no previous Spanish. My version of the “Super Seven” verbs (adapted from Terry Waltz) are posted on the walls, but the students added the extra vocabulary from discussions in the past six days. I did a bit of editing of the order to make it flow, and I added a word or two here and there to make it easier on my ears, but 95% of the words below are from the students.

In one sense, we are moving slowly. We have been focusing on high frequency verbs and there are very few words that the students have to know right now.  Focus words from last week were: se llama (is called), está en (is in), tiene (has), vive (lives).  New words this week are:  quiere (wants), va a (goes to), le gusta (likes)

Students have picked up many words on their own from class discussions including the verb “works”, some numbers, nouns, adjectives and colors. They were able to do this because I lavished attention on them and spent as much time on each student as they needed and wanted. I will explain the procedure I did for this in a later post. Here are some of the things students voluntarily said about their classmates today in Spanish:

• Hay un chico en la clase de español que se llama Kendal. A Kendal no le gusta el nombre Kenny. No quiere Kenny. Prefiere Kendal. Kendal está en el grado diez. Kendal vive en Milliken, y es de Peoria, Illinois. Vive en Milliken por siete años. Kendal tiene diez y seis años. No tiene su licencia, pero tiene su permiso y tiene un carro. Es un Jeep Grand Cherokee del año noventa y ocho. Es rojo. Le gusta el carro. Kendal no tiene un trabajo, pero quiere un trabajo.

(There is a boy in Spanish class that is called Kendal. Kendal doesn’t like the name Kenny. He doesn’t want Kenny. He prefers Kendal. Kendal is in grade ten. he lives in Milliken, and he is from Peoria, Illinois. He lives in Milliken for seven years. Kendal is sixteen years old . He doesn’t have his license, but he has his permit and he has a car. It is a Jeep Grand Cherokee from the year ninety eight. He likes the car. Kendal doesn’t have a job, but he wants a job.)

• Hay una chica. Está en el grado nueve. Se llama R___. Vive en Johnstown, Colorado. Tiene catorce años. Es una chica fabulosa. Ella es la chica favorita de Nick. El papá de R___ trabaja en Roosevelt. Su papá es el famoso señor Y___. R___ trabaja también. Trabaja con bebés normales. No trabaja con bebés super inteligentes como Piper de la clase de español.

(There is a girl. She is in grade nine. She is called R___. She lives in Johnstown, Colorado. She is fourteen years old. She is a fabulous girl. She is the favorite girl of Nick. R___’s dad works in Roosevelt. Her dad es the famous Mr. Y___. R___ works too. She works with babies. She works with normal babies. She does not work with super smart babies like Piper from Spanish class

[a 14 year old sophomore that I dubbed a super smart baby])

• Hay una chica. Está en el grado diez. Se llama Sarah. Tiene quince años. Pobre Sarah no tiene su permiso. ¡Lo siento, Sarah! Ella vive en Johnstown, pero no es de Johnstown. Es de Wyoming. Vive en Johnstown por cuatro meses. No tiene un trabajo, pero quiere un trabajo. No quiere trabajar en McDonald’s. No quiere trabajar en Subway. Quiere un trabajo en Taco Bell, o quiere un trabajo en American Eagle. A Sarah le gusta dormir.

(There is a girl. She is in grade ten. She is called Sarah. She is fifteen years old. Poor Sarah does not have her permit. I am sorry, Sarah! She lives in Johnstown, but she is not from Johnstown. She is from Wyoming. She lives in Johnstown for four months. She doesn’t have a job, but she wants a job. She doesn’t want to work at McDonald’s. She doesn’t want to work at Subway. She wants to work at Taco Bell, or she wants a job at American Eagle. Sarah likes to sleep.)

• Hay una chica en la clase de español. Se llama Kennedy. Ella no quiere el nombre Kiefer. Prefiere Kennedy. Ella tiene catorce años y está en el grado nueve. Vive en Johnstown, pero ella no es de Johnstown. Es de Grand Junction, originalmente. Vive en Johnstown por cinco años y no tiene familia en Grand Junction ahora. A Kennedy le gusta animar. Es una animadora, pero no es una animadora en Roosevelt. Es una animadora competitiva, pero no va a Johnstown para animar. Va a Broomfield para animar. Ella es una animadora por doce años. ¡Sí!  ¡Kennedy es una animadora desde los dos años!  ¡Kennedy era una animadora cuando ella era una bebé!  ¡Muy impresionante!

(There is a girl in Spanish class. She is called Kennedy. She doesn’t want the name Kiefer. She prefers Kennedy. She is fourteen years old and she is in grade nine. She lives in Johnstown, but she is not from Johnstown. She is from Grand Junction originally. She lives in Johnstown for five years and she does not have family in Grand Junction now. Kennedy likes to cheer. She is a cheerleader, but she is not a cheerleader in Roosevelt. She is a competitive cheerleader, but she does not goes to Johnstown to cheer. She goes to Broomfield to cheer. She is a cheerleader for twelve year. Yes! Kennedy is a cheerleader since two years old! Kennedy was a cheerleader when she was a baby! Very impressive!)