Persona Especial Activity


  Thanks to Kirstin Plante of in The Netherlands for translating the Persona Especial posters into Dutch. See the Dutch classroom posters here. Dank u zeer, Kirstin! There are also "Persona Especial" posters in Spanish, French, German, Latin, Japanese, Russian and Hebrew on the "Free Stuff" page:

By |2018-12-06T11:13:19+00:00December 6th, 2018|Categories: Persona Especial Activity, Special Person|0 Comments


Engaging students at a personal level is the way to their hearts and minds. Aaron Mendelsohn, a high school teacher in Massachusetts, sent me this note the other day: I just want to share with you that I have gotten A LOT of mileage out of Persona Especial!  What a great activity.  Thank You! When I asked him to elaborate, he replied with this: Persona Especial has been a success for a number of reasons.  I'm gonna start off by sharing what was on my mind when I wrote to you a few days ago:  PE is almost a O [...]

‘La Preuve’ and The Case for Multi-Level Classrooms by Gerry Wass

“La preuve que il a existé c’était qu’il était ravissant.”  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry A year and a half after retiring, I continue to get requests for help about how to run a multi-level language classroom.  Most come from teachers who already find themselves in this situation out of necessity, but others are intrigued because they believe that the model could produce a beneficial shift for them and for their students.  Many teachers are already doing some version and bring their positive experiences to the discussion. One of those recent requests came from Jen Schongolla, directed to both Michele Whaley and [...]


Connie Navarro visited my classroom on March 8, 2018. Her observations are particularly valuable because she has so much experience observing CI teachers. Connie has been a Peer Observer in the Denver Public Schools for the last five years and is the president of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers (CCFLT). She made the trip 50 miles north to observe my classes at the end of the day on the last day of the week (also the end of the quarter). It was such a pleasure discussing her observations afterwards. Since she has observed so many teachers she was [...]

Student Interview Simplicity & Success

Conducting student interviews in the target language does not have to be complicated. Interviews do not have to be long and they do not have to add a lot of new vocabulary. With practice, we can learn fascinating things about students that even their closest friends do not know--all with comprehensible language.  Not dark family secrets, mind you (we never go there), but admirable aspects of their life and habits that inspire us all and invite us to know the interviewee even more. We had a wonderful example of this last Thursday. I had interviewed a quiet but cheerful girl [...]

By |2018-01-22T21:09:42+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Categories: Compelling Input, Persona Especial Activity, Special Person|0 Comments

Why Persona Especial Interviews Work: The Way They Want to Be Known

Here is another reason I think the Special Person interviews work so well: they allow students to create the picture of themselves that they want us to see. Interviews let students paint themselves the way they want to be perceived, rather than the way they have been known up till now. When students volunteer information about themselves they have something to live up to and this becomes a building block of community in the classroom. The crucial, hidden storytelling skill that we develop in TPRS is a big part of this: No actor every looks bad in a story. Years [...]