I’m baaack! I decided to leave my Indonesian teaching role for one in a relatively new school teaching Spanish. It was close (I could ride my bike to school), it was teaching a language I loved and it was time for a change! Unfortunately, it was not the right change for me. I didn’t blog all year as I was disheartened and felt so alone. Although most of the staff were lovely at my new school, we were very tightly micro-managed. The expectations were very high (unreasonable one could say!) and I battled with a language colleague who kept making the comment that I ‘was not a native speaker’.

I felt dismayed but not surprised when the prin informed me I would not be wanted in 2021.

BUT I managed to pick up a fantastic job close to the city of Melbourne in the lovely suburb of Albert Park. Our school (South Melbourne Park Primary School) is a heritage building in the Albert Park Lake area. Sometimes the swans leave the lake and graze outside classroom windows. It is surrounded by mature trees and bird sounds. Leadership is appreciative and supportive of the teachers. The team of specialist teachers is awesome! I am so happy there! Plus I get to teach ALL year levels from P – 6. It is quite a small school – just right!

So…I am rejuvenated and ready to blog again – but this time I will be blogging about my Spanish teaching, not my Indonesian teaching! All good- hopefully you will find something that is useful for you in your language classroom no matter what language you teach.

Here is a present for you for reading until the end! Click on this link and it will take you to a 50 minute presentation video that I made (for US audience) at the beginning of this year that will give you some new ideas for your teaching! Thanks for all your support. (This was the unedited version – sorry! Just speed it up in settings!!)

iFLT Part 6 – Movie Talk with Allison Litten

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I loved Allison’s session! She was so energetic, zany and funny! It would be exciting being a student in her class. She showed us a very cute movie talk that she uses with her French students about Ormice, a pig that really wants some cookies. Allison told us to inform the students first that you will be pausing the video, then either pause and talk, or take screenshots and use those (easier than trying to pause in the correct spot!).

Allison likes to use bitmojos (available on Chrome) for rejoinder posters. See my examples below.IMG_4231

Allison also suggested using Simon’s Cat videos for movie talks, they are short and funny. Allison uses Quick time to cut out the beginning and end of videos, and v2mate.com to download videos from youtube. I tried v2mate but it didn’t work for me, I prefer to use KeepVid. She also suggested using Mr Bean videos and short clips from Birdbox Studios.

Allison teaches older students than what I do, but I still thought her ideas were relevant, especially for my Year 3s. She suggested using a personal inventory at the commencement of the school year to find out more about the students. This is a good way to begin a positive relationship with students, especially those with challenging behaviours. This week , my Year 2s (new classes as I did not have them last semester) made a name tag out of a piece of card (A4 folded in half) and wrote their name in large letters, then drew a picture of something or activity they really loved. They then sat on the floor with the name tags in front of them and we were able to have a discussion about their interests (in target language).

Allison showed us a great little clip called ‘Blues‘, and invited us to come up with some target structures for it. One of the things I love about Movie Talk is that it can be adapted for any level just by adjusting the level of complexity of vocabulary. For my younger students, I would use lihat (look), sedih/senang (sad/happy), ada (there is), burung (bird) bermain musik (play musik), foto (photo) and lampu (lamp). For more advanced students, you could add hujan (rain), nangis (crying), datang (arrive), buka/tutup (open/close) and jatuh (fall). For even more advanced students, you could talk about being depressed, discuss who the person is the photo is, how the weather affects mood, etc!

Allison also suggested some great follow-up activites/assessments for Movie Talk:

  • true/false quiz
  • match sentence to image
  • re-order events
  • blind retell in pairs (line A and line B, line B looks at screenshots on screen, line A faces back of room, B person talks about the pictures one at a time to person A.) Then swap.
  • Students write questions about the movie
  • Partner retell – with set amount of time!
  • Use Textivate – great for reading practise. Or try Quizlet Live or Kahoot.
  • Turn the Movie Talk into an reading/embedded reading, try using Edpuzzle.
  • close your eyes – hands in air if what I say is true, hands on head if what I say is false (this would be great for antsy kids)
  • make laminated screenshots of the story, or display them on their own device or Smartboard and record kids retelling story
  • HW activity – retell the video to someone at home
  • use Socrative (for older students) – questions with instant feedback for students!
  • use Playposit for embedding questions into your videos
  • have a Gallery Walk. Laminate each screenshot and place around room, provide paper at each picture. Students walk around and write commens for each picture.

Allison was very generous in sharing resources in this session. Thanks so much Allison!  See Allison’s website for great ideas, resources and a useful blog. She also has available on her site the powerpoint that went with her presentation. Add it to your Google Drive for a great resource!



iFLT 2018 – Part 5 – Annabelle Again!!

More great strategies from La Maestra! Whenever Annabelle uses the word ‘tetapi’ (but), all the students say ‘but’ in English. Great idea! For the word ‘buat’ (make/do), Annabelle moves her hands as if she is making a ball out of dough. I liked this gesture!

Annabelle also used the ‘chocolate’ brain break, which can easily be converted to Indonesian. (See my suka, suka blog post) But Annabelle uses fist pumps instead of claps.

Although I did not see the story that Annabelle presented to her class, she told us that on the first day with them, she asked for details, then on the next day she asked the students what the details were and typed the story in front of them, conveniently forgetting the details 😉

Another brain break! Annabelle asked them to stand up and they played a quick game of ‘Budi Berkata’ (Simon Says). She got them to do actions very quickly, and then suddenly said ‘Sit Down!’ Lots of them got out!! Very sneaky, Annabelle!

Another brain break – Annabelle shook each hand, each foot while counting to 8 each time. (Students copied). She then did the same thing while counting to 4, then 2, then said “rrrrrrrt” and everyone sat down. They breathed in and out a couple of times. Annabelle said “I’m waiting for 100%”

(The Spanish gesture for ‘vendio’ (sold) was similar to the Fortnite fanning out dollar signs, I thought it was cool, ignore this if not needed!

Sometimes Annabelle did the unicorn high 5. That is a weird unicorn noise plus touching of horns!

Annabelle played a cool game of Kahoot that did not require iPads. She gave out coloured red, yellow, green and blue cards. Instead of pressing that colour on the iPad, they held up each card.


When students called out ‘yellow! yellow! yellow!’ excitedly, Annabelle asked them, “Es yellow, yellow, yellow o amarillo?” Great way to revise these colours also. “Cual es? Rojo?” (Warna apa? Merah?)

Brain break – Students stand in a circle and Annabelle asks them to clap together, slowly, then get really fast. When they get fast, Annabelle goes into the middle of the circle and blows bubbles with her bubble wand! Genius!

Annabelle also played a game called ‘La Rana’ (The Frog). Students stand in a circle and close their eyes. La Maestra picks one student and obviously no-one knows who it is. Annabelle tells them to open their eyes and then they walk around the room in silence. (I do not know how this game progresses, if anyone knows, please tell me!!)

She also played “Zip Zap Zoom”.  They pointed their hands together at a person and said “zip” to another person who says “zap”. (Help needed here too!)

She also played a great version of Rock, Paper, Scissors where players pair up and the loser of each game gets behind the winner (making a snake) and then the ‘snake’ goes to another snake to play with the winner. You should end up with two big snakes. The body of the snake chants the winners name (to keep them engaged and involved).

Annabelle told her class, “If you are not speaking Spanish I will probably not call on you and that is totally OK”. (I really need to say this to my students!!)

Annabelle played a great game called the Unicornio Malo.

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She used this great ‘feisty pet’ prop. The characters in the game are the bad unicorn, Juan the good monster, the police person and the innocents (or maybe victims). Their is a great explanation of this game on Erica Peplinski‘s site, but I will try to explain anyway, as I personally found this game quite confusing and I think the more explanations the better! It was a little complicated but very, very cool game!!

  1. Firstly, choose your characters. The class sits in a circle, on chairs and the teacher (all in target language) tells them to close their eyes, or go to sleep. Ask the class, “Is peeking a good idea?” The teacher walks around and says “I touch the shoulder” and does so, then she does the same for the monster and the police.
  2. Check to see if the characters actually realise they have been tapped! Annabelle does this by saying “Wake up unicorn”. Practise sleeping and waking up with the class and tell them  you can see who is good at this because you opened and closed your eyes quickly.
  3. Even during this, Annabelle used a brain break! Stand up. Play Rock, Paper, Scissors with 3 different people. Sit back down. Go to sleep.
  4. Ask the unicorn, “Who do you want to play tricks on?” They indicate someone.
  5. Say to the good monster, “Wake up! Who do you want to save?” They indicate someone. Then tell them, “Sleep”. (The whole class have their eyes closed all this time!)
  6. Polisi, wake up! Who do you think is the bad unicorn? They choose someone. Annabelle then told them if their chosen one is the bad unicorn or not (but I don’t know why she tells them this!!)
  7. Now, put some scary music on – Annabelle used music from The Twilight Zone.
  8. Then Annabelle spins her magic. “The bad unicorn went to a girl’s house. (She is describing the victim). The girl is wearing shorts. The bad unicorn went to a girl that has a little brother. Who has a brother?” Keep giving clues until the victim is guessed.
  9. Annabelle continued the story, “The bad unicorn went into Jane’s (victims) house and did a poo in Jane’s mum’s bed! ” Jane leaves the circle and watches proceedings quietly. “The Polisi went to the house and the Polisi looked at the poo, smelt poo and said “The bad unicorn is ‘Harry’ (a random name). Is it a possibility. Polisi, you have 2 more guesses to accuse someone. Write on board “It is _________ because ______.  Write down the 3 possibilities.
  10. The class votes for who they think is the Bad Unicorn. Then the class chants, “Tell us, tell us” and the one who had the highest vote has to tell what they are. (NB They can lie!!)
  11. Annabelle continues the story “Kelas, someone was attacked/tricked in the night. The Good Monster did not save ‘Susi’ “(bad unicorn)
  12. Police again pick someone to be accused of trickery.

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iFLT 2018 – part 4 – Annabelle!!!!

Lining up to see La Maestra!!



Oh , I was really looking forward to watching Annabelle Allen in action, and I was not disappointed! I learned so much from her and took copious notes (as well as a selfie!) of her sessions. I managed to catch three of her sessions overall. I hope these notes give you some idea of how Annabelle creates a wonderful community with her learners and manages to stay comprehensible by using a variety of strategies.

Annabelle told us she started off the first day all in Spanish. Her 20 learners (18 showed up) had all had Spanish before and were advanced beginners, except for four newbies. Annabelle starts by telling her students a bit about herself – where she lives, her family, her favourite things etc.

She also goes through Las Reglas (The Rules):

  1. Repect – for me, for you , for everyone
  2. Spanish, Spanish, no English!
  3. Eyes, ears – participation!

and asks her new students to fill out a survey about themselves. Here is her free survey from Teachers pay Teachers. Annabelle takes photos of the students to use the next day in class. Because she now has a cool photo of the students, as well as information about what they like, she is able to create some cute photo + gif for a discussion the following day.

sidenote – Annabelle uses slidescarnival.com for her exciting powerpoints. She also recommends buying a personal microphone with speakers to save on the voice a bit. Hers were about $30 on Amazon.

EVERY time Annabelle said ‘hay una problema’, she also (along with the class) said “oh no, oh no, oh noooooo!” with the help of a little unicorn puppet.

Th first brainbreak I saw was a great one. She asked the students to quickly line up in 2 lines, then they played ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. They played very quickly. Then she said ‘Cambia!’ and the person on the end of one line moved to the other end and everybody moved down to a new partner. I tried this with all my Year 3s last week and it was brilliant!


One strategy to get 100% from her students was to write percentages down the side of the board, with 100% at the top and decreasing by ten percent to 10% at the bottom. She asked the students, “What amount of participation am I expecting? 10%? 20%? etc until of course everyone agreed Annabelle needed 100%!

Annabelle now only uses positive class points, there are no more points for teacher, just points when students are amazing. (Which they often are!) She gives LOTS of points! 13 points, 20 points, 10 points, lots!

Another brain break I saw was “Stand up. Jump 5 times. Do 5 jumping jacks. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Let it out. Sit down” Great for re-focusing.

Annabelle made comments about pictures of the students taken the previous day. She told them: ‘Aras had (she pointed with both thumbs behind her back to indicate past tense) a cat called Agua.

She asked the students “How to you say *** in Spanish?” then counted 1, 2, 3 before anyone could answer. Gave slower processors time to think about the answer. She asked the students to read the Spanish sentences in English, and gave them 20 points when they did a great job.

A chatty boy said something about a car, so instead of telling him to be quiet, she went straight to him and gave him the attention he wanted. She asked him what type of car he wanted, and then quickly looked up ‘Kiddle‘ (a safer option than Google) to find a picture of the car.

La Maestra was sooo patient and calm! When the class became unsettled, she asked them to make a circle then paired them up.  They quickly played Rock, Paper, Scissors with their FEET!! Both feet together is rock, legs apart is paper, and one foot in front of another is scissors. It was great! I tried it with my older classes last week and they loved it! So good for restless boys!

Another time they got a bit antsy, Annabelle asked them to ‘forma una fila’ (make a line) from shortest to tallest, then they had to sit down in that order (great for splitting up friends without being obvious). Whoops! I forgot to mention that the students were all seated on chairs in a large semi-circle facing the front. She often used a rejoinder ‘Hola hola’ and class says ‘Coca Cola’. She also used an excellent ‘applauso de foca’ (seal clap) where kids had to clap from their elbows up to their hands! Very cute.

I loved the way Annabelle went from one engaging activity to the next. She used Google Earth, and focussed on a country one of her students was from. (South Korea). She zoomed in on a person on the map, and told the class it was her friend Bill!

She had a great way of getting students to use rejoinders such as ‘Aduh!’ (oh no!), ‘Astaga!’ (OMG) and Kasihan (Poor little sausage). She had certain students in charge of the rejoinder and have them under their chairs, then whenever it was appropriate the kids took them out and held them up.

Then she told them about Carlos the crocodile eating all her paper. When one of the boys kept saying ‘Woof woof’ unnecessarily, she said ‘Got it? Are you with me?’ and did not correct him overtly. (Like I would have, shame on me!!)

Then she handed out papers and said “When I pass these out, you are going to think about what you are going to do. Are you going to talk? You can get a lot of points here.” She reminded them about appropriate behaviour and made them want to do the right thing!

Annabelle likes to use weird noised to keep attention, like ‘whoop, whoop’ and ‘brrrrrt’. Use your imagination! I tried some but some kids imitated me! Guess they get used to it, or maybe I needed to use ‘the look’.

She also did some Fortnite dances as a brain break. Wish I could remember exactly how she did this, but I did notice one boy stand up and start to do the ‘floss’. (Ask a student!) She asked him to come and teach her, and she deliberately made her dancing really bad, so the class was very amused!

Another brain break was, ‘Forma 2 filas! Toca (touch) el mano, el pied (hands, feet, etc) so pairs had to touch those parts together. Hands to hands, foot to foot etc. Another cute brainbreak in the target language.

I also loved “I am speaking English because…” and they all said “You’re the teacher!” Have tried this out too!

Annabelle used LOTS of brain breaks – LOTS! More than you think she would need.  Try it!

She then moved into Movie Talk. The rules for movie talk were:

  1. Shhhhh. Don’t say anything if you’ve seen it already.
  2. Don’t complain. (I will be pausing every 2 seconds)
  3. Participation.

Then…it was time for the end of the lesson! 😦



iFLT 2018 – Part 3 – Reading Strategies

This workshop was presented by Bryce Hedstrom.

Bryce told us that we should give our students lots of opportunities to read. Use FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) time. Start this slowly, with 3 minutes at first, gradually building up to 10 minutes. More advanced students may want to read for even longer! Read your current class story , then change it a little each lesson and read embedded versions of the story, or read a parallel story and compare it with the original.

Bryce suggests that if you are using a class novel (more advanced students), then first locate the essential structures. These are what you need to teach before starting with the novel. Pre-teach the Super 7 and structures that will be repeated throughout.

Post Story/Chapter Activities:

  • Bryce gives his students points depending on how they respond to the story – if they state a fact, they receive 2 points, if they listen and respond (to the fact) they get 5 points and if they ask a question they get 5 points.
  • Read the story – in pairs, on their own (with a worksheet to complete) or reading club with the teacher.
  • Independent readers can write comprehension questions about the story, co-operative groups could read on their own and then make a book map or some other group project.
  • Popcorn Reading
  • Translate line-by-line
  • comic strip retell
  • wanted poster for main character
  • create a text conversation between two characters

From Reading to Assessment

The following can be used as assessment:

  • parallel read with questions (in English)
  • cold read with questions (in English)
  • Bloom’s type questions may be used for older students

Reconnect with the Real World

  • do simple science experiments
  • presiden Joko selfies (with black velvet peci)
  • infographic (how many students have a dog, cat, etc)
  • make sure authentic resources are interesting and not frustrating to read
  • adapt materials to rebus style (using pictures in place of words)

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iFLT 2018 – Part 2 – Starting off the Year

Getting Off to a Good Start – presentation by Carrie Toth

Carrie Toth

A good way to start the year is by folding a little card of A5 and asking kids to write their name on it and a picture of something they like, or something they did on their holiday. Then you can Circle with Balls Ben Slavic Circling with Balls

Or you can start the year with Bryce Hedstrom’s KLB (Special Person) Special Person

Use stories to increase the input. You can tell a story, ask a story or listen to a (familiar) story. Use silly stories! Find a resource that inspires (eg the news story about the 12 soccer boys being trapped in the cave in Thailand), build a story from an image or a story based on the Super 7, a personal experience or on a familiar folktale/story that students would already know (Goldilocks).

Don’t limit  yourself to picture talks! Use pictures from National Geographic, do map talks (cari Sumatra, warnai laut biru – find Sumatra, colour the sea blue) and recipe talks. Use follow-up activities to add input, such as a Round-the-World quiz (students move to different parts of the classroom) where students write their answers in different spots around the room. Or put lots of laminated pictures in the middle of a circle and anyone who wants to picks up a picture and says something about it. (You cannot repeat what has already been said) This is called ‘Circle the Wagon’.

Transition well: give classroom jobs, have students up and moving, emphasise the connection between what you are doing and why, have everything set up and ready to go and vary the types of input you use.

Get grades in the gradebook: use exit tickets (5 quick questions), quick writes, compare/contrast, venn diagram, what’s your opinion/why? (for upper levels, or use emojis)

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Use a related video to stretch out your story:  Jurassic FartBHD Cactus Bank. Make predictions, but with younger students give them options eg Is he going to run, or is he going to eat? Continue to use previous structures and add new ones as needed.  Take screenshots of your video. Put all of these up on the Smartboard, or print and laminate all the slides. Use the ‘gutter’ (spaces between the pictures) to make up stuff about the places, characters, etc that are not obvious. Manipulate the students to get them to remember difficult words (this is a Year 5 word so you guys probably won’t be able to remember it). Use 5 main pictures for retelling.

Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 12.44.38 pmTo do this, use Powerpoint. Insert different shapes, then select shape fill, then picture.  Ask your students to retell the story. Share a picture of the slide to their iPads, or ask them to take a photo. Then they tell the story to a face (a stuffed animal face, a picture of someone), then to a friend, then to the teacher.

Assessment of the story could be:

  • retell to a partner (record and send to teacher)
  • write the story
  • write a different story
  • write questions to the character, or for a quiz

iFLT in Cincinnati, USA! Part 1 – Coaching.

I have wanted to attend this annual conference for a while, but hesitated due to the expense. The US-based conference is aimed at helping teachers teach for proficiency using CI-based strategies (See iFLT for more details). When Bu Cathy expressed an interest in going as well, I decided that 2018 was going to be the year for iFLT. I was more than ready!

Coaching for Coaches

Encouraged by Bu Cathy, I decided to also attend the Coaching for Coaches workshop held on the Monday before the main 4 day conference. I am so glad I did! It was a small group, so we had a chance to take the roles of coach, teacher, student and observer. What a great way to encourage and nuture up-coming CI teachers! I loved the quote one of the presenters (Michelle Kindt and Terri Wiechart) showed us “Comparison is the thief of joy” (Theodore Roosevelt). A great reminder not to compare ourselves with other teachers, we all have our own style of teaching and we are all great! I also loved “People who aren’t smiling are the ones who need a smile the most”, a reminder that CI teaching is not only teaching to the eyes, but teaching to the heart.


  1. The teacher must feel safe
  2. Discussion must be carefully directed by the coach
  3. The focus is on the skill, not the language
  4. The experience must empower the teacher

These are the steps we followed while we were coaching:

  1. Go through the rules with the participants
  2. Set up chairs and positions for students, observers, teacher and coach.
  3. Explain to the teacher how the activity works, asking them about the age group and experience of the ‘students’ and the skill they are wanting to focus on.
  4. Give them time to write up language structures on the whiteboard while you as coach explain the roles of ‘students’ and ‘observers’.
  5. Ask the teacher how much time they want, and time them. Tell them they may stop at any time.
  6. Guide the discussion,  asking the teacher, ‘students’ and ‘observers’ how the teacher made them feel part of the classroom community and how the teacher kept it comprehensible. Don’t forget to ‘feed forward’ and well as feed back! (How would you continue this lesson? Where would you go next with this?) If anyone gets off task, tell them, “We don’t have time!”



Five Cool Ideas for your CI Classroom!

I have recently been re-reading two books I purchased a few years ago, when I was still teaching languages traditionally. The books are:

100+ Fun Ideas for Practising Modern Foreign Languages in the Primary Classroom and

More Fun Ideas for Advancing Modern Foreign Languages in the Primary Classroom, both by Sue Cave.

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Here are some ideas I think we could use successfully and that would be engaging for our TPRS students:

Pictionary – have some sentences available from your latest story for a student to choose from. Pick a student and they choose a sentence. They then have to illustrate the sentence on a large piece of paper in front of the class, while the rest of the class guesses what sentence it is. The first one to correctly say the sentence is the next one to choose a sentence and do the illustration.

Predict the sentence – (lots of reading and writing practise in a fun way!) Make a sentence scaffold with words students are familiar with eg.

Ibu Anne                     mau                       makan                     di                   KFC.

Harimau              tidak mau                    berlari                     ke                   rumah.

Perempuan                                                muntah                                          pohon.

Laki-laki                                                                                                              Melbourne.

Students then choose words from the above lists to make a sentence. They could do this on mini whiteboards. Teacher also chooses from the words above to make a sentence, and students have to predict what the teacher has written! When they have finished writing their sentence, they stand up. Once all are standing,  you begin to read your sentence word by word. Ask them to sit down as soon as one of their words is not the same as yours. The students left standing should have the same sentence as you and win a point!  This is a great, non-threatening activity to encourage reluctant writers!

Predict the Sentence 2 – Same as above but this time students aim to write a unique sentence. They volunteer to read their sentence aloud. Anyone who has exactly the same sentence as the reader sits down, along with the reader. This continues until the students left standing do indeed have sentences that are unique and win a point.

I Want – Hand out picture cards or real items that are cognates in your language. Only give them to about half the class. Have students sit in a big circle. Encourage those students with nothing to raise their hand and when chosen, ask (in L2) ‘Saya mau (cognate). This seems to be forcing output but I think  younger students would love it they would be highly motivated to say the phrase. (Of course you would play my Qwin Game first, so the language has been modelled many times first.) You could ask receiving students to say ‘Terima kasih (thank you) to encourage good manners.


Kim’s Game – I have no idea why this game is called Kim’s Game, but I know my Prep students love it! You can play it traditionally with about 12 items (I use cognates) on a table and then cover them all up with a cloth and students have to tell you what is there. Great for reps on ‘Ada’ (There is)! Then you can draw the items on the whiteboard as students recall what is under the cloth. Then of course you have to count each time a student adds another one, to see if they have remembered all 12 yet! (Lots of counting practice!) I call it ‘Magic’ because I am covering something with a cloth so kids love it! Then, you can remove something from the table (students close eyes and cover them with hands) and see if they can guess what is missing. “What is not there?” Apa tidak ada? (Kim’s Game) Try removing two items, or three! BUT the coolest thing ever is you can make these games in Powerpoint! Just find and insert lots of cognates or acquired pictures onto your first slide. Then duplicate the slide lots of times! (Hold down and right click) Now remove a different item from each slide. You simply click through your slides and students say what is not there!



Picture Talk

EAster Hungarian sprinkling

I watched a great online lesson over the Easter weekend with my mate and colleague Bu Cathy. It was presented by Amy Vander Deen. I took soooo many notes of this great presentation and I learned a lot, so I decided to share. Here goes:

How to Co-create Stories in Primary

Start with a character. Let’s call him George. George wants a cat.

Ask questions: Does George have a cat? Does George want a big cat or a small cat? What colour cat does George want? Is it a special cat, or a normal cat? Introduce the character. George’s problem is that he wants a cat. Follow the ABC formula. He goes to A. (Cats-R-Us) The problem is not solved. He goes to B (Cat-Mart). The problem is not solved. He goes to C. There are blue cats! George is happy.

Students act out the story while it is being created. This way you can question characters as well as telling the story in 3rd person. eg “Do you have blue cats?” “No, I don’t have blue cats. I have yellow cats, red cats, green cats etc”. To involve more students, some can hold up signs for the shops and others can act out the cats in the shops. Acting out the stories whilst creating helps in these ways:

  • helps to reinforce meaning
  • helps to make it memorable
  • T (Teacher) can speak directly to character
  • T can turn to class and use 3rd person to tell class what character just said (use ‘dia’ and ‘nya’)
  • T asks circling questions
  • T asks personalizing questions

Adapting TPRS for Primary

  • use short, simple stories
  • T is more of a narrator
  • characters can be re-cast to give more students a turn (actors can be changed mid-story)
  • meaningful repetition (can sing or chant)
  • use what turns kids on eg Star Wars


Show a picture of Darth Vader. Ask ‘Who is this? Is DV big, medium or small? Big. Turn to actor and ask “DV – are you big, medium or small?” Character answers “I am big”. T says “DV is big. Very big.” Darth Vader has a plate. Is the plate big, medium or small. Small. The plate is small. Ask actor “Does DV want to have a small plate?” No. Class, does DV have a medium/big/small plate? Does he want to have a medium/big/small plate? DV is angry. DV says, “I do not like the small plate!”


  • Make sure your stories are FUR.   F = funny  U = unexpected  R = relevant
  • Read picture books aloud! Whilst reading, TPR some of the actions and ask questions about the book.
  • Read 2 or 3 stories per lesson.
  • Older students can read during FVR. (Free Voluntary Reading)
  • Talk about a picture, then build a story!


  • reinforce meaning
  • add layers
  • hold attention

Picture: a family with pets

Questions: Is there a dad? Is there a mum? Is there a brother? Is there a sister? Is there a baby? Is the baby big or small? Who is small, dad or the baby? Ask baby actor, “Are you big or small?” Ask the dad, “Are you big or small?” What colour is the cat?

Where to find suitable images? You need images you can use without copyright problems. Go to Google Images. Click on Tools, and check the ‘Usage Rights – Reuse with modification’. You can find fantastic background pictures to make a cool setting for your story.

Creating a Story.

eg Red Riding Hood. (images from TpT – Teachers Pay Teachers) Start with a photo of a forest with Little Red Riding Hood and GRandma in the foreground. Tell class “This is LRRH”. Is this LRRH? Is this LRRH or Grandma? etc   Use two actors up the front of the room.  Ask them, “Who are you?” Continue with “Grandma lived in a house”. Freeze your Smartboard and do an image search. Show the class. Ask a student to come out and pick Grandma’s house.  Ask questions about the photo. “Does Grandma’s house have a blue door? etc


  1. Statement
  2. Yes answer
  3. Either/Or
  4. No answer

Have a picture of Grandma in front of her house. Tell class, 1.”This is Grandma’s house”. 2. Is this Grandmas’s house?  Yes, this is Grandma’s house. 3. Is this Grandma’s house or LRRH’s house? (Use a 3-fer) Yes, this is Grandma’s house. This is not LRRH’s house. This is Grandma’s house.

Only circle NEW vocabulary or grammar.

Ask the actors, “Is this your house?’ LRRH now chooses 3 foods (in the target language). Students choose the images for the food.


LRRH makes tea for her Grandma. Ask class “Do you like to drink tea when you are sick? eg Will says no. Class, Will does not like to drink tea when he is sick. Will does not like tea. Who drinks tea when they are sick? Ask S actor, “Does Grandma drink tea when she is sick?’


  • compare/contrast 2 students in the class who do/do not like tea plus Grandma
  • create a chart with all the answers about tea. How many people drink tea? How many people don’t?
  • use info as a brain break. Stand by the door if you like tea. Stand by the window if you don’t like tea
  • compare class stories (1A and 1B)

eg Gingerbread Cookie Family on TpT

Are they big, medium or small? Turn students into characters. After the holidays, take photos of students, crop them, and insert them into slideshow. Where did you go? How did you go to ___? eg Sam went to his Grandma’s house. He went by car.

Good Places to find images

  • TpT (check terms of use)
  • etsy
  • flickr
  • openclipart

Ask your students what it is like to learn through stories. Great for student quotes to use for presentations and job applications!

Classroom Management

  • At commencement of year, ensure students enter the room and sit down quietly. Model this, ask students what they noticed (calm body, silent voice). Three or four students model, then WC.
  • Use different coloured circles for students to sit on.
  • Older students – have an assortment of seating options and they choose one. Call one at a time to choose a chair. Do it calmly and safely. Line up calmly and silently. Practise this!
  • Use a bell or Tibetan bowl or something authentic for “freezing”. Model this. Ask “Was my voice on or off?” Practise freezing at the bell. Do some TPR stuff, then freeze. T models, S models, small group models, then whole class. Incorporate with TPR. Also teach then to freeze when you say ‘STOP!’
  • Tell your students that participating in class is a privilege. If they are silly whilst acting, tell them “You have lost the privilege of being a lion”.
  • Make the consequences logical. eg If can’t sit properly on the rug, love the privilege of being on the rug. Have a ‘take a break’ spot. Leave them there no longer than 2-3 minutes. You break it, you fix it.
  • Can use stories about a child who is angry etc Matias esta Enojado. Teach some strategies in the story eg count to 10, take deep breaths, think calm thoughts
  • Or ask child to practise with teacher (while class does something else). Practise with me. Let’s try again. Do it twice. Give a reminder. Put on a story or video and ask child to practise with you one-on-one. After the consequence, reconnect with the child.


  • activities should correspond (in minutes) to students’ age
  • be attentive
  • use lots of brain breaks (then right back to the story)
  • use stories with actions eg going on a bear hunt


Find an engaging picture

Circle – The mouse is eating. Is the mouse eating? Yes, the mouse is eating. Is the cat eating or is the mouse eating? The mouse is eating. The cat is not eating. The mouse is eating. Is the cat eating? etc


eg Picture of hungry dog in front of a bowl with knife and fork.

Structures to teach: is hungry, wants to eat

Point to the dog. This is a dog. He is hungry. Who is hungry? The dog wants to eat. Scott, do you want to eat? Class, Scott is hungry. He wants to eat. Cathy is not hungry. She does not want to eat. Look at the clock. What time is it? How many minutes until lunch?

Pets. How many students have a dog? Does your dog ____? Matthew’s dog ____. Does Cathy’s dog ____?


Pause the story and ask for more details. Who? What? When? Why? How? How many? Who feeds the dog? What does he get fed? When does he get fed?

Don’t do this if class is wiggly! Keep this short for primary kids.


  • choose one that fits in with stories you are already doing. Use movietalk database. eg Google spreadsheet or profepeplinski
  • play video with sound off
  • after 10-20 seonds, pause video
  • ask Qs about what just happened. Circling Q, personalizing Q, parking Q
  • repeat
  • at end, show entire clip with sound

Tips and Tricks

  • shorter is better < 2 mins
  • clearly explain how Movietalk works – tell them it is an activity for big kids and that they have to see it without sound first
  • combine picture talk and movie talk by taking screen shots of movie
  • if movie has English, replay it with no sound but play some background music
  • don’t use movies with complex language

Special Person (KLB – Kursi Luar Biasa)

Class can ask the questions:

  • What is your name?
  • What is your favourite ____?

Have a proforma ready and type in answers from each person in L2. Take a photo and add it to the KLB poster. Add favourite animal. Hang in classroom or hallway. Include ‘When is your birthday?’ in KLB powerpoint.

Authentic Resources

  • songs – traditional and modern
  • rhymes/poems
  • children’s books
  • cultural games eg congklak, kasti
  • school appropriate comics, jokes and memes
  • picture talk authentic cultural images
  • movie talk cultural clips

Comprehensible Culture Lessons

(La Maestra Loca gives each of her classes a Spanish-speaking country for their class name – this could be done in Indonesian – Bali, Java, Sumatra, Flores etc. Then they are encouraged to find out info about these places at home)

Each year level in Amy’s classes studies a country/region. For Indonesian, could be Prep – Bali, Year 1 – Java, Year 2 – Sumatra etc

Images and Learning

Using images with new vocabulary means we are gathering new knowledge using dual coding. Picture + non-verbal processing = knowledge and spoken words + verbal processing = knowledge. Spoken word + image is dual coding – entering the brain through 2 systems rather than just one.

For young children, this is much more effective than trying to read and look at pictures as well. Children recognise and remember vocab better when they learn it through images.

Images combined with spoken text is most effective for learning new vocabulary with ALL ages, but younger students benefit the most.  Use spoken words with images, not written text. (or limit text)

Don’t use too many images! Space them out. Far more effective to talk about one image. Plan a lesson around a single, meaningful image. KISS!! (Keep it simple stupid!)

Always establish meaning – write on board with English meaning.

Ways to use a Picture Talk

  • as a launchpad for a story
  • to expand a story – plot twist, humour (good for beginning students)
  • as a ‘hook’ into a lesson
  • as a culture pop-up if kids ask about something. Freeze Smartboard and GTS (Google that Stuff)
  • as a basis for a culture discussion (1 pic, or series of pics)
  • as a memory jog

robot and pet

Story  – Ask who, what, where, when, why, how, how many? What is the robot’s name? (Always use letters and numbers to name robots, to practice letters and numbers). Have students name the pet, too. What is he made of? What is the problem? The robot is sad. Why? Use the ABC method. (3 solutions – last one is effective).



dog waiting

Dog waiting outside doors. Where does he live? What is his name? Who is he waiting for? Where is he? Who does he live with? What is the problem? How is it solved? (Hint: have a story in  your mind already)

Dinosaur in Mirror

  • Who is in the car?
  • Where are they going?
  • Where is the dinosaur from?

dinosaur in mirror


Use gifs also, and images from  Picture book illustrations

and also Children’s Illustrators (contact illustrators for usage rights)

Images in Stories

  1. Set the tone of a story (change the mood, use like a backdrop)
  2. Expand the world of a story. Find picture of an Indonesian market or google street view
  3. Add humour to a story (good for beginners)
  4. Move the plot forward (good for beginners)

Plot Twist

  • Good for beginners with little vocab
  • Use Instagram, Bored Panda, flickr pixabay and TpT etc for images

Hook into your lesson

  • project an image on the board or place it somewhere a week before you will use it. Build some excitement! Preview at end of class
  • optical illusions are good for hooks – discuss for 3-5 minutes at start of class
  • can be static image or animated gif
  • gifs – use animals or sports (for older kids)

Culture Pop-Up

  • image of soda in a plastic bag or some cultural aspect (shoes outside door, squat toilet)
  • Show photo of a place – ask, where is it? Gets rid of stereotypes
  • use when students ask about something

Culture Discussion

  • culture discussions are planned
  • major focus of lesson
  • culture discussion is longer than pop-up
  • Put pictures side-by-side to show there is no one stereotype (eg type of houses)
  • Ask “What can you see? Where is this photo?”
  • Compare village and city – use as parallel stories
  • use Windows and Mirrors – Windows are for comparing my life with someone else’s (different) Mirrors are for looking into and seeing similarities eg a boy that has a pet dog like me.
  • virtual field trip
  • show an image – are we on coast, jungle or mountains
  • What island of Indonesia are we on?

Memory Jog

Bring students back to a previously written story. Review stories. Write a new chapter for an old story! Or pop an old character into a new story!

Keep stories simple. eg Grandma walked in the jungle. It was very hot. Grandma saw a tiger. Grandma said “Aduh!” Grandma ran!

Co-creating Images (a la Tina and Ben)


  • taps into student creativity
  • builds community
  • gives ownership of story
  • kids have an emotional connection with story

How to do

  • use 2 students, one draws and one colours
  • class does not see picture until the end

Picture Stories

Colour print and laminate the story to read to the class.  Add details. Act out the first time, then use as a read-aloud book. Stop and ask questions, get kids to point to something, TPR some actions in the story. Can also fit L2 stories with what Preps are doing in homeroom. eg Gingerbread Man.

If you are still reading, you have made it to the end!!!! I intend to try out some of these great ideas – I hope you do too!

TCI Conference Melbourne 2018

What is the difference between the two photos? Nothing! They are both photos of yours truly with superheroes!!!!

I was so excited to have the opportunity to attend a conference with three superheroes of mine – Terry Waltz, Laurie Clarcq and Anny Ewing. I was not disappointed!

Below you will find gems I discovered at the conference. I hope some of these gems will be useful for you too!

Gaining Students’ Attention 

  • Start singing ‘If you’re Happy and You know it’, kids will start joining in with the actions.
  • Sing! Hold a note!
  • 3-2-1 Waterfall. Kids all go SHHHHHH

Four Key Principles of Teaching with Comprehensible Input:

  • make it comprehensible
  • provide repeated exposure
  • keep it interesting
  • teach for success

Rules for the TCI Classroom: (These are for teacher as well as student)

0. Naked desks – nothing on desks! Better yet, go deskless!

  1. Listen to understand
  2. Answer all together (unless I am asking a specific person/I stop you)
  3. STOP
  4. 2 words
  5. Ooh!  Aah!


Rules explained:

Why would you ask a question of a specific person? You could be asking the ‘barometer’ (one who gets it eventually but takes a bit longer to process; tries hard) to gauge comprehension OR you could be asking a fast-processing student for extension.

If you do ask the fast processor, add “Look at me and smile if you could have answered that question.” 

Use a wait signal so kids can have extra processing time: honour the thinking.

When would you let kids use 2 words? When you are fishing. Kids can answer in L2 or us 2 words. When fishing, use the “fairy dust” hand gesture to indicate you are wanting an answer/idea from students.

Say “Please answer in L2 unless I need an idea”. Limit your own English!!!

Best to have classroom signs with picture, L2 and English.

Remember that repetition is repeated MEANING, not sound! ie Ensure students understand the word!!

Ooh! Aah! You can use these sounds as well as rejoinders such as Astaga! Kasihan! Aduh! Keren! Hore! If kids get carried away, you can use a conductor gesture to stop them, or tell them “Kontrol” or “Sudah” to develop self-control. Point to the sign, then gesture to ‘cut off’ the sound.

THINK          FEEL          SAY          DO

Feelings are so important to kids. If they can attach a feeling to a word, can learn it so much better. There is a difference between ‘requested’ and ‘forced’ output. We do not want to force output. Give kids the opportunity to opt out of answering in L2 if they are not confident. You only use L1 to see what the level of comprehension is. “How would you say…?” “What did I just say?”

Rules need to be MODELLED, EXPLAINED and PRACTISED. You don’t get buy-in if kids don’t understand why they are learning with TCI.

To communicate is to put our picture in someone else’s mind or heart.

Kids can ask teacher to STOP if they don’t understand (with a gesture). Teacher will also STOP if it is clear someone doesn’t understand. Practise the gesture for “I don’t understand”. If students see someone else doing that gesture, they do it too. (Saves individual feeling stupid or embarrassed)

Another rule could be:

6.   Grandma     Grandma means G-rated. Kids can only give ideas that grandma would approve of. Have a cool poster of Grandma. My grandma loves interesting stories. She falls asleep with the boring stuff. Swear words make Grandma angry.

The Lesson

Grab their interest in a novel way.

Give them a reason for learning – show them the gold (what will they be able to achieve at the end) eg Terry told us “At the end of this lesson you will be able to read this Hawaiian script”.

Have your new structures written on the board so you know where you are heading, as well as posters for Who? What? Where? How? How many?

Good idea to ask a colleague to survey your lesson to find out:

  • how many times do students answer in L2?
  • how many questions do I ask?

Use English ONLY for two reasons:

  • to ensure the picture is clear (comprehension check)
  • to ‘fish’ (ask) for story details

Ask LOTS of questions. Don’t ask questions unless students have the TL (Target Language) to answer. Questioning is a super important skill.

When students are in their first 3 years of learning the language, don’t worry about correcting grammar.

Teach kids how to accept a compliment. “Amelia, I am going to tell the class something about your sentence. You can accept the compliment with a royal nod or wave like the Queen.”

Make it comprehensible!

  • establish meaning
  • support meaning – write on board, posters (pause and point!)
  • comprehension checks

Provide Repeated Exposure:

  • ask questions
  • confirm answers (Brad Pitt’s house)
  • extend answers (Brad Pitt’s big house in Melbourne)
  • parrot/repeat in ‘conversation’


Get a kid to be the parrot and repeat funny/important bits throughout the lesson.

Choose one new structure plus any/all of what they already know. A structure is a chunk of language with meaning, preferably high frequency.

You can plan using a full story, or have a story skeleton with minimum sentences and students will fill in the details. Keep it interesting!

Excellent Eight

  • mau
  • suka
  • di
  • (pergi) ke
  • punya
  • ada
  • beri
  • ambil

Sweet Sixteen

The above, plus:

  • lihat
  • bisa
  • berkata
  • pulang
  • pakai
  • dengar
  • datang
  • tahu

Ways of Assessing

IMG_1031 2

Putting it all Together – Laurie Clarcq

Learning is:                                                                 Acquisition is:

  • difficult                                                               easy
  • conscious                                                            unconscious
  • fast                                                                       slow
  • soon forgotten                                                   remembered
  • for the ‘smart kids’                                           for everyone!

all about how the L2 is used                               is all about what is being said

Ideas for Kursi Luar Biasa (Special Chair)

  • have other students ask questions of the special student
  • have 2 KLB and ‘fans’ of each person. Pump up the fans and ask them about their ‘special person’. Keep their attention by seeing which fan group is being more responsive.

Student has to listen to understand. Teacher must speak in order to be understood.

The Process of Language Learning

  1. Hear it (nothing happens if you don’t hear)
  2. Recognise it (Get kids to write/draw word, then translate)
  3. Understand it
  4. Connect it (input/output)

Ask S (student): Where are you in the process?

When teaching structures, put things that are hard to acquire (eg verb to be) with things that are easy to acquire. eg “is” a teacher

Krashen’s i + 1

input that grows language = stuff already acquired or accessible + 1 new structure (high frequency)

Game to practise output

Get kids into 2 circles, inner and outer, facing each other. One person stated a structure from the story eg “Ibu Anne punya ular” and the partner had to react with a rejoinder “Astaga!” “Keren!”


Go fishing where there are fish!

Only use circling for new information and for fishing – it is like swearing, use it appropriately!

Have a signal for ‘whole class answers”, such as hand up or arms spread wide.

Honour all the answers kids give. Ide bagus! Be positive. Practise and use a thinking face. Vote and count to choose the character/place, or pull from jar. Close eyes/cover eyes to vote.

3 fer – three reps in a row, such as Is Bob a teacher?

  • Yes, Bob is a teacher. Bob is not a dentist. Bob is a teacher.

Machine gun Nos – park on the No

  • Is Bob a dentist? Is Bob a doctor? Is Bob a hairdresser? Is Bob a fisherman?

Primary Teaching – Anny Ewing

Tell kids “Your job is to look, listen and understand.”

My job is to make it easy for you to understand.

Keep the rules simple (see photo above).

For comprehension checks:

Close your eyes and hold up from 1 – 5 fingers to show understanding. Five fingers is complete understanding. Have a written comprehension check – five questions Yes or No. Or have different actions for yes and no and students move to show understanding. Jump up for YES! Crouch down for NO!


Purpose-written TPRS text is:

  • connected
  • written by a fluent speaker (gulp!)
  • written with a goal of 100% student comprehension

A parallel text can be used for assessment.

First Reading of Story 

  • Read as a group.
  • Circle during reading.
  • Recap in English at the end. eg (Is Kevin’s house big? Where is Kevin’s house?)

Reading Activities

  • Group reading on powerpoint.
  • Put sentences in order. (Gesture and read slowly first. Write your sentences so there is no one correct way to order them – encourage discussion eg How could you change the ending so it would make sense?)


  • Put students in pairs and then get them to put sentences in order.
  • With your partner, read the story in English
  • Ping-Pong reading in English (or give them a choice of L2 or English)

Embedded Reading

Embedded Reading (Laurie Clarcq)

IMG_0711 2


Base story is usually very short and simple.

This is Laurie. This is Jose. Laurie and Jose go to Las Vegas. Jose is happy. 

  • Show sentence by sentence with pictures.


  1. Introduce new vocabulary.
  2. Play with new structures.
  3. Show story with pictures.
  4. Show text only.


Wins a chicken

  1. Put something wacky or unexpected in the reading.
  2. Act it out.


Add one word eg fantastic. Add the word wherever it makes sense in the reading. Ask students, “Where else could we have ‘fantastic?’ Read the story out loud to a partner. Every time you say ‘fantastic’, they make a noise/action.

Laurie started an embedded reading by using a story written by a student, with bits added from other students to build up different (more difficult) versions.

Tip: when kids are reading, get them to fold over the paper and use edge of paper for ‘dropping and dragging’. It helps to avoid them getting distracted. They can also fold it to mark their spot in the reading. You can tell kids to “Park the Car” when they have found 3 tricky bits.

Translate to: clarify, check.


  1. We read together.
  2. We read and discuss.
  3. We read and wonder.

GOOD stories have: a strong character, a relevant (to students) setting, the situation (use focus language) must be interesting and visual.

Great tip for reading: One sentence of reading per year of language study.


Grandpa was at a party. He forgot to wear pants. He covered himself right away.

To extend the story, ask yourself questions such as WHEN, WHO WITH, WHAT KIND?

Yesterday/One day, grandpa was at a party with his friends.

Stop and use speed sketching. Encourage kids to “Share and enjoy” (not point and laugh). Then talk about pictures. Who is grandpa with? What are his friends doing at the party? What can you see at the party?

Made to Stick – book about stories that ‘stick’.

Wired for Story – writing great stories

Instructional Cycle









Backwards Planning

Ask yourself:

  • What do I need to do with my S in order for them to be able to …?
  • How can I get them to do that?

It is not about data, it is about students!

Backwards inspiration: how do I feed the students? (the baby doesn’t grow because you weigh it!!)

Think about your end goals: I want them to read novels, examine and report, summarise chapters (for example).

What do I want them to be able to do at the end of the year?

  • Listen and comprehend (mini and macro goal) ____.
  • Read and comprehend ____. (familiar sentence, short story, novel)
  • Speak and ______. (Retell a familiar story)
  • Write and _____.

If there are things  you need to teach (such as weekend activities), put them into stories!

Accessible language is language the teacher gives (points, posters, on board)

Make sure your lesson fits the “lens test” – look at it through eyes of the principal.

Plan with question words.


Opening activity of lesson should always be about building community.

Closing activity: leave them (and you) feeling good –  breathe, play music, turn and tell a joke, dance, heads down and relax, dead fish.


Great prose to read when you are too scared to try something new!


GTS – Google that Stuff

Voluntold -When you ‘volunteer’ but actually you are told to do something!

You are where you are supposed to be.

Round of Applause: clap around in a circle

Progress, not perfection!

Be an authentic teacher with passion.