Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Learning Romanian with Alina and Bryce

Wednesday was the day I had been waiting for. Our landlords are Romanian, and I thought I would have a week of language training and then really wow them when I came home. Uh, that's how it was in 2006. Unfortunately, I didn't realize until nearly time for the conference that things had changed. Instead, Alina Filipescu taught us on Wednesday and Bryce Hedstrom interrupted the teaching with things that we were to think about--how could her teaching impact our teaching?

Well, I know that Bryce's section was all kinds of valuable, but I'm going to concentrate on Alina's.  I was SO excited to see the things she taught us.

First thing to talk about is simply the way she teaches. She does it all at the same time. She intermixes TPRS, TPR, and lots of techniques to get us where she wants us to be.  She notices when we need a "brain break" and will give us TPR to help.  She has various signals that she expects us to always use--one for "of course", one for "How sad," and so on. The one that we all waited for was "ridiculous," which gave us a chance to slap our knee and get up--but only if she did it first.

Another thing I loved (TOTALLY ABSOLUTELY TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH) was how she demonstrated PQA.  She did not make us tell her about ourselves. Instead, she got the reps by talking about famous people or things that were interested-like a cat with an interesting face.  I have always felt that PQA was my hardest thing, but between Alina and Karen Rowan, I feel that I can achieve success.

When we got to the story, there was absolutely nothing to fear, even though students are now expected to answer questions in complete sentences (at least the actors). Alina had little posters with everything we needed, and it was all at eye level for the actors.  For example, she had "he was", "you are" and "I am" together on a poster. Then when she said "He is a boy" and then came to the boy and asked "Are you a boy?" it was easy to respond "I am a boy."

Alina explained her technique as she went.  For example, she watched the class before asking the story. The ones who smiled were called on. The ones who were a little "busy" were actors.  She made sure that everyone felt comfortable, and due to the afore-mentioned brain breaks and class involvement, we were all participating.

After the story, Alina did 2 embedded readings based on the story. She did them volleyball style (see the earlier post on Carol Gaab's reading), and they were based on the story. She put them on the board and we read them together. They had blanks so we could put the names and places that our class had come up with. Everyone got to read the story at least once.

After the class, I thought about my experience.  Even a week after the conference, I can still remember some words, and I can read all the readings. I felt comfortable, even when I was one of the "students" chosen to come up.  I left feeling good about my experience, and I even want to learn more! To me, that's the sign of an outstanding teacher. Alina, I'm so glad I came! You rock!

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