Back from blogging exile, I’m itching to share a series on tricks and techniques that observers in my classes at this summer’s iFLT and Express Fluency conferences found especially memorable! I’m especially excited to offer an expansive collection of voice and body techniques for joyful, successful teaching.
Today’s technique takes no prep or training whatsoever and delivers surprising bang for the buck in terms of both exposure to the target language and enhancing a joyfully spontaneous classroom vibe.
The Cell Phone Retell
On day 3 of iFLT classes, we discovered through Latin Q&A that one of my 16 middle schoolers was in the process of writing her own fantasy novel about a FREAKING MAGIC HEDGEHOG. While we were exploring the juicy details, my cell phone rang in my pocket. I practically always have it silenced, but on this day I was on call about a possible family emergency. Having checked the caller, I realized it was time to Make Lemonade.
I “answered” the phone (actually declining the call) and exchanged some basic Latin greetings, then began to “update” my phaux-phriend-on-the-phone on what we had just learned about Livia and her magic hedgehog opus. In the process, I casually continued to point-and-pause at words on the board and make gestures to promote comprehension. I was able to work in even more encounters with the language involved by repeating myself more vehemently to my incredulous phony interlocutor.
By the end, students had re-heard just about everything we had learned about Livia and her story. More importantly, they had listened with attention and interest because of the novelty and theatricality of the scene.
Variation: I have also done Cell Phone Retell when a student’s phone rings, pretending to fill in their friends or family about what is going on in class. This may not be advisable, depending on the setting in which you teach.
I call this Centuple Exposure because it’s part of a battery of techniques that provide students with tons of repeat encounters with the language. In contrast to plain old repetition, techniques such as the Cell Phone Retell create a sort of suspense and “justify” the extra repetition in the context of the actual communication taking place in the classroom.
Try these other ways of effecting Centuple Exposure:
- Have a fake texting conversation, providing slow exposure as you sound out what you are typing.
- Crack the classroom door and act like you are reporting to someone in the hallway what is going on in class.
- Pretend any random object in the room is a communication device and use it to tell friends, aliens, distant relatives, anyone, about the students or anything else.
- Pretend you are having a vision of some person (known or unknown, famous or not) and interact with the vision in the target language.
- Talk to the wall. Seriously.
- If a visitor, tardy student, or recently absent student enters, catch them up in the hearing of the rest of the class.
What tricks or techniques do you like to use to provide Centuple Exposure?