2019-20 Classroom Updates

In anticipation of wrenches being thrown at us next week when teachers are officially back, I went into school one morning to set up my room again. Here are updates…

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Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) & Sweet Sēdecim (Sweet 16) Reboot

I’ve just decided to drop Obligation from the Awesome Octō (i.e. is, has, wants, likes, goes + says, thinks, owes/should), and replace it with Knowledge (i.e. knows/doesn’t know). Here are all the posters.

This is the first step towards updating and embracing the Sweet Sēdecim (+ sees, hears, comes, leaves, brings, puts, gives, is able) that many successful language teachers have been using for quite some time. The result will be focusing on a slightly larger core vocabulary—instead of just the top 8—over a longer period of time. These top 16 naturally occur across many communicative contexts. Thus, the Universal Language Curriculum (ULC) is born.

In a nutshell, though…

  1. Can be used for ANY target language
  2. Curriculum is based on expanding vocabulary
  3. Content is driven by communication and student interests
  4. A repeating single-year organized into 2 units

Unit 1 Content, Years 1 – 4 (ACTFL’s Communication, Connections, and Communities)
“Who am I?”
“Who are we?”

  • Community: town(s), school, landmarks
  • Family: members, origin/ancestry, home
  • Self: age, likes/dislikes, wishes

Unit 2 Content, Varies each year (ACTFL’s Communication, Cultures, and Comparisons)
“Who were the target language speakers?”

  • establish suggested topics and poll students

High-Frequency Verbs

Someone asked the “Teaching Latin for Acquisition” Facebook group for a list of the top 10 verbs in each of our classes—if we had to make such a list. There were only about 10 11 comments, but many teachers probably use similar verbs and just didn’t have anything to add. What I find interesting, though, is that across the lists from only 10 11 comments, there were still 38 44 different verbs in total!

The verbs that were most common  between everyone who chimed in were:
be (6 7)
want (5 6)
see (4 5)
be able (4)
be quiet (4 )

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The No-Travel Story Script

Also from Von Ray’s recent TPRS workshop, his German demo sheltered (i.e. limited) vocabulary so well that it focused on 3 verbs (e.g. is, has, wants) of those top 5 (+ likes & goes). I’ve always been uncomfortable with the idea of a Day 1 cold opening story, though many skilled TPRS teachers find it to be the most engaging way to start the year, so this script might just be what I was looking for! With no need for any character to travel to the standard 3 locations, the questions and details concern one or two parallel characters—an essential Storyasking skill to begin building.

The conflict to resolve in Von’s story was “is in jail, because doesn’t have.” Here’s the plot outline:

  • there’s a character
  • character is in jail because s/he doesn’t have something
  • parallel character is somewhere, but not in jail
  • character’s mother is in the hospital, and has what the character doesn’t have
  • character laments (e.g. “Ooh noo, mother! I’m in jail! I’m in jail because…I want…”)
  • mother laments (e.g. “Ooh, [character], I’m in the hospital because I’m sick…”)
  • character says s/he wants what the mother has
  • mother says that it’s not her problem (lol!)
  • parallel character(s) has/have what the character wants
  • parallel character(s) may, or may not give the character what s/he wants
  • story resolves, or doesn’t

If a parallel character gives the item to the main character, add “gives,” or the command “have!” if your language can do that, limiting the verbs to just “is, has, wants,” and “says.”