PQA, Point & Pause, Circling – Weeks 1-3

This term I have been exploring the TPRS/CI pedagogy with my year 5’s and the year 5/6’s- basing it all around Ben Slavic’s book, “TPRS in a Year”. I read somewhere, probably in his book, a good way to start is to focus on new aspect/skills, one by one, and in doing so, one hopefully can develop a basic level of proficiency within a year.
My first week’s focus was PQA – Personalised Questions and Answers. This skill is important for getting to know the students personally and is especially valuable at the start of a new school year with brand new students. Interestingly, even though I have been teaching most of my students all of their primary years, there is still a lot I don’t know about each of the three hundred and thirty five students I teach. This understanding of PQA only gelled recently and thus instead of PQA in my first week, I mistakenly focused on circling. Last week my focus was ‘point and pause’. When pointing to new structures or the important question word posters, give students the time to grasp the word and its meaning by not speaking for at least 4-5 seconds. I could actually hear the ‘kerthunk’ Ben Slavic talks about when pointing and pausing for students. This week, I will be focusing on circling again however this time I have added a few extra pointers to help develop it even further.
Each weekend in preparation for the upcoming weeks lessons, I write a mini script for my TPRS lessons based on a segment of the master dialogue that I wrote in the holidays. The master is a work in progress and goes roughly like this:
S (Seller)- Good morning
C (Customer) – Good morning
S How are you
C good thanks
S What would you like to buy?
C I would like to buy fried rice
C How much is fried rice?
S ten dollars
C OMG. That is too expensive.
S How much?
C five dollars.
S OK. How many would you like?
C two please. How much is that?
S ten dollars.
C Ok, Thank you
S You’re welcome
C/S Goodbye

In week one, the target structures were:
1.mau beli apa? – What do you want to buy?
2. Saya mau beli ….. – I want to buy …….
3. penjual – seller/shop keeper

In week two, the target structures were:
1. berapa – how many
2. katanya – he/she said

And in week three the target structures will be:
1.terlalu mahal – too expensive
2.berapa satu? – how much for one?

Student progress has been very slow so far but I only have two fifty minute lessons with each class per week and one of those lessons clashes with choir which affects a handful of students. At the beginning of the term, I explained that any work missed due to choir, was not going to be revised in any great depth during the following lessons and if students thought this was going to be too difficult then they would need to think very carefully before deciding to continue with choir. Several of them wisely made the decision to drop choir, but there are still about four from one class and two from the other. I also have to keep reminding myself that my students are only ten years old and that going slowly is VERY important. It is far more important to have comprehensible input than rush to meet the looming deadline of having the entire script completed by the end of term.
My weekly scripts take a small section of the above dialogue and focus on just that part. Here is my teacher script for next week to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
Lesson # seven
Focus Structures: Berapa satu – how much for one (fried rice)
Astaga. Terlalu mahal – OMG, that is too expensive

Good morning students.
I want to go to market. oooh
Who wants to go to market?
That’s right, Bu Cathy wants to go to market.
Where do I want to go?
That’s right, Bu Cathy want to go to market.
At the market, I want to buy fried rice. ooooh
What do I want to buy?
That’s right students, Bu Cathy wants to buy fried rice.
Do I want to buy fried rice or yellow rice?
That’s right students. Bu Cathy wants to buy fried rice.
Why do I want to buy fried rice?
Ss to suggest a reason to which I will rephrase in a complete sentence eg That’s right, I am hungry.
Ask the students, How much for one fried rice? Choose the most ridiculous answer.
One fried rice is one hundred dollars. oooh
How much is the fried rice students?
That’s right, The fried rice is one hundred dollars.
What do you think, is that good or not?
That’s right students, one hundred dollars is too expensive
OMG, that is too expensive.
Where is the rice seller? Choose a student to be the seller and call them to the front.
repeat dialogue:
C Good morning Mrs/Mr
S Good morning. What would you like to buy?
C I would like to buy fried rice. How much for one fried rice?
S one hundred dollars.
C OMG That is too expensive. How about (5) dollars?
S OK. gives fried rice to customer and receives money
C Thank you
S You’re welcome
C/S Goodbye

Repeat this dialogue using hands as puppets a la Senor Howard.


I have found that I need my script to be extremely detailed and also close to hand for when I reach a point and forget what comes next because my mind has gone blank. I learned that the hard way. I also read through the script just before the lessons which luckily are back to back, to have it fresh in my mind as well. If during class, I walk off without my script and backtrack for it, not one student has made a comment. They understand that I am a learner too and need my notes which is lovely.

In the very first lesson, I planned a brain break activity to get students up and moving after sitting and listening for so long and it turned out to be a huge winner. It is so incredibly popular that it is now requested at the start of every lesson by both classes. I wrote on paddle pop sticks either penjual …….. or mau beli ………… ensuring that there is a pair for each item.

The vocabulary for the items is lifted straight from the pasar stalls that classes are each organising for the end of the term. The paddle pop sticks are in a jar and students choose a random stick.

If they are a penjual they sit at a table and wait for a customer and if a customer, sit on the floor and wait till everyone is ready. Customers then have to move around to converse with each seller until they find the seller selling the item they are looking for. Students converse using the dialogue covered earlier in the lesson repetitively. When they find their pair, they complete the dialogue and then the customer chooses either sits on the floor waiting for the others to finish or continues asking other sellers to practise further the structures.
So easy to organise and so much fun. I usually join in if there are left over pop sticks which gives me the perfect way to assess the language of individual students.

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