I thoroughly enjoy teaching junior primary! Teaching young learners Indonesian is enjoyable for numerous reasons including that they
– are highly motivated and engaged
– are keen volunteers
– are super inclusive and mutually supportive of each other
– adore anything wacky and quirky
– are not hormonal
– believe their teachers are superstars
– frequently mention how much they love learning Indonesian
Conversely though, as a TCI teacher, this would have to be one of the most challenging cohorts to work with. Especially if you are a teacher who is just beginning to explore using TCI or TPRS. There is almost nothing available commercially or professionally, to either guide or support you on this journey unless you teach Spanish. Tweaking content written for older students doesn’t organically transition smoothly to a JP classroom context. Teaching pre-literate (emerging literacy skills) learners is a whole new ball game. I would like to give a special shout out here to Amy Roe, creator of the ‘Storytellers Corner’ , and to Maestra Anna (aka Bu Anne ). While both are Spanish teachers (Anne also teaches Indonesian), they are both extremely approachable and I highly recommend reaching out to either or both if you like their resources but don’t teach Spanish.
However, finding appropriate resources is only one aspect of the challenging nature of working with preliterate students. Here are some of the other challenges:
- Extremely short attention span
- Inability to focus for more than 5-10 minutes
- Emerging literacy skills – most are preliterate
- Developing self-regulation skills
- Developing understanding of personal space
My JP lessons now are taught via PowerPoints. I will admit though, that the initial ones took hours to create but eventually it became easier. Once a successful master has been created, each consecutive PowerPoint only requires slight tweaking. At the end of each story, PowerPoints can be easily saved till the next time that story is taught.
I began using PowerPoints after attending the ‘1000 Words; Using Picture Talk’ online workshop with Amy Roe. I immediately realised the huge advantages for using PowerPoints. Initially, it was to ensure lesson content was delivered consistently across like year levels. I found that when stressed and/or exhausted, I skipped parts of my written plan. Using PowerPoints stopped this in its tracks! Now if I skip something, it is intentional. Other advantages include being able to embed images and videos onto slides, removing the need to turn my back and all that potentially follows. If you are tempted to try using PowerPoints, I highly recommend investing in a wireless presenter so you can progress slides from anywhere in the classroom!
To overcome challenges while maximising the benefits, my PowerPoints aim to:
– limit the amount of text on slides,
– limit the number of target structures,
-maximise opportunities wherever possible to get repetitions of past and present target structures,
-balance the ‘up/down’ (see below) and
-include frequent movement opportunities.
Managing the input of L2 (Indonesiann for me) as well as the output of energy can extremely challenging with preliterate learners. Successful acquisition for preliterate learners requires very short engaging activities that are ’up/down’ in nature. ‘Down’- that which requires students to ‘duduk, diam, dengar’ (sit, shush, listen) and sandwiched between the ‘up’ that which is basically anything that gets learners standing up and moving around.
In building up this collection of pre-literate active input ideas, I am particularly grateful to Catharina G. As a long-time teacher of pre-literates, she has a wealth of knowledge and experience which she has shared generously in her role as my mentor and for that, I will be forever grateful to Ben Slavic for introducing us!
In upcoming posts, I plan to explain my teaching through the slides of a recent kindergarten (5-year-old) PowerPoint. I have broken this lesson into several posts to ensure I can comprehensively cover each aspect as well as emphasise the importance of limiting the judicious selection of structures for both current and future classroom management and stories.
Upcoming posts will cover:
Part One – Classroom Management
Part Two – Mengabsen using Class Dojo
Part Three – TPR
Part Four – Target Structure Review Activities
Part Five – Target Structure Introduction Activities
Part Six – Brain Breaks
If you can think of a topic that you would also like me to include, please comment below!!
One thought on “Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Learners”
So interesting to read… sometimes I wish I was still teaching 😅
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