Part 3. Total Physical Response (TPR) with Young’uns

Martina Bex wrote a terrific post explaining TPR and it is a great place to start – read it here. This post of mine though, will focus specifically on TPR with junior primary students (4 – 7 year old’s). At my amazing current site, I teach junior primary (4-7 year olds) which has been simply divine. Luar Biasa!! With this post, I hope to share the TPR magic used with my JP students and in doing so, begin a compilation of engaging TPR options that have successfully increased my students’ learning outcomes.

TPR is simply ‘learning another language through actions’ (Asher). TPR is based on three understandings; firstly, that language is learned primarily by listening; secondly, that language learning must engage the right hemisphere of the brain; and thirdly, that learning language should not involve any stress (Wikipedia).

While I utilise TPR in every lesson with my junior primary students, it is not pure TPR as created originally by Asher. It is a variation from the many tweaks I’ve made over the years so that it is more compatible with both my teaching style and beneficial for my young learners. Feel free to do this too! I look forward to hearing what works for you in your lessons!!

My previous post outlined how I use class dojo to call the roll which happens at the beginning of each lesson. My expectations for students during the roll is that students will duduk (sit), diam (shush) and dengar (listen). After any sustained focused listening, it is important to follow with an active break with all learners. My current students have only one lesson per week, therefore every single lesson minute is maximised for comprehensible input. TPR is a fun way to get students up and moving while pumping them full of repetitions of target structures. The target structures I choose to use in TPR are critically selected for their usefulness with:

 a. class stories,

b. classroom management and

c. potential student travel to Indonesia.

e.g. running, turn around, vomit, walk, jump, fast/slow, stop, look.

Frequent movement opportunities are vital in JP lessons as most young learners struggle sitting for long. I like to keep this equation in mind when planning: 5 year olds = 5 minutes. I.e. after 5 minutes of sustained focused listening, follow with opportunities to get up and move.

TPR can either have all students in a circle together with the teacher:

or just a few working with the teacher:

Remember – there is no one way to implement TCI, TPRS or TPR. Always tweak ideas to suit both your style of teaching and your student needs. As long as the input is 100% comprehensible and comprehended, your learners will acquire successfully.

Here is a list of ways that I incorporate TPR into my lessons:

Circle TPR – (Shoutout to Ibu Anne)

The structures I always begin with are berjalan kaki, stop (yes, ‘stop’ is English, however it is high frequency in Indonesia) and duduk (sit). My TPR format for JP requires us all to stand and move in a circular direction. In a deskless classroom, we all move in the same direction around the kursi luar biasa but in a room with desks, I allow students to choose their own direction to avoid bottlenecks. Students walk as we chant berjalan kaki. They stop when I say stop and then as a finale, I ask students to duduk. A few lessons later, I add berdansa (dance) and then in the following lesson, putar (turn around) is introduced. I love berdansa purely because it’s a cognate and adds fun! Putar is one of those words that is very useful for classroom management.

Other movement verbs I add gradually include berenang (swim), melompat (jump), berlari (run), jatuh (fall), merayap (crawl). I also will add in other target structure verbs into TPR e.g., makan (eat), minum (drink). All great variations to ramp up story asking with actors too!!

Here is some audio to give you an idea of what it sounds like:

Berjalan, berjalan, berjalan kaki x 2


Berenang x 4

Berjalan, berjalan, berjalan kaki x 2


Berdansa x 4

Berjalan, berjalan, berjalan kaki, x 1



Makan hamburger, makan hamburger, makan hamburger besar, makan hamburger kecil.

Berjalan, berjalan, berjalan kaki x 2



Leading up to this in my lessons, the first PowerPoint slide includes a quirky GIF accompanied by the structure ‘berjalan kaki’:

and the final powerpoint slide looks like this:

New language is introduced before we begin and again, where possible, incorporates a GIF and the structure in writing for emerging readers.

My students absolutely love this. I vary the number of times I say each structure, to ensure it isn’t predictable. If/when students stop participating appropriately, I change to the following.

Gender TPR Instructions

For some teachers, using gender as a way to group learners is maybe potentially troublesome, yet as gender vocabulary in Indonesia is high frequency, I believe it’s inclusion is useful for my students on their familiy holidays in Bali. Although I have yet to teach a JP student with gender identity issues, should that change, catering for all students would remain a high priority and an alternative would be explored.

As you can see from the above PowerPoint slide, there are three instructions. They appear one by one on each PowerPoint slide using ‘animations’ and a presenter clicker. I firstly ask ‘Laki-laki berdiri’ (boys stand up), secondly say Laki-laki + verb (e.g., dance, hop, swim) and then thirdly, ask ‘Laki-laki duduk’ (boys sit down). I then repeat it with the girls who either do exactly as the boys did or do something entirely different depending on the cohort. I used this last week with my 4 year old’s as a change from circle TPR and they loved it. Although a few did ask when we were doing berjalan, berjalan, berjalan kaki (as it is referred to by most students!) The secret is to keep it moving yet with heaps and heaps of repetitions of both the gestures and the language. I even sang a few of the repetitions which was well received! The beauty of having a second group of students repeating the same actions, is the repetition. I intentionally choose the more proficient group to go first to model and also provides opportunities where I can acknowledge student proficiency!

All the Worlds A Stage (ATWAS)

ATWAS works best in the JP context with short stories, super condensed story versions or a single paragraph from a story. I have three ATWAS variations, each of which require students to demonstrate comprehension through movement.

Variation # 1- Using actors to enact the story! I really like introducing the story for the first time this way. It gives me the chance to work one on one with only a few students to monitor their comprehension, reinforce acting ‘rules’ and sensor performances as they act for a highly engaged audience. I begin by asking for actors.

When working with young’uns, it is important to clearly state the expectations before choosing actors every single time! In my spiel, I remind students that I will choose an actor randomly using the sticks to ensure I ask someone who hasn’t yet had a turn. If their name comes up, students need to know that it is highly likely that the audience will laugh at something they say, do or wear, before they accept. If/when a student accepts, I write an ‘A’ on the back of their stick to record it.

KLB = Kursi Luar Biasa, M= mata-mata, A = actor, C= backwards charades

I highly recommend ramping up the experience for both actors and the audience using quirky props including hats, glasses, wigs, masks, clothing etc. I source mine mostly from op shops.

senang sekali!

I choose the actors as they are needed. It slows the telling of the story and also allows me to restart or retell a part of the story for repetition when adding a new character. Coaching the actors also helps to slow storytelling, check for comprehension, repeat sentences and call for acting ideas from the audience. Before telling the story, it is vital that actor and audience ‘rules’ are revisited. The actor can only do or say what I say. If a student repeatedly and deliberately forgets to follow this, I whisper in their ear that I will replace them if it happens again. Usually thisis enough to help them to self regulate and improve their acting skills. Quirky, over the top acting is encouraged as long as it demonstrates comprehension and is appropriate. The audiences’ role is to sit back and enjoy the show, offer positive encouragement and suggestions when asked.

I usually go straight from variation # 1 into variation # 2 as it both provides an opportunity for students to stand up and move after sustained listening while also maximising the story retelling with the story & acting still fresh in their minds.

Variation #2 – Students stand in a circle facing inwards, hands by their side. I explain to students the following: I am going to tell the story again and I want each and everyone to act it out. I also mention that I will be looking for the action that best matches the sentence I say and that there is no speaking or sound effects unless the character says something (this instruction will need constant reminders). I then say the first sentence which is usually, “Ada perempuan.’ (there’s a girl) or “Ada laki-laki.” (There is a boy). I repeat the sentence slowly numerous times while looking around the circle. When I see a student doing an action that clearly and imaginatively demonstrates what I have just said, I congratulate the student by name to encourage the class to look at what they are doing. I also like to acknowledge there are many ways to act out each sentence, so will try to acknowledge other creative students when appropriate. Also, it’s important to add comprehension checks, especially when it is clear that there are students who need it and/or to celebrate individual student proficiency. Repeat this for each line of the story.

Variation # 3 – In the next lesson, we do another version of ATWAS.  This version can take quite a large portion of the lesson, especially the first time. As there is a mixture of both focused listening and actions, students rarely lose interest. It begins with students choosing a partner and I like to clearly demonstrate how this is done each time to avoid hurt feelings. 

I like to demo this process in English with a student who has a good sense of humour. Cari satu teman means ‘find a friend’ and to do that, we walk towards someone who is standing up. We then ask that person, “Would you like to be my friend?” and they will answer with either ‘yes please’ or ‘no thank you’. If they say, “yes please.”, you both sit down and wait. If they say no thank you, then the answer is, “no worries.” This continues until there are only two people standing. They look at each other and sit down as they automatically become partners. This last point is super important to clarify with young’uns as several enjoy saying no and then are upset when they are with a person not of their choosing! The class then stands and begins. If there is a student left over, I ask them if they would like to be my friend and they then help me demo the next step. This inevitably turns their frown upside down!

The next PowerPoint slide prompts determining who will be which story character:

Siapa buaya? Siapa Emma?

A demo of this step is again super important. I begin by looking at my friend/partner and ask them which character they would like to be. They usually answer with Buaya, to which I say, “No problem! I’ll be Elsa and you will be Buaya”. Then I explain that we are going to do a second demo. This demo is OTT but the kids love it and so far, has ensured the majority of pairs are happy with the outcome. I again ask my friend who would they like to be. No matter who they say, I sob and say with a sad, croaky voice, “OHHHH, I wanted to be Buaya/Elsa!” After they recover from my reaction, they usually reassure me, “OK, you can be Buaya!” To which, I thank them profusely for their kindness before suggesting, “How about I am buaya the first time we act out the story and you can be buaya the second time we act out the story?” Thus clarifying with the class that we will do this twice. They will each get their choice of character eventually as well as listening to the story twice!! Input for the win!

From this point, the lesson returns to Indonesian. Students then look at their partner (lihat teman), decide who is who for the first round. When it looks like the decisions have finished, I say, Elsa berdiri (Stand up Elsa). I check that there is an Elsa for each pair. Then I say, Elsa duduk (Elsa sit down). I repeat this for buaya.To begin the story, I again ask, Elsa berdiri and the fun begins. After the story is finished, I ask the class to again duduk (sit). In English, I remind students that we are now going to swap character roles. They look at their friend and ask them if they want to swap roles. Here I state clearly that if one of the pairs wants a change, both must change. I then repeat the process exactly as outlined earlier, however add a twist with the final line of the story. Instead of buaya makan Elsa (crocodile eats Elsa), I swap it so that Elsa makan buaya (Elsa eats crocodile). I love this twist as you will observe immediately who are the fast processors!!  I again acknowledge the students who acted out the twist correctly. I repeat the line and do a comprehension check. Then the pairs act the final sentence again! What a hoot! Have you noticed that the first two steps of this ATWAS style are conducted in English? I am a big believer in using English to explain classroom procedures. It both ensures greater levels of understanding, makes it so much more quicker to explain so that we can start the activity asap and reduces student anxiety through incomprehension.

Bu Cathy Berkata (Simon says)

A classic TPR activity but not one I use very often. Students love it though. I am not a fan of games where students get out and then sit out. Instead I prefer to tweak games like this so that instead of focusing on who got it wrong, flip it and focus on students who were successful and couldn’t be tricked!

Circle TPR

– ‘Siapa Punya Strawberi’ (Who has the strawberry?) is a game I did at the beginning of this year and was often requested throughout the year. I like it because there is a focus on a particular structure which in this case is, “Siapa punya?” The class sits in a circle with one student in the middle hiding their eyes. I prefer that the student kneels with their face down, eyes closed and their two hands over their eyes. I then walk around the circle saying siapa punya, siapa punya, siapa punya stroberi? While handing out 3 strawberries to 3 different students. The three students hide the plastic strawberries either under their legs, in a pocket or behind their back. I then ask the student in the centre to ‘berdiri’ (stand up). They then approach 3 different students one by one, asking each, “John punya stroberi?” to which ‘John’ either answers, “tidak punya” and shows their empty hands or “punya” and surrenders the strawberry. The ‘winner’ is the student who found the most strawberries after their three goes, if having a winner is important.

Duck, Duck, Goose – not one I do often but still worth adding to the list. I like this this game for noun repetitions e.g. laki-laki/ perempuan, ibu/bapak etc.

‘Kasih’ (give) (Shoutout to Catharina for this one!) – Students all stand in a circle with one student in the middle holding a hardy soft toy. The teacher calls out to the student in the middle, “Kasih John” (give it to John) and the student heads over to give John the toy before John repeats the phrase substituting his name with a class mates. This game is extremely popular and can get very loud very quickly as the object of the game is counterintuitive. In this game you do NOT want the toy! It’s a good idea to introduce the game with walking to give students time to adapt to NOT wanting the toy! The round finishes when John gently touches the stomach/shoulder of the student whose name was said last before they say, “Kasih …….” To minimise the shenanigans that go along with requesting turns, I recommend that the next person in the middle will be the person on my right and then turns will continue person by person going anticlockwise around the circle.

Mari Buat Lingkaran (lets make a circle)

This video is one that perfectly combines movement and output through lyrics that are repetitious and limited. Be warned though, the song can easily become an ear worm after playing to back to back classes.

Other TPR ideas: There is a fine line between brain breaks and TPR – but for me, they can be both when the vocabulary required is limited to 2-3 words. Brain breaks that require either unfamiliar Indonesian or only English cannot be considered as TPR.  Here are a few that I’ve used.

Tepuk Tangan – Typical TPR structure that I have blogged about previously.

Three levels/Three Structures – I have no idea what this activity is called but, in my head, I refer to it as ‘3 levels/3 structures’ because it works best with three structures represented by three frozen body poses; one standing, one lying down and one either sitting or in the crawl position. For example, buaya – lying stretched out on the ground, kancil – on hands and knees & kafe – sitting on an imaginary chair drinking tea. To play the game, the teacher calls out one of the three structures and students get into the pose for that word. This is a terrific TPR game for students with lots of energy as it wears them out very quickly.

Team TPR is similar to three levels but instead the students are in small teams of 3-4. I haven’t tried this with 4 or 5 year old’s, however it worked well with 6-7 year old’s. Firstly, identify three structures from the story, then create a totally different and quirky frozen tableau for each to represent meaning. Using the structures kafe, buaya and berlari from the Elsa dan Buaya story, ‘kafe’ (cafe) could have one student kneeling on hands and knees to represent a table with the rest of their team ‘sitting’ around the table drinking tea (a flat hand to represent the saucer and the other hand up to the mouth with the pinkie outstretched), ‘Buaya’ could be represented by the entire team lying down side by side with arms open for crocodile mouths, and ‘berlari’ could have all but one student running and looking backwards with looks of amazement while the final student is crouching in the start position for a running race. Quirky poses increase engagement.An important difference between this game and the one above is that I am looking for the first entire team frozen in the pose with all aspects of the pose incorporated. If students wish to compete, points can be wawarded to teams that achieve this. Here is a photo from last year of a group of year 4’s participating in this:

Wii Fit – this one comes directly from La Maestra Loca. It’s perfect for targeting berlari, melompat, stop/berhenti.


Hopefully there is something here in this post that you can use in your teaching. I plan to continue adding to this compilation over the next 12 months. If you too have contributions or suggestions, please, please add them in the comments or contact me directly. There are not many posts specifically about TPR for the JP cohort, thus I will truly appreciate your input!!

Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Students – Part 1: Classroom Management

This poster underpins my classroom management system and I gratefully acknowledge the wonderful Annie Beach for her brilliant illustrations. These three verbs, I believe, are structures that successfully guide all students to become successful language learners. They are thus, a great place to start with preliterate learners and right from the start, help the teacher work towards staying in the target language during lessons.

I introduce the above poster during the very first Indonesian lesson and the language is reviewed every lesson. To facilitate acquisition, the structures are introduced both orally and with hand gestures e.g. duduk = two hands palm down pushing down towards the ground, diam = pointer finger in front of the mouth & dengar = hand cupped behind an ear. Movement opportunities for young preliterate students are beneficial for both acquisition and engagement. Engagement is vital for successful learning.

Initially, I put no demands on student expectations beyond duduk, diam, dengar. However once calling out in English needs to be addressed, I introduce the structures, ‘nakal’ and ‘pandai’. The following three slides demonstrate how I introduced my behaviour management system this year.

nakal/pandai = clever/naughty

satu stick = one stick
count the points

The first two slides are placed at the beginning of each lesson whereas the third is almost at the end and becomes the final task we do before singing sampai jumpa (goodbye) to each other. I have blogged about this system several times previously, so hopefully I won’t repeat myself too much. This post is a good one, however I no longer finish with the treasure box. I originally chose the structures nakal/pandai as they fit so well into the stories included in my scope and sequence. However, times have changed and while I’d feel extremely uncomfortable using the words clever/naughty in an English context, I have kept nakal/pandai because they are just so typically Indonesian. I have though, recently changed the images to represent nakal/pandai. I feel that having monkeys adds humour, continues the monkey theme Bu Annie created and also avoids gender/cultural stereotyping. I haven’t and don’t translate the word ‘stick’ because it is such low frequency and reflecting upon my travels throughout Indonesia, cannot ever remember needing the word paddle pop stick!! Again, I introduce the new structures of nakal/pandai with gestures (pandai = tapping the side of the head with the pointer finger & nakal is the age old pointer finger going up and down with a frown) and then starting from the following lesson, the two structures are reviewed frequently during Kursi Luar Biasa (KLB); see here. The second slide early in first term, includes only the structures students have acquired to that point ie ‘satu’ (one). As soon as ‘mau’ (want) has been introduced, I add it to the slide. All written language on the PowerPoint slides is kept to a minimum and always includes a pictorial comprehension clue to support developing literacy skills.

As mentioned an earlier post, each class has a bundle of paddlepop sticks with a student’s name written on each. I now choose a different colour for each class to make it easier to reunite missing sticks to their correct bundle. From the container of paddlepop sticks, I select one stick, checking firstly that student is not absent. It is then stuck to the board near the two magnetic laminated mini posters of nakal & pandai with bluetak ensuring the students name facing the board awaiting the reveal at the end of the lesson.

Locating the stick together with the mini nakal/pandai posters is important. I am finding that each year, I face increasing numbers of young learners with minimal self-regulation skills. I am a strong advocate for the Zones of Regulation program which brilliantly helps students identify and regulate their emotions and also explicitly equips them with skills to self-regulate. Conversations about self-regulation in my lessons always occur in English not just because young students do not have the target language necessary, but also to ensure the conversation is succinct and comprehended. Lesson time is precious and my goal remains to maximise target language input opportunities within the constraints of working with each cohort.

The finale of my classroom behaviour system has so many benefits I barely know where to start! We still count the trallied points (see above) together. This process has been incredibly helpful for students developing strong knowledge and understanding of the Indonesian number system, including noticing that an Indonesian 7 is written differently to an Australian 7. Counting the points is hands down better than a number worksheet! Eventually with time and more stories, other structures can be incorporated into the counting routine eg big/small, which one, how many, biggest/smallest etc.
Once we’ve counted both tally sets, my spiel goes like this: 
Bu Cathy mau lihat stick (Bu Cathy wants to look at the stick)
Siapa? (Who is it?)
Class then suggests a students name. If incorrect, I negate saying, “Bukan Bob!” thus providing input on negating nouns in Indonesian. If the lesson is short of time, I add a clue e.g. laki-laki/perempuan (boy/girl). Now some students are asking me this!! Woohoo.
When the students’ name is guessed, I ask that student, “Mau duduk di kursi Luar Biasa?” (Would you like to sit in the awesome chair?) and will work towards the answer, “Mau/tidak mau” but also accept ya/tidak. I very rarely insist students participate in lesson tasks, so if a student declines, I assure them in English that it’s totally ok however I will ask them again during the year because they may change their mind!! I then choose another stick. Engagement and participation are not mutually compatible. The most important aspect is always input; not output! I really love, love, love that the ‘reward’ for a greater number of pandai points offers an experience rather than an object.
However, it also needs to be added, that if there are more nakal points, the stick goes back into bundle, and no-one knows whose stick it was. The follow-on consequence of this depends on the class. If they really need a consequence to emphasise my expectations to duduk, diam, dengar, then no-one sits in the chair the following week and instead, I invite an adult to sit in it instead! I love this as it gives the adult the opportunity to demonstrate how much Indonesian they have acquired!! Conversely, if the adult is new to our lessons, it then gives the students the opportunity to impress the adult by translating my questions!! Win/win! An alternative to this, is offering the current person a bonus week sitting in the kursi luar biasa! No-one has yet refused this!! Kwk, kwk

Wrangling – Teaching Preliterate Learners


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
  • Egocentric

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!!

Create Awesome GIF’s of your Pet!

Searching today for a GIF that is both appropriate for my young learner cohort and engaging, I had a sudden inspiration to google how to create my own. Turns out, I can make them easily on my iphone!! No app required! I discovered the increased level of engagement last week through a recent my talking pet video creation of my daughters’ cat singing.

Students were thrilled to discover that it was actually ‘my’ cat and not just a cat image available through the My Talking Pet app. Generated a lot of interest! Thus, to capitalise on this, I created a GIF of Lelo and it was so easy, I am inspired to share with you how I did it!! I am sure this can be done on android phones too!!

Here is a video of explaining how to do it!

It was so straightforward!!

I did notice though, that when I imported the GIF into my powerpoint, the loop feature was disabled but it was easy to fix that. In playback, I clicked on the ‘loop until stopped’ box.

2021 Reflection

Going through the Indonesian iPad yesterday before handing it back brought back so many memories of my year at KAS. I’d really like to share a few with you!

In first term, I did the ‘Murid Nakal’ story with middle primary. I absolutely love this story – great for acting and also perfect for reviewing behaviour management structures in the target language! I did change the ending this year because being at a new school and not knowing the staff or community, wanted to avoid recrimination for using a story that includes smacking! My 2021 version changed the hitting to push ups which worked but was nowhere near as funny! Here are some pictures of a lesson where we used Martina’s freeze frame idea.

In term 2, the next story middle primary did was the Tutup Pintu story. The students absolutely loved acting with the wigs my daughter gave me. Acting out the story is enjoyable as it not only provides the students with the opportunity to create their own class version but also gives the more outgoing students a chance to be outrageous which is extremely entertaining. In fact, being entertaining is one of my criteria that any student auditioning must demonstrate. Other criteria include following the storyline exactly as it is determined by the class and only speaking when your character has a line. Here are some of my amazing actors:

Year 6/7 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 5/6 Movie Talk – Hadiah

Year 4/5 Tutup Mulut

Year 3/4 Tutup Mulut
Year 2/3 Tutup Mulut

Kursi Luar Biasa

All year levels love KLB! I’ve particularly had success this year with JP classes. It is the perfect vehicle to spotlight one student with quirky questions using target structures. This term they did Catharina’s Ular story, so I enjoyed asking students ‘mau’ sentences incorporating ‘ular’ , ‘atau’ and alternatives based on previous story structures or cognates. I have two snake props, so students could choose between ular besar dan ular cobra! Another question that worked this term was introducing the concept of sarong. This provided discussion about the difference between sarongs for males/females. To begin, I just asked if students , “Mau pakai sarong laki-laki atau sarong perempuan?” After a few weeks, I added the question, “Mau pakai sarong ungu atau sarong kuning?” Great way to limited colours in a meaningful way. I then added the alternative of glasses. “Mau pakai sarong atau kaca mata?” While ‘kaca mata’ is not a cognate, I chose it because not only do I have a selection of different colours but as someone who was embarrassed to wear my glasses at school, I love ways to connect with those students who also wear them!! In the last photo, you’ll notice a Foundation student wearing a sarong and a pair of glasses. He answered my question with, “sarong DAN kaca mata!!” I was thrilled!!

Two Great Brain Break Videos

During a recent PLC meeting, the wonderful Ibu Karen shared these two YouTube videos. My students adored them from the start, so I want to share them with you too, ready for term 4.

I have used this video with my two junior primary classes and they were singing along with it right from the start. I love how it gets reps on the structure ‘lingkaran’ (circle), numbers and besar/kecil (big/small). Be warned, if you play this song at the end of your lessons (highly recommend that you do), you will hear it go down the corridor as it is definitely an earworm tune.

The second video is a brilliant brain break. This link is for a Learning station song video called Ram Sam Sam which apparently was originally an Arabic song/rhyme from Morocco. I encourage you to initially play this video to your students without saying anything at all and I bet they can not help jumping up and joining in!! It is very challenging both mentally and physically.

Post script

Forgot to add this tip also shared with the PLC by Bu Karen. When using YouTube links in class, look at the link in the search bar. Between the word watch and the ?


_popup (one word)

and magically there will be no ads!

Here is the video with complete details. Credit to this YouTuber for the brilliant hack:

Charlala Plans for Term 4

Term 4, in my opinion, is the hands down best term for trialling, building &/ or tweaking new skills. I am planning to delve again into One Word Images (OWI) next term as well as explore the platform `Charlala‘. I’ve done a few `OWI’s’ and while it was hugely successful, classes didn’t get beyond creating characters. My two goal’s next term are to have at least one class create a story based around their OWI and the other is to explore Charlala. 🤞🤞 Both should be lots of fun and seemingly will compliment each other perfectly during the term 4 slide to summer holidays.

I first explored Charlala last year when it looked like we were heading into the intital lockdown. It had been one of the many potentional platform suggestions recommended for remote learning by the wonderful Senora Ana. In the rush to prepare for online teaching, there was nowhere near enough time to explore it fully and it was thus soon relegated to the “not now” pile! With immaculate timing, Senora Ana shared the video link (see below) in time for term 4.

What fabulous scope the platform Charlala appears to have!! The video below demonstrates how perfect Charlala is for a TCI classroom!! I am so inspired and can’t wait to use it. It is essentially a pictionary style platform where students demonstrate comprehension through illustrations on a digital whiteboard. Input can be delivered face to face, synchronously or asynchronously. The beauty of it being asynchronous is the potential for creating relief teacher lessons for all year levels.

Here are a few notes that I took while watching the video:

  1. Charlala offers the opportunity to create more discussion around ‘Apa kabar?’ (How are you?). I really enjoy encouraging students to create wacky stories around student absences.
  2. I am betting that as all drawings are projected up onto the white board, it will increase student accountability and effort. I have also discovered that students who are disengaged during written tasks, often have impressive drawing skills and it is brilliant to be able to celebrate this.
  3. Teachers can project/narrate sentences from a text for students to illustrate. The images created by students can be used for circling, voting (which illustration best captures meaning) or saved for future purposes!
  4. The saved (and copyright free) images could be used in many, many ways. To support learners write retells, sequencing events in the story, matching text and illustrations, creating relief lessons…
  5. There is the option to add audio to tasks – great for relief lessons!
  6. I need to determine compatibility with iPads as that is the 1:1 device available at my current site.
  7. Student login appears easy for entering the drawing room and is done through a join code.

I have just emailed Chris Hammer (Charlala creator and developer) to ask a few questions about student accounts and its compatibility with iPads.

As a primary school language teacher, I believe that many of my students are too young to create accounts using email addresses and passwords. I like the idea of join codes but do not feel comfortable asking students to create personal accounts and create passwords. Do you feel the same?

I felt it was unclear in the video whether Charlala works fully on iPads so look forward to having that cleared up.

Have you used Charlala?

Please add a comment about your experiences and/or opinions!!

I am particularly interested in hearing if you have used Charlala in a face to face classroom recently, can recommend the platform and/or happy to share any tips/ideas that worked for you!

Here’s the video – enjoy!


Yesterday, Senora Ana & I were exploring this platform together and it was so much fun! Anne used Charlala during lockdowns so it was great to explore some of her texts through the 2.0 update. We had a few questions as a result of our explorations and emailed Chris Hammer with them and there was an response waiting in our email inbox this morning! HIs support is awesome. Anyhoo, the upshot is that Chris added Indonesian to the language bank which is brilliant and removed the word ‘term’ which confusingly, was situated right in front of the text students read! For a beginner Spanish speaker, the unfamiliar ‘term’ elevated my affective filter as I did not recognise it. All I could think was, “How is this pronounced in Spanish!” Crazy how the brain fixates on incomprehensible text!

Bail Outs – when life is just too hard….

A ‘Bail Out’ is an American term for a particular type of lesson neccesary for either (or both) the teacher or students. It is usually neccessary to overcome craziness – either personal or professional- and to keep you going until life gets back on track. This year, at a new school where most days present challenges, I have often started a lesson and realised that my lesson plan is about to fail bigtime. Unfortunately for me, while I recognise that I need to think of a quick circuit breaker, my mind goes blank! This post will hopefully help both you and future me!!


A brilliant way to potentially regain calm and is largely prep free is dictation. There are many different versions of dictation and the success of each one will inevitably depend on your context. Mine being a new school with students I am still getting to know, means I need bail outs that require students to be seated and working independently. For this reason, running dictation is not included here but read HERE to learn more about how I’ve done it successfully in the past.
Here are some dictation variations that, depending on your needs, may have some value. They have been sourced from a variety of places including:,,,

Scaffolded dictation

This simple variation of dictation adds a further puzzle-solving element students may appreciate.
1. Supply all consonants, but no vowels, or vice versa.
2. Provide a gapped version omitting chosen grammatical points such as verbs or prepositions.
3. Provide a translation; give students a translation in L1 of the text you read.

False facts dictation

1. Dictate some sentences, each one containing a false fact. The sentences could relate to general knowledge or something recently studied in class.
2. Students transcribe and try to underline where they think the error is.
3. Display the sentences and ask students what the factual problem was in each case.

Dictation with Substitution

  • 1. Replace structures with a humorous sounding cognate alternative such as orangutan, komputer.
  • 2. After/during the dictation, students try to determine what the substituted word should be.


Read a short text to the students at normal speed. The first time students should just listen.
Then read the text a second time and allow the students to take notes.
Now in pairs have them try to reconstruct the text from their memory and notes.
When they have done what they can, read the text a third time and allow them to take further notes and make corrections.
Next, divide the students into teams of four and work together to come up with the complete text. When the teams have reconstructed the text, have them write their sentences on the board. Award one point for each correct sentence. The team with the most points wins.

Match the Picture

Give students a sheet of paper with illustrations and photographs, and then dictate the sentence from the text for each picture.  The students write the correct caption next to each picture.

Jigsaw dictation

Dictate a paragraph in the usual way, but with the sentences out of order.
After transcribing what they hear, students re-order the sentences.

Finish the sentence

Read open ended sentences to students who complete them with information about themselves.
eg nama saya, saya tinggal di, saya di kelas, saya suka makan, saya suka bermain

Picture Dictation

Write comprehensible sentences about an image. Students firstly write down the sentence and then secondly create a illustration to match the text.

Have you tried any dictiation variations successfully that I haven’t included? I would love to add them to the page I have created for easy referral!! See in the header of my blog.

Exploring Culture Numerically

Nellie Hughes is a genius! She is also a truly lovely person and I know this because as an ‘apprentice’ coach at the 2018 iFLT conference, I was fortuntate to work with both her and Gary DiBianca! A truly memorable experience.

Nelly Hughes is also generous. Not only has she developed a highly engaging game based around cultural number facts, she has also generously permitted me to share my experience using it in the Indonesian classroom. I initially read about this game on Martina Bex’s website. I immediately knew it had potential for our Indonesian context and her tab remained opened on my laptop as I considered it. Then I picked up a horrible bug and suddenly Nelly’s game became a viable option for two relief lessons conducted, as usual, by a monolingual relief teacher. My first quiz was based on Indonesian geography and the second on agricultural animals in Indonesia. I received little specific feedback about the games beyond that the students enjoyed it and that playing it was confusing the first time. So last week, I decided to give it a go myself. Not only was this game suitable for a TRT, but it is also be a great idea for end of term!!

Here is how I went about it:

The first thing to do is choose a topic. The topic can be directly taken from ACARA e.g. Ramadan, Hari Raya Nyepi (ACARA Yr. 7/8), leisure activities e.g. takraw, bulu tangkis or environment e.g. hutan, gunung api (ACARA Yr. 5/6). The topic I chose was orangutan.

Once the topic is established, the next task is to create a bank of berapa (how many/how much) questions. My questions and answers were:

  • How many species of orangutan are there? 3
  • In the wild, how many years do orangutan live for? 50
  • Fully grown female orangutan stand how tall (in cm)? 100cm
  • Baby orangutan stay with their mother for how many years on average? 10 years
  • How many orangutan are left in Sumatra? 13,846
  • How many orangutan are left in Borneo? 104,700
  • How many Tapanuli orangutan are left? 800
  • In what year were the Tapanuli species identified? (different to the orangutan from North Sumatra and Borneo) 2017
  • How long is the gestation period for orangutan? 8.5 months
  • How many babies on average does a female orangutan have in her lifetime? 3
  • How many orangutan are killed every year? 2,500
  • When is Puspa’s birthday (the female orangutan at the Adelaide zoo)? 30 April (1975)

I sourced these facts from various websites and where numbers differed, I chose the one that seemed to be the most up to date. As you can guess, the answers to each fact invited discussion and inevitably there was at least one student who initiated it.

Creating the questions and answers is the hardest part of this game! From there, it gets so much easier!

Students firstly need to be put into groups. The number of groups depends on an important factor; the number of different coloured white board markers you have. Ideally groups of 4 students work the best as then everyone has a job, but it’s not a deal breaker if you can’t. I recommend using class dojo for creating groups as there is a feature that allows you to specify which students not to group together! To find it, follow these steps: Open Toolkit (bottom left), Open Group Maker then open the blue link “Don’t group together’. (See below). Here you can create multiple groups of students who are not to be in the same group. For me, this really helps with behaviour management because I can guarantee certain ratbags are separated which helps balance their leverage within group decisions.

Once the groups are in the EEKK position (sitting in a circle – eye to eye and knee to knee) explain there are 4 student jobs within their groups. I explained the jobs as we played the first round and left it up to groups to assign the jobs.

The first job is writer. Once allocated, I invited the writer to come to the front of the room and take one small white board, a white board marker and a mini duster.

Then the game begins….

Explain that the answers to all of the questions are numbers and that teams work together to decide on their answer which the writer will write on the white board in large numbers. When the number is written, the writer will hand the board to the walker, the second job holder. At this point, I asked the first question. It is important that groups decide quickly on the answer – thirty seconds is more than enough. All the boards are then placed side by side in front of a whiteboard. The boards simply need to be standing up side by side where all students can see them.

The writer next gives the marker to the ‘tukang simbol’ (the student who is confident drawing a triangle and an asterix) who after discussing with their group, will draw a triangle above the number that represents the groups best guess of the right answer and an asterix above the board that is their groups second guess. If supremely confident, teams can put both symbols above the same board.

When all teams are seated and listening, read out the question again and its answer.

Finally is the awarding of points and introducing the final job. Before announcing team points, the tukang simbol hands the tukang skor -scorer – (final job) the marker who will add the team points to the score board as the teacher announces them. For this, I allocated team names based on the colour of their marker to save time but choosing team names could also be built into future games! It is in the awarding of points that you will recognise the genius of different coloured markers!

Here is how I awarded points:

3 points to the teams who guessed the exact answer
1 point to the teams who guessed closest to the correct answer without going over.
1 point to each team with an asterix above the correct answer
2 points to each team with a triangle above the correct answer.

Board showing symbols and scores after two rounds with the year 2/3 class.


I played this entirely in English. This was deliberate to ensure the game worked and allowed me to consolidate the rules and equipment for students so that if I set it for another relief day, students can support the relief teacher. I began experimenting with creating a powerpoint to support the game and to explore the Indonesian vocabulary necessary to play it. The beauty of this is that images and info can be included to supplement discussions about aspects of the topic. For example, the first slide for the orangutan topic could include images of the three different species of orangutan to illustrate their similarities ad differences.

The game itself took quite a bit more time than I expected to explain the roles and the rules. This meant that classes rarely moved beyond two rounds. Thus I recommend making it the main part of your lesson the first time you introduce this to classes. It would be a fabulous lesson for week 10!!

I trialled it with year 2/3’s to year 8’s and all classes thoroughly enjoyed it.

Colleagial Sharing

Last week, I was again delighted to have a colleague travel all the way to my new school location for observations and sharing. Now that I live in a small rural community two and a half hours from Adelaide, collegial visits are even more appreciated. Fortunately within the school district are three Indonesian CI teachers, two of whom are teaching and one enjoying maternity leave, however the distances between us range from 5 mins to two and a half hours!!

Bu Heather spent Friday in my classroom last week. Friday is a great day for visitors as I teach a full day of Receptions  to year 7’s however it is also the one day in my working week that I have no non-contact, two yard duties and my year 2/3 lesson is held in an adjacent classroom to allow the online instrumental music program access to the required hardware currently situated in the Indonesian language room.

During the day, Bu Heather kindly offered to share a couple of her favourite activities; one a brain break and the other a post story activity.

The brain break is called Ayam Karet and is based on a choir warm up. This link shows you a very conservative version and I am truly regretting not recording Bu Heather’s version which is significantly more engaging. The voice she demonstrated was a squeaky one with a specific mouth formation which the students adored echoing! The finale of the brain break involves everyone together saying ‘ayam karet’ while wiggling low to the ground before making chook wings with arms and then clucking like a chicken to the standing position. As Heather pointed out (and students later demonstrated) this brain break is awesome but needs a prearranged signal to bring everyone back to their seats quietly. For getting students warmed up with a smile on their faces, this brain break is a winner!

The post story activity that Bu Heather demonstrated is called ‘diatas kepala’ (on top of your head). It involves students drawing/illustrating either a structure or sentence on a whiteboard placed on top of their head. My students absolutely loved the challenge of this activity and enjoyed sharing their efforts with friends. It truly was extremely engaging and has heaps of potential. It has been blogged about before by Cynthia Hitz and Martina Bex!!

I was truly grateful for the breaks Bu Heather gave me as I was struggling to find my mojo all day. I discovered the reason for this early the following day when I was hit with a sledgehammer of a bug targeting my throat.  I hope I don’t lose my voice! Fingers crossed Bu Heather didn’t take it home with her!