Reading With Pre-literate Students

After watching Carol Gaab, I tried something new with my junior primary students this week that I would like to share with you.

Last week with my younger students, I started the Carol Gaab story that Bu Anne posted about on her blog. I have tweaked it slightly to minimize the amount of new vocabulary. Instead of a harimau (tiger) I have a buaya (crocodile) because most students know buaya from our kancil and buaya unit last year. I also believe that tree, mountain  (&?) are very low frequency nouns in a classroom, so I changed it to Horseshoe Bay, sekolah (school) & kelas (class).

My version goes like this:

Buaya lihat Elsa

Buaya lapar.

Buaya mau makan Elsa.

Elsa berlari ke Port Elliot.

Buaya berlari ke Port Elliot.

Elsa berlari ke sekolah.

Buaya berlari ke sekolah.

Elsa berlari ke kelas.

Buaya berlari ke kelas.

Buaya makan Elsa.

To support this story and its new target structures of ‘buaya’ (crocodile) & ‘berlari’ (run), I searched for a well known rhyme that I could adapt. Browsing on Pinterest I found the 5 Little Monkeys rhyme! This not only provided me with the perfect vehicle for ‘berlari’ & ‘buaya’ but also gave me the opportunity to introduce ‘jatuh’ (fall) & ‘menangis’ (cry). Here it is:

Lima buaya berlari di kelas.

Satu jatuh dan menangis.

Bu Cathy berkata, “Kasihan!”

Tidak pandai berlari di kelas.

Thinking back on our conversations with Catharina, the various posts I’ve read & my recent talks with Bu Anne, I liked the idea of introducing jatuh & menangis which we hear often in the junior primary classroom, especially after recess & lunch!

On Monday, I began introducing the rhyme but students weren’t particularly engaged and I considered disregarding the whole thing but yesterday morning as I turned on my computer at school, I remembered something I had seen Carol Gaab do. She had replaced the words of the story with illustrations. I immediately did the same using clipart images. Not only did it look more appealing to me, but it did for my students as well.

buaya 1

buaya 2

Then when I added acting into the equation, I was blown away with the increased level of student engagement. I firstly trialled the idea with a reception class, most of whom are pre-literate. They loved it and all read along with me! I then asked them to ‘cari empat teman dan duduk’ (find 4 friends & sit) doing a comprehension check firstly that they understood that you + four friends = groups of 5 and then they acted it out in their groups. Sharons ‘mata-mata’ (spotter) concept was brilliant here because invariably there were a few students above the multiple of 5. They went from feeling rejected to feeling very special when I asked them to be my mata mata! At the end of each acting of either the first half of the rhyme or the entire rhyme, each mata mata could choose a new mata mata and swap with that person.

One more point I’d like to add is that of hand gestures. Our PLC members work at schools that are not particularly far from each other and we have a few students moving between our schools for various reasons. We have discussed several times how much smoother the transition would be for those students if our had gestures were similar. One idea that appeals to us all is the use of AusLan or ASL. When looking for gestures for sekolah, kelas, menangis & jatuh, I investigated several websites. I believe that all gestures mustache  be meaningful as they are clues which help students comprehend. The sekolah and kelas AUSLan & ASL signs were not useful at all.

So I asked students and we made up our own for sekolah & kelas. However I found great ones for jatuh and menangis.

Observations of a TPRS Colleague

Teachers at my site are encouraged to observe colleagues. Working in a department of 1, there is no one at my school who I can observe meaningfully. Classroom teachers are given a morning for observation and an afternoon for discussion.

So with delight, I accompanied Ibu Anne to Victor Primary R-7,  via Kleinigs Hill,

to spend a day in Ibu Sharon’s classroom last Thursday for my yearly observation day. So brilliant watching a fellow TPRS practioner alongside another TPRS fellow practitioner! We sat side by side at the back of the room taking notes and then chatting about ideas as they came to us and then later during lesson breaks discussed our ideas with Sharon! I was in seventh heaven!!

Sharon began her day with a year 5/6 class. She called the roll by asking the students random Indonesian questions: Siapa nama, apa kabar, Selamat siang, etc to which they students had to reply/respond appropriately. Certainly kept them on their toes and it was inspiring to listen to the majority respond so smoothly.

Sharon is focusing on the Talks too Much story by Anna Matava this term with all her classes except Receptions. Sharon identified the unfamiliar vocabulary needed for the story and has spent the past 3 weeks of term focusing on them with JP’s and just this week with MP’s. After the students and Sharon had gone through them together she invited a student to come out the front and stand with their back to the projected words facing the class. Students and Sharon then one by one said a word from the list together with it’s gesture for the brave student to translate. Sharon did this activity with all classes and we were blown away with how solidly they have acquired them. It is such a great way to revise the structures and their gestures while checking on individual students and their progress. The students loved it.

With this class, Sharon trialled the Spelling Battleships pre story activity. The stuents had to choose 5 words from the list and hide them in their grid and then to find the words they had to say the coordinates in Indonesian. We all then circulated to observe and assist. We all discovered that most students were so engaged in the game, they weren’t using Indonesian and their was almost no repetition  of the target vocabulary.

So we brainstormed at recesss to create an improved version! Instead of letters across one axis, write in the top high frequency words. This could be the words that will appear in the story or words that classes have already acquired from previous stories. Then across the number axis, instead of the stock, standard numbers 1-12, include numbers that are appropriate for your classes. They could be in multiples of 10, just the teens, all the fifties etc. We then added the final rule, that each time students discover a letter,  they have to say a word from the list and the gesture to guess what it could be. What a fun way to get in repetitions!!

After recess, Sharon taught 2 junior primary classes. The first class was a year 1. Sharon had already introduced the first paragraph of the Talks Too Much story with the JP’s and for this lesson they revised the vocabulary (in exactly the same way that she did with the 5/6 class), reviewed the first paragraph and then introduced the 2nd paragraph. The first thing I noted during this lesson was the “Spotter”. Sharon chooses a student (alternately boy/girl) to stand out the front. Their job is to watch their classmates for the best gesturer. After 5-10 minutes, Sharon asks who they chose and that person gets a pandai (clever) sticker. I love this idea because it dovetails beautifully with my behaviour management strategy for my JP’s!

With all each class, Sharon demonstrated a different activity so that we could observe a variety of ideas in practise! How thoughtful!! I wish now to apologise to those who have observed my lessons and saw the same lessons over and over!! Anne and I really appreciated the variety of ideas we came home with! I will definitely incorporate this into my day when I am next observed!

The first activity Sharon demonstrated was Reverse Bingo. Each student was given a small rectangle of paper and they had to choose a blue word from the story which was up on the smartboard. (Red words were proper nouns – another cool idea!). When they had written their word down, they returned their pensil to the pot and then stood in front of Sharon. Sharon then read out random sentences from the story and students had to sit if their word was said. She then crossed out the sentences on the smartboard as she said them. The last standing student was the winner.

Students then swapped cards and the game was replayed with a different card! What a fun and active way to play bingo.

Sharon showed us her game “buzzer” with her next class. She put 2 buzzers on the bench out the front of the classroom under the smartboard, divided the class in half and then invited one student from each team to stand in front of their team buzzer. She then asked questions about the story, the vocabulary and the first team to push the buzzer and answer correctly got a point for the team. A student kept score on the mobile white board.  The level of competition between teams was intense!

The final class working on the Talks Too Much story was a year 4 and with this class, Sharon did a TPRS version of a findaword. Instead of students working independently on it, they had to listen to Sharon’s instructions which went like this: Cari bercakap cakap dan mewarnai merah. She then invited students to come out the front and with the magic wand, they put a line through the word on the findaword projected up on the smartboard.

The final class was a R/1 class and they have been working on the Sp0ngebob story.

Spongebob mau makan crabby patty.

Patrick punya crabby patty.

Patrick kasih Spongebob crabby patty.

Spongebob makan crabby patty.

The class read through the story with all students encouraged to do the gestures because the spotter was at work again! The activity for this class was dividing students into small groups who had to work together to arrange the mixed up words of the story into order. To finish the day, Sharon offered to demo “Dimana Bobo?” with this class.  She lay out on the floor different coloured leaves. Students then had to turn around while she hid a laminated monkey (Bobo) under one leaf. Students then vounteered to guess which leaf he was hiding under.

Again, the students loved this game. I loved that it gave repetitions of the question ‘dimana’ (where) as well as colours.

After school we stood around chatting & sharing more games with each other. Anne  had a few number games which we intend to use soon. One was writing a list of numbers on the board:






On the back of the board, ask the student to write the number if necessary and then ask the class to guess the number. If wrong, the student puts a cross next to the numbers which helps to record guesses.

Another number game that would fit in beautifully with the jacket story because it uses the structures terlalu besar, terlalu kecil dan pas!  Draw on the board a line. Each time a terlalu besar number is suggested, the student writes it above the line, each time a student guesses a number that is terlalu kecil, the number is written below the line and the right number is written on the line! A great way to record the numbers guessed!!

Thankyou so much Sharon for agreeing to host both myself and Ibu Anne last Thursday. It was truly brilliant having 3 TPRS colleagues brainstorming and discussing together best practice which will inevitably benefit not only us as teachers but ultimately our students too. I’ve learned some great ideas and I can’t wait to try them with my students!

I also must thank Ibu Anne for taking a week of her precious LSL to spend a week in SA with us all because from that decision, this awesome day eventuated! Ibu Anne’s visit though is another story!! Read about it on her blog.

Student Free Day notes…..

The day began with an AIM demonstration by Sarah Slee. 

AIM (Accelerated Integrated Method) is a language program which originated in Canada by Wendy Maxwell. On the surface, AIM & TPRS seem quite alike but when you dig a little deeper, as we were generously given the opportunity to do, the differences though subtle, are many. 

Here is the definition for AIM which can be found on the AIM website


Sarah teaches French at a nearby primary school using this methodology and like us, began at the start of 2015. She has the total backing of her school leadership which has been wonderful because the kits do not come cheaply. We drooled over the kits she brought along. Each kit costs around $500 and includes a CD Rom, blackline masters, a teachers handbook and a big book of the story upon which the kit is based upon. Each part of the kit is chocker block full of ideas and suggestions and also comes with a teacher script for each and every lesson as well as a variety of assessment checklists!! The CD Rom includes high quality media resources including songs, story reading/ productions etc which recycle and extend the vocabulary being targeted for each story. The early years kits are based on familiar stories like Henny Penny & The 3 Little Pigs while the kits for older students  are based on unfamiliar stories. AIM kits are available in several languages however Indonesian is not one of them. After watching the introductory video (also available on the website) we participated in a lesson. Sarah sat in front of us (we were in a horsehoe in front of her) with her book open on her lap to the very first lesson as none of us speak a word of French. She then led us through the very beginning of this lesson where she said a word/phrase while simultaneously gesturing and we repeated the phrase/word and copied the gesture. It was very challenging and really gave us a taste of what our lessons are like for our own students! It was a wonderful experience and went much longer than we both anticipated when planning the day! As you can imagine we were all totally blown away by the number of resources available to Sarah in each kit because we have absolutely nothing and have to create everything ourselves using the resources created for other languages as the base line! We also liked the idea of the gesture data bank AIM has as we believe that if we developed something similar, it would help students who move from school to school in our region. There are surprisingly quite a few!! 

The next session was my presentation about circling. I revised what circling is and the prescribed format as per the links I gave in a previous post. We then watched the Blaine Ray/Carla Tarini YouTube video before having a go in pairs with one of the sentences from our ‘Spongebob mau minum’ (Spongebob is thirsty) story. The oppportunity to create a bank of sentences based on the circling format (statement, ask a yes question, ask a no question, ask an either or question and then a question that elicits more detail) with a partner provided a welcome opportunity for discussion which then led to a whole group general discussion about the specifics of story asking. We have, to date, began our stories with a focus on the target structures for several lessons before introducing the story itself. Some students find this excruciating because they enjoy the story telling so much that they become impatient with the percieved unnecessarily long lead in time! So with our next story, we want to see if we can par this down and begin the story asking earlier! Stay tuned for our reflections…….

After lunch, we were joined by Michelle Kohler (Flinders University) to discuss the Australian Curriculum in relation to  designing TPRS assessment tasks. Michelle drove the 1 hour trip to PEPS straight from teaching preservice teachers at Flinders Uni and then headed straight off afterwards for another meeting, so we are incredibly grateful for her finding the time and energy to fit us into her very busy day! Michelle was closely involved with the creation of our Indonesian Languages Curriulum and it was insightful to discuss with her how language teachers are being required to assess and report against it. She was disappointed to hear that most principals are requiring Indonesian teachers to report against the Achievment Statements. She reminded us that ACARA is not an outcomes based document as SACSA was. The Achievement Standards are a reference point for typical student learning. They were not designed to drive assessment. Here is an extract from the DECD Guideline: Reporting on Australian Curriculum in DECD Schools Reception-Year 10 (v2) 

Achievement Standards should be treated holistically, rather than as discrete elements to be achieved.

Michelle then led us through the strands clarifying each:

1.1 Socialising

1.2 Informing

1.3 Creating

1.4 Translating/mediating

1.5 Reflecting

2.1 Systems of language

2.2 Language variation and change 

2.3 Reflecting on the role of language and culture.


This gave us an opportunity to look at each from a TPRS/TCI viewpoint. 

This is my extremely brief perception of how we cover each:

1.1 – kursi luar biasa, general story telling/asking, 

1.2 – Movie talk, vPQA,

1.3 – Story asking/telling, free writes, 

1.4 – popcorn reading, paper airplane reading, choral translations, comprehension checks, 

1.5 – grammar pop-ups

2.1 – language discussions (in English) about vocabulary, grammar &/or spelling etc noticed by students in stories/ books. 

2.2 – use and discussion of cognates and the increasing prevalence of English found in modern Indonesian eg kriket, komputer etc

2.3 -informal and formal discussions we have with our students before, during and after school visits by Indonesian nationals to heighten awareness of cultural and religious differences between Australians & Indonesians as well as between Christians & Muslims. 

Please feel free to add to these by commenting below.

As you can probably tell, it was a fantastic day. Having the opportunity to collaborate together about issues relevant to our specialist learning area and invite guest speakers who can help us increase our experitise was so invaluable. My next task  is to survey all who participated for feedback to help plan our next district SFD!

Membagi Ide Bagus – Student Free Day Links for Circling & Assessment

I would like to share with you a variety of links which we will either be covering at our PLC Student Free Day or will be useful as a follow-up afterwards. This hopefully will make it easier if all the links are together so that we can refer back to it later or pass on to others who were unable to join us.

Our schedule for the day will be:

8:30 – 9:00am meet and greet, grab a cuppa

9am  Aim (French) demo with Sarah Slee

10am Circling workshop

11am break

11:30am Strategies to assist with recording student progress

1pm Lunch

1;45pm Assessment & ACARA
– Assessment and reporting parameters and issues
– Designing assessments to reflect the AC intentions and AS
– Connections between TPRS & the AC

4pm finish


Links include:


1, Martina Bex has a great post entitled, What is Circling and it includes a free PDF hand out.

2. Terry Waltz has  circling cards available through her website, Mandarin Through Comprehensible Output as well as a Prezi demonstrating how to use them.

3. TPRS Q & A also has a post called What is Circling And How to do It?

4. TPRS Q & A is a great blog and this post entitles What Does the Goddess Laurie Clarq say about Circling is well worth reading.

5. A French Demo At a Blaine Ray Workshop – Carla Tarini is being coached by Blaine Ray on how to circle.

6. Circling does not always go smoothly or predictably which can be said of just about anything involving children and/animals, so they say! Keith Toda wrote a blog entitle Circling Troubleshooting which will help you identify why your circling efforts may not feel successful!

7. Here is another great video! This one is of Terry Waltz working with students for their first Chinese lesson. Here you can see Terry demonstrate a multitude of skills one of which is circling!

8. TPRS Lesson Demonstration – Great PDF which breaks down of circling


1. Martina Bex posted recently, End of Term Assessments which although definitely aimed at high school teachers, included some great ideas & interesting clarifications.

2. Fluency Writes (Free Writes) by Judith Dubios on her fantastic blog called TPRS Witch can be read here: This post explains both what fluency writes are and why they are so useful.

3. Bryce Hedstrom’s Blooms Taxonomy for Foreign Language Instruction


Looking forward to our Student Free Day!! See you there and thank-you for supporting it!

Fleurieu Hub Group Teachmeet

The members of our hub group are all implementing TPRS in their classrooms which is soo exciting! We agreed this year to meet once a term to discuss aspects of TPRS to help each other deepen our understanding of using TPRS in our classrooms. Attending our first Teachmeet were 9 teachers; 5 from local schools, one teacher on leave, one all the way from the other side of Adelaide and a teacher from Victoria via Skype! 

Our first meeting focused on assessment strategies. We had also wanted to discuss the report format but as that is something that each school decides upon and that we ran out of time, it was only touched upon briefly. Enough to realise though, that each school reports very differently and the Indonesian section of our reports varies hugely. From one school requiring just an overall grade each for effort & achievement to another school where the teacher has to write a personal comment for each student as well as a grade each for effort & achievement. One of our schools requires the Indonesian teacher to report specifically against all the ACARA achievement standards which I’m sure was not what the achievement standards were designed for.

At our previous meeting, we brainstormed for assessment strategies we’d like to share and then everyone volunteered to take one and explain it to evryone else:

1. Quick Quizzes – at the end of a lesson, ask 5 – 10 questions about the story you’ve created with your students. The answers can either be ya/tidak or benar/salah. Sharon shared how she has also uses quick quizzes to check comprehension by asking students to write down the English word for targt structures covered.

2. Plickers – Ann shared an online assessment tool called Plickers. This app uses only one ipad which is held by the teacher to scan students answers to teachers questions. 


Here is a pic from google to show what it looks like in a classoom: 

3. Ya/Tidak cards – Carmel shared her red & white laminated yes/no cards which she has yet to use because she feels that handing them out and using them would be too much of a distraction this early in the year. They looked fantastic. The idea is that the teacher askes a question and students answer using the cards. Great repetition for ya/tidak.

4. Listen & Draw – On a sheet divided into 4 or 6, students listen to the teacher and then illustrate the sentence in the specified square. While the students are drawing, the teacher repeats the sentence over and over again, getting as many repetitions  in as possible.

5. TPR  (Total Physical Response) – Teacher says a word and students do the actions. Great for introducing verbs in a fun and kinesthetic way. It is also perfect for introducing classroom phrases like duduk, berdiri, kasih hormat, kasi, pakai topi etc. Simon says is a popular TPR game to play and is loved by all primary students. TPR is a good brain break too. Asking students to close their eyes while doing TPR helps the teacher to identify which target structures need more repetitions!!

6. Dictation – As a post story activity, students write silently the sentence the teacher says. The sentence is then shown to the students via smartboard or data projector and any errors are fixed by rewriting the word/sentence on the next line. On the third line, the sentence is translated into English. A space is then left before beginning the next sentence.

We then discussed a behaviour management technique that Sharon shared with us previously. We are calling it ‘pandai/nakal’ to get repetitions of pandai (term 4 2015 kancil & Buaya story) and nakal (term 1 2016 tutup pintu story). The teacher takes a name of a student randomly (either by paper or paddle pop sticks) and puts it somewhere visible without showing anyone whose name it is. On the board is written pandai & nakal side by side and throughout the lesson, tally each time students are pandai or nakal. At the end of the lesson, if the tally marks for pandai are greater than those for nakal, theatrically announce the name of the student and present them with a reward. If the tally is the reverse, the name goes back in the pot/hat without mentioning the name. Hannah tried it this week and said it worked beautifully for her younger students!! 

We finished up by agreeing to meet again in March on our regional training and development day to ensure we have access to relevant and meaningful training. Topics to be covered include designing an open ended assessment task, how to record student progress & how to circle. I have also invited an AIM French teacher to come and do a demo lesson with us so we can experience AIM methodologies. 

Week 3 Reflections

Week 2 is always a disappointing week for me. Students are usually amazing in week 1 when they are so thrilled and excited to be back at school which is always delightful. However I then plan lesson plans for those enthusiastic students only to discover that by week 2 they did a ‘Jekyl and Hyde’ over the weekend and my lessons do not turn out quite the way I had envisaged. 

Week 3, thus is a great week by comparison! I am prepared, in fact usually over prepared, but at least this time it is strategic over planning unlike week 2 where it was head in the clouds over planning. I can’t believe I tried to do a movie talk last week with the combined year 6/7 left overs that focused on entirely unfamiliar structures! What was I thinking?? Not surprisingly it was a huge flop. Still, I learned a huge lesson from it – doesn’t matter how engaging the video  is, if it’s not comprehensible, it will not be engaging.

This week with another group of year 6/7 left overs, I showed Laskar Pelangi which was far more successful for several reasons.  

 Firstly, it was purely an English culture break and considering the film went for 3 lessons and students were engrossed right up to the end, I was happy with that. I also have to confess that it was my first time watching the movie so maybe in future years I may consider using it as a MT now that I can see the potential. The lessons progressed well in that we began with a single lesson and then 2 days later had a double. I said very little before the movie started yet before continuing with the movie in the double lesson, I talked about several aspects including a little Belitong history and providing a bit more information about the main characters. Yet it was the discussion about the symbolism that students enjoyed the most and then commented on during the movie. I spoke about the symbolism of fences (dividing communities), crocodiles (obstructions) and rainbows (happiness, togetherness and positive hopes for the future).  

This term with the other classes (ie all but the year 6/7’s), we are looking at the kancil & Buaya story. At the end of term 3, our hub group met and we simplified the story to ensure the story only incorporated a few unfamiliar structures as well as revised many of our known structures. Last week I introduced the word ‘kancil’ and largely in English we talked about their body shape, their diet and where they are found globally. Naturally it was only their diet that lent itself to circling! Kancil makan apa? This week I introduced the word ‘buaya’ using both a picture of a buaya, a soft teddy buaya and a hilarious crocodile hat I found at Savers last Sunday. As usual, using Annie’s voices, I introduced the word encouraging the students to repeat buaya over and over in a variety of ways including singing, syllablising, weird voices and generally having fun. I then held up the buaya soft teddy and circled buaya.  


Buaya? Ya buaya. 


Bukan. Buaya. 

Kancil atau buaya? Buaya.

I then opened a bag of soft teddy animals including the crocodile hat. I held the buaya soft teddy in one hand and with the other dug into the bag. I pulled out random animals and asked, ‘Buaya?’ The students loved the suspense of not knowing what was coming out of the bag and all screamed with delight when I finally pulled out the crocodile hat!  

 The hat is great because of its large mouth and which allowed me to revise makan. Buaya makan sepatu? I walked around amongst the students stating sentences like that and then having the crocodile mouth the shoe. Or I would point at my nose and say a couple of times ‘hidung’ before saying buaya mau makan hidung Joey. They just loved it and were all begging to be eaten!! It was chaotic and loud with lots of laughing. I actually had a parent looking for their child, knock and put their head in the door while I was bent over a student ‘makan sepatu’ and I’d love to know what she made of what she saw! Hopefully she asks her son! It was strange though because I felt guilty that I was having too much fun! That I should have been more serious! Oh well…. 

I did a ‘kindergarten reading’ with the story with the year 4’s where I had them sitting on the floor in front of me and I read a big book version with large colourful pictures. They were totally engrossed yet when I asked afterwards whether they preferred acting out the story or listening to it, the majority said they much preferred acting it out!! Didn’t see that coming. 

This story incorporates the numbers 1 – 10 which has been a great. Early in the week I suddenly remembered a counting song from Languages Online. Unfortunately it goes way too quickly for my younger classes, but then I had a brain wave! Instead of singing satu, dua, tiga bunga (not a familiar word), I changed it to satu, dua, tiga buaya!! Then I got even more creative and sang about kancils, penguins, orangutans and finished with murid murid! The more repetitions I can get with this song the better to cement number acquisition. 

And speaking of songs, I also ‘wrote’ this song on the weekend for later in the term:

Kancil, kancil di hutan

Tidak bisa berenang

Datang banyak buaya

Hap! Tidak ditangkap!

Can you pick the tune? Lifted from cicak cicak di dinding!

Hope you had a great week too.

Kunjungan Sekolah Petra Berkat – Petra Berkat School’s Visit

After months and months of planning, the group of 5 students and 4 teachers from Petra Berkat School in Denpasar finally arrived!! The final weeks leading up to their arrival was quite frantic at times with last minute tweaking of host families and their timetable. We were so delighted when APBIPA suggested we consider inviting this group of primary students and while their visit is not over yet, it has been very successful so far.


Our school hosted Grace, a 14 year old in year 9. She stayed with one of our families as they have a daughter the same age as well as a son in year 5. We also briefly hosted Ibu Yustine, the school director. Her family run the school and thus she was the person with whom we communicated with to organise the various details leading up to the visit.   The other 4 students were shared across Victor Primary & Goolwa Primary with the remaining staff. Ibu Oka was based at Goolwa and taught the kecak dance to students there while Ibu Leni was based at Victor and did mask making with the classes she met there. Ibu Yustine and Ariel (the designated photographer) were the only 2 staff members to visit all sites.

Ibu Yustine mentioned in her emails that she enjoys cooking with students and was very keen to cook mie goreng while visiting our sites. She chose mie goreng because not only is it a well known traditional Indonesian dish but also because it needed to be a recipe that could be cooked and eaten in a 50 minute lesson! Her day at PEPS was full on without any non face to face time. Her only breaks were at recess and lunch!

6 lucky classes were delighted to arrive at the Indonesian classroom to discover the chairs arranged around a table covered in ingredients and cooking equipment and standing behind the table were Ibu Yustine and Grace finalising last minute preparations. After the ketua kelas had led the students in a greeting (murid murid, berdiri dan kasih hormat kepada Bu Yustine dan Kak Grace), Ibu Yustine began cooking.

Here is her recipe:

Cook the  dry noodles till soft. Drain and pour sufficient kecap manis, kecap asin & tomato sauce over to coat the noodles.

Beat 5 eggs and fry like scrambled eggs. Remove from pan.

fry onion, garlic till cooked. Add grated carrot, finely shredded cabbage and cook.

Add egg and stir through.

Add noodles and mix thoroughly.

Taste and top up with sauces if necessary.

Such a simple yet delicious recipe. The students all loved it, even the ones who claimed beforehand that they don’t like egg!


I loved that when Ibu Yustine commented in Indonesian about the recipe, my students could largely follow along and when she said something they didn’t understand, the stop sign was raised immediately! It was great. We began by showing students the ingredients and explaining what they were in Indonesian. While kecap manis was a familiar term, kecap asin was not. With the later classes, I broke down asin to ‘us’ & ‘in’ which helped enormously with retention later in the lesson when Ibu Yustine reviewed the ingredients! It made such a difference with recall. When Ibu Yustine added ingredients, she would say, “Kasih kecap manis, kasih kecap asin, kasih saus tomat” etc which was awesome. So lovely that our visitors are largely understood now in the Indonesian classroom unlike before when all cultural lessons were 100% undertaken in English or with English translations.


After the school day finished, we headed off to staff meeting where the year 3 class outlined to staff their inquiry into establishing a 4th sports team. It was a perfect demonstration for Ibu Yustine to witness how our students develop inquiry questions, collaborate as a class to research it and then share with staff and students their findings and their recommendations. The 4 students who stayed back after school to present to staff did a great job and represented our school beautifully. Ibu Yustine was very impressed. She was also impressed with the presentation by our principal about listening. She was delighted when he offered to email it out to staff and has since informed me that she would like a copy so that she can share it with her staff at the begining of the new school year!!

Straight after staff meeting, staff headed over to the staff room to enjoy a staff family cooking workshop with Ibu Yustine. This time she made nasi goreng. Staff helped with the chopping and slicing before sitting down to watch her cook. This too was delicious and all who participated were pleased they had stayed back to do so. I bet Ibu Yustine slept well that night!! 7 cooking workshops in one day!! All in all she cooked for 5 classes at Victor Primary, 2 at Goolwa and 7 at PEPS. No wonder by Wednesday she had almost lost her voice!!

On Wednesday evening we held a ‘Cultural Evening’ for the host families and principals. The program included Ibu Yustine cooking mie goreng for the final time, a dance performance by the Petra Berkat School students and Ibu Leni

image image

as well as presentations. Ibu Yustine presented all schools with art work completed by her students and our principals/ deputy principals reciprocated and presented her with artwork from our sister schools on the APY lands. Sharon, Annie & I were also presented with a beautiful batik jacket each.


The cultural evening finsished with an Aussie BBQ as our contribution to the cultural evening!
For me, that was the end of my involvement in the visit as I am now flying off to Medan to visit another partner school through the Bridge Project. I hope the rest of the visit is successful and that we see Petra Berkat School back on the Fluerieu one day soon!

A Day With Stephen Krashen

What an amazing day we had yesterday in Adelaide – I’m still absolutely blown away by the entire experience! Imagine having the opportunity to listen to Stephen Krashen speak in Australia? I hardly know where to start to give you even a taste of what the day was like. That we attended at all came about purely by chance after learning just last week tthrough the MLTAWA newsletter that he is on an Australian “Power of Reading” Tour organised by the Australian Library Association. We each bought a ticket even though his presentation would be largely aimed at librarians because the opportunity to listen to him speak was just too precious to pass up. We had our fingers crossed that aspects would be useful but not in our wildest dreams imagined just how brilliant it would be. 

Why were we so excited about hearing Stephen Krashen speak? Quite simple really. He is the mastermind behind TPRS. The TPRS/TCI methodology we use in our Indonesian program is based on his theory of second language acquisition and supported by his many years of research. Here is a brief bio from

To those familiar with the field of linguistics and second-language acquisition, Stephen Krashen needs no introduction. He has published well over 300 (BC- closer to 500 actually) books and articles and has been invited to deliver more than 300 lectures at universities throughout the United States and abroad. His widely known theory of second-language acquisition has had a huge impact on all areas of second-language research and teaching since the 1970s. 

So you can imagine our absolute delight upon learning that Adelaide was one of the stops on his Australian tour and in no way did he disappoint us. Our day began at 7am as we headed off to Adelaide and finished 12 hours later, yet every minute was absolutely and undeniably brilliant. He is a relaxed and entertaining speaker.

While his presentation was pitched at librarians, sprinkled throughout were many TPRS references and he also spoke at length about Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) – equally important in a second language classroom.  Absolutely everyone we spoke to throughout the day took so much from his presentation. I sat between a young librarian from a local council library and a Year 12 English teacher and they were both totally rapt throughout. 

During the first break, I went up and introduced myself explaining that I was one of 3 TPRS teachers in his audience. He was so excited to meet Australian TPRS teachers. He had no idea that there is a small group of us here in Australia. He encouraged us all to follow aand post questions on the iFLT/ NTPRS/CI Teaching Facebook page where he himself soon posted:


The fascinating aspect of his presentation was his use of stories. They were compelling and entertaining just as they need to be in TPRS. Even after lunch, in that well known time where most participants start to nod off, he tackled the huge topic of poverty yet with relevant Australian statistics meshed with real life stories – Geoffrey Canada & Liz Murray – we were wide awake and entranced till the very end.

Afterwards, we invited him out for a coffee. We took him to a nearby restaurant and for an hour chin wagged. Can you imagine? Can you possibly imagine how cool it was to actually talk directly to the TPRS guru? We were able to ask him questions about all sorts of details and also listen to his ideas and use them to further gel our understanding of TPRS. Our conversation re-energised us and if anything, made us even more determined to attend some official training somehow, somewhere!! If you would like to join us, write in the comments below and I’ll keep you posted with any plans. A huge conference in Agen, France is already being planned for July 2016. HOw amazing would that be?

 He was so busy, so tired, so jet lagged, yet happily gave up his free time to spend it with us newbie TPRS teachers and for that we will be forever grateful. 
If you’re keen to listen to him actually speak, I highly recommend this podcast:  He covered so many topics and there is no way I can do them justice. So do yourself a favour, find an hour and sit down and enjoy this podcast. Lots of truly great points raise & relevant to everyone, not just teachers.

Just to finish, here are a few quotes taken from his presentation:

  • There are 3 ways to slow down the onset of dementia:
  1. bilingualism
  2. reading for pleasure 
  3. lots of cofee
      • Through FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) students improve their
      1. reading comprehension skills
      2. writing
      3. vocabulary
      4. grammar knowledge & 
      5. spelling.    (Therefore FVR is the source of most of our literacy development.)
      • If teachers read with their students during SSR for as little as 10 minutes a day over their career, it will amount to 3 months of paid leave!
      • Research demonstrates time and time again, the impact of reading for pleasure on people is far greater than the level of education their parents achieved. 
      • Reading aloud to students is very important for language acquisition in areas of vocabulary, grammar & also develops a love of reading 
      • A love of reading develops empathy. When reading the reader is in the protagonist’s shoes, thus helping readers to have more tolerance for vagueness which is important for problem solving. Readers learn not to reach premature conclusions.
      • Schools are not broken. Just because test scores are low, does not mean that our schools are broken. It is wrong to measure school results by test scores. Instead governments should be addressing the high levels of poverty. Poverty causes poor school results not teachers or schools. 
      • Find your strengths, then get better at it and use it to help others. When you know your strengths, work on it. Don’t focus on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths because its fun. If its not fun, then it is wrong for you. 

      He also included some great quotes from other notable people:

      Picasso ; The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.

      Mark Twain: The 2 most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

      Zhao: It is difficult to predict what new businesses will emerge and what will become obsolete. Thus, what becomes highly valuable are unique talents, knowledge, skills , the ability to adapt to changes and creativity, all of which calls for a school culture that respects and cultivates expertise in a diversity of talents and skills and a curriculum that enables individuals to pursue their strengths. 
      Isn’t he a legend?

      Word Race Stories

      I had thought I would ask the story early in the term just like I have done in the past and just have the unfamiliar vocabulary written in a list on the board so that when it came up, I could ‘point and pause’ it. At our last hub meeting, Sharon suggested introducing the word ‘bisa’ during the first lesson as a lead up to telling/asking the story in the next. However, with the late introduction of the gesture in week 1, I decided to spend the next lesson on ‘bisa’ as well to introduce and consolidate the target structure and gesture.

      My second lesson then became the pre-story lesson with a mini focus on the vocabulary that would be used in the story. I scrolled through the marvellous Martina Bex’s blog, The Comprehensible Classroom, and found her suggested activity called Word Race Stories.

      I created a word cloud with the vocabulary from the story:

      word cloud bisa story

      This activity starts with me calling out a word in English and they had to find its Indonesian equivalent. The competition between the students in their pairs was fierce yet everyone engaged with this activity. Such a fun way to review vocabulary. The first time I played this, it was chaotic as I followed Martina’s suggestions exactly. Sharon’s idea for students to purely point at the word with their finger was heaps more manageable than students trying to be the first to highlight it with their pen!

      With my middle primary students, we finished off the activity by each pair looking at the words in the word cloud and then writing a sentence they thought could be in our new story. Yet with my year 6/7’s today, I tried for the first time the followup suggestion that Martina suggested. In their pairs, students had to think about the words in the word cloud and then write a sentence that could start a story using only words from the word cloud. Once everyone had finished their first sentence, they had to swap pages with another pair. Each pair then read the previous sentence and wrote a second sentence below that followed on from the first and used only words found in the word cloud. We then repeated this about 6 times. Each sheet was then returned to the original authors whose job was to edit the story and write the final sentence. I then read out as many stories as I could which everyone enjoyed! This was a very interesting exercise for several reasons even though I need to state that TPRS/TCI programs are about student receiving heaps and heaps of input and activities such as these should not be the backbone of our teaching.

      Here are some of the stories that were produced:

      story one

      John dan Lucy punya hotdog.

      Lucy berkata, ‘John, saya mau hotdog.”

      John kasih Lucy dua hotdog. 

      Lucy tidak mau dua hotdog.

      Joh makan satu hotdog.

      story two

      Ada laki laki.

      Nama laki laki Lucy.

      Nama perempuan John.

      John mau mencium.

      Lucy tidak mau mencium

      John kurang baik.

      story three

      Ada laki laki dan perempuan.

      Nama laki laki John dan nama perempuan Lucy.

      John dan Lucy makan dua hotdog.

      Lucy berkata, “Saya mau minum.”

      Lucy dan John mencium.

      Overall the stories were written with correct word order and demonstrated a good grasp of all vocabulary, even mencium which we haven’t talked about yet. The most interesting point from all the stories was how little ‘bisa’ was used!! In total it was used twice! I wonder if this will change once we have told the story?

      Now that we have had 2 lessons focused on bisa, I would like to organise my next lesson on ‘mencium’. The meaning of this word is a great opportunity to talk about intercultural language. While non Indonesians use the word ‘mencium’ to mean to kiss, its meaning is also to smell because that is how female friends traditionally ‘kiss’. You put your cheeks together on one side and sniff gently before repeating on the other side. Have you watched Indonesians smell babies too? Australians do it too, yet we don’t truly inhale the baby scent as an Indonesian does. There is a real skill to it, I believe!!

      What are the Top 10 High Frequency Words in Indonesian?

      If you had to identify a  list of no more than 10 Indonesian words that are absolutely essential for communicating with anyone in Indonesia, what would they be? 

      We have been working on this list all year and hope to complete our first draft of it during the upcoming July school holidays. No doubt the list will be constantly tweaked as we progress along the TCI road. 

      My list includes:

      1. punya – to have/own
      2. kasi – to give
      3. suka – like
      4. ada – there is/are
      5. bisa – can
      6. mau – want
      7. pakai – wear/use
      8. ke -to
      9. di – in/at/on
      10. ambil – get

      Other words that I believe are also important (although could largely be communicated using body language) include:

      1. sudah/belum
      2. ya/tidak/bukan
      3. sedikit/banyak 

      What do you think of the first list? I would love to hear your comments if you are an Indonesian teacher/learner.

      Once the top 10 list is finalised, we will next identify the top 100 high frequency words which are pertinent and relevant for beginner Indonesian learners. I believe it is useful to know what these words are because they focus and guide teacher planning. When I look back over the thematic units of work I have done with past students, very few (the 4% ers) can recall much of the vocabulary we covered. Our new catchcry is narrow and deep unlike our previous method for which the catchcry in  hindsight seemed to be: shallow and broad. The top 10 essential words for communication will become the foundation for our current and future students’ aquisition.