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!!

Ibu Mia From Batam, Kepulauan Riau

This week my students are enjoying a chance to interact with and learn from Ibu Mia, an Indonesian high school English teacher from Batam, Kepulauan Riau. She will be in our area for 3 weeks, spending a week at each of our schools. Her visit has been entirely coordinated by Pak Nyoman from APBIPA and we are so, so fortunate to able to particiapte in this program. Through APBIPA, we have hosted teachers from Sumbawa, Bali, Sumatra, Jakarta, Kalimantan, Bandung and now Batam. What a fantastic way for my students to experience the diversity of Indonesia. 

We learned many interesting facts about Batam. Some of which are:

  • Even though it is a tiny island, the population is roughly similar to Adelaide; 1 million. 
  • It is only 35 minutes from Singapore by ferry and Ibu Mia has often taken her sons to Singapore for a day trip!
  • There are 1500 students and 90 teachers at her school, SMK 1 Batam.
  • Batam was only founded in the 70’s and then developed in the 80’s as a centre for free trade.
  • Batam has a good selection of high class hotels, one of which is a restored cruise ship!
  • There are 7 domestic harbors and 2 international harbors in Batam.
  • Batam has beautiful beaches.
  • Batam has a huge industrial sector.
  • Ibu Mia lives in Batam Centre.
  • There is a ‘Welcome to Batam” sign which is exactly like the Hollywood sign in California.
  • Batam’s skyline resembles any develped city’s skyline. Multi-story buildings and freeways. 

This visit has been so enjoyable for me for a variety of reasons. Usually I teach as per usual and my visitor co-teaches i.e., assists with modeling pronunciation, extra facts etc. However this time, the focus of the lessons this week has been Ibu Mia, thus being a cultural brain break for all of us. While lessons largely reverted back to the 90% English/10% Indonesian ratio, it was so interesting and informative that it wasn’t an issue and we still managed to where possible incorporate the target structures for this term and students enjoyed plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their growing ability to speak in Indonesian with many classestotally impressing Ibu Mia! So exciting!! I couldn’t help pointing out to the older classes, that the level of communication we used with Ibu Mia was far above that which we have used with any previous visitor. 

Our recent acquisition of pakai was very useful and we enjoyed the opportunity for many repetitions with all the classes due to discussions about why students thought Ibu Mia was Indonesian (as opposed to be being Korean, American, Spanish etc). They all said that had they seen her in the street, they would guess she was Indonesian because of the clothes she was wearing which led beautifully back to our circling:

  • Ibu Mia pakai topi? bukan
  • Ibu Mia pakai jaket? bukan
  • Ibu Mia pakai sepatu? ya
  • Ibu Mia pakai apa?

This then led to a discussion about her clothing. Students learned the word for her Muslim dress (gamis) and her  head scarf (jilbab). I have a selection of jilbabs from Kalimantan, so we dragged them out which led to many questions from students about jilbabs. The questions were hysterical and I wish I could have recorded them all. It was so hard keeping a straight face! Questions included:

  • How do you put on a jilbab?
  • Do you sleep in your jilbab?
  • How do you get your hair cut if you can’t take it off in public? 
  • What is that thing under your jilbab? (ciput)
  • What happens if someone comes to your door that is not family and you are not wearing your jilbab?


    The most amazing thing about all the questions was that they were all respectful! Not one student made a negative comments about any aspect of Islam. I am so proud of my students. Ibu Mia was so relieved. She showed me an article from her local paper for which the headline which roughly means: Ibu Mia is a ittle bit worried about visiting Australia On The Heels of The Bali NIne Executions.

    Her friends all warned her that Australians would harrass her because of the executions and that it was a terrible time to visit Australia. Many also suggested she reconsider wearing a jilbab in Australia or at least wear a smaller one. Thankfully she did not listen to their advice!! At our school and in our local community she experienced exactly what I experienced while traveling in Indonesia amidst the telephone spying scandal: most of  the hullaballoo is political and hyped up by the media. The general public are largely cynical consequently and thus when a visiting national from that country is polite and personable (as Ibu Ma definitely is), it dissolves any animosity one may have for their nation and is brilliant for breaking down the stereotypes that events such as these perpetuate. 

    The classes that have 2 lessons a week, were treated to a cooking demonstration for their second lesson. Ibu Mia, not only loves cooking but she is an awesome cook. We brainstormed one evening after school for recipes that are quick, easy and will surely be popular with students. Ibu Mia suggested her own recipe of Mie Goreng Telur A La Ibu Mia which is a popular snack she makes for her sons when they are hungry. We found all the ingredients at our local grocery shop and she was especially delighted that we could buy the extra spicy chilli sauce made by ABC!! Needless to say the small noodle pancakes were a huge success. Students could choose to have theirs with saus tomat, sambal atau tidak pakai saus. The entire cooking lesson was a double bonus because where possible Ibu Mia used the target structures that students have learned this year. It was awesome that Ibu Mia understood the power of TPRS/TCI so quickly. Her circling required that all students to listen, look & respond! It was so cool. Her language to the students included:

    • Kasih Ibi Mia gunting
    • Siapa mau menjadi assistan Ibu Mia?
    • Apa ini? 
    • Kasih Ibu Mia telur. Apa telur? Ya, telur egg!! Jade, kasih Ibu Mia dua telur. Berapa telur?
    • Berapa murid di kelas ini?
    • Ayo, Menghitung! They would then count with her while she tricked them by going fast sometimes and slow sometimes.
    • Garamnya (apa garam? Ya, garam salt) Garamnya terlalu besar, terlalu  kecil atau pas?
    • Siapa mau makan mie goreng telur pakai saus?

    Terima kasih IIbu Mia. PEPS will miss you!

      Ayo, Menghitung!

        Running Dictation

        A couple of weeks ago, I tried Running Dictation with my students using a recommended twist I read about on one of the many amazing TCI blogs I follow.

        All year 3-7 students have been focusing on the following target Language this term:
        mau – want
        kasih – gives
        punya – has
        minum/makan – drinks/eats

        Using a familiar mini story about Spongebob and Patrick, (who are without doubt the most popular celebrities I have discovered for all year levels), I pared down one of our stories down to:
        Spongebob mau makan krabby patty.
        Patrick punya krabby patty.
        Patrick kasih Spongebob satu krabby patty.
        Spongebob makan satu krabby patty.
        Spongebob kenyang dan senang sekali.

        I wrote each sentence in very large font and then printed it onto A3 paper. I cut up the sentences into strips and then put each sentence in different spots around the room randomly. One was on the telephone bench, one on the computer desk, one on a back table, one on another back table and one on the table near my desk.

        In groups of 3, students had to nominate
        a reader – the fastest and most confident reader with a good memory,
        a writer – the neatest and fastest writer who is also a good speller
        an illustrator – the best drawer/illustrator.

        Before we started, each group needed to organise 2 clipboards, 2 pencils and have 5 sheets of A5 white paper.

        The reader had to, in any order, find a strip of the story, read it, memorise it, and then run back to his/her team and retell the writer the sentence. The writer then neatly wrote out the sentence onto one of the A5 pieces of paper, checking with the reader any spelling that they are unsure about. The writer then gives the page to the illustrator who illustrates the sentence.

        When all 5 sentences are written and illustrated, the group then puts the 5 pages into the correct order and hands them in to me. I then checked that
        a) the pages were in the correct order
        b) the sentences were written correctly with no spelling errors
        c) the illustrations matched the sentence and demonstrated comprehension.
        If all the above were completed, I announced a winner.

        It was a terrific and fun activity which consolidated beautifully our focus these past 4 weeks on this vocabulary. I loved the illustrator job which invariably was awarded to the group member with the weakest literacy skills. The look of relief on their faces when they discovered one of the jobs was, in their minds, not literacy based, was really lovely to see. The language that the students used was fantastic and it was truly a collaborative activity. The discussion about the sentences and illustrations was awesome.

        My only beef was that as it was a race, the writing and the illustrations were largely rushed. I would love to repeat this again with no time restraints so that the final product could be turned into books which could then be added to the class library.

        Here are a sample:
        Spongebob mau makan krabby patty
        Spongebob wants to eat krabby patties.









        Patrick punya krabby patty
        Patrick has krabby patties








        Patrick kasih Spongebob satu krabby patty
        Patrick gave Spongebob one krabby patty.





        Spongebob makan satu krabby patty.
        Spongebob ate one krabby patty.







        Spongebob kenyang dan senang sekali.
        Spongebob is full and very happy.






        Can you just imagine the possibilities there are for taking this even further using these pictures!! Imagine a smart board notebook file with them all and the class matches the sentences to the illustrations, Putting the pictures into the correct order, Retelling the story, Embellishing the story….. the possibilities are endless…

        We’ve Written a Great Class Story; Now What?

        This was my question last week and now I am despairing because I don’t have enough time left this year to get my teeth into any more of the many ideas I have discovered. I would like to begin to list ones that I have tried which have been successful.

        Popcorn Reading: Give a copy of the story to each student. In pairs, they make a double circle. For a given time limit (1 minute worked well for middle primary) the student in the inside circle would read aloud the first sentence to their partner who would then translate it. They continue on doing this until time is called. The outside circle then moves one person to the right and in the time it takes for me to reset the timer, the new pair should be working out where they each got up to and then be ready to start again from the sentence that was closest to the beginning of the story. This continues until you as the teacher feel that enough repetitions have been completed.

        Word Chunk Game– Divide the class into small groups and have each group choose an Indonesian name for themselves and a gesture which will become their war cry. Write the group names up on the board. Read out a sentence from their story (or sentences similar to their story but tweaked slightly eg the who/what/where) and as a group they have to translate the sentence. When they are sure that everyone in their group can translate the sentence, they all put up their hands. The group that did this first, must then do their war cry. If any members do not participate in the war cry, then move to the next group. This is important because it helps develop group solidarity. It is also lots of fun! Then it is up to the teacher to choose one group member to give the translation who can not be assisted in any way by anyone else. If the translation is correct, the team gets a point and then they can boost their points with each group member having a bonus ball toss from a free throw line into a bin (I used my paper recycling bin).

        Running Dictation– Divide the students into teams. Put copies of the story out the front. Students take it in turns to run out to the front of the room to read and memorise a sentence which they then run back to their team and tell their team, one of whom will write it down. IMG_9258.JPG

        Class Books – make the stories into class books and create a class library. Students from other classes will also enjoy reading the stories.


        Term One Reflections

        First term was a very long 11 weeks. It began with me readjusting to teaching 4 days a week as opposed to traveling 7 days a week and finding time to blog was challenging and the longer I left it, the easier it was to find reasons why I was too busy! So here goes….
        My first 5 weeks back are a bit of a blur as that was how long it took me to get back on my feet and cope with the exhaustion of both teaching and doing the preparation needed to teach. It also took me 5 weeks to rediscover the balance of what was needed for a 50 minute lesson with each year level!
        HIghlights for the term include the following:
        1. Bu Maylanny’s visit.
        Bu Maylanny is a university lecturer from Bandung (West Java) and her 2 week stay was nowhere near long enough. Her visit was organised by the wonderful Pak Nyoman at APBIPA. She spent 2 days with us at PEPS and I still have students telling me how disappointed that they missed working with her in class. She taught us how to play bekel ( an Indonesian game very similar to knuckles except with a ball).


        We played this with several classes and they all really enjoyed the challenge. Very tricky picking up beads with one hand and bouncing and catching a ball in the other!
        2. Hearing Impaired Worksop; “Supporting Students With Hearing Impairment”

        I am very lucky to have a sound field system in my classroom complete with microphone. There are several hearing impaired students at our school however I find that using the sound field system benefits everyone as when learning new vocabulary every one can hear clearly and it also benefits my voice enormously as I can just speak normally instead of having to talk loudly all day. I used to have huge problems with my throat and voice and thanks to the sound field system, this has largely been eliminated.
        The one thing that I brought away with me from the workshop regarded the use of smart boards. I use mine constantly both for introducing and revision and it was pointed out to us at the workshop that smart boards are usually used in darkened rooms. My room has blockout curtains on one side and there is no doubt my hearing impaired students would have difficulty trying to lip read to support their hearing while simultaneously looking at the smart board!! Can’t believe I hadn’t considered this already!
        3. State Grant for Establishing a Sister School
        The schools on the south coast all applied for this grant and we were all successful which is sooo exciting. We each won $2000 which will go towards buying ipads so that students can communicate with our sister school next term about “sekolah”.
        4. Congklak
        This term I finished up with teaching all the junior primary and middle classes how to play congklak. It is a game I have only usually taught upper primary students but have realised that years 1-3 can also play it and enjoy it. It was hugely popular with all students!


        Language Games

        Have just had fun exploring Carolina’s blog called rightly “Fun For Spanish Teachers”. It was very inspiring for many reasons but for this time i enjoyed reading her games page. It made me realise that i could share some of the games i use in the Indonesian classroom successfully.

        Charades- all ages
        One of the games she explained reminded me of a game we played at the IALF (Bali). A student is shown a phrase written on a card and then has to act it out to a small group or to the class who then has to guess exactly what the phrase is. The winner is the one who can say it aloud. Another variation we played was in teams – Chinese whispers. The first team members read a phrase shown to them by the teacher and then they whispered it to the next person in their team and so on. The final person had to go the board and write down the phrase they heard. The winning team is the one that repeated the phrase exactly or closest to.

        Flyswatter – JP
        Flashcards with illustrations of the vocabulary being studied are laid face up on the floor with students sitting in a circle. 4 students hold a fly swat (4 different colours) and gently swat the picture that correlates to the vocabulary i say.

        Dimana Monyet? – JP
        students sitting in a cicle. All but one cover their eyes or put thei face down. One student stands and taps a 2nd student on the shoulder who hides monyet either up their shirt or behind their back. We all say together, “Dimana Monyet?” The students then take it in turns to guess who is hiding him.

        Bola Kenalkan – MP & UP
        in my room i have a soft squishy ball which is perfect for this. Students sit spaced out on the floor. I throw the ball to one at a time and ask them either:
        Siapa nama
        Tinggal dimana?
        Umur berapa?
        Apa kabar?
        Ada berapa orang di keluarga (name)?
        Even though it is only one student at a time answering my questions, my students adore this game and are totally miffed if they don’t all get a turn! I begin with expecting one word answers and build up to complete sentences. If the student is perplexed and needs a clue, i repeat the question and then answer it in Indonesian for myself. There is no English at all in this game.

        Siapa nama Saya? JP & UP
        One student sits in the hot seat while another student stands behind them and writes the name of one student in the room on the board behind them. The student in the hot seat has to ask questions in Indonesian eg. Umur saya berapa? When they know who it is, they say their name.

        Bingo – MP & UP
        This can be either the assessment task for a whole terms work to produce a bingo grid or students quickly draw up a 3×3 or 4×4 grid on a scrap piece of paper. In each square, students write the english or draw a picture of whatever vocabulary we have been learning and i call it out in Indonesian. Winner gets an Indonesian fruit or chili lolly!

        The Twin Game – MP & UP
        Each student is given a card which has information about:
        Altogether students work their way round the class asking umur berapa and tinggal dimana of each other. When they find their “twin” they sit down. The winner is the first set of twins to find each other!

        Evolution – MP
        Each student is given a set of 4 cards, each with a different picture of an animal. I use the animals from my room as we are all familiar with their names. One card has an orangutan (top of the evolution ladder), then a beruang (next in line), then a babi (third in line) and finally at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder is ikan. Students make sure their cards are in order: ikan, babi, beruang, orangutan with ikan on top facing upwards. They then move around asking each other questions in Indonesian. They can only talk to someone on the same evolutionary step as themselves. If they could each question and answer correctly, they play rock paper scissors. The winner of rock paper scissors moves up the evolution ladder by moving the ikan card to the bottom of their pile while the looser remains at that level to hopefully win their next confrontation. On orangutan, they must come and converse with me. I put myself in mainly to check that the winner has been saying the vocabulary correctly and not cheating.
        The four levels of questions are up to the teacher. For ikan, students ask each other siapa nama? For babi, they ask this and tinggal dimana? For the beruang level, they ask both about nama and tempat tinggal and also ask umur berapa? For orangutan, they add in apa kabar to me. Technically if the person they ask the question to makes a mistake, they should either start again or choose a new partner. The element of luck means it is not always the same person who wins!
        Variation: mistakes in word order/answer student drops down an evolutionary step.

        Just a few of the ones i can remember. Will add more when i think of them! Have you played any of these successfully in your language classroom? Do you have some you’d like to share?