Martina Bex is Luar Biasa!

Are you thinking that maybe you might like to dip your toes in the TCI/TPRS ocean this year? If so, then Martina Bex has a brilliant series about how to do this. Her latest post is called ‘TPRS 101 : Give it a Try’ and you can read it here. I highly recommend this post because she has clearly outlined the steps to follow for your first ever lesson. The only thing to keep in mind is that this is for secondary language teachers, so the questions I would ask  my primary students would be based entirely on language they are already familiar with mixed together with lots of cognates. Eg where did you go yesterday, who did you see yesterday, what did you eat, what did you drink? My students understand the Indonesian concept of ‘yesterday’ meaning sometime in the past, it might have actually been yesterday or it might have been last month. Very useful when simplifying language and keeping it comprehensible. 

For my students I could introduce the target structure ‘dapat’ (am thinking dikasih may be too confusing. ) ‘Dapat apa?’ And then ask that student ‘Dapat Xbox tetapi mau apa?’ Which uses all familiar language except ‘dapat’ which is the vocabulary being targeted and has to be used repetively to ensure acquisition. 

What other questions could we ask Indonesian students whose vocabulary is very limited? Feel free to add in the comment section below. 

Dadar Gulung

Traditionally in term 4, my year 7 classes study a cooking recipe before cooking it in groups because, lets face it, anything to do with cooking is popular and it’s a positive note for them to finish on after 8 years of learning Indonesian at primary school. This year, the challenge for me was adapting such a unit of work to be compatible with TCI methodology.
As usual, I began the term by asking the students in each class to vote for the food their class woud like to cook. Each class narrowed their wishlist down to 2; a savoury and a sweet recipe. Previously I split the 9 week term in half, with classes studying recipe #1 for the first 4 weeks, before focusing on recipe #2 over the final 4 weeks. The final week is always a right-off with graduation, class  parties etc and it’s nice to have a week up my sleeve just in case! I quickly discovered though that attempting two recipes was one recipe too many. Thus for the majority of the term we focused on the one recipe that both classes had chosen: Dadar Gulung.

In adapting this unit of work, my first task was to simplify the ‘authentic’ recipe drastically to reduce the large amount of unfamiliar and unnecessary vocabulary. This turned out to be even easier than I imagined. Yet, what I couldn’t avoid was the long list of ingredients, mostly low frequency vocabulary except for maybe water. Here is my recipe  in English and following it is the CI version.

Here is my simplified recipe:dadar gulung recipe

Here’s my adapted version of the method:

  1. Campurkan gula dan kelapa. Goreng dan aduk. Angkat.
  2. Campurkan tepung, gula, garam, telur, pandan dan susu di mangkok besar. Aduk.
  3. Panaskan minyak.
  4. Kasih satu sendok besar campuran dadar dan goreng dua menit.
  5. Balik dadar dan goreng satu menit lagi.
  6. Angkat.
  7. Ulangi.
  8. Taruh campuran kelapa/gula di dadar. Lipat dan gulung.
  9. Selamat makan!

I decided to tackle the ingredients first with the thought that as soon as they were acquired,  the method would be largely (although still not i+1) comprehensible. I began with a google search for images and found a large image of each ingredient. I then printed an A4 copy of each and laminated them. I didn’t label (ie write the Indonesian on) the pictures which at times was useful and other times frustrating. Probably should have though to assist with acquisition. I began by introducing this new vocabulary and encouraging students to come up with ways they could remember each. Both classes suggested remembering ‘minyak’ (oil) is  easy because it is yuck (yak)!! Next students got into 6 groups (the number of trestle tables in my room). Each group was given 11 sheets of A5 paper & 11 laminated cards, each with one of the ingredient words on it. As a team, each ingredient had to illustrated, one per piece of paper. Here are just a few of them:

We then played a game to get as many repetitions of this new vocabulary  as possible: all picture sheets and cards were turned upside down and mixed together in the centre of the table. On go, teams had to turn everything over and then match up the illustration with the word card. When groups had played this several times with their own pictures, they were asked to stand and rotate to another table and we replayed with the pictures from another team. This was hilarious because some of the pictures were left field. You can imagine what some teams thought of some of the gula merah pics!! When the teams were at the final table, I then added a further variation to the game by asking the teams to nominate their best 2 players to play off against the other teams and after that round asked the groups to nominate the 2 players who had participated the least for a final competition. In each team there were passive team members, some were lacking in confidence while others were over ruled by more dominant team members, so this gave them a chance to participate and shine. My instruction to the non-players insisted that their hands remain under the table and to only speak in Indonesian! This worked beautifully! More repetitions!! From me and their fellow students!

From that lesson onwards, I began lessons with a vocabulary review by asking students to tell me what the ingredients are for dadar gulung. (Dadar gulung pakain apa?)The only word which stumped them right to the end was kelapa parut!! Considering most of the language used in this unit is low frequency, it will be interesting to see how much is retained long term.

The next lesson I planned to teach included a cooking demo so that the students could both watch the method and listen to the recipe in context while completing a listen and draw however it was precisely that week I fell sick. Such a bummer. Unfortunately by the time I was well again, end of year interruptions and severe depletion of energies resulted in this not happening. Instead students did the listen and draw without the demo, cloze and a ‘unjumble the sentences’ type of activity. It was very rushed towards the end due to the loss of time which was such a shame.

I also had to squeeze in a very quick introduction to the 2nd recipe the classes were each cooking. One class chose Mie Goreng Telur Ala Ibu MIa (which was perfect because I coud recycle most of the dadar gulung method vocabulary) and the other class had chosen mie goreng. In those lessons, we also had to finalise groups  (students choose their own) and determine the equipment needed to cook the recipes. It was very rushed but thankfully it all finished well.

When classes cook, I provide the ingredients and students have to bring in the equipment as they will be cooking the recipes by themselves in their group. I do it this way for several reasons – the main reason being that I firmly believe students should take equal responsibility in preparing for this. It also weeds out the apathetic students who have in the past sabotaged the experience for the others in their group.  These non contributing students are divided out amongst the junior primary classes to ‘help’. This year though, for the first time ever, every student cooked!! The one student who didn’t bring anything in had spoken to me privately explaining how difficult this would be for him, and he was fortunately in a group being supervised by one of their Mums who knew him and his circumstances well.  Phew, because this was the only thing we did all year that he showed any interest in and it was great for him to finish up on a positive note. A final bonus for doing it this way is that students take home all the dirty dishes and I don’t get left with the washing up!

I encourage groups to invite a ‘supervisor’ for several reasons. The supervisor can be a parent, an older brother or sister (lovely opportunity to catch up with ex students who themselves get a kick out of revisiting an Indonesian cooking lesson) or a responsible family member/friend. Having community members is great for PR but more importantly, the electricity board in my room cannot support more than 4 electric frypans at any one time.  Thus a supervisor enables groups to cook elsewhere in the school, either in our canteen, the staffroom or even in their own classroom. The added bonus of this is that I usually end up with only 1 or 2 groups cooking in the Indonesian classroom!!  Bliss.

I begin the cooking lesson by handing out copies of the recipes and then standing back as the groups organise their ingredients.
Here are a few photos taken from one of the classes:

Firstly, the ingredients as I set them out. Some are portioned already and some aren’t.

Students helping themselves to the ingredients

Students cooking:

The unit of work was finished with a Kahoot! challenge.  What an amazing and engaging way to complete the unit. As I said in my previous post, I had issues with lagging which we still haven’t been able to trouble shoot even with Kahoot! support. Quite a shame really because it has so much potential. I intend to investigate it further next year in the computer room and see if by eliminating the ipads, the lagging stops. It was such a fun way to wrap up the unit with a concentration on structures. Even kelapa parut was learned by the end!

Overall, in reflection, I feel that this topic was more of a ‘bail out’ and whether this was due to insufficient time or that it still needs a lot of tweaking, I’m not quite sure. Also at this time of the year, it is more important to do what is manageable because of the sheer number of balls teachers juggle with end of year requirements.  Another issue is that the year 7’s in term 4 are challenging and the sooner the  SA government moves them to high school in line with other states and our national curriculum the better, but that’s a whole different topic!

Almost Midterm Reflections

The end of week four has just arrived, thankfully, as I am so exhausted. Our community has a variety of nasty viruses in circulation at the moment which has had in some classes, a devastating affect. I just hope the sore throat I feel coming on is just the result of my previous class which consists of several challenging students!

This term, I approached my story slightly differently to how I have done so before. The main target structure for the current story is bisa (can/ to be able to do something) but I also wanted menyanyi (sing) & mencium (kiss/smell) to be taught explicitly too because both are great TPR words. I love the way Eric Herman uses TPR,to introduce target structures and know that I will be able to get good mileage from both words during brain breaks.

I firstly focused on bisa. This took about 2-3 lessons. I began by focusing on the skills and abilities that students identified having and then had a fun lesson asking students, “Siapa bisa handstand?” If students raised their hand, I then asked them, “Billy bisa handstand?” and if they didn’t raise their hand I would go right up to the student, look them in the eye and then ask suspiciously, “Jill bisa handstand?” I then circled their answers briefly before inviting the student to the center of the chairs which were arranged in a U for this lesson. The student then did the handstand and I was able to get many repetitions of bisa. Billy bisa handstand? Billy atau Bobby bisa handstand etc! One class asked me, “Bu Cathy bisa handstand?” To which I answered,”Tidak bisa.” yet they insisted I show them, so we all had a good laugh because I could barely got my feet off the ground. More repetitions of tidak bisa!!  Such a fun and relaxed lesson.

My lesson on mencium was a culture break – because it was largely in English. We talked about the differences between mencium and kiss/smell and also why in Indonesian, mencium means to kiss and to smell. This collaborative blog has a post which clearly explains the various ways in which Indonesians greet each other. I had students pair up and practise hand shaking (gentle and finishing on your heart), mencium (cheek to cheek while doing a gentle smell/sniff) and also kasih hormat kepada guru (holding the teachers hand to the students forehead). We also demonstrated all 3 greetings at a whole school assembly with a group of young students finishing up the demonstration by showing respect to our principal. It was a hoot.

I  next did Martina Bex’s wordle activity as outlined in my previous post. The link to this and other activities is on the new TCI activity page, found in the top band of the homepage. All these activities meant the lead in to the story took much longer than it did in terms one and two. Because bisa is such an important word in Indonesia and comes up constantly in a variety of contexts, I really believe it was vital to devote several lessons focusing on it. Also now that I am into my second semester of TCI, I feel a lot less pressure to cover topics/target structures quickly which has been a wonderful revelation. It is so empowering to be able to focus on student acquisition as apposed to keeping up with a rigid term overview. 

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!!

Bisa = Can/ be able to do……..

We are starting off this term with a focus on the target structures ‘bisa’ & ‘tidak bisa’. We asked our mentor, Catharina, for a story and she suggested:

Lucy tidak punya mulut. Kasihan Lucy. Lucy bisa makan? Tidak. Lucy tidak bisa makan. Lucy bisa minum? Tidak. Lucy tidak bisa minum. Lucy bisa berkata? Tidak. Lucy tidak bisa berkata. John punya dua mulut. John beruntung. John bisa makan? Ya John bisa makan. John bisa makan banyak! John bisa makan dua eskrim. John bisa berkata. John bisa menyanyi. John baik hati. John kasi Lucy satu mulut. Jadi, Lucy bisa berkata. Lucy bisa makan. Lucy bisa minum. Dan Lucy bisa mencium John!

I love this story because it not only revisits punya and kasi (useful for new students), there is also plenty of scope for the actors to ham it up and entertain the rest of the class!!

I began my lessons by revisiting the expectations in the Indonesian classroom. I decided upon this mainly as I felt I didn’t have the energy after 2 weeks of being unwell (great way to spend my holidays!), yet funnily enough, I discovered it required more energy to teach a non TCI lesson!! Still it was beneficial to revisit the expectations

1. Look

2. Listen

3. Respond to questions

4. Signal when unclear or too fast

5. Respect everyone and the process

because we have several new students who have started this term.

I then began preparing for the  story by introducing ‘bisa’. I did this by going through the student questionnaires. One of the questions on the questionnaire was

image image image image

I looked for answers that I could either explain with a picture (to make it comprehensible) or the word was a cognate (similar to the English word). I then made up a notebook file for each class. On each page was a picture of the acitivity and underneath it was the Indonesian word. For example, the drum page had an image I found on google images of Animal (from The Muppets) drumming furiously and underneath it I had the Indonesian ‘bermain drum’ written. I then used this file to PQA to get repetitions of bisa. I asked the class, “Siapa bisa bermain drum?” Several hands went up and knowing that it was Jack who had written he could drum, I left him till last. Harry had his hand up, so I asked him, “Harry bisa bermain drum?” Harry answered, “ya”. I responded with, “Murid murid, Harry bisa bermain drum. Harry bisa bermain drum?” The kelas then answered a mixture of ya/tidak. I then handed Harry 2 drum sticks and a practise pad while asking him again, Harry bisa bermain drum?” Harry answered, ‘ya’ and then beat the drum pad with no skill at all!! It cracked us all up. I repeated this with all the others who claimed they could drum and then finally handed the pad over to Jack who wowed us all with a fancy rhythm using rimshots. It was soo coool. Lovely to see him shine in class as he is such a quiet student who is generally happy to leave the limelight to Harry & the others. Other entertaining abilities included menyanyi (students actually got up and sang to us), terbang (the sight of a year 7 boy insisting he could fly and then standing in front of his friend imploring him to help with the demonstration was hilarious), berdansa & gimnastiks (had quite a few students demonstrate back bends and the splits).

Step 1 of TPRS = establish meaning – which incorporates introducing the target structure and selecting a gesture for it. As bisa is such an important and often used word in Indonesian conversation, I felt it vital that the gesture we ended up with was a practical and lasting one. So I left that part of step 1 till the 6/7 lesson. Initally some of the suggested gestures were ridiculous because there was no way they would help us to remember or even think of bisa/can. After a lot of discussion they chose the opening a can gesture, which really works! Thus for that lesson, when I did PQA with them, I gestured each time I said ‘bisa’. It felt so much better doing PQA with a gesture. Gesturing helped with student acquisition because it slowed me down considerably; it was like a visual point and pause.  It felt as though students in the lessons that included the gesture had a deeper level of acquisition than those who have yet to learn the gesture. Very interesting.

Term 2 Story – Lucy Mau Jaket

This term we have been working towards the story recommended to us by Catharina. We are about to head into week 5 and not counting week 3 (our cultural break with Ibu Mia), we have been working towards this story for 3 weeks. Here is my version of the story:

Ada perempuan.
Nama perempuan Lucy
Lucy dingin.
Lucy tidak punya jaket.
Lucy mau pakai jaket.
Lucy lihat laki laki kecil.
Nama laki laki Will.
Will punya jaket tetapi jaket Will terlalu kecil.
Lucy lihat Pak Hudson. (Our principal, who has kindly lent us an enormous jacket especially for this story)
Pak Hudson punya jaket tetapi jaket Pak Hudson terlalu besar.
Lucy lihat Jane.
Jane punya jaket dan jaket Jane pas.
Jane kasih Lucy jaket.
Lucy pakai jaket.
Lucy berkata, “terima kasih Jane.”
Jane berkata, “Sama sama.”

The names of the 2 central characters are flexible and when I first told the story last week to classes I chose names of students who were prepared to act out the story and for whom the props would fit according to the story! Naturally this didn’t always go to plan, but mostly the students pretended and went along with the story!!

In the first weeks of term, I introduced the structures terlalu besar, terlalu kecil and pas, trialing the concept of visual PQA which I read about on Ben Slavic’s website. See this post for more information. I continue to refer to and add to the notebook file as I go along. It truly has been an engaging  technique for introducing and/or reviewing structures.

After I was reasonably confident students had acquired the above structures, I then introduced the cognate, jaket and the verb ‘pakai’. As I also want students to be aware of the vocabulary for other forms of clothing preparation for their freewrite next week, I chose ‘topi’ as in term 4 when we have a compulsory hat wearing policy and ‘sepatu’ because with winter almost here, I need to prepare for the seasonal after recess & lunch JP student requests to remove muddy shoes!

Thus I introduced the structures:

pakai topi
pakai jaket &
pakai sepatu

and established gestures that represented each. I have now incorporated a TPR session into all my lessons to both reinforce and review the gestures we have established so far. As Catharina has found with her students, Simon says (Bu Cathy berkata in my case) is one of their favourite games and once students become complacent, Catharina recommends ramping it up by saying one thing and doing the gesture of another. My students ABSOLUTELY love it too!! Go figure!

A fun activity I did was put together a collection of soft teddies, monkeys and orangutans as well as a pile of baby clothes. In small groups, students had to dress a teddy and then come to a consensus about whether the clothing was terlalu besar, terlalu kecil or pas. It was hilarious and students from all year levels had a ball. While there was a lot of English in the overall dressing of the teddies, the discussion about the clothing was 100% in Indonesian which was awesome. I also had a ‘tukang foto’ who took photos of groups once they had all agreed on the clothing size/fit. If we had time, I asked groups to show us their teddies and then tell us all what was terlalu besar, terlalu kecil atau pas. Some groups incorporated the vocabulary of other forms of clothing using the posters I had up on the white board but the main aim was to get repetitions on the target structures. The following lesson, I put up some of the following  photos taken  by the tukang foto on the smartboard to provide an opportunity to combine the reps of all target structures while circling.













This week we are going to focus firstly on the story via retells, readings, and then in the second lesson, I might try one of these TCI activities that I have found in my emails from the moretprs listserve. The activities are:

  1. Draw & Guess – Each student to choose one line from the story and then illustrate it on a clear board. When all are finished, students will be invited to come to the front of the class and the rest of the class have to guess which line from the story it illustrates! Source: Niki Tottingham
  2. Flyswatter – choose 4 (or more) illustrations from the above activity. Arrange them on the floor in the middle of a circle. Hand out flyswatters to 4 students. Say one of the sentences from the story and students have to swat the picture that matches the line from the story. Best of 3 wins. Source Todally Comprehensible Latin
  3. Noisy Pictionary –  2 teams  – Everybody is in one of the teams and everybody participates. One artist from each team comes to the board. Show them  a sentence from the story. They then run to the whiteboard and draw the phrase for their team mates who scream out the sentence it is. Point to the team who first match the sentence with the illustration. (While this sounds a great game – I am wondering if it might be easier to manage if each group takes it in turns and they are timed. I also like the  idea of drawing it on the smartboard so that I can save a digital copy of the illustrations!) Source: Bryce Hedstrom.

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…