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Let me explain.
Remember how your own child learned to speak? First, she listened and watched you. It took months but then, she spoke, and started approximating language?
Stephen Krashen’s research shows that we learn second languages in a similar way. The Total Physical Response (TPR) method of teaching a foreign language, based on Krashen’s research and developed by Dr. James Asher, asserts that visual and listening comprehension must be developed before speaking occurs. Ever hear someone say, “I can understand Spanish but can’t speak it well.” That’s how our brains work – we absorb language and try to “codebreak” it in our brains. TPR tries to recreate this listening and watching process like we do as infants.
So, TPR activities involve moving the body while learning foreign words or phrases. Remember Cynthia’s lesson on French words? She showed the kids a picture, said the word, and taught a action. That’s TPR and it’s a great start for learning a foreign language, combined with direct instruction and such.
In this rhythmic story, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred, Vamos writes a cumulative tale about making arroz con leche (rice pudding.) Throughout the story, she introduces nouns in Spanish, which, because of her format, repeat as she adds on. Vamos says she was inspired by This is the House that Jack Built.
“This is the duck
that went to the market
to buy the sugar
to flavor the leche
made fresh by the vaca
while teaching the cabra
that churned the crema
to make the mantequilla
that went into the cazuela that the farm maiden stirred.”
As you read the story and encounter a Spanish word, say it and act it out. Each time you come to that word, say it and act it out.
For example, you could pantomine drinking when you say “leche” or act like a goat when you say “cabra.”
Reread the book and add props to your actions.
Play “Simon Says” to practice the new Spanish words.
Activity and Discussion Guide. (printable, includes picture word cards.)
The folk-art illustrations, by Rafael Lopez, should all be framed, they’re stunning, don’t you think? The way he blends bold colors, . . . genius! He’s well known for Book Fiesta!, My Name is Celia, the 2008 poster “Voz Unida” for the Obama campaign and seven U.S. Postal Service stamps.
Comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of this gorgeous, bilingual story! Winner will be selected at random. Contest ends March 19, 2010.