Civility Online

I agree that we absolutely need to support new teachers in their quest to become better practitioners of TPRS and deliverers of CI. I felt very badly that people were called bullies on this list serve, and it’s been sitting in my craw for a few days now–and I wondered why it was bothering me so much. Still working that out for myself. Not here to judge–just curious about the use of the term.

My thoughts:

I have seen zero evidence of bullying on this listserve. 

I have seen difference of opinion.

I have seen disagreement.

I have seen the usual human difficulty in interpreting people’s intentions when using the written word to communicate ideas in an online format.

I’m not even certain I’ve seen rudeness, much less bullying.

I have noticed very distinct communication styles between men and women on this list–that’s a whole other topic.

Perhaps clarifying the definitions of a some terms might help.

Here are some comments culled from an article on the subject of bullying by Inge Whitson, psychotherapist. The full article can be read here: Rude vs. Mean vs. Bullying: Defining the Differences

Rude = inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else. Incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned inconsideration, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.

Mean =  involves “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Unlike unthinking rudeness, “mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone….Very often, mean behavior is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.”

Rudeness and meanness are different from bullying in important ways that should be understood and differentiated when it comes to intervention.

Bullying = “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power. People who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse — even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.”  Here are some examples: social exclusion, hazing, or rumor spreading, and cyberbullying. The key aspect to all of them is the ongoing nature of the behavior, which leaves the victims feeling powerless and fearful.

Un Regalo Especial

Los Diablitos Amorosos

In a TPRS class, the teacher introduces a small core set of focus verb phrases to students. After making certain the student(s) understand(s) the meaning of the verb phrase (written translation, gesture, picture, etc.), the teacher asks customized or personalized questions of the students in the Target Language so that

  • the phrase is heard many times in context,
  • students understand the meaning more profoundly from being used in context,
  • ideas start to bubble up from the students’ comments during the questioning which can be incorporated in a story.

Continue reading “Un Regalo Especial”

Big Changes, Little Changes


I lived in San Francisco, CA in the United States all my life until January 1, 2014. Since then, I have lived in México. During that time, I have lived in Mexico City, Oaxaca, Mérida and now, for the last four months, in the state of Jalisco, México near Lake Chapala. After receiving permission from the Mexican government to work independently (no easy feat), I started my own business teaching language to private clients. As you know, I teach with comprehensible input techniques and specifically with TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storyasking).

I had always taught in a school setting and with large groups of children, young people or adults. Now, I work with individuals and small groups. This setting is making me a better TPRS teacher. I see immediately what works and what doesn’t. I have never been MORE convinced of the efficacy of using Comprehensible Input to help students acquire language.

This blog is changing.

  1. If you teach Spanish or any other language and want to learn more about CI and TPRS, this blog may help you out.
  2. If you are interested in Mexican culture, this blog may help you out.
  3. If you are interested in visiting México and becoming more fluent in Spanish, this blog may help you out.

So, here we go.

La Fuerza de Voluntad – Focus!

Good focus, for students in CI classrooms, is key to their successful acquisition of their new language. Not only is it a challenge for students to focus, it is a challenge for the teacher to help them focus without constantly nagging. What are good strategies to keep students focused on a language that is not always 100% comprehensible to them? How do we help them develop that exquisite attention they need to make the language gains we desire?

The mind naturally wanders–often. As an adult, I have enough awareness and mental discipline to regulate my attention toward things I judge important–bringing my attention back over and over to what it is I want to know. Kids, with poor attention regulation, don’t have that. What can we do?

An excellent psychology teacher from Stanford, *Dr. Kelly McGonigal, has written an article about children and focus. She has a simple idea we might try in our own classrooms with our students.  Do you agree that this could help?

When are times in a reading class where we might use this strategy? How could we keep it from becoming just another nag?

Mr. Willpower/Sr. Fuerza de Voluntad

*Kelly McGonigal, PhD, is the author of The Willpower Instinct (Penguin 2011) and Yoga for Pain Relief (New Harbinger 2009), a psychology lecturer at Stanford University, and a senior teacher for the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.

She’s Put Me Out of Business

Mira does it again!

Need I say more? I think everything you might need to help you with a novel is right here in this manual. I haven’t been working because of complications from hand surgery in April–but, when I get back, purchasing this will be the first thing I do. Can’t wait! Hope to post about using it with Agentes secretos y el mural de Picasso in the future.