What did you learn today?


I’m sure my parents were so tired of hearing that response to their daily question. For me, it was undiscovered introvert-ness. I had peopled all day and just wanted to go to my room for a bit.

Of course I learned. But I didn’t have anything to talk about. Seven hours of class after class, you need time to digest that.

Something similar happens EVERY DAY in the Comprehension based communicative language classroom. Or the TCI classroom. Or the TPRS classroom. Whatever you want to call it.

When we teach to the subconscious mind, that is, for acquisition, students DON’T feel like they’re learning. They can do more on assessments, they can write more on timed writes. BUT they don’t see it like that. Students want to know they can do something with language. They want to ‘FEEL’ like they’re learning.

This semester I have remedied the “I don’t learn anything in his class, all we do is tell stories in Spanish” problem.

And it is with a few simple questions.

“What new words did you learn today?” This is a cheap trick, because they probably didn’t acquire the words yet. BUT it gives students a chance to think about the fact that we ARE slowly but surely building their vocabulary and their ability to uphold discourse.

“What words/phrases are you ready to use?” This one surprises me when I hear answers. Today someone in Spanish 2 said they felt more comfortable using the word ‘blanco’ (white). In my mind I’m like, we did colors ALL THE TIME last year, and you just now feel comfortable using the word for white? But on the other hand, each student is special, individual, and the speed of their acquisition is different than others. Today was the magic number for that student to be able to use the word ‘white’. But you know what? I drew their attention to the fact that they are learning something.

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