I’ve been asked to provide concrete examples of what I do in the classroom that has students using verbs in various persons and tenses (even moods and voices!). So here goes……
I have lots of picture files, made up of pictures torn out of magazines and glued onto card stock cut from used manila folders. When I say lots, I mean lots. Students can select one of a person and develop their own persona. With that persona, they can talk about what they do in the 1st person; we can talk about what other people’s personas do (3rd person) and what we all do (plural). I can address the persona directly, using 2nd person.
Pam Katz developed a “country grid? where students write down 7 to 9 countries down the left side and across the top various categories like newspaper, money, car, “good-bye,? count, etc. We then write in cells that are at the intersection of country and topic. We then write in verbs at the top in our TL for spend, drive, read, say good-bye, eat, drink, etc. We use shameless stereotypes e.g. in Italy they eat spaghetti, so for Spanish the verb written in at the top is “se come? or “se comen? and on the left is “Italia? and in the cell at the intersection of the two is “espaguetis? so the student can say, “En Italia se comen los espaguetis” or “V Italii ed’at spageti”. Both of these forms demonstrate in the respective languages the special form used for general statements like “one eats? or “on mange’.
Then, you can expand this to past trips where you tell what you did – perfective, or what you used to do when you lived in Germany – “used to drink beer? or what you will do next summer when you go there “will read Yomiuri Shimbun in Japan,? etc. “I want you to speak Italian in Italy” gives us the subjunctive, etc.
You can supplement the above exercise with country flags and other images.
Now, IMHO, one way to see if students are getting this is to have them write it out as well as say it in class, so for the above ex they could describe their trip around the world and write about what they drove, spent, ate, drank. spoke, how they said good-by, counted, etc. in each country. This could be turned into a collage of the trip, etc.
In coop groups students can be responsible for telling something about themselves, their group members, the teacher, etc.
The point here is that we are giving students the tools, scaffolding, for communication and the reason to communicate by using the imagination, much like tprs does, engaging the students in the construction of the content and context.
For those of us who have read the evidence in a way that discourages focus on forms and elevates meaning and context to the level of genuine learning vehicle, these kind (yes, kind) of ex delivers on that. For those who believe in the value of learning as memorization of meaningless facts, the verb charts await and they can be fun, too.
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