Four Easy Steps to a Successful Foreign Language Homeschool Class - Step 3

Step 3: Cook, play and live life in class.

This step is easy to understand and easy to explain!  What could be more compelling than food to a hungry student?  As homeschoolers, you may well be meeting in a home and have the option to cook in a kitchen, or use a blender or hot plate!  We always have a snack break in class, and this provides lots of opportunities for compelling, comprehensible, repetitive input - “Pass me the oranges, please.  Pass the napkins. Do you want water? Do you want soda? Class, does Joe want water or soda?”

Similarly, games also provide lots of compelling, comprehensible, repetitive input.  “Your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn.”  “Where is the ball?  Pass me the ball!  Pass me the ball!  Pass me the ball!”

‘Live life’ -  during personalized questions, you learn a lot about your students.  As the students realize you are interested in them, the class itself becomes more compelling.  If you can integrate some of their individualities into the TPRS/CI stories and activities, still more compelling.  One week I happened to learn that a couple of my students had very little experience cooking, and had rarely, if ever, broken an egg.  So the next week we made soufflé - and the neophytes got to break all the eggs. “Have you ever broken an egg?  Yes, I have broken an egg. Today, I broke 6 eggs!”

Another week, our story grew to involve soup….lettuce soup.  Who knew?…There actually is such a thing!  I found a recipe online, and one week for our break we prepared “sopa de lechuga”. “Clase, a mí me gusta sopa.  Wanda, ¿te gusta sopa? ¿Te gusta sopa de tomate?  ¿Te gusta sopa de lechuga?  Clase, a Wanda le gusta sopa de tomate o sopa de lechuga?” 

Finally, look for a service project you can do with your class. It might not involve too much repetitive input, but do it because you can.  This is homeschool.  Have fun! For example, you could lead a bilingual Christmas Carol sing-along or decorate the local library with a themed display. The class could research nonprofits in their country of choice, choose a project that excites them, and raise money for it with a bake sale, salsa sale, or spaghetti dinner. One time my students helped with odd jobs at a largely hispanic daycare and after-school center. So many possibilities, limited only by your imagination!

Service projects, cooking and games, with a little thought, can all provide compelling, comprehensible, repetitive input.  They easily work towards meeting at least four of the five goals set out at the beginning of this "4 Steps to Success" series - students communicate in the target language, and both students and teachers continue to learn and grow.  The fifth goal - not too much prep time for the teacher - might seem out of  reach for complicated cooking or service projects.  However, as long as the teacher doesn't leave things until the last minute - and thoughtfully involves students in planning snacks, bringing ingredients and equipment, cleaning up, and in choosing and planning the service project, then prep time even for these more complicated activities can be minimized.  And anyway, whatever teacher prep time is required is certainly more fun than grading the grammar worksheets you are NOT handing out as a TPRS/CI teacher!