Last week we had three days off school for Kanaval (Carnaval). During the break, Cenel Louis, Chris Low, and I attended a workshop for English teachers in Ansagalè. Cenel is the English teacher for LKM's secondary school, and I often work alongside him in the secondary English classes. The workshop was led by two American teachers and trained us in a language-teaching method called TPRS ("Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling" or "Total Physical Response Storytelling").
In TPRS, teachers create stories together with their class in the language being taught. The stories are intentionally funny, engaging, and use students from the class as characters. They use repetition, question words, and physical gestures to help students take in the language. Some goals of TPRS are that all students understand all language used in the classroom, that students produce language at their own pace, and that students grow comfortable with understanding and speaking before being asked to read and write the language-- all qualities that are unfortunately rare in foreign language teaching in Haiti. We hope to make them more common with our use of TPRS at LKM!
About 25 Haitian English teachers participated in the workshop, along with 10 adult English-language learners. Each day, the workshop began with the workshop leaders teaching a TPRS English class to the 10 language learners, so that we could all observe TPRS methods in action. In the afternoon, we discussed the methods and practiced. Here is Cenel teaching some of the other English teachers using TPRS:
We have already begun putting our new knowledge into action at LKM. Last Friday, ninth-graders learned words for feelings and actions along with gestures. Yesterday, seventh-, eighth-, and tenth- graders began to create stories in their classes. Here are some photos: