For anyone wanting an easy strategy to introduce CI to a class (and for you as the teacher to ease into it), here is a great activity. It is a wonderful way to learn about students and for them to learn about each other. Circling with Balls is staple of any CI/TPRS classroom.
- Give students an index card and have them write their names at the top. I use different color cards for different periods.
- in English (or in the target language depending on the level), ask two questions to which students will draw their responses on the card - the question may vary depending on their level, e.g.,
- what animal do you have or want to have?
- what is something which you like do?
- where in the world have you visited or want to visit?
- who is your favorite celebrity? actor? singer?
- if you were to be any animal, what animal would you be?
- Collect the cards and now pick 3 students' cards.
- Write any unknown necessary vocabulary on board along with their English meanings in order to establish meaning. For level 1, you will probably end up writing all of the vocabulary and various word-form changes. Whenever one of these words is used, point/pause at the word before moving on.
- Now in the target language ask student #1 about one of their picture (again, it may require pointing/pausing). The student will respond in the target language: "O Rhonda, do you HAVE a snake? (no). Oh, do you WANT a snake? (yes) Oh, you want a snake. O class, Rhonda wants a snake. (ohhh).
- Depending on your students' level, you can go further by asking, "O Rhonda, do you want a big snake? (yes), Oh, you want a big snake? O class, Rhonda wants a big snake (ohh). O class, does Rhonda want a big snake? (yes). O class, does Rhonda want a big snake or a small snake? (a big snake)? O class, does Rhonda want a small snake? (no) O class, does Rhonda want a big cow? (no) O class, what does Rhonda want? (a big snake).
- Move onto to student #2 and do the same routine. After finding out what student #2 asks, you can go back and ask the class "Does student #2 want a big snake? (no) Who wants a big snake? (Rhonda) Ah, Rhonda wants a big snake. What does student #2 want?"
- Check off those students whom you interviewed afterwards, and start anew with three new students the next day until all you have gone through all of the cards.
- I do this starting on Day 1 of class. Because I have written meanings on the board and implement point/pause, the activity is completely comprehensible. Even though there is output, it is totally scaffolded and limited.
- This is a great way to know your students and to find out information which you can use to personalize readings and stories about them. The whole activity will take about 10 minutes a day, but students will still remember months later what other students answered.
- It is a great way to practice circling and to get in lots of repetitions!