The winter months can be a rough time for teachers and students alike, so I thought I would share a simple and fun activity to break up the routine. The activity is called “Quis sum?” (Who am I?). Language teachers have been using versions of the this forever, but here is how I use it to provide compelling comprehensible input:
1) Think of a celebrity or fictional character that your kids have definitely heard of. (This works best if it is not a character from something you’ve read in class.)
2) Tell your students that you’re going to describe a celebrity or fictional character. Their job is to raise their hand as soon as they know who it is.
3) Describe the character to your students in L2 using words that they understand.
4) Keep giving more and more obvious hints until most hands are raised.
5) Call on students until someone guesses correctly.
6) Reveal the answer!
Here’s an example of one that I did after we read chapter 5 of Rachel Ash and Miriam Patrick’s Pluto: Fabula Amoris. I just made this up on the spot.
puella sum. cum monstro habito. olim monstrum me cepit et iam fugere non possum. monstrum erat vir, sed iam est monstrum. viri et feminae eum timent, sed eum non timeo. incipio eum amare. montrum cum multis amicis habitat. amici non sunt humani. unus amicus Lumiere vocatur. patrem videre volo, sed cum monstro habitare volo. monstrum erat iratus. iam monstrum est laetus. perterrita eram. iam laeta sum. quis sum?
I called on an 8th-grade boy who guessed correctly that I was talking about Belle from Beauty and the Beast. After I told him he was correct, the class erupted into conversations in English about why they had guessed differently.
- The kids loved this and begged for another round.
- The focus was entirely on guessing the person and not on “practicing language” or “getting reps”. This allowed the students to focus on the task and not on the language itself.
- I almost exclusively used words from the chapter we just finished reading, but it didn’t feel like a “reading activity” to the kids. Maybe instead of coming up with novel ways to re-read the same story, we should just use entirely different stories?