Three Levels of Silly

How many Sillies does it take to make one Hilarious? Are there levels of silliness in a story? 

Level 1 of silliness is reading a story script that is silly. An example would be any story by Amy Catania. Her stories are just plain silly.

Level 2 of silliness comes in when stories are circled out of the story script into something new. At this level, comprehensible input is occurring, but not a lot of personalization. The class suggests that there is a moosinator chasing three bean burritos when the story script may have been merely about a tiger chasing a man.

Level 3 of silliness occurs when personalization occurs. The moosinator (moose/alligator combination) is not just any moosinator, but one wearing a t-shirt that says, “I swim in vats” (of soup in the school cafeteria). That the vats are just down the hallway from the kids in French class who are offering these bizarre suggestions is what takes the story to level 3 of silliness.

What if your story doesn’t get to all three levels? It simply doesn’t matter. The real question in TPRS is, “Are the students understanding the target language as an organic whole whose meaning supercedes everthing else?  When you do this, you are practicing the art of teaching.

Eventually, after new teachers learn basic comprehensible input, the other levels of silliness follow naturally.  It is all a natural process that, like all good things, takes time.


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