I’m in love with the Hero’s Journey as a way of delivering comprehensible input to my learners. It’s so open-ended and makes it easy to personalize the story for each specific class.
Today my two o’clock class (2 hour block, Spanish 2) defined their protagonist, a friend of the protagonist, and the antagonist. This took about 30-35 minutes to accomplish, and was done entirely in Spanish. Through this dialogue of me asking questions and the learners making decisions, they arrived at our Hero’s Journey premise:
Carlos lost his hair during a mad scientist’s (Andrés*) experiment. With the help of his friend Marisol, Carlos tries everything in his power to get it back.
This premise is ridiculous. I think it’s the perfect way to bring up a variety of topics in context. Here is one possible tangent.
Me: Class, does Carlos comb is hair every morning?
Me: Why not?
Class: Carlos doesn’t have hair.
Me: Class, do I comb my hair every morning?
Half the class: Yes.
Other half of the class: No!
Me: I don’t?
One of the cheeky ones: No, you don’t have time.
Me: I don’t have time to comb my hair?
Same cheeky one: No, you’ve got two kids. It’s either comb your hair of drink coffee.
Me: Oh, that’s a good point. Class, I don’t comb my hair in the morning. I drink coffee.
Me: Class, who combs their hair every morning.
This is an example, but not too far from an actual conversation I’ve had in class. The authentic and comprehensible interactions lead to more engagement, which leads to more input, which leads to more acquisition. It’s a virtuous cycle, and one that you don’t get from the textbook.
A Deep Dive on Culture
I’ve been trying to come up with a way to incorporate more culture in my class. I decided that Hero’s Journey would be my in. My two o’clock class decided that the main character is from Colombia, and so we will do a deep dive on that country (Do I smell coffee in my future?).
The characters will also make trips to Cuba, México and Paraguay. We will explore these countries too, albeit to a lesser extent.
One more thing
I haven’t had a chance to type up the character descriptions yet, but you’ll be able to read them soon over at Read to Speak Spanish.
*My students know me as Andrés, so I always play up how handsome, young, and smart I am. I really lay it on thick, and students generally have a blast understanding sarcasm in Spanish.