What I learned from Jason Fritze …

I got the chance to observe Jason Fritze in the Elementary Language lab at iFLT 2019. The 14 students were beginners in 4th-6th grade.

TPR – Total Physical Response

Divides his class into two sections México y España.

TPR is in 3rd person. Basic classroom management using the same words but in the  Imperative “command” form

se levanta (stand up)

se sienta (sits down)

para (stops)

camina (walks)

corre (runs)

se ríe (laughs) como Santa (like Santa), como un monstruo (like a monster)

llora (cries)

despacio (slows)

rápido (fast)

en circulos (in circles)

come (eats) un taco, la silla (the chair), ¿Quién come fruta (prop)? (Who eats fruit?) ¿Quién come hamburguesas (prop)? (Who eats hamburgers?) una naranja (an orange), doe naranjas (two oranges), muchas naranjas (a lot of oranges)

abre (opens) el refri (the refrigerador) (makes noise of a squeaky door) despacio (slow), rápido (fast), tres veces (3 times)

tiene hambre (is hungry)

toca (touches) la silla (chair), el refrigerador, el estómago, el suelo (floor), el suelo y la silla 3 veces (floor and the chair 3 times)

mira (looks) el television, el piano, mírame (look at me), el suelo, el estomago, la tortilla, ¿Hay una tortilla en el suelo?

se cae (falls) (gives direction before action – do this without hurting yourself or touching anyone else)

dibuja (draws) un monstruo, un gato (a cat), un animal grande (a big animal), un elefante

escribe (writes) tu nombre (your name), grande (big), pequeño (small)

Classroom Procedures 

Explaining rules based on Language acquisition = Babies are good at… Watching & Listening Carefully

Gestures for telling the teacher

  • to slow down
  • you don’t know what the teacher is saying
  • emergency

Raise your hand to speak English, Spanish you don’t have to raise your hand. If the student yells out English then the “cocodrilo come” “Ñam Ñam Ñam” Jason will say “Hay un problema” (There is a problem.) ¿Quién habla ingles? (Who is speaking English?) Then the student holds the cocodrilo. If later in class another student yells out then the 1st student who is currently holding the “cocodrilo” gets to throw the “cocodrilo” to the new student who just blurted out English. The student with the cocodrilo at the end of the class has to answer some questions about the story. It would also be a time to mini-conference about expectations and consequences.

** “El cocodrilo ataca a Marcos.” (The crocodile attacks Marcus.) If the student later in class speaks Spanish then Jason takes the cocodrilo back. “El cocodrilo llora” (The crocodile cries) because he wanted to eat the person.

When class is not answering Jason does a brain break of TPR then switches back to the activity he was doing.

When giving directions – Jason slows down and gives lots of repetitions and “either-or” questions to help students understand the directions in Spanish. For example, (I am writing in English but he says this next part in Spanish) “Take out the little papers (sentence strips). Eat the papers? Eat the papers or take them out? Yes, take them out. (Takes them out) ¿Eat the paper? ¿No? Eat the papers or put them in the “tortilla” (his name for the mini pocket charts)? Put them in the tortilla. ¿Put them in the little tortilla (pocket chart) or the big tortilla (his tortilla blanket)? Put them in the small tortilla.


  • A paper falls on the floor – Jason “Hay un problema” duh duh dummmmm. ¿El papel es bueno o malo? Es muy malo. ¿Dónde está el papel? ….en …. el… Clase says “suelo” Saca el papel.
  • Then later the trash falls. He does the same. He calls on a student to fix it “saca” Then circles “¿Eric come la basura?” ¿Eric dice “Ñam Ñam deliciosa”? ¡NO! ¿Dice “¡Guacala!”
  • Students don’t get a paper. Jason explains the problem in Spanish. Then has the students thank the student who gets them the papers. He circles multiple statements.

Uses a new word multiple times then asks what it might mean and writes it on the board with translation

If a student does something great then Jason directs that student to go to the “EASY” button and press it. If a student gets to touch it 3 times then they get a prize from his “prize bucket”

Jason says “SECRETO” and gets close to the students as they lean in to hear “the secret”

So when not all the class was gesturing, Jason points out a student doing the gestures. He says “I can tell Sarah is going to learn so quickly. She is doing all the gestures. Gestures help us learn quickly. Research tells us that.” Later in class… “Whose body is teaching them what “escribe” means?”

If a word or phrase might be questionable comprehension then he asks “Who might know what that means?”

“If you can’t draw, you get better with practice”

Make students hand out & put away but NOT bring the materials back to you. Teach them to put things in the materials place. It is one less step for you.

Review stories

REVIEW ACTIVITY –Divides the class by characters in the story. As the teacher retells the story the section with that character acts it out. (Assessment – he is watching for reaction & confidence in the students to tell him if they understand)

REVIEW ACTIVITY –Burritos – mini pocket charts with 6 sentence strips for students to put in order of the story with a partner

REVIEW ACTIVITY –Students get a storyboard. Jason shows a storyboard on his document camera. Creates a visual dictionary of words from the story and class. There is a large space to draw a picture of the vocabulary word and a small box to write the vocabulary word. He has words that he suggests then he asks students for words. (he also gives some drawing instructions to help if students need guidance) He might pick up a paper of a good artist to show and describe in Spanish on his document camera. He reminds them of the vocabulary word through actions or examples in the story. He has them draw specific scenes from the stories to show vocabulary words.

  • dibuja
  • escribe tu nombre
  • camina (student choice)
  • corre – El bebé corre rápido.
  • escucha (student choice)
  • el suelo
  • come – El refrigerador come a una persona.


** Later in the debrief, someone asked if he has his students keep a running

REVIEW ACTIVITY – The students get a handout of the story “El bebé malo” (story from day 1) with pictures and the text below each picture. Students have crayons. He reads it to them with questions clarifying the text and pointing out parts of the drawings. He adds details to the handout with a marker as he goes like…

  • the name of the supermarket.
  • punctuation to the text.
  • “Read the story until you find the word but” then since it is a new word, he writes the English above it.
  • number of the picture in the correct sequence


Gestures and Noises

¿Quien? (Who?) – Hoot like Harry Potter owls

Aplauso (Applause) – class claps (to celebrate Spanish, volunteers and more)

Dice (says) – hand to mouth and then out

Hay un problema – Dum Dum Dummmmmm

¿Qué? (What?) – Jason says ¿Queeeeeee? while pointing to one kid jumps up and says WHAT??

Uses BIG dialogue signs for important dialogue For example, “¡PARA!” (stop)

¿Dónde? (Where?) – puts a hand to forehead and looks around

¿Reacion? (Reaction?) – Jason asks for a reaction. Class acts surprised and impressed

Familia (family) –  repeats the world in the Adams family tune with snaps then reviews a family word like sister, mother, grandfather…

quiere comer – quiere (gimmie gesture with hands) then comer (pretends to eat)


Classroom Physical Set-up



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Story #2

(I do not have story #1 because it was the first day of the language lab which is not open to observers.)

(I do NOT include all the repetitions and comparisons that Jason makes while teaching. He goes SLOWS and asks lots of questions to make it comprehensible)

Brings multiple students up to the refrigerator for them to “take out a fruit” (He uses a trifold board like a pretend refrigerator with a chair behind with multiple food items for students to choose.


In the story below the bold words are what he has written on the board. (Target structures)

Clara va al refri. Abre el refri. ¿Hay un monstruo en el refri? Saca una comida. (class drum rolls waiting for which food the student will grab. Clara has options. Jason has not predetermined the order of the fruit.) Clara saca una naranja. ¿Quién en la clase come naranjas? (When a student pulls out food then Jason asks who like the food.)

English –  Clara goes to the fridge. She opens the fridge. Is there a monster in the fridge? She takes out food. Clara takes out an orange. Who in the class eats oranges?

Adds variety as he continues to have students come up to take something out of the refrigerator. For example:

  • adds “quiere comer” (wants to eat)
  • ¿Atacas el refrigerador? ¿Come el refrigerador? (Do you attack the refrigerator? Do you eat the refrigerator?)
  • ¿Qué quieres comer? What do you want to eat? (before the student goes to the refrigerator)
  • Dice “Ñam Ñam delicioso.” or “¡Guacala!” he/she says “Yum Yum delicious” or “Gross”
  • ¿Tienes hambre? (Are you hungry?) ¿Quién tiene mucho hambre? (Who is very humgry?) Greta, ¿tienes hambre? (Greta, are you hungry?)

Greta va al refri despacio y dramaticamente (Jason leads class to sing mission impossible music) EL refrigerador tiene hambre. ¿El refri quiere comer a Greta? Greta abre el refri y saca fruta. Pero hay un problema. ¿Greta come el refri? ¡NO! ¡El refri come a Greta! El refri abre la boca y come a Greta. El refri dice “¡Ñam Ñam delicosa!” ¿Dónde está Greta? ¿Greta está en el baño? Greta está en el refri? ¿Está en el estomago del Refri? Noel es una amiga de Greta. Noel va al refri. Dice “¿Dónde está Greta?” Noel tiene mucha hambre. ¿Noel va al resturante? ¿Adónde va? Al refri. Va al refri. Abre el refri. ¡Hay una persona en el refri! ¿Quién está en el refri?  Greta, la amiga de Noel. ¿Noel saca una fruta o a la amiga? Saca a la amiga del refri. ¿Greta le dice “Gracias”? ¡No! Greta le dice “¡MUCHAS GRACIAS, AMIGA!” Y Noel le dice “De nada, amiga”

Mini- Stories or Breaks

Jason brings up a student. Explains that he is an Rubis Cube expert.

¿Es un experto (writes on board)? ¿Es rápido? ¿Es muy rápido? ¡Es muy rápido! Es inteligente (writes on the board). No es inteligente. Es MUY MUY inteligente.

Story #3

Focuses on TPR for “toca”, “mira” “escucha”

Hay un problema. En la casa de Greta en Fort Collins, hay un problema. Hay un problema en la casa. ¿Greta es el problema? ¡NO! (questions about students’ families) Jason has students “audition” with their laughs (se ríe) to be the “papá”

¿Es mi familia? ¿Es tu familia? ¿Es la familia de Connor?

La familia llora. Greta llora. El papá llora. La mamá llora. Noel llora.

La familia tiene hambre. Greta dice “Tengo hambre” (Has the rest of the family say it.) ¿Tiene hambre o tiene frío?

¿Adónde va la familia? Papá, ¿tienes hambre o tienes mucha hambre? El papá tiene mucha hambre. La familia va al restuarante. ¿Quiere comer fruta? ¿Quiere comer pizza?

¿Por que? (as he introduces this he has the family continue to cry lloudly while he asks the class ¿Por qué?)

Va al restuarante … ¿en el avión? (he has a prop) (to one of the actors) ¿Tu familia tiene un avión? means?”) ¿en el barco? (to one of the actors) ¡Sí! La familia va en el barco. (With the ship prop the family actors move across the floor)

Hay un problema. Una persona se cae en el resturante. (circles and does TPR with se cae) ¿Quién se cae en el resturante? ¿La mamá se cae? ¿El papá se cae?

Greta abre la puerta del restuarante. ¿Quiénes se caen? ¿Los papás se caen? ¿Las hermanas se caen? Dos personas se caen. ¿Se caen en el suelo? ¿O se caen en la tortilla? ¿Comó se llama el resturante? La familia quiere comer sandwiches? ¿tacos? o ¿burritos? Quieren comer burritos.

La familia dice “Tengo mucha hambre” El papá dice “Quiero comer un burrito.” La mamá le dice “Quiero comer una tortilla también.” Los padres van al baño. Noel se cae en la tortilla. Greta se cae en la tortilla. ¿Dónde está Greta? ¡En la tortilla! (wraps them up in his tortilla blanket)

Los padres van al resturante. Dicen “¿Dónde están Greta y Noel?” Están en la tortilla. ¿El papá tiene hambre o tiene mucha hambre? (He asks questions to review and hold the suspense.)

El papá dice “¡Ñam, Ñam! ¡un burrito!” El papá saca la tortilla. Las hermans dicen “¡HOLA mamá!” “¡HOLA papá!” El papá le dice “¡Guacala!” La mamá le dice “¡Guacala!” ¿El papá quiere comer el burrito de las hermanas? ¿La mamá quiere comer el burrito de las hermanas? ¡NO! El papá y la mamá no comen el burrito. Las hermanas les dicen “Gracias” La mamá le dice “de nada”

La familia tiene hambre. La familia comen tacos. (Everytime the famliy does something then Jason will break it up and repeat each memeber. Like “El papá come tacos. La mamá come tacos. etc.”



What did the kids say?

I got the chance (I was sitting by the water fountain.) to ask the kids during their break what they liked and what I should take back to my classroom. Here is what they said.

I like how we move around.

I like how he interacts with us.

I take another class after school and we don’t learn anything. I like this better.

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