Creators of Comprehensible QTALK
When I first met Maurice Hazan sixteen years ago he was exhibiting at SWCOLT. He demonstrated a previous version on cardboard cards. You may remember Symtalk. Students look at the pictures and tell the story, immediately producing output. At the time, this was not consistent with Comprehension-Based Teaching or the teachings of Dr. Stephen Krashen or Blaine Ray’s TPR Storytelling.
Since that initial meeting, Maurice and I have kept an open dialogue because I believed that the proprietary technology he had created could be used to provide Comprehensible Input. We were already in agreement that teaching explicit grammar was not necessary.
Over time I came to realize that teaching language outside of a meaningful narrative was both uninspiring and inefficient. We then decided this was the right time to combine my visual tools and technology with story based teaching.
About Comprehensible QTALK
Using techniques like PictureTalk and MovieAsk, teachers ask questions and narrate from an illustrated story reflected on a smart board.
Teachers can manipulate the screen to show all of the words, some of the words or none at all. Students can read along or can make up their own creative answers while the teacher continues to ask questions and narrate the illustrated story.
Everything we can do with Blaine Ray’s TPR Storytelling, with Ashley Hastings’ Movietalk, with Beniko Mason’s StoryListening, with MovieAsk, with Reading and with audiobooks, with Reader’s Theater, we can do with QTalk. Native speakers narrate the stories. Students can read along and listen, making it work even for long term sub plans.
Implementing Comprehensible QTALK
Personalizing with QTalk
QTalk isn’t a one-to-one software program. Students receive comprehensible input through a combination of teacher input and QTalk materials. QTalk is a resource, but it does not replace the teacher. Teachers ask question about the illustrated stories, compare and contrast with students’ lives and opinions and ask students to guess what will happen next. New stories can be changed and created within the software.
High Frequency Vocabulary
Maurice has built hundreds of stories using high frequency, repetitive vocabulary. High Frequency verbs are used over and over in story after story. Vocabulary that is only useful in one specific storyline is illustrated and labeled, just as we would normally write on the board, so that input is comprehensible as well as compelling.
Repetition with QTalk
Vocabulary is naturally recycled throughout the stories and the teacher also provides repetition by asking questions about the plot, details and illustrations of the story.
Acting with QTalk
Stories are also provided as text and can be acted out by students while the teacher narrates as we do with Reader’s Theater and TPR Storytelling or can be acted while the illustrated story is reflected on the SmartBoard as a backdrop.
Compelling Input with QTalk
The stories are a collaboration between the stories that have been designed within QTalk, the teacher and the students. The stories can be personalized to the students and students are invited to create their own stories.
Writing with QTalk
The Invention Story, now often called Write and Discuss, is a story co-creation between the teacher and students. Together they write a new story based on their own choices. This can be done within QTalk on the SmartBoard or screen or outside of QTalk on paper or the board so all of the content is coming from students. Those written stories can be contributed to QTalk and the best stories will be announced and designed by the QTalk team and will later be accessible.
This is not a necessary step in the process. In fact, using QTalk just to provide input would be ideal. Students do begin to want to use the pictures and illustrations as prompts to retell the stories. When they are excited to answer questions and contribute parts of the story, the teacher can encourage that spontaneous output without forcing or requiring students who are not ready to speak to retell the story. The picture prompts make recalling the plot of the story easy. For the same reason we use MovieTalk and MovieAsk or PictureTalk or Reader’s Theater, we can use QTalk as pre-reading activities.
Added benefits are how easily a QTalk lesson can be left as a sub plan. Each story is narrated by a native speaker, allowing the students to listen to the audio, play games or read stories. Since the entire story is comprehensible, a non-Spanish speaking sub could manage to keep a class entirely in Spanish for a day.
What Else Do You Want?
Really. What else do you need QTalk to do that will make it better, easier, more versatile, more interesting or better able to stand in for long-term sub plans? Tell us. As we add more stories each week, we will also continue expanding QTalk to meet your needs.
What if I need to teach X with QTalk?
So many of the posts we see on our Facebook page are teachers saying, “I have to teach a unit on X. Does anyone have anything?” With QTalk, if you have to teach a unit on X for whatever reason, let us know. If it’s not already there, we’ll create it.