Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Word Frequency Counter Tool

I have had the pleasure of seeing noted CI/TPRS expert Karen Rowan present many times both in my district and at NTPRS. Every time I see her present, I walk away with a number of new strategies and tools. One online tool which I have seen her demonstrate is a Word Frequency Counter website.

NOTE - there are numerous word frequency counter websites online. This particular one is no different from any others, but it happens to be the one which I use.

What I love about this website is that it allows me to type (or cut/paste) a text and to find out the frequency of each word. When I am writing stories for my students, this is very important, because it helps me see if I am getting in enough repetitions of a target word/structure. If I feel like it is not enough, then I need to find ways to get in more repetitions.

The tool is quite easy to use 
1) Go to

2) Type in your text in the "text box"

3) After inputting the text, click on "count words"

4) You will then see a list of words and how many times each word appears in the story. It will break it down into total words in the story and then into unique words in the story. You can also choose to have the list arranged alphabetically. NOTE - a different form of the word counts as a unique word, so for Latin, that may be something to consider. 

This tool has been of great use for me - I hope that you will find it helpful too!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

One Word at a Time (OWAT)

This activity was developed by my friend and fellow Latin CI user Bob Patrick, and it has now become one of my go-to activities for starting a new "chapter" because it allows me to introduce 8-10 new vocabulary words/structures in a fun, engaging way.


  1. Pick 8-10 new vocabulary words which you wish to introduce. A mix of nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs is good.
  2. Write one vocabuary word and its English meaning on an index card. Repeat until all words are done.
  3. Organize class into groups of 3-4 students.
  4. Each group needs to have a sheet of paper, a writing utensil, and a student who will serve as recorder.
  5. Give each group a card.
  6. Inform students that they will be writing a short story in Latin as a group.
  7. As a group, the students are to create a sentence in Latin which uses the word on the card. They are to underline their word in the story when they use it.
  8. When the group is done, they call you the teacher over to check the "grammar" of the sentence. If something needs correcting, then tell them.
  9.  When the group is done with the word, they are now to switch with another group who is done. Sometimes, I have more words than groups, so I put the extra cards on a desk so students can go up to the desk and exchange words there.
  10. The group then writes a new sentence as part of a story which now incorporates the new word. The group calls you over to check the grammar and to make any corrections. Once that is done, the group finds a new word and repeats the process.
  11. Once most groups have used 3/4 of the words (if not all of them), tell the groups that they have a few more minutes to come up with an ending to their story. For this part, they will not call you over.
  12. Collect the cards and stories
  13. You as the teacher type up their stories (they may require grammar editing), and read them as a class on the next day.
  1. This is a fun activity, because since students do not know which new words they will be getting, the stories suddenly become very random, which makes them all the more fun to read.
  2. Students really want their group's stories to be read.
  3. This is a great way to do pop-up grammar when students ask you to look over their sentences.
  4. Because each story has specific targeted vocabulary in it, students enjoy seeing how different groups use those words, so there is a degree of anticipation and of vested interest.
  5. Because each story has specific targeted vocabulary which students had to use, and because you review each story with them as a group, students acquire those 8-10 words VERY quickly.
Here are some other writeups about OWAT

Example of OWAT w/ Latin 1

Targeted Words
1) sollicitus 
2) invenit
3) femina
4) bonus
5) frater
6) fortis
7) semper
8) parvus 
9) conspicit
10) gladius

Ariel est nympha marina (mermaid). Yoda Arielem conspicit. Yoda est parvus. Ariel fratrem emere vult. Yoda est sollicitus et perterritus, quod Ariel Yodam emit. Ariel est tristis, quod Yoda non est bonus frater. Ariel fortem fratrem vult. Ariel fortem fratrem videt sed eheu! frater est femina! quod frater est femina, Ariel est irata, et gladio (with a sword) feminam necat (kills). nunc Ariel est semper irata. Ariel fratrem non vult, sed pecuniam vult. Ariel Publix invenit, et Yodam vendit. Ariel pecuniam habet. subito Flavia apparet! Flavia Yodam emit, sed Flavia displodit. edepol!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Getting Caught Up in Activities and Not in Acquisition

Every time I go to world language conferences, I am always looking for new activities for my students. If you are like me, you find yourself getting into a rut with the same old activities, and you want to add some novelty to your classroom. A danger exists, however, in doing this, because we can easily get caught up in activities and not in acquisition itself. We look for the next "fun" activity to add to our arsenal. We so want to engage our students that we actually end up just entertaining them instead, and as a result, in blindly throwing activities at students, sequencing and scaffolding can become disjointed, and little/no language acquisition actually occurs.

Now do not get me wrong: I am not opposed to activities. I like a good game of vocabulary BINGO, because it is a nice break for students (and for me), and I definitely enjoy using Kahoot with students every once in awhile. At the same time, I do not want to rely on these as primary activities.

If I am going to be implementing Comprehensible Input in my classroom, regarding activities, the basic questions which I must ask are this: is this activity promoting language acquisition through the delivery of and interaction with understandable messages? Where does this activity fit in the acquisition process, i.e., if it is output related, has enough input preceded it that output is a natural overflow? These two questions serve as my litmus test.

But let me also say that teaching using CI is a process and definitely takes time to learn. By no means do I ever want to turn off someone from using a CI activity regardless of his/her familiarity with CI. I will be the first to say that I am still learning how to implement CI in my classroom!   

If you have never attended a Blaine Ray workshop or attended NTPRS, I highly recommend that you do, because you will get the chance to experience language learning first hand like one of your students. I feel like I have learned so much about sequencing CI activities just from attending Betsy Paskvan's Japanese sessions at these past two NTPRS conferences (and yes, in many cases, i have taken her Japanese lessons and Latinized them!). Apparently, Betsy's sequencing of activities has worked, because I can still retell her "Yoda, Darth Vader, and Oprah" story in Japanese, and that was almost two years ago!