Some commands for 22-year olds
These are 2 classes with 22 month-old children, in which we introduce to them some more complex commands,
not just bodily actions ('párate, siéntate'), but actions involving some object ("toca puerta"=touch/knock on the door,
'bebe el agua'=drink the water).
The method I am employing in this class is called "Total Physical Response" or TPR, and it consists, precisely, in
getting the students to understand a concept and react in a physical manner. In this way, we communicate, even before
they are capable of articulated speech.
At a more practical level, the 2 most important concepts to be kept in mind here are:
- Actions and commands cannot be taught isolatedly. There has to be a context associated with them. If possible,
a fun one. Hence the "vuela, vuela" (=fly, fly!) part, that they always enjoy as a preamble to the action we want
them to learn
- Reward the children if they fulfill the command successfully. Cheer, encourage, all in the positive. And if that
particular command doesn't work of results too conusing for the child, quickly move on to some other one.
On the first of the 2 classes, (of which I only present fragments here), the children became comfortable with the
general idea of following commands. After some "vuela, vuela" bribe.
First, the parents accompany the action, until the children (rather quickly) are able to understand
what is expected from them. Then, the complete the commands by themselves.
The commands used in this firs class were: "ĦToca la puerta!" and "ĦSiéntate!"(=sit).
I think the most rewarding moment of the class, is when one of the kids, who initially had some difficulty
climbing the chair, after watching the other child, decides to go at it all by himself.
On the second class we use again "ĦSiéntate!", and we add "ĦBebe el agua!" (Drink the water!).
We even get them to fetch water for their parents. They "share" the water exactly as it is expected for their developmental
stage: 22-month olds don't really share, with anybody, unless it is evident that there is an abundant reminder
of the "stuff" in question. So, when asked to take water to someone else, they take the water, walk over to the parent,
drink themselves, check that there is water left, and only then hand over the cup.
They don't act like that because they hadn't understand the command, on the contrary!
The commands used here were "ĦTrae el agua!" (=Bring the water!), and, to a lesser degree "ĦAgua para papá!
ĦAgua para mamá!" (Water for mom/dad! respectively).
When we run out of water, asked if they want more, the children anwwer "Sí." and "Sí, please". That
moment alone is worth the whole class ...