Step Eight -The Guión Series(Suggested Time: 6-8 Minutes)
Take a deep breath. You are now going to learn about the single best drill you will ever do in a language classroom. It’s fun. It’s fantastic. It works.
What is a “Guión Series” exactly? It’s a series of five sentences that often highlight just one grammatical concept. The sentences must be able to be acted out simply. That’s it! (The word “guión,” by the way, means “script.”)
So how does this all work? Let’s say you are studying reflexive verbs. Here are my five sentences:
|(I stand up)|
|Me lavo la cara.||(I pretend to wash my face).|
|Me peino el pelo.||(I pick up a real or imaginary comb and comb my hair.)|
|Me miro en el espejo.||(I look at myself in a mirror.)|
|Me digo: “¡Qué guapo!”||(I tell myself: How good-looking you are!)|
I start off just saying the first sentence while acting it out. I will dramatically stand up, maybe rub my eyes, then stretch as I say “Me levanto.” I then walk a few steps, pretend that I am turning on a faucet and then pat my face as I say “Me lavo la cara.” I then pick up a pretend comb as I comb my hair. Me peino el pelo. Next I act as if I am looking in the mirror (perhaps I am standing in front of a window in the classroom). I say: “Me miro en el espejo.” Finally, I might give myself a big thumbs-up sign, or slick back my hair, and wink at myself as I then announce: Me digo: “¡Qué guapo!”
My students will enjoy this scene, watching me dramatically taking delight in each of these steps. Now, it’s choral repetition time. I will act the sentences out, one at a time, as I say each line. This time, however, the students chorally repeat each line, one at a time.
I will now do all five sentences once again, having the students chorally repeat after each action.
Now, I will simply be the actor. They will say the line as I act it out. I say nothing.
Finally, it’s their turn! I ask for volunteers, or I will simply call on someone who will come to the front of the room and act out the whole scene while narrating each line. When she is through, there is thunderous applause from the class. The next volunteer comes up, then the next, until the entire class has gone.
What happens if someone forgets a line? It can’t happen! I am right there, on bended knee, feeding him his next line, or acting out the next step with him. Students are hearing the same five sentences, over and over and over. By the time a student volunteers, he usually has it down pat.
The grammatical structure covered – here it is reflexive verbs and the use of reflexive object pronouns – should be familiar to the students by the time you do a Guión Series. They will have learned the structure in class a few days ago. They will have done a few nights of homework about it. They will have asked many warm-up sentences in groups of two, using this structure. The Guión Series is designed for FAMILIAR grammar.
The beauty of the Guión Series is that it combines words and movements. Learning experts have claimed that a person can remember a word better if there is a movement associated with it. It certainly makes a lot of sense to me. These Guión Series, like a small one-person, one-act play, become a part of a student.
What if you have a very large class? How can you get to everyone? One way is by having students act these out together. Have two or three students come up and simultaneously do these actions. Or spread the Guión Series over a couple of days. Or have students do these in groups of two. Sometimes during warm-up, we will even chorally recite a Guión Series we had done a few days before.
Let me give a few more examples:
Let’s say you are doing the present perfect tense.
¿Qué he hecho hoy? (Say this as you start the scene.)
(Walk towards a chair.)
|Me he sentado.||
(Sit down in the chair.)
|He leído un libro.||
(Pick up a good book – perhaps Don Quijote.)
|He escuchado música.||(Turn on some music … Shakira, anyone?)|
|Adiós. He dicho adiós.||
Let’s say you are studying the progressive.
¿Qué estoy haciendo ahora?(Say this as you start the scene.)
(I am walking around the whole class)
|Estoy buscando a Shakira.||
(I am looking all over for Shakira).
|Estoy gritando: ¡Shakira! ¡Shakira!||
(I see her picture on the board. I shout and run to it.)
|Estoy pidiéndole el autógrafo.||
(I hand a piece of paper and pencil to “Shakira.”)
(I smile broadly.)
No matter what the verbal tense (or mood) you are studying, a Guión Series can come in handy. Did someone just mention the subjunctive? Okay, let’s do one more.
¿Qué voy a hacer esta noche?
Mis padres quieren que yo…
(Stack books; write notes.)
|…lea un libro||
(Open a book and read it.)
|…limpie mi cuarto||
(Grab a broma and sweep.)
Pero mis amigos prefieren que yo…
(Stand up and dance a little.)
|…y toque la guitarra.||
(Play your air guitar!)
This final example had a slightly different format, inserting a little phrase midway, but it still had all the elements of a Guión Series.
To review, here is what you do:
THE GUIÓN SERIES
Of course, there are many variations possible. As you act out the scene, you can have your students narrate the action in the 3rd person, rather than in the 1st person. If two students do it together, have them use the 1st person plural. Or two students can act it out while the entire class describes the action, using the 3rd person plural of the verb.
The bottom line is: Do a Guión Series at least once a week. It may be the best drill that you will ever do in a language classroom!
The Guión Series - Key Things to Remember
What to Do
- Act out and narrate a series of five actions that highlight the same grammatical idea.
- Do it again, having students repeat chorally after you.
- Do it once again, having students repeat chorally after you.
- Do it one more time, having students narrate while you just act out the five actions.
- Now, your students, one at a time, act out and narrate the five actions.
- Have your students act out the five actions in pairs or small groups.
- Have students narrate the action in the 3rd person or in the 1st person plural.
Why It Works
- Choral repetition is a wonderful teaching/learning activity.
- Choral repetition leads to memorization, an invaluable component of language acquisition.
- Combining words and movement assists learning.
- Combining words and movement with the story line of this exercise is even better!
- This exercise theatrically reinforces grammar concepts already covered in class and through homework.
The Big Picture
- Remember to set your students up for success as they demonstrate the five actions in front of their peers. If they stumble or forget their lines, don’t hesitate to feed them their lines!
- This exercise promotes an environment where students can be on the giving and receiving ends of cheering each another on while they perform in front of the group.
- Don’t underestimate the value of memory work combined with the playfulness of the “Guión Series.”
- Melodrama and the language classroom are simply made for one another. If you have any theatrical flair whatsoever or, even better, an outrageous streak in your personality, this is your big chance to create unforgettable student exercises!