Planning the Language Hunt for “Tea with Grandma”

50 minutes and 43 seconds.

[direct download]

1. Technique “the Meadow”
2. Technique “the Evaluation”

  • We give attendees a blank piece of paper to (anonymously or not) give us feedback on the workshop experience.
  • Because some attendees left earlier, we didn’t get feedback from them; we don’t know why they left. Next time we’ll put out the teevaluation forms early, so that attendees can fill them out as they leave.

3. Technique “Exhibition Game”

  • Evan and Willem can handle two lotus games of up to 50 people each.
  • The lotus games have the following format, in 4 rows:
  • Inner Circle: 5 central chairs (different from all other chairs, standing out).
  • 10 angel chairs
  • 5 angel slot chairs
  • 25-30 high-backed chairs

4. Technique “WAYK Workshop”

  • Evan thinks a workshop can handle no more than 30 or so people.

5. Technique “Your Weapons, You Will Not Need Them”
6. Technique “Inner Circle, FULL!”

  • Evan and Willem flush out the inner circle and rotate folks through it, getting them used to calling “full”, by calling “Inner Circle, FULL!” and replacing everyone, 3 times in a row.

7. Techniques “Point to Your Angels!”, “Fringe, Point to Who You’re Helping!”

  • These techniques build a support bond between the Inner Circle and  Lunatic Fringe, keeping them connected and involved.

8. Technique “the Lotus”

  • The lotus is the fastest way to bring a group up to speed in the WAYK game.

9. Technique “Goal Conversation”, “Modeling”
10. Technique “Full!”

  • Willem calls “Full” first, to model the behavior so that other folks will call it, on their own, as needed.

11. Technique “We’ll All Get There Together”

  • While playing in the lotus, we don’t all get there together, at the same time; we all get there together, at our own individual pace. The group doesn’t wait or slow down so an individual can “catch up”, but rather the group organizes itself so that everyone is getting the attention they need, according to group needs.

12. Technique “Copycat”

  • Players who feel like they’re “falling behind” in the Lotus are asked to simply “copycat” what they can, when they can, until they can get individual attention in pairings.

13. Technique “Pairing”

  • We have a random collection of small tables with two chairs each, separated by 10 feet. We give folks a couple minutes in each pair to play WAYK at their level.

14. Technique “Mix and Match”

  • When it’s time to switch partners, we ask everyone to get up from their tables, and both find another partner and another table, to keep energy fluid.
  • We ask players to either find someone who can help them, or find someone they can help.

15. Technique “Time to Switch”

  • We know it’s time to switch partners when one pair in the group starts chatting, rather than playing. It’s usually a sign of energy stagnation – they’ve played the game out, with that partner.
  • If someone is having a hard time getting fluent, but has found a helpful partner, we have them keep the same partner throughout the switching so that they can get the help they need.

16. Technique “Fluency”, “Teach a Teacher”

  • The goal of pairings isn’t so much to exchange any particular information, but to become comfortable and fluent in both teaching and learning roles (technique Push/Pull), rapidly changing roles over and over.

17. Technique “Bowling Night”/”Happy Birthday”

  • If a community gets together for a regular event, it’s an accelerator for revitalizing their language.
  • Also, if a group of people sing “happy birthday” for someone (or another culturally appropriate song for a similar occasion), it’s a great indicator of the health of the community.

18. Technique “10 Feet”
19. Technique “No Grief Debrief”
20. Technique “Technique!”
21. Technique “Tea with Grandma”

  • Willem set-up the language hunters so that they could hunt grandma’s language, while Evan waited in the wings, watching from a distance.
  • Evan remarks how crucial and unusual it is for someone to model/role-play gathering a team of people together to effectively interact with a last fluent elder.
  • The grandma that Evan role-played was deaf, and didn’t speak English, to model the “worst-case scenario” of a monolingual last fluent elder, where you have not bridge language (such as English) to help.

22. Technique “Lift-Off”

  • Lift-off is when a player, not knowing how to respond to sign language (or what to sign next), simply lifts their hands off their lap and their hands automatically start doing something.
  • Willem applied “lift-off” to the Tea with Grandma scenario, by having people get up out of their chairs and just place an object on the tea table.

23. Technique “Apollo 13”

  • We want to trigger the moment when people become a gaggle of language hunting geeks, totally energized about addressing this engineering problem of designing the perfect set-up for Tea with Grandma.

24. Technique “Contract”

  • The team contracted a set-up for a common, imaginary grandma, that shared some characteristics of all their grandmothers.

25. Technique “Obviously!”

  • One language hunter, Becky, noted that her grandma would expect a very formal tea setting, thus perfectly creating an “obviously!” environment.

26. Technique “Dirty Spoon”

  • Becky also noticed a dirty spoon on the table.
  • If a spoon on the tea table is dirty, grandma will notice, and will start speaking about dirtiness and cleanliness. Becky herself may already be a grandmother…so what she noticed, a grandmother will notice.
  • The most subtle aspects of a set-up  will determine the course of the conversation; you cannot be too OCD!

27. Technique “the Same Props”

  • Whatever is on grandma’s tea table, we must have exact duplicates for the language hunters to set-up practice away, at home, wherever they take their 3-D holographic notes.

28. Technique “Planning the Hunt”

  • The language hunters wrote down all the sign language they knew, all the Craig’s Lists, all the questions (What, Who/whose, Where).
  • They did this so they could agree on what to hunt next – extend craig’s lists, answer question words more fully (like “where?”), and learn the new language that will “get them to the party” (intermediate proficiency).
  • Evan stresses that the language hunters are learning actual living language, in grandma’s unique dialect. Recording these kinds of conversations provide the most useful, rich data on language use and structure that you could possibly want.

Written by Evan Gardner