Phase 3 Manual – Getting Going in Phase 3

Getting going in Phase 3:

250 Hours of Shared-Story Activities

by Greg Thomson

Version 1.1 April 2007


Welcome to Phase 3, the Shared Story Phase. You may be continuing on from Phase 2 the Story Building Phase, or you may not have been thinking in terms of phases, but after conferring with a language learning advisor, you suspect that Phase 3 might be appropriate for you as the place from which to grow onward. If the Growing Participator Approach and the Six Phase Programme are new to you, then you need to read Appendix 1 in order to understand all of the concepts used in the rest of this guide.

On the other hand, if you just want to plunge into some fruitful activities, you can go straight to the section “What is needed for the first session of Phase 3” and in that section, to the sub-point “A world story (or other Bridge Story) such as Cinderella”. After reading that sub-point, go on to the section “The activities of Day 1,” and to the subsection “Activity 1: Hearing and massaging a Bridge Story”. Having read that much, you can start right in using the Bridge Story Activity. Then you can gradually read this entire guide in order to enrich your programme, and to better understand why you are doing what you are doing.

Alternatively, after reading Appendix 1 (if the approach and programme are new to you), you can just read from the beginning of this guide up through the end of the material on Phase 3A, and then begin the activities of Phase 3A. Then you can read the later sections on Phase 3B and Phase 3C as they become relevant.

However you could just read the whole guide at the outset!

Who this is addressed to

Throughout this guide, I will largely write as though I’m talking to growing participators who are planning their own supercharged participation activities, and telling their nurturer what they wish to do in the sessions. However, the material will be equally useful if the nurturer is in charge, or for a language learning advisor who is coaching the activities of a growing participator and nurturer together. I am aware that many growing participators prefer not to take the level of initiative in directing their own programme that this guide would require. Therefore, it is important that there be other options where either the nurturer is in charge, or a language learning advisor is laying out the programme with them. However, the activities for the first two days are laid out fairly explicitly below, so that if a growing participator and nurturer were both to read the instructions, they could at least get started well. They might then feel confident about going on from there. A sample weekly schedule is included to help them design their own personalised schedule.

Where Phase 3 will take you

Let’s think about where you are headed in Phase 3 before thinking of the prerequisites for entering this phase. Where we are headed is the exciting part of Phase 3! First, in terms of your ability to understand speech, you’ll begin understanding relatively rich and complex stories. An even bigger step forward is that you’ll be understanding more abstract explanations (“expository speech”) than previously, without relying on support from visual aids such as you had in Phases 1 and 2. Your listening vocabulary will grow by perhaps another two or three thousand words (bringing the total to four or five thousand). These changes will take you far in the direction of understanding normal speech in general, in all its richness and complexity. In particular, this will prepare you for Phase 4, Deep Life Sharing, when host people will be explaining their world to you in great detail. In terms of your own speaking ability, you will come to have what you can fairly describe as “basic conversational ability”. That is, you will be able to discuss a wide range of topics, including ones you have not previously discussed. You’ll also be able to tell simple stories. This is also the phase in which reading may become possible. Before this, there was probably nothing to read at your level. Now there may well be such materials in enough volume to enable you to start developing some reading fluency.

You’ll still have great limitations. You’ll need a lot of help from the host person you are conversing with if many conversations are to be successful. Since you can’t yet understand much normal native-to-native speech, your sense of familiarity with what host people say and how they say it will still be limited. Your speech won’t be at all native-sounding. In fact, in some languages, your speech may be extremely riddled with what are “mistakes” from the host person’s point of view. With other languages the “mistakes” will be less, but other features of your speech will be unnatural on various levels.

The fact that you can have somewhat wide ranging conversations will enable you to start developing reasonably interesting relationships with a number of people. Your relationship with the individuals you interact most with (especially your nurturer, with whom you’ll be sharing many everyday life experiences) can go especially deep. If you have the opportunity to live with a host family or local roommate at this time, you should be able to handle it pretty well, and really benefit a lot more than you might have previously. Finally, your knowledge of basic daily activities will greatly increase in this phase.

How far you’ve come in order to reach Phase 3

In Phase 1, you went from having no relationships with host people to having a clear relationship with one or a few people who are helping you to become part of their world. Along with that, you learned to understand hundreds of host words, including understanding phrases and sentences containing those words. You started learning about the host world in that your vocabulary tended to come in blocks organized around the way the host world is itself organized, and related to activities in the host world that you were trying to participate in. During Phase 1, you developed extremely rudimentary talking ability. You could hardly say that you “spoke this language” in any reasonable sense.

You began Phase 2 by getting serious about increasing your limited talking ability. The first fifty hours of activities were designed to force you to talk, talk, talk. During that time, your ability to understand was also growing, as you were involved in lots of two-way interacting, and learning another few hundred vocabulary in meaningful contexts. Your relationship with the primary host people who were helping you to grow deepened a little. Once you were talking a lot more, and more freely, you put the issue of learning to understand host people back into the forefront, and you started developing the ability to follow simple stories, as your vocabulary continued to grow by more hundreds of words, until you could understand 2,000 words or more. Your relationship with the primary host people who were helping you to grow also deepened significantly, as you continued coming to know one another more and more richly.


In fact, these activities will take a few hours, and so in order to experience all of the activities, it may take more than one day. However, you’ll assume it all happens in one day. It is important that you try out all of the activities at least once, if possible. It may be the exceptional case in which someone finishes all of the activities in a day.

We want to talk more about the principles behind the activities of Phase 3, Shared Stories, as we go along. Many people, however, are primarily concerned with “What do I do?” For now, therefore, we turn to that without further ado.

What is needed for the first session of Phase 3

  • A nurturer
  • One to four growing participators
  • Two to five hours for the session or sessions
  • A notebook or loose-leaf paper for your word log records
  • A world story (or other Bridge Story[1]) such as Cinderella

These are called “Bridge Stories” because the world to which they belong is neither that of the growing participator nor of the nurturer, but rather a third world of fantasy, which we treat as a bridge world between the host world and our home world. Now in reality, the growing participator’s understanding of that fantasy world, and the nurturer’s understanding of it, will still be based on their familiar-life worlds, but the cultural distance between the growing participator’s home world, and the host world is nevertheless decreased considerably, since the nurturer will not be assuming vast amounts of host-world cultural knowledge in telling the story (as she would be in telling a normal host story). This fact seems to radically simplify the growing participators job of understanding the story that the nurturer tells, allowing a wide range of story-understanding abilities to be strengthened in the growing participator, in preparation for understanding normal host stories down the road. World stories are widely (though not nearly universally) known throughout the world. Cinderella is our stock example.

Another example of Bridge Stories is stories from the Bible. These are mentioned because they are by far the most widely available shared stories. Bible storybooks for children exist in all major languages, and often growing participators are already familiar with many of the stories. The world in which they take place, rather than being a fantasy world, is a world far removed in time and culture from the worlds of the growing participator and nurturer, again decreasing the demand for extensive background knowledge of the host world as a prerequisite to understanding the stories.

Preparing a Bridge Story, Variant 1: In preparation for this activity, find a children’s storybook with a story you already are familiar with, but have not heard before in the host language. We’ll use Cinderella which is available in print, often in multiple versions, in major languages of the world.

Preparing a Bridge Story, Variant 2: A day or more earlier, the nurturer has taken home the story of Cinderella in a major language that she knows, since it does not exist in her own language. She has read the story through two or three times, and has come prepared to tell it in her own words. She knows that she is free to make changes that are necessary in order to tell the story in her languaculture. For example, in a printed Kazakh story of Cinderella, the fairy is referred to by a word meaning angel. Also, she will begin the story the way host children’s stories naturally begin, not with a literal translation of the English formula, “Once upon a time…” She’ll end it the way host that children’s stories normally end, not with a literal translation of the English formula, “…and they lived happily ever after.” And in general, she will attempt to tell the story in a way that sounds like a host children’s story. However, she should not unnecessarily and radically alter the plot of the story.

In Appendix 2, we have provided a version of the stories of Cinderella, and Noah and the Great Flood below, as well as Goldilocks and The First Man and Woman. Thus if you haven’t yet found such resources locally, nor created any yourself yet, you’ll be able to go ahead and try out the plans for the first two days, provided you have a host person available who knows English and thus is able to learn the stories in Appendix 2 and later tell them to you in the host language.

  • A sample “attempted” Script of Life, written out in your native language.

Please look at the “ ‘attempted’ Script of Life” in Appendix 2. People have a certain understanding of how the normal experiences of life go forward. These expected sequences of events have been called “scripts”. The scripts from your home languaculture are not the scripts of your host languaculture. However, you are experiencing enough of the host world that you already have many expectations of what happens in everyday activities in the host world. Therefore, if your nurturer tells you a “Script of Life” from the host world, you will be able to understand it for the same reason that you understand a familiar story: you largely know what to expect. At the same time, your understanding of how host people experience these activities will be increased and refined. In Appendix 2, I have provided an attempted Script of Life for Kazakhstan—“Using a Bus”. It was created by a growing participator rather than the host person, (and hence I say “attempted” Script of Life, because only a host person can make up Scripts of Life that describe what host people expect to happen in their world). Once the nurturer is trained to create these scripts (after the Script of Life Activity of Day 1), she alone will make up the Scripts of Life, though you can discuss them with her, which may lead to more steps being added. In preparation for your Day 1, prepare a Script of Life like the one in Appendix 2, based on some situation you frequently experience in the host society where you are. (This activity is similar to what is known as the Series Method. To be a Script of Life, the list of steps must clearly come from the host person’s point of view.)

  • A video cassette or DVD with Tom and Jerry cartoons, or something similar (with lots of action, and few words) and a device for playing it.

You can go ahead and carry out the rest of the plan if you haven’t yet managed to find such a cartoon, but we encourage you eventually to try this activity. (An alternative is to use a silent move, such as Charlie Chaplain or Mr. Bean. The Mr. Bean films incorporate much British culture into the scenes, the actions and the plots. It can therefore be a challenge for the nurturer to make sense of them. In any case, she is likely to assign her own meanings to what she sees. Therefore, these films might be better left to Phase 3c. Charlie Chaplain movies, because of their age, take in a world that is far removed from the worlds of both the growing participator and the nurturer, giving them more of the quality of Bridge Stories, so that they may be useful earlier. Action cartoons are built out of simpler bits of experience, and can be useful in Phase 3A.)

  • A sound-recording device.

Traditionally, this has meant a tape-recorder. More recently MP3 recorders, laptop computers and hand-held computers have often been used.

  • A pencil and paper

The activities of Day 1

As noted, it may be the exceptional case in which someone finishes all of the activities of Day 1 in a single day. You can continue the activities on the subsequent day or days until you have tried out all of the activities of “Day 1,” and then go on to Day 2. Alternatively, you might want to just use the Bridge Story Activity for a few days, until it is going smoothly, and then add the Scripts of Life Activity, and so on.

Day 1 Activities:

  • Bridge Story Activity
  • Scripts of Life Activity
  • Action Cartoon Activity
  • Shared Experience

Before the first session

Besides gathering the necessary materials, the growing participator needs to watch the action cartoon privately ahead of the session. This is so that the story in the cartoon will already be familiar before the nurturer tells it.

If need be, the nurturer will also have taken home the world story or stories that are to be used, and will really have learned the plot of the story (not word for word) well enough that she will readily be able to tell it in her own words during the session.

The session itself, and the rest of the day

The nurturer arrives early in the morning, and Phase 3 is underway! However, you don’t go straight into your supercharged participation activities.

Begin with small talk

The session begins with a few minutes of small talk, putting the personal relationship with the nurturer in first place. Needless to say, all of this small talk is in the host language.

Activity 1: Bridge Story Activity: hearing and massaging a world story

This can take most or all of the one to three hours, in which case the other two activities are for subsequent days. However, if you want to do the other activities, then you need to limit the time for this activity to a fixed amount (say, one hour) and just do part of it for now. Then it may take you two or three days to finish the activity, which is fine. This applies to all of the activities. They can each be limited to a fixed portion of the session, and then be completed over two or more days.

Step 1:

The nurturer tells the growing participator(s) the story, or reads it to them aloud, slowly and carefully. This is recorded with a sound-recording device for playback. The growing participators remain quiet while the nurturer is telling the story. (A great variant would be to use a recording that already exists, perhaps having been created during Phase 3 sessions in the past, by different nurturers with different growing participators.)

Step 2:

  1. Rewind the recording device to the beginning of the story. Play the first sentence. Do you understand it? If not, you may hear specific words that you don’t know. Ask what they mean. The explanations must be in the host language.
  2. It may be that even though you know all of the words in a particular sentence, you still don’t understand the sentence. Ask the nurturer to explain it simply. Again, all interaction is in the host language. See the example just below (“Example of Step 2B”). Massage the story until you can listen to it all with understanding.
  3. Have the nurturer write any new words in your word log. (Although the nurturer explains the word in the host language, feel free to write beside it what you think may be a rough translation of that word in your native language, and note what story it is in, and where in the story.)
  4. When you feel you understand at least the basic gist of a sentence, go on to the next one. (If you find you get stuck for an inordinately long time on almost every sentence, you may not yet be ready for Phase 3.)

Further steps: Repeat steps 1 and 2 with each sentence.

Bridge Story Activity

  • Listen to nurturer as she tells you the story or reads it to you aloud.
  • Make a sound recording of her telling it or reading it.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded story already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Evaluate the level of difficulty: If the nurturer read you a Bridge Story aloud in a form that was published in a book for host children, you may have found the language simply too difficult for you in Phase 3A. For instance, if it took you two hours to massage a two-minute story, and you added fifty new words to your world log, then the level was too difficult for you. Try instead having the nurturer learn the next story in advance, and then tell it to you spontaneously, but simply in her own words. Alternatively, you can return to using wordless picture stories such as those you used in Phase 2, except that you won’t look at the pictures as the story is being told. Rather both you and your nurturer will familiarise yourselves with the story in advance, and then the nurturer simply tells it to you spontaneously, with neither of you watching the pictures as she talks, or as you massage the recording. Continue for a while hearing easier Bridge Stories, and later again attempt to listen to Bridge Stories such as the one you initially found too difficult.

I would not consider the original version of the story too difficult if it took a half hour or less to massage each minute of story, and if you only added ten words or less (five would be about ideal) to your word log per minute of story. However, you must judge for yourself whether you found the activity tedious. The activity should be pleasant and interesting. If it is not, then follow the suggestions of the previous paragraph for finding easier stories to listen to. Similarly, if it took you more than an hour to massage each minute of story, and there were more than ten new words per hour, but you found the activity enjoyable, then continue on. The more new words there are, the more you’ll want to listen to your recording before the next session, paying special attention to new words.

Example of Step 2B (massaging the story by negotiating meanings of what you cannot understand—based on the version of Cinderella in Appendix 2):

Growing participator plays the first bit of the voice recording. (In this case it was made on a cassette tape).

Nurturer on tape (in the host language): Long ago lived a little girl. Her mother died, and her father married a widow woman who had two daughters.

Growing Participator (also in host language—only the host language is used in this activity): Please repeat that sentence.

Nurturer: [repeats]

Growing Participator: Again?

Nurturer: [repeats]

Growing Participator: Her father married…?

Nurturer: He married a widow.

[Note: You may need two or three repetitions in order to understand many sentences, and even then, you may need to have the nurturer break them down into smaller bits at first. I won’t continue demonstrating this in the interchanges that follow, but keep in mind that it may also be happening there.]

Growing Participator: I don’t know the word “widow”. What does that mean.

Nurturer in person (N): If a man has a wife and he dies, she is a widow.

Growing Participator (GP): Widow. Good. My grandfather died. My grandmother is a widow.

N: Yes, your grandmother is a widow.

GP: So in the story, the little girl’s mother had died. Was her father a widow?

N: No, only a woman.

GP: A man’s wife dies. What do we call him?

N: We just say his wife died.

GP: O.K., “widow”— new word for me. Please write it down in the list.

N: (writes)

GP: The little girl’s father’s wife died. He married a widow. Among your people, when a man’s wife dies—maybe he will marry a widow?

N: If the widow doesn’t have children, she may marry her husband’s brother. If she has children, she will not marry again.

N: O.K., go on.

N on tape: The woman’s two daughters were lazy and mean, and didn’t like to do any work. So they made their stepsister do all the work.

GP: I don’t understand that.

N in person: The woman had two daughters.

GP: Yes.

N: They were mean and lazy.

GP: What is that?

N: That is two words: mean and lazy. Mean. That means they get angry. They say bad things. They hurt people’s feelings.

GP: Hurt people’s feelings?

N: Yes, if I say bad things to you: You are fat (laughs). Your dress is ugly. I don’t like you. Then you say I hurt your feelings. You feel sad.

GP: Write down “hurt your feelings” in the list.

N: (writes)

GP: (rewinds the tape a bit and replays the sentence)

N on tape: The woman’s two daughters were lazy and mean, and didn’t like to do any work. So they made their stepsister do all the work.

GP: Lazy and mean

N in person: Mean. I told you. The sisters are often angry. They say bad things. They hurt people’s feelings. Maybe they even hurt people—hit them, kick them. They are mean.

GP: Write that down in the list please. Mean.

N: (writes)

GP: Tell me an example—someone is mean

N: A child hurts animals. He pulls their tails. Throws rocks at them. He is mean.

GP: A man hits his wife. He is mean.

N: Yes.

GP: A girl hurts her little brother. She is mean.

N: Yes. Especially if she is always hurting him.

GP: She hurts him much. She mean.

N: Yes. If she hurts him often, she is mean.

GP: (rewinds tape a bit, once again)

N on tape: The woman’s two daughters were lazy and mean,

N in person: Lazy. The girls were lazy. They don’t to any work. Just lay around. Sit around. [At this point, N tries to demonstrate acting lazy by posing in what might be considered a lazy person’s posture.]

N: Please write that in the list also.

GP: Lazy. I don’t like to work. I am lazy?

N: Maybe. But you do work. So you aren’t lazy. The girls didn’t like to work, and they didn’t work. They were lazy. They wouldn’t work.

GP: A woman is lazy. Give me an example.

N: Well, she won’t cook, she won’t wash clothes, she won’t get water.

GP: The woman is lazy. She sleep much.

N: O.K., a lazy person might sleep all day. Or just lay in bed.

GP: O.K. please write “lazy” in the list.

N: (rewinds the tape a bit once again)

N on tape: The woman’s two daughters were lazy and mean, and didn’t like to do any work. So they made their stepsister do all the work.

GP: So they…

N in person: So they made their stepsister do all the work. Do you know what a stepsister is?

GP: No. Please write it in the list.

N: O.K. (writes)

N: A stepsister. They live together like sisters. But they have a different father and different mother. Now their father and mother are married. They are not real sisters. They are stepsisters.

GP: I understand. Stepsister. Stepbrother?

N: Yes if they were boys, they would stepbrothers.

GP: My, mm cousin? She has a stepbrother.

N: Oh, are the parents dead or divorced?

GP: divorce?

N: Yes. They are still alive but no longer husband and wife.

GP: Oh, what did you say?

N: divorced

GP: Please write it.

N: (writes)

GP: Husband maybe mmm, mmm, mean. Wife maybe, mmm, mmm, lazy. Divorce.

N: Yes people get divorced if one is mean, for example.

GP: (rewinds a bit)

N on tape: So they made their stepsister do all the work.

GP: made

N in person: They made her do the work. She didn’t want to do the work. They said, “You must do the work. Do the work” (N tries to sound stern.)

[Here the problem involves a new grammatical construction: someone makes someone do something]

GP: Example: Teacher made child mmm made read.

N: O.K., A teacher made a child read.

GP: More examples?

N: A doctor made me take medicine. [Pausing after each example for me to reflect.] My mother made me get water. The policeman made me stop my car. The shopkeeper made me pay for my purchases. I made my horse go fast. [This was a fairly simple and clear grammar construction. Many others will be more difficult to pin down, and should be skipped for now.]

N on tape: So they made their stepsister do all the work. One of the jobs she had to do was to clean the cinders (ashes) from their fireplace, and she would get black from that.

AND ON AND ON THE PROCESS CONTINUES. (Whenever GP does not understand something, he “negotiates meaning” with N until he understands. He also tries to dwell a bit on each new word that he encounters in order to really take note of it and let it make a deep impression.)

Activity 2: Script of Life Activity

First: the training steps [first session only]

Training step 1 [first session only]: Explain to the nurturer that you want her to describe a common, everyday activity. Illustrate with an example, such as “Washing hands”. Actually go to the room where the sink is, and go through the steps. After each step, ask the nurturer, “What did I do” or during the step, ask “What am I doing?”. The nurturer tells you each step, and writes it down. Keep in mind that this will not be a really good script of life, as it will be based on how you wash your hands, not on how host people do it. The purpose is mainly to show the nurturer what you mean by a detailed description:

  1. You open the door.
  2. You turn on the light.
  3. You walk to the sink.
  4. You reach out your hand.
  5. You turn the hot water tap.
  6. You feel the hot water.
  7. You take hold of the cold water tap.
  8. You turn on some cold water.
  9. You feel the water again.
  10. You open the hot water tap a bit more.
  11. You hold your hands in the flowing water.
  12. You pick up the bar of soap.
  13. You rub soap on your hands.
  14. You put the soap back down.
  15. You hold them under the tap in the flowing water again
  16. You rinse them well.
  17. You turn off the hot water tap.
  18. You turn off the cold water tap.
  19. You reach for the towel.
  20. You take hold of it.
  21. You pull it from the rack.
  22. You rub your hands with the towel.
  23. You fold the towel.
  24. You hang the towel on the rack.
  25. You turn off the light.
  26. You go out of the room.
  27. You close the door.

In other words pause twenty-five or thirty times for the nurturer to write down what you just did, or what you are doing. It may not be easy to get the idea across to the nurturer of what you want, but in the end she will have made a list of twenty-five or thirty steps you took in washing your hands.

Training step 2 [first session only]: Have the nurturer read the list aloud, and make a recording with your voice recorder.

Training step 3 [first session only]: Rewind. Go through the recording, as in the first shared story activity above. There will be almost nothing, however, that you don’t understand, even if a number of words are new to you, since everything was supported by what you did and saw. From now on you won’t rely on such visual supports. Rather, you’ll rely on the fact that you basically already know the sequence of events that are being described.

Training step 4 [first session only]: Use the “attempted” Script of Life that you prepared earlier (see the section above on what is needed for the first session of Phase 3). Even if your nurturer knows the language that you wrote it in, do not show it to her. Rather, negotiate the meanings of each step in the script in the host language, and have your nurturer write down the step in the host language. This is a second way to convey to her the idea of the level of detail that you want in the scripts. After this, you will not make up attempted Scripts of Life. Rather, your nurturer will make up the scripts, although you may discuss them with her, and as a result of the discussion, she may add more steps to the script.

Script of Life Activity

  • Listen to nurturer as she tells you a Script of Life or reads it aloud to you.
  • Make a sound recording of her telling it or reading it.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded Script of Life already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Second: The steps in the activity itself. Now the training is done, and you are ready to do the actual Scripts of Life Activity in the form that you will normally do it from now on.

Step 1: The nurturer makes a list of all the things she does when she buys something (say, when she buys meat).

Step 2: She goes through the script, action by action, and you get her to explain anything you don’t understand. You may also think of steps she might add to made the list fuller and ask questions such as: “After you do X and before you do Y, what do you do?” “How do you do step X in smaller steps?”

Step 3: Make a voice recording of the full list of steps.

Step 4: Massage the recording, as you did the story of Cinderella. This may be easier than that, since it is often possible for the nurturer to demonstrate unknown actions (at least in pantomime). There may also be some things that require a bit of explanation, and negotiation of meaning. Add new words to the word log as before.

Step 5: Play the voice recording, and act out (pantomime) each step as you hear it. These recordings become part of your listening library.

Activity 3: Action Cartoon Activity

As noted earlier, you will have watched the cartoon yourself before you come together with your nurturer. So the story is familiar to you. Tom & Jerry cartoons are widely available around the world, and they work well for this purpose.

Step 1: Use either a VCR and television, or DVD player (perhaps in a laptop computer). Arrange it is such a way that the nurturer can see the screen, but you cannot see it. This will create more of a sense of an “information gap” than if you are both watching the screen together. That is, the nurturer will feel that she has something to tell you that you don’t obviously already know.

Now, start the cartoon. The nurturer tells the story right as she watches it. It can be quite a challenge to do this, and so she might want to watch the cartoon once silently first, and then watch it again, telling the story as she watches. Make a voice recording of the story as she tells it.

Step 2: Watch the cartoon together and listen to the recording as you watch.

Step 3: Rewind the voice recording to the beginning. Massage it as you did the story of Cinderella. Add new words to the vocabulary log.

Step 4: The nurturer tells the story again without watching the cartoon, and this too is recorded with the voice recorder. This will create a much more natural story than the previous version, which was told while the cartoon was in motion. It may leave out some details though. The nurturer should look over the word log before recording this more natural version of the story, and thus try to be sure to include all the new words in the final version for the Listening Library.

Step 5: Redo step 3 with this new recording, if necessary.

Action Cartoon Activity

  • Watch the cartoon privately before the session to be familiar with it.
  • Nurturer watches it and tells you the story as she watches.
  • Record her doing that.
  • Massage the recording.
  • Nurturer retells the story more smoothly and naturally, with an eye on the word log.
  • Massage the recording.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Last activity of the day, Activity 4: A Shared Experience Activity

Well, you’ve been working hard for two or three hours or more. The last thing you will do with the nurturer is to go outside (or possibly stay inside) and participate in some shared experience together. This can be anything you wish. Go to a coffee shop together. Shoot some baskets. Work in your vegetable garden. Clean up your messy kitchen together. Go for a walk and observe all you can (this can be repeated by walking a different route each time—the nurturer should also make notes regarding what you observed together). The nurturer may have a suggestion of something for you to do together. As time goes on, she’ll get into the flow of thinking up possible shared experiences. When the experience is over, you and the nurturer go your separate ways, until tomorrow.

Shared Experience Activity

  • Do some activity together with your nurturer, for example, go buy something, play a game, or do something in your kitchen, or just go for a walk.
  • Interact naturally during the activity.
  • Make notes afterward of the details of the experience.
  • This is combined with the Reminiscing Activity the following day.

After Day 1 and before Day 2

Make some notes about the shared experience that you ended the day with.

Reflect on the Bridge Story that you used. This is a good time to reflect on the difficulty level of the Bridge Story that you used, as discussed above. They shouldn’t be so simple that there is no challenge for you, nor so difficult that massaging them is excessively tedious.

You have your recordings and your word log. In your word log will be many words that for the time being you just want to be able to recognise when you hear them in the story, and not necessarily recall them for use in your own speech. “Stepsister” might be a case in point. Other words, like “lazy” strike you as words you might want to know more strongly. As you listen to your voice recordings from the session, pay special attention to those words that strike you as more useful. You can stop the recording when you come to such words, and play them several times, so that they make an extra strong impression on you.

An admonition: Speaking of listening to your voice recordings, start developing good habits now! You worked hard to massage a story, and got so that you can follow it. Even after massaging a story, listening and following along is often not easy. You may need to listen to these stories many times in the coming weeks in order for all of them to become easy for you to follow. It is key that you do that. See the section below, “Familiarity with a Growing Volume of Language” and the section on the importance of frequency in Appendix 1. Much of the power of Phase 3 will be lost if you don’t faithfully listen to the stories you’ve massaged, and keep listening to them until they are easy to follow, and even after that, listening to them again from time to time.

Watch another action cartoon in preparation for tomorrow.

Make sure that the bridge story for tomorrow is ready. If need be, the nurturer will have taken a copy home in English or another language to learn for tomorrow. (For example, if you are learning an Arabic variety, Cinderella, Noah and the Great Flood, or any other written stories won’t be available in the spoken language. The nurturer will need to learn them at home by reading them in written Arabic, and then be prepared to retell them spontaneously in spoken Arabic.)


This day will be different from the first in some ways, but it will be the model for subsequent days. Keep in mind that what we are presenting here as two days may be spread over a few days, depending in part on your schedule, and in part on your ability at this point. As we said, it may be the exceptional case when someone actually finishes them in two days.

What you’ll need

Same as yesterday. You’ll have your word log from yesterday as well. In case you finished both of yesterday’s world stories (Cinderella and Noah and the Great Flood), or are about to, you will find two new stories for today. However, massaging these stories will likely take some time. (When you finish with these stories, you will need to have a source of your own Bridge Stories.) Again, it is hoped that you will have these stories already available in the host language, and if not, in another language that the nurturer knows (so that she can take them home and learn them in advance of the session), or better yet, it may be that another growing participator who walked this path before you has left many recorded world stories for you, or stories from your own national background (for example, well-known Korean stories told in the host language, if you are from Korea).

The activities of Day 2

Note: The description of Day 2 provides a model that can then be followed all through Phase 3A:

  • Small talk
  • Reminiscing Activity
  • Strengthening Vocabulary Activity (optional)
  • Bridge Story Activity
  • Script of Life Activity
  • Action Cartoon Activity
  • Shared Experience Activity
  • Things to do before the next day

As noted, the “Activities of Day 1” may actually take more than one day. After you have tried them all, you start what we are calling Day 2.

Before the session

Review the notes you made about yesterday’s Shared Experience.

It would be good to listen to your recordings again before the nurturer arrives. You might also watch the new action cartoon once more.

Have everything needed in the session organised and in place before the nurturer arrives.

The session itself

The nurturer arrives on time, well prepared to tell you one or two Bridge Stories. Remember, that you don’t go straight to your first supercharged participation activity.

Begin with small talk

Always take an interest in the nurturer’s life and feelings, putting that ahead of your other planned activities. Needless to say, the small talk is in the host language. Otherwise, the host person would become the growing participator in your home languaculture, and you would be the nurturer. Let’s keep the roles straight, now!

Activity 1: Reminiscing Activity

At the end of day 1 you took part in a shared experience with your nurturer. You begin today by reminiscing about that experience. Reminiscing occurs in many cultures, especially between parents and children, or close acquaintances that haven’t been together for a long time.

Step 1: Explain to the nurturer that you want to hear her tell about what the two of you did yesterday.

Step 2: Record her telling you about it, and interact while she does so.


N: We went to a coffee shop.

GP: Yeah.

N: We walked there together. We were talking about the traffic. You said you are afraid to cross the street.

GP: I was afraid.

N: etc.

Reminiscing Activity

  • Record nurturer telling you about yesterday’s Shared Experience, as you interact a bit.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded story already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

The recording made in the Reminiscing Activity, should primarily be the nurturer talking, but if it is to be a true reminiscence, then you will interact with her. By now you may long have been observing how host people interact, and so your interaction will be reasonably normal, aimed at encouraging the nurturer to do most of the talking. For example, in Canadian conversations, the listener will be saying things like, yeah, really!, mhm, I see. These words show the speaker that the listener is paying attention, and is interested in what the speaker is saying. In all languacultures, listeners will have ways of showing speakers that they are listening. In some, it may be a matter of how they watch the speaker, and the listener may largely remain silent. In most languages/cultures, however, they will have words that they use to show their interest in what the speaker is saying, as Canadians have. Listeners will also recognise, both by what the speaker says, and by how long the speaker pauses, that it is now their turn to say something. At those times you can contribute to the reminiscence, but then you quickly want to let the nurturer continue to do most of the speaking. If during Phases 1 and 2 you haven’t been paying attention to how conversation works among host people, then you need to start doing so now, so that you will truly be engaging in conversation with the nurturer during the reminiscences (as well as when you are massaging the voice recording of the reminiscence, or any other recording), even though she is the primary speaker in the conversation.

Step 3: Massage the recording of the reminiscence (as in the example above with Cinderella).

Activity 2: Strengthening vocabulary from yesterday (optional)

Last night you paid special attention to some of the new vocabulary. Now try to remind your nurturer of some of the new words you learned:

GP: I learned “mean” and “lazy”.

N: Mhm

GP: Cinderella’s sisters. Uhm, not sisters. Like sisters.

N: Stepsisters.

GP: Cinderella’s stepsisters were mean. They said bad things to her. They said, “Do all the work” (attempting to speak in an angry voice). They were lazy. They slept all day. They didn’t do any work.

N: Yeah, they were mean and lazy.

[Etc., etc., etc.]

The new words can come from any of yesterday’s activities, and as you remind your nurturer of what you learned, you can put them back into the context of that activity.


GP: I learned “grind”. You talked about buying meat [Scripts of Life Activity of yesterday]. Maybe the butcher grinds the meat.

[Etc., etc., etc.]

The Strengthening Vocabulary activity is considered optional, as we find it can be excessively time consuming, so that you don’t get to anything new today.

Strengthening Vocabulary Activity

  • Using the word log discuss each word that was new yesterday, and mention the context in which it occurred.
  • Possibly limit it to some of the words that seem more important to you.
  • Be careful with this activity, as it can eat up too much time.

Activity 3: Hearing and massaging a Bridge Story

This is done just as yesterday. If you are fortunate enough that previous growing participators going through Phase 3 have left many such stories in the form of voice recordings in the host language, then you won’t need to have your nurturer tell you (or read aloud to you) the story first. You can start right in massaging the recording. The story may be new to your nurturer, although for you personally, the overall plot is basically familiar already. You just haven’t heard it in the host language yet. Again, Bible stories may be a special blessing for growing participators in that tape recordings of them already exist in hundreds of languages, so that you can go straight to massaging them. Of course, the growing participator needs to know the stories before hearing them in the host language. Otherwise they aren’t shared stories!

Steps: Follow the steps from yesterday.

Activity 4: A Script of Life

This will differ from yesterday in that the training steps are no longer needed.  The nurturer is trained. The two of you think of another common experience. Today you might do “The steps in ordering a dress from the tailor.” It has to be an experience that is known to both of you. A description of an activity you are unfamiliar with would not be a “shared story”. (Descriptions of unfamiliar activities will be an important part of Phase 4, the Deep Life Sharing Phase.) The nurturer’s scripts will often not totally match your expectations, since you have your own scripts from your home languacultures, but the host scripts will still contain a large amount that is relatively predictable for you. You might try scripts for a few situations that you haven’t yet experienced in the host world, but that you can expect to be reasonably similar to the experiences in your home world. An example might be a visit to the dentist. However, for the most part, you should stick to situations that are familiar to you from your own experiences in the host world.

Steps: As yesterday, but without the training steps.

Activity 5: Action Cartoon

Exactly as yesterday.

Activity 6: A Shared Experience

Again, go out somewhere and do something with your nurturer. This will be used to reminisce tomorrow. (Sometime, you might participate in a longer activity together, such as a weekend outing. That may provide the basis for considerable reminiscing.)

After Day 2 and before Day 3

If necessary, have the nurturer take home a World Story (or story from your own national background) and learn it in order to tell it tomorrow. Also, the nurturer can be starting to keep a list of ideas for Scripts of Life, and for Shared Experiences.

As for you, see the instructions from yesterday, paying special attention to the paragraph about listening to the recording of the story or stories you massaged!


The activities of the “first two days” have given you a taste of the major activities of Phase 3, the Shared Story Phase. You are now in a position to plan your typical week. If you are at the level of ability where Phase 3 is appropriate for you, then if at all possible, supercharged growing participation activities should still be your primary work assignment. It would be good to spend twenty-five hours a week with nurturers if you can afford it, and perhaps an additional fifteen hours a week listening to your recordings, and possibly reading (discussed below). This could be the pattern for the first 100 hours of Phase 3, which we’ll call Phase 3A.

You’ve had a good taste of all the activities, and there may be some you would like to postpone. I would say it is O.K. to postpone anything except the Bridge Story activity and the Scripts of Life activity. However, if you found you were profitably able to do all of the activities, then you can do them all, but the Bridge Story activity will still be the mainstay activity, and I recommend that it take up at least half of the time, and possibly most of the time.

Setting up your weekly schedule if you are doing this full time

In planning your schedule, assuming it involves twenty-five hours per week of supercharged participation sessions, spread over five days, you will need to decide how to distribute the hours among the activities you have chosen. The following is an example of one possible breakdown:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Friday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 2 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Recording, massaging and acting out a Script of Life, 1 hr.
  • · Recording and massaging Action Cartoon story, 1 hr

Total: 5 hrs.


  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Monday, 20 minutes.
  • · Bridge Story, 2 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Scripts of Life 1 hour
  • · Engaging in a Shared Experience, 1 hr.

Total: 5 hrs.


  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Recording and massaging reminiscence of Tuesday’s Shared Experience 1 hr.
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Tuesday, 20 minutes.
  • · Bridge Story, 2 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Action Cartoon, 1 hr.

Total: 5 hrs.


  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Wednesday, 20 minutes.
  • · Bridge Story, 2 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Scripts of Life 1 hour
  • · Engaging in a Shared Experience, 1 hr.

Total: 5 hrs.


  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Recording and massaging reminiscence of Thursday’s Shared Experience 1 hour
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Thursday, 20 minutes.
  • · Bridge Story, 2 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Action Cartoon, 1 hr.


  • · Scripts of Life, 1hr.

Total: 5 hrs.

Note: goal for making acquaintances with new vocabulary: 8 words per hour average.

You can come up with your own variations. As noted, the minimum schedule would include the Bridge Story activity and Scripts of Life activity. Here is a sample schedule with a simpler set of activities:

  • · Monday
  • · Tuesday
  • · Wednesday
  • · Thursday
  • · Friday
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Friday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 3 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Recording, massaging and acting out a Script of Life, 1 hr.
  • · Total: 5 hrs.
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Monday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 4 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Total: 5 hrs.
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Tuesday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 3 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Recording, massaging and acting out a Script of Life, 1 hr.
  • · Total: 5 hrs.
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Wednesday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 4 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Total: 5 hrs.
  • · Small talk, 10 min
  • · Strengthening vocabulary from Thursday, 20 minutes.
  • · Recording and massaging a Bridge Story, 3 hrs., 30 min.
  • · Recording, massaging and acting out a Script of Life, 1 hr.
  • · Total: 5 hrs.

Note: goal for making acquaintances with new vocabulary: 8 words per hour average.

It may seem that four and a half hours of world stories on Tuesday and Thursday would get boring. In Kazakh, two growing participators meeting together with a nurturer began by hearing and massaging world fairy tales for about fifty hours. These happened to be available in print, in a simple form of language that is close to spoken Kazakh. When they ran out of those (there were about 15) they turned to Bible story books for about 150 hours. (They also did about fifty hours of Phase 2B and C activities—see below). They did nothing with Scripts of Life or Shared Experiences and Reminiscing. Spending 150 hours with Bible stories was no problem for them, as there are at least half a dozen different substantial Bible story books in print in Kazakh, and their nurturer took great joy in them. The stories were new to the nurturer, and he never tired of them. As he explained the stories to the growing participators, he reflected his Kazakh cultural assumptions in his interpretation of the stories. We think it is better to use a richer range of activities, but this experience shows that great gain can be made through the Bridge Story activity alone (along with small talk). Those growing participators’ main goals for Phase 3 were achieved:

  • · greatly increased depth of relationship with their nurturer
  • · growth in vocabulary on the order of 2500 words
  • · growth in ability to understand individual sentences with increasing ease
  • · growth in ability to understand richly textured stories
  • · growth in ability to understand abstract explanations
  • · growth in ability to tell simple stories
  • · growth in ability to negotiate complex meanings

The weakness was in the area of learning about local life, which the Scripts of Life, Shared Experiences and Reminiscence activities help with. However, they made up for this deficit quickly and powerfully in Phase 4, the Deep Life Sharing Phase.

Some other possible activities in Phase 3A

You may feel a need for more variety in your supercharged participation activities beyond what you have included so far. Certain activities may also meet specific needs that you are feeling. Actually, you can do anything you want in Phase 3, as long as it serves purposes such as those listed just above, serves them well, and serves them efficiently. But see the warning below regarding using your times with your nurturer primarily for small talk.

Activities that are in the shared-story spirit

Hear, record and massage descriptions of familiar local places

This is very much in the spirit of Phase 3, and allows you to move toward understanding the way local places are conceived of by your nurturer. This might include your home, your apartment building, street, nearby market, a particular shop, the public square, the route to some place you commonly go to, etc.

Familiar Place Description Activity

  • Listen to nurturer as she describes a place that is well-known to you.
  • Make a sound recording of her describing it.
  • Massage the recording.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Conversations centred around common objects

This amounts to returning to using visual support to aid the understanding process as in Phases 1 and 2, but with more free-ranging interaction than in those phases. You can take an object such as a sink, a stove, a tape recorder, a bicycle, a car, or whatever, and use it as a topic of conversation while you do things with it. You may be amazed how much a common object can give you to interact about. A family of growing participators once spent an hour interacting with a nurturer around a table lamp, and another hour interacting around a length of rope. In the latter case, there were three growing participators who tied one another up, dragged one another around, and did everything else imaginable with the piece of rope. With the lamp, besides the obvious things, like a light bulb burning out and someone replacing it, there was much to talk about related to electric power, which eventually inspired the nurturer to lead the growing participators to the electric panel and metre, which were then incorporated into the discussion.

Discuss a Prop Activity

  • Interact with your nurturer, trying to discuss an object from everyday life, such as a clock.
  • Try to discuss all the things people do with and to the object.
  • Make a sound recording of this interaction, negotiating meanings that you don’t understand during the interaction. All of this is recorded.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.


These are done spontaneously, not on the basis of memorised lines. In the process you grow in your ability to handle situations spontaneously in your daily life in the host world. In performing a Role-Play, you simply act out situations in which you participate in everyday life —situations that require verbal interaction. Examples might include using a taxi, making a purchase, being stopped by a traffic police officer, etc. A good approach is to have the nurturer take the role that you normally have in the real life situations, and you take the role of the person you normally interact with in those situations: the taxi driver, shopkeeper, police officer, etc. We call this activity Reverse Role-Play. In performing the role-play, spontaneously act out the role you have taken as best as you are able (which won’t be very well!). The key point is that in hearing what the nurturer says, and making a voice recording of it, you’ll see a good example of how you yourself might talk in those situations.

Reverse Role-Play Activity

  • Nurturer spontaneously acts out a role that you normally have in everyday life (for example, customer).
  • You spontaneously act out the other role (for example, shop-keeper).
  • Record as you do it.
  • Massage the recording.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Then on another day (after you’ve had the opportunity to listen to the voice recording a few times) you can trade roles and you take the role you normally have in the real life situations, while the nurturer takes the role of the person you interact with. In that way, you can also get a better idea of what you may expect to hear said to you.

Alternatively, you can just start right in playing the role that you have in the real-life situations, and let your nurturer assist you in saying what you are trying to say to her.

Ordinary Role-Play Activity

  • You spontaneously act out a role that you normally have in everyday life (for example, customer).
  • The nurturer spontaneously acts out the other role (for example, shop-keeper)
  • Record as you do it.
  • Massage the recording.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Activities from Phase 2 are still richly rewarding

Phase 2 Activities

  • Story-building with you in the lead (Phase 2A—to do more talking)
  • Story-building with nurturer in the lead (Phase 2B—to learn more that’s new to you)
  • Free cooperative conversational story-building (neither person particularly in the lead)
  • Autobiographical story-building, supported by sketches (Phase 2C)

You can still very profitably use activities from Phase 2 (currently described in the articles “The Story-Building Phase” and “The Next 150 Hours: Getting Underway with Story-Building”. You might do more of the Phase 2A activity if you feel that you yourself are just not talking enough in your shared story activities (and see the section below on activities that help you to talk more in Phase 3). This is a good time for you to talk with your nurturer about the picture book, Anno’s Journey, by Mitsumasa Anno (1977, Putnam & Grosset). [In fact that wonderful book is more suited to Phase 3 than it is to Phase 2.]

The Phase 2C activity Autobiographical Picture Stories would be good to continue. In fact, I would have included it in the essential set of activities described above, except that some people may not be comfortable with making the necessary sketches. My own feeling is that if they will just try it, then they will find they can do it. The reason I would have included this activity, is that by telling such visually supported stories from one’s own life, and understanding such stories from the nurturer’s life, the personal relationship between growing participator and nurturer can be deepening in ways that may not happen through the Bridge Story activity. So this activity, along with the Shared Experience and Reminiscing activities, is especially valuable to the growth of this personal relationship.

Free Cooperative Story-Building Activity

  • Use a wordless picture storybook.
  • Discuss it freely, both you and the nurturer making spontaneous contributions to building the story.
  • Add to your word log as you go.
  • Go through the entire book.
  • Using the word log as a reminder of new words to include, the nurturer tells the whole story, and this is recorded.
  • Massage the story if need be.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Activities for raising grammar awareness

Structured Input

Structured Input Activities are used especially in Phase 1. However, you may find that some of them are well worth repeating in Phase 3 and even later, if you still struggle with those areas. See the examples in the Phase 1 guide, The First 100 Hours. They all involve aspects of grammar that can be tied to visual supports for understanding, typical of Phase 1. A structured input activity forces you to pay attention to some aspect of grammatical form that you might otherwise not make use of as you listen to speech. You are forced to use that bit of grammar for understanding. This makes you more likely to keep noticing it, and eventually to use it more in your own speech.

Example of a Structured Input Activity—“to and from

  • Set up a doll family, and use a bag of candies.
  • Nurturer first says things like, “Give a candy to the mother; take a candy from the son; give a candy to me,” etc.
  • Then the nurturer leaves off the words “give” and “take”, as these already imply “to” and “from”. Now she just says things like “From me; to yourself; from the father; to the baby”.
  • This forces you to hear and use the information of “to” and “from”.

(The ideas of “to” and “from” might be expressed grammatically in a way different from the way these concepts are expressed in your native language.)

  • Such activities can be designed for many basic grammar elements—see the Phase 1 Guide, The First 100 Hours, for more examples.

Input Flooding:

You may notice yourself trying to use a certain type of sentence as you speak, and it is starting to irritate you that you aren’t able to do it. By Input Flooding, you can expose yourself to hundreds of instances of that type of sentence. For an Input Flooding Activity, you can use a “busy” picture, or you can use photographs. A busy picture is a drawing of a scene, perhaps a street in a residential neighbourhood, in which there are a large number of people engaged in an unnaturally large number of activities. I use the book William Wanders Off, by Ed King (Checkerboard Press, 1991). It is out of print, but I am always able to find used copies through on-line booksellers. There are other busy books, such as, the Usborne books in the series 1001 Things to Spot, by Ruth Brocklehurst, Gillian Doherty and Anna Milbourne. Some picture dictionaries include scenes organised around themes, with many people in the scene engaged in various activities. For example, see Heather Amery’s The First 1000 Words: A Picture Word Book, also published by Usborne and other publishers in many bilingual and even trilingual editions. However, of all the books of this sort that I have seen, I find Ed King’s the most useful. (Besides William Wanders Off, he produced Lucy is Lost and Roving Rosie Reports). In the first picture in William Wanders Off, I count over a hundred people, and a number of animals as well, all involved in different activities including, walking along the peak of a roof, hanging from the rafters as the ladder falls away, looking through binoculars, patching a roof, painting a house, running from a dog, being carried off into the air holding a bunch of helium balloons by the strings, etc.

Let’s say you are struggling with phrases of the form, “The X who Y”, “An X who Y”, etc.: The man who is flying, the man who is wearing a red suit, the man who is sweeping the street, the man who is running from the dog, the woman who is carrying a cane and running, the baby who is holding a blanket, the boy who is in the water and looking at you, etc. These phrases all describe people in the first picture of William Wanders Off. As you can see, the examples can go on and on and on.  The nurturer could point at individuals, and say, “Here is a man who is… Show me the woman who is…”, etc., over a hundred times in that one picture. Or she could ask you “Where is the man who… Where is the woman who is…”, also a hundred times. The latter might be better as it forces you to pay attention!

You can do the same thing with a set of photos, which might be loose photos, or ones that have been pasted into a photo album or scrapbook. You could possibly use the pictures in magazines such as National Geographic or a coffee table book as well. The key point is that the type of sentence you are interested in will occur in a flood of meaningful sentences.

Example of a Input Flooding Activity—Using a Busy Picture

  • Choose a type of sentence that you find you are often wanting to produce as part of your own talking.
  • Show your nurturer a few examples of how that form of sentence might be used to make comments about people or things in the busy picture.
  • Listen as your nurturer then makes many, many such comments about other people and things in the picture, using the same basic type of sentence or phrase.
  • Record this and massage as necessary.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Output Flooding:

This is similar to input flooding, except that now the growing participator does the talking. You have now heard the particular type of sentence that you are focussing on hundreds of times. You turn to a new busy picture, and now you try to describe parts of the picture using that construction over and over: “Here is a man who…”, etc.

Example of an Output Flooding Activity—Using a Busy Picture

  • Continue in the spirit of Input Flooding, picking up from where you left off in that activity.
  • Turn to a new busy picture.
  • Now you attempt to make many, many statements about people or things in the picture, using that type of sentence.
  • Be sure you do this with sentence types or types of phrases that you are already struggling to use in your own speech—not with arbitrary grammar patterns.

A key point here is that you do this only with types of sentences and phrases that you find you are actually trying to produce in your interaction with your nurturer during supercharged participation activities. This is unlike traditional approaches to learning grammar, where what you are learning has no connection with your currently developing language ability. Traditionally, students drill on sentence types or phrase types that they won’t be using in their own speech much (if at all) for the next several months, or even years. Then when they reach the point in their ability where such sentences become important to them (if indeed that ever happens), they have long ago forgotten what they learned about them. Better to put your effort into things closely tied to your current efforts to talk. You’ll see what those are as you struggle to talk.

Scripts of Life for Input and Output Flooding

Some Scripts of Life also provide a basis for Input Flooding or Output Flooding. They are likely to be used in the form that is naturally used for events that happen in general, “I walk to the door. I reach out my hand. I take hold of the doorknob…” However, they can be repeated in other forms. You had no lack of exposure to the past event forms in Phase 2, but now you may want to hear forms that express the intention to do something (such as future tense): “In awhile, I will wash my hands. First I will walk to the bathroom door. Then I will reach out my hand…” Or more complex patterns can be used: “After I walk to the door, I will reach out my hand. After I reach out my hand, I will take hold of the doorknob…” We would do this only with Scripts of Life that have become highly familiar to us first in their original form. Again, and importantly, we don’t try to do this with any and every type of sentence that we encounter. Rather, we wait until we notice that we are trying to use a particular kind of sentence or phrase in our own speech, and then we do some input flooding and output flooding.

Example of a Input Flooding Activity—Using a Script of Life

  • Choose a type of sentence that you find you are often wanting to produce as part of your own talking.
  • Take a Script of Life that is already familiar to you from previous sessions, and from listening to the recording.
  • Have the nurturer retell it in a way that emphasises the sentence type that you are interested in.

Warning about grammar

Here is a warning about grammar matters. In your own speech during Phase 3, you’ll mainly be using the kinds of sentences that you commonly heard during Phase 2. You’ll be encountering lots of new grammar in Phase 3, but be patient. It is generally more advanced than your current speaking ability. Don’t panic. As you keep increasing the amount of speech that you are understanding, and increasing the quantity of the Listening Library recordings with which you are familiar, what are so far rare sentence forms in your experience will become common, and you will eventually find yourself using many of them in your own speech. For those that you still struggle with, I recommend Input Flooding and Output Flooding activities. In Phase 4 we introduce new activities for becoming more aware of non-native-sounding features of your speech, in order to reduce their frequency.

Summary of other activities suitable to Phase 3A

  • Familiar-Place Descriptions
  • Conversations centred around familiar objects
  • Role-plays
  • Wordless Picture Books
  • Autobiographical Picture stories
  • Input Flooding and Output Flooding

In creating your personal weekly schedule, or modifying it, you may wish to leave slots for such activities in addition to the activities in the sample schedules above. You may find some of these activities not to be very productive during Phase 3A, but they may become highly productive in Phase 3B or C.

Setting up your weekly schedule if you are going at this less than full-time

This issue should not be taken lightly. Do everything imaginable, including making serious sacrifices that you think you just cannot make, and imploring your supervisors to do the same, in order to find a way to pursue growing participation as your full-time job for as long as you can, for up to a year and a half or two years. After that, by having an appropriate lifestyle, including your workplace life, leisure life and social life, you’ll be able to keep growing steadily. Phase 3 is definitely too early for you to be taking on other major responsibilities. In fact, finishing Phase 3 would be a good minimum in those exceptional cases where people must take on other work responsibilities prematurely.

Having said this, I’m aware that there will be plenty of people who feel they cannot avoid other work responsibilities even at this early stage. I have been one myself. We pay an awful price, but we can nevertheless make satisfying progress, and over the years we can go far, if we keep at it. My strategy was to schedule sessions with a nurturer who would come to our home for two hours, from 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning, leaving the rest of the day free for other work. We were able to do this four times, for stints of four or five months each time, so that in the course of four years, we were able to do the equivalent of about six months of full time supercharged growing participation, or a total of 650 hours. That is 43% of the number of hours that we recommend as an ideal, and so it would have taken us ten or eleven years to do the full amount at that rate. However, we were unable to continue even the four to five months a year, as our frequent travels made it difficult to get any consistent pattern going. Eventually, I became fanatical about listening to voice recordings as I was able to do so, and reading newspaper articles that I was able to find on the Internet.

In fact, if your hours available for supercharged participation activities are limited, you need to be fanatical about listening to your Listening Library. In extreme cases where you are limited not only in terms of hours available for supercharged participation activities, but also in terms of overall contact with host people, you need to become extremely fanatical about listening to your Listening Library. Listen to the recordings while walking, when waiting at the dentist’s office, when sitting in traffic, when trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep, etc. Saturate yourself with material from your Listening Library. You need to soak yourself in speech you can understand just as though you were steadily involved in the host community.

In our “Guide to Phases 5 and 6,” we plan to address the issue of people who just don’t have enough time for healthy growing participation activities. That is because Phase 6 is the life-long phase that continues after the growing participator is no longer meeting with special nurturers. It is supposed to be the Self-Sustaining Growth Phase, but for those who do less supercharged participation in their early years, it will be a special challenge for them to keep growing indefinitely.

For now, let’s imagine you do have other major work responsibilities. Then I suggest you do something such as we did, squeezing in two hours a day for growing participation activities early in the morning, before the work day begins. This might mean using Bridge Stories four days a week and Scripts of Life one day a week, plus leaving a bit of time for small talk each day.

Some special chores of Phase 3A

We have made reference to your need for certain resources. We need a stock of materials and ideas for the various activities we have discussed. Once one or a few growing participators have developed resources for a particular languacultural world, those who follow them will hopefully find much of this already done for them.

Brainstorming and List-Building

For now, unless someone has walked this road ahead of you and left lots of voice recordings behind (as you will do for those who follow after you!), then you and your nurturer will need to come up with some lists such as:

  • · A list of ideas for Scripts of Life
  • · A list of ideas for Shared Experiences
  • · A list of places and routes that are familiar to you for familiar-place descriptions
  • · A list of situations you participate in for possible role-plays

I recommend you get serious about this right away. Carry a small pad of paper as you go about life in the host world, and keep adding examples of activities you participate in already. Show this list to your nurturer and ask her to start building a possible list of activities that the two of you can do together. You can also suggest additions to each other’s lists.

Producing Bridge Stories

There are collections of world stories (Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Hans Christian Anderson, Aesop’s Fables, Arabian Nights) available on the Internet free of charge. Bible storybooks can be purchased in Bible-oriented shops in most countries. By searching on line, I found and purchased Folk Tales from Korea, by Zǒng In-Sǒb (3rd edition, 1982; Elizabeth, New Jersey: Hollym International Corp.) as a resource for Korean growing participators. (A Korean friend identified ten stories in it as being universally known in Korea.) The same can be done with other home-languacultural backgrounds of growing participators. We have given you enough in Appendix 2 to get started. Acquiring such materials is a first step. They aren’t Bridge Stories until they are told in your host language. If Bridge Stories don’t already exist in your host language, then developing them will take some ongoing effort. The next challenge is for your nurturer to learn the stories in order to retell them in the host language. If your nurturer knows enough English to use resources such as those just mentioned, then she can use those. Otherwise, if she is bilingual in another major world language or regional language, such resources may be available in that language. At the very least, Bible storybooks are available in all major languages.

If it is impossible to find a bilingual nurturer, then quite a different approach will be required which we cannot go into in this article except to say that if you do go far in growing participation in such a people group, you could consider helping to develop many Phase 3 resources for those who follow you.

Get out and do things in the host world, for lots of ideas

This applies to Scripts of Life, Shared Experiences and Role-Plays. Remember, that for a Script of Life to be appropriate as a “shared story”, you need to know from first hand experience, at least to a reasonable extent, what happen in that situation in the host world. Therefore, if you are short on ideas for Scripts of Life, get out and do some things you haven’t done yet: open a bank account, mail a letter, get a haircut, visit a tailor, etc. Go out and look around, and come back with lots of ideas for situations in which to participate in coming days. This can also provide ideas for Role-Plays and Shared Experiences.

Your general social life in Phase 3A

Some growing participators manage to develop lots of social relationships even in Phase 1, although there are naturally limits on the depth of those relationships. Many of us have a hard time trying to build relationships before we can understand or talk very much. By mid Phase 3 you are developing enough conversational ability that you will be able you to branch out a bit in your relationships, and you should work at doing so. At the beginning of Phase 3, however, it may still be very difficult for host people to communicate with you, and so you don’t need to be concerned if your only really rich relationship at this point is with your nurturer. You might employ a second nurturer, and these nurturers may become sources of contacts for later relationships. If you are already being blessed with other social relationships, great! If not, you’ll get more concerned about it in Phase 3B. For now, you can relax.


The transition from Phase 3A to 3B need not be abrupt. However, if you’re still stuck on a small number of activities, it may be good to set aside a special transition time in which you again try out a number of activities that you have not used much yet—the primary Phase 3 activities and the other possibilities presented above—and then, in interaction with a language learning advisor, remake your weekly schedule with some fresh activities in it, along with what will be the prime Phase 3 activity: Using host stories as Shared Stories. Also, for sure at this point, you will want to have a few of your twenty-five hours taken up by informal social visiting, and you can construct your schedule with that in mind.

For those who have been using only one or two activities

Actually, we didn’t present the possibility of doing only one activity, but knowing how some of us take the path of least resistance, there may be some who have done a hundred hours of Phase 3 relying on Bridge Stories only. If you have not been using the full set of activities in Phase 3A, this is the time to move to the full set, possibly including the optional activity, Autobiographical Picture Stories, from Phase 2C as mentioned above, and the activities listed in the section above on other possible activities for Phase 3A, in addition to the core activities of Phase 3A. If you feel you’re running low on Scripts of Life and possibilities for Shared Activities, you may cut back on those, and add some of the activities you have not yet used much.

Make sure that the level of difficulty keeps rising

If in early Phase 3, you found that you had to ask your nurturer to greatly simplify the stories, then you may now want them told again in a more natural form, so that your understanding ability can be stretched further. If the written language is similar in form to the spoken language, you can move from having simplified stories told to you to having written stories read aloud to you. Written language read aloud is generally more challenging than purely spoken language, especially if the latter have been especially geared to your level of understanding ability. Compared to spoken stories, written stories will tend to have longer sentences, more complex sentences, and richer vocabulary. If, on the other hand, you started on the first day of Phase 3 having written stories read aloud to you, and massaging them was not excessively tedious, then you can just move on to the activity described in the next section: host stories as shared stories.

The prime Phase 3B activity: host stories as shared stories

So far you have been using Bridge Stories. They relieve you of some of the difficult parts of the understanding process. For example, they don’t depend on your knowing a lot already about local life; and they don’t require you to create the complex understanding of a totally new story, which is a big part of normal story understanding. This has allowed your vocabulary to continue growing by leaps and bounds, and has sped up your ability to understand individual sentences, and to follow stories. You have added four or five hours of recordings to your listening library, and whenever you listen to material from your listening library you are refreshing or strengthening a large number of vocabulary, as well as you ability to understand speech in general.

Host-Story-as-Shared-Story Activity

  • Make a recording of a well-known host story.
  • Have someone listen to it and retell it in English or another language you know well.
  • Listen to that English (or other language) version repeatedly over a few days.
  • Now listen to the host story for the first time.
  • Massage it with your nurturer.
  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Now you can move to something a bit more difficult: understanding host stories—but not host stories that are totally new to you. Because you are still in Phase 3, understanding a totally new host story with no preparation would usually be too difficult and time consuming—not a really rich growth experience. So first we want to make these host stories into “shared” stories.

Using Host Stories

  1. Ask your nurturer to make a list of stories that are universally known among her people, or at least very widely known.
  2. Have someone retell some of those stories in English or another language that you know well, making a voice recording, or writing them out. You can use either form in order to learn the story well.
  3. As part of your homework, listen to (or read) this translation of the story in English or another language that you know well. It is best if you listen to or read it every day for several days before listening to the story in the host language for the first time.
  4. When you feel the story has become highly familiar to you, listen to it in the host language in a supercharged participation session. Record and massage it, following the same steps that you followed for hearing and massaging Cinderella earlier.

This is another case where the pioneers doing Phase 3 activities among a particular language group can leave rich resources behind, so that newcomers don’t have to keep creating their own.

This activity is likely to be considerably more challenging than the Bridge Story activity, and the explanations of elements you don’t understand will be more complex. With the Bridge Stories, the world of the story was neither your world nor your nurturer’s world. So you both lacked background knowledge about that world, and this limited the role that the background knowledge played. With host stories, this is no longer the case. There is a vast amount of background knowledge that your nurturer understands and you do not. This can change the dynamics of the activity considerably. If you try this activity, and find that it is too time-consuming for the amount of benefit, try postponing it for another fifty hours, and then coming back to it.

You may also want to re-listen to the voice recordings of these stories more often than to the recordings of Bridge Stories. I find that years later, it is still easy to remember what is being talked about at each point in a Bridge Story, as they are so highly familiar to me, and I never forget their plots. With host stories, that is not the case, and down the road it is harder to remember what was being talked about.

Getting serious social life underway

If your only strong relationship with host people right now is still your relationship with your paid nurturer, it is time to change that.

You now have enough conversational ability that you can start counting some social interaction in normal life (outside of supercharged participation sessions with a paid nurturer) as part of your twenty-five hours per week of focussed growing participation. You might count from three to five hours per week of ordinary social interaction as part of your twenty-five hours. (That’s not to say you need to limit your other social interaction to three to five hours—just that you don’t want to decrease your supercharged participation activities by more than three to five hours at this time.) You need to identify settings where such social interaction is a possibility for you. For example, you might use taxis to travel and make a point of interacting the whole time with the driver. You might invite a neighbour for tea. You might already feel connected to some shopkeepers, and can notice when their slow times are when there are few or no customers, and you can drop in on them at those times. Do some brainstorming to make a list of such possibilities for social interaction that are in your life already. Communication will still be a struggle, but it is a struggle you need to engage in.

How easy it is to “make friends” will vary from place to place, as will the concept of “friendship” itself. At this point, what you hope to find is people who take a strong interest in you personally, and in whom you take a strong interest. Some host people may initially take an interest in you out of curiosity. I was once a tourist in a country where I jogged through a small town, and was invited for tea or a meal about ten times in ten minutes! In other societies people will initially come across to you as closed and hard to approach. In one such case, our nurturer told us that no one in that city would ever approach an unknown neighbour with the intention of becoming “friends”. On the other hand, we were at the point where we needed to be in more relationships in order to continue growing well, and in any case, we desired to be in more relationships, since that is the whole essence of growing participation. And so we simply prepared tea and sweets and started knocking on doors, of which there were three near ours. The first person made excuses as to why she could not join us. The second was either not home, or looked out the peephole and chose not to answer the door. The third opened the door, and seemed to be delighted that we had invited her. We soon learned that less than a month prior her husband had been the victim of a business-related contract killing (common in that country at that time), and she had sent her children away to relatives, and so she was living alone right above the entryway where her husband had been killed.

The world is full of people in need of relationships—not just growing participators. People in close relationships are a gift to one another. As in that case, making connections may require doing something “uncultural” to start a new relationship, or it might be as easy as walking through town and being invited in by strangers. Turning a new relationship into a deep one is another matter, but in Phase 3B you want to at least begin some new relationships. Consider that you do not graduate from Phase 3B to 3C until you have done this! (In Phase 4 you learn to develop not just new relationships, but deep ones.)

A sample day in Phase 3B:

Sample 1: For the adventuresome

  • · Before the Supercharged Participation Session:
    • Listen once more to the recording of the translation of the host story you will hear today in the session (or re-read the transcript)
    • · During the session:
      • 15 minutes of Small talk.
      • 15 minutes for strengthening new vocabulary from yesterday.
      • 2 hours recording and massaging the new host story that you have become familiar with in translation.
      • 15 minutes for an Input Flood activity using sentences of the form “This boy (etc.) is trying to…” “The woman is trying to…”
      • 15 Minutes role-play of getting a hair-cut
      • 1 hour recording and massaging a Familiar-Place Description
      • 1 hour attempting to start up conversations with strangers who sit idly in the park.
      • · In the evening:
        • Listen to today’s newly recorded story (especially the portion you have already massaged), the Familiar-Place description, and the voice recordings of the Role Play and the Input Flood.
        • Listen once again to the translation of next week’s host story (or re-read the transcript).
        • Look over your set of lists (see the section Brainstorming and List-Building above) in order to see if you have new ideas, possibly based on new experiences.

Note: goal for having strong encounters with new vocabulary: 8 words per hour average.

Sample 2: For someone who likes to keep things simple

  • · Before the Supercharged Participation Session:
    • Listen once more to the recording of the translation of the host story you will hear today (or re-read the transcript)
    • · During the session:
      • 15 minutes of Small talk.
      • 15 minutes for strengthening new vocabulary from yesterday.
      • 3 hours, 30 minutes recording and massaging a new host story.
      • 1 hour visiting neighbours who have befriended you.
      • · In the evening:
        • Listen to today’s newly recorded story (especially the portion you have already massaged).
        • Listen once again to the translation of next week’s host story (or re-read the transcript).
        • Look over your set of lists (see the section Brainstorming and List-Building above) in order to see if you have new ideas, possibly based on new experiences.

Note: goal for having strong encounters with new vocabulary: 8 words per hour average.


As noted before, there may not be a smooth transition between the sub-phases 3A, B, and C. However, in the latter period of Phase 3 you can try out some activities that may be yet more challenging than the ones you have been using so far.

Beyond literal stories

We have a Phase of “shared stories”, for the simple reason that stories that we already largely know are understandable to us in the host language long before we are able to understand unfamiliar stories. This allows us to develop of a whole range of listening abilities short of the full set of abilities that will be needed to understand unfamiliar stories and unpredictable speech in general. We have already extended this principle beyond literal “stories” with the Scripts of Life activity, where the nurturer told us of the “steps” in familiar activities.

Familiar Topic Activity

  • Listen to nurturer as she tells you or reads aloud to you about a topic that is highly familiar to you.
  • Make a sound recording of her telling it or reading it.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded story already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Listen to it a few times before the next session.

Now you can also try listening to discussions of more abstract topics that are highly familiar to you. In general, abstract discussions are considered more difficult to deal with than concrete stories. However, in a new language, an abstract discussion of a topic that is highly familiar to the listener is often a lot easier to understand than an unfamiliar story. The topic needs to be one that is understood similarly in your home world and in the host world. You may be familiar with arithmetic, but it may be that the way arithmetic is approached and discussed in your host world is so different from the way you are accustomed to that arithmetic will not be a familiar topic.

You are no doubt living in the host country with a particular purpose or purposes. If you are a health worker, there may be public health materials available that would count as material on a familiar topic, such as a pamphlet on preventing malaria or prenatal health. These materials can be read aloud to you (or retold aloud, if the written language differs greatly from the spoken language). If you are a rural agricultural worker, there may be materials written for farmers. If you simply like to work on cars, use computers, play a sport, play a musical instrument, etc., you may find someone who shares your interest, and record them telling about the topic, such as “how to take good care of your car”. If you are of a religious background that is also represented in your host group, you can try massaging sermons on familiar topics or passages, or listening to published training materials read aloud.

Discussions of familiar topics move you beyond stories (narratives) into a more difficult level of speech that is called expository discourse. The ability to understand expository discourse will be important in Phase 4 and beyond. You have already been hearing some expository speech in massaging stories in Phases 3A and B. In Phase 3C you can start dealing with such abstract speech in larger quantities, still taking advantage of the fact that speech on familiar topics is easier to process than most native-to-native speech will be.

In learning Kazakh, I found many books for small children that were printed in a Russian edition and in a Kazakh edition. This included stories, but also simple writings for small children about history, geography, nature, and holidays and other traditions. I was able to read the Russian edition before the supercharged participation session, and then listen to the Kazakh version in the session. However, I didn’t read the Russian version for several days in advance, as I recommend. The result was that months down the road, when I returned to the recordings in my Listening Library, they weren’t so easy to follow any more in comparison to materials whose content was more permanently familiar to me. I feel that it is important then, if you are to use host materials that you have become familiar with from translations, that you become truly familiar with them, to a level of familiarity comparable to your level of familiarity with world stories.

Anything goes if it works well, including moving on to Phase 4

By Phase 3C, you may start to notice that you can in fact understand simple host children’s stories that are entirely new to you. Whether or not you will grow so quickly seems to depend a lot on the nature of the language and culture and how different they are from your own language and culture. It certainly has not been the case in my experience of learning a few languages, but it has been reported to me by growing participators in other language groups. If this turns out to be the case in your situation, you may wonder whether you can go ahead and record and massage such non-shared stories. The rule is, you can do whatever you find helpful as long as it involves

  • · listening to speech that you can understand with only a moderate amount of massaging
  • · making acquaintance with an average of at least eight new vocabulary items per hour, or more,
  • · lots of interaction with your nurturer, including
  • · lots of opportunity to talk yourself

The point is to be hearing lots of speech that is not too difficult for you, but does stretch you, and to be interacting a lot. If that goes beyond shared stories, great!

For that matter, if you begin finding Phase 3 activities quite easy, you may want to consider doing less than 250 hours in Phase 3, and moving on to Phase 4, the Deep Life Sharing Phase.

Other possible activities in the shared-story spirit

Here are some further activities that might be used in the more advanced levels of Phase 3:

  • Movie plots
  • Book summaries
  • News Broadcasts
  • Earlier stories in more advanced versions

Movie Plots

In the case of major languages, the most popular world movies are commonly dubbed into them. Your nurturer may already be familiar with a movie, or she can watch it specially. If you are learning a minority language, such movies won’t be available, but your nurturer may still be able to watch them in the major language of the area, if she knows that language. For your part, you are familiar with the movie from having seen it in English, or another language you know well. Now have your nurturer simply tell you the plot of the movie from memory. Record and massage it.

Using Movie Plots

  • Listen to your nurturer tell a plot of a well-known movie that you have seen in your native language and she has seen in her native language.
  • Make a sound recording of her telling it.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded story already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Listen to the recording before the next session.

Book Summary

This is less common, but it may be that your nurturer has favourite novels that you are familiar with from having read them in another language, and she can summarise them to you. You might enjoy reading some host novels that have been translated into English or another language that you know well, just for relaxation. If you do that, then perhaps later you will be able to hear summaries of them told to you in the host language. Or later still, you can just read the originals in the host language. (I once noticed that in the English as a Foreign Language section of the bookstore at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, there were a number of classic Russian novels for sale in their English translations. Someone there had discovered the shared-story principle.)

Using Book Summaries

  • Like using movie summaries—the nurturer tells the plot of a novel that you have read in your native language and she has read in hers.
  • Record, massage, listen to the recording later.

News Broadcasts

If you follow the world news regularly, and there are news broadcasts in your host language on T.V., radio or the Internet, then you can easily record broadcasts and massage them. Local news may be harder than international news, as it may be unfamiliar to you. On the other hand, if you tend to know a lot about what is going on in your local area, you may also use local news broadcasts. You could also have your nurturer read a newspaper aloud to you for the same purpose of recording and massaging it. (In a case like Arabic, you would ask your nurturer to read the article, and then retell its content to you in spoken Arabic. This would start introducing you to more vocabulary from formal Arabic, which would be mixed in with the ordinary spoken Arabic in order to discuss the news.)

Using News Broadcasts

  • Record and massage news broadcasts.
  • Most will be in the category of “familiar topics” from the world news.
  • Some may be local news stories that you continue following from day to day.

If you set out to learn to understand the news, you need to plan to devote a reasonable amount of time to this. At first, it will seem you are being overwhelmed with new vocabulary. It is all going into your iceberg, but if you only spend a few hours with the news, much of that new vocabulary may largely fade away again, because it is not being re-encountered and strengthened. However, as you continue working with the news with your nurturer, and then listening regularly to news broadcasts on your own, you’ll find that news vocabulary is repeated frequently, and before long, what seemed like a flood of new words will now be commonplace, familiar friends. Learning to follow the news is actually quite a manageable goal with a little persistence, but just putting a few hours into it and then dropping it may not be of much value. If you do persist, then you will have a constant source of speech to listen to that you can understand, further speeding up your listening ability. Many people like to keep up with the news anyway. Why not learn to do it in the host language? Some local news stories, such as stories about court trials, continue to develop day after day, and once you are into following a story, it becomes considerably easier to understand new instalments than it is to understand news items that are totally new. Therefore, in the case of an ongoing story that you are already following, it is not so important that you know the story already in advance.

Your old stories retold, “native-to-native”

Early in Phase 3, your nurturer may have gone to a lot of effort in order to adapt her speech to your limited listening ability, speaking slowly, enunciating clearly, limiting her vocabulary, and keeping the form of sentences relatively simple, along with the form of the story as a whole. Now if you were using printed stories that she simply read aloud, this will not have been the case. But even then, they were probably read to you slowly and carefully. It is a further challenge to understand normal rapid speech between natives. In fact Phase 5, Native-to-Native Discourses, is aimed at developing that ability to a high level. An easy way to start dealing with more complex, rapid speech at this point would be to have your nurturer take stories you’ve used with her, and tell them to another host person without you present, but making a recording. Now you have stories with a highly familiar core and lots of familiar vocabulary, but told in a more natural, native-to-native way. We’ll encourage some of this in Phase 4 as well, leading up to Phase 5. You might want to try it once toward the end of Phase 3 just to see how much more demanding it is. Training your brain to cope with rapid native-to-native speech may take some time. You could start on it now, and continue some on it through Phase 4 as well.

Using Earlier Stories in More Advanced Versions

  • Nurturer tells stories she has told you, but tells them naturally to some other host person without you being present.
  • She records herself doing this.
  • Later, listen together and massage.
  • Listen again a few times on your own.

When I was learning Urdu, I discovered that in many bazaars I could buy wonderful children’s stories on cassette. I bought seventeen hours of them altogether. Most of them were world stories, and some were traditional South Asian children’s stories. I had been in Pakistan about a year at that point, and was generally able to understand them after a few listenings, even without the help of a nurturer. They were highly native-to-native in nature, and yet familiar stories, which put them within range of understanding at that early point.

Activities to get you talking more

If you find that you are remaining silent too much during your supercharged participation sessions, the following activities can get you talking more. Some possibilities are

  • Story retelling
  • Telling stories from your life
  • Ongoing stories that you keep adding to
  • What I did on the week-end
  • More picture stories, busy books and the Lexicarry
  • Matters currently of wide interest in the community

Story retelling

This will work best in the mid to late stages of Phase 3, and doing it with Bridge Stories may work better than doing it with local stories that you have learned through translation, unless you have truly become exceedingly familiar with the content of those stories in advance. Some growing participators may wish to use this activity from Phase 3A onward. Others will find it too difficult until Phase 3B or C. The activity is simple. After you have heard, recorded and massaged a story, you tell the story to your nurturer in your own words, and at your own level of ability. It can be done in the spirit of “Let me see if I understood your story. Here is what I think you said.” Make an effort to use much of the new vocabulary you encountered in that story.

Story Retelling Activity

  • Listen to your nurturer tell a Bridge Story spontaneously, or read one aloud to you.
  • Make a sound recording of her telling it or reading it.
  • Massage the recording.

(If a recorded story already exists, go straight to the massaging step.)

  • Now attempt to retell the story in your own words, in a way that is in keeping with your own current level of speaking ability.

Telling stories from your life

In Phase 3A or B you may have used the activity of Autobiographical Picture Stories. By mid- to late Phase 3, you have much more freedom to just tell stories from your life to your nurturer. This may be a good stretching experience for you, as the content of the story is largely set in advance, and you can force yourself to get through a story, with lots of negotiation of meaning, no matter how hard it gets. Once you have managed to convey the whole story to your nurturer, she can retell it, and the retelling can be recorded and added to your Listening Library. If you have an opportunity to tell it again to others, you may be pleased to see substantial improvement in comparison to the first time you attempted to tell it to your nurturer. In fact, you may see further improvement each time you tell it to someone else after that.

Using Stories From your Life

  • Choose an interesting experience from your childhood or later.
  • Tell the whole story—don’t avoid the hard parts. Negotiate meanings as necessary.
  • Have your nurturer make a final recording of her retelling your story.

Ongoing stories

You can also choose an ongoing, “epic” story that is important to you, and start developing it in an ongoing way, over time, telling new instalments each time you meet with your nurturer or with other people with whom you are developing relationships. Your version of the story will be bare bones at this point, and in Phases 4 through 6 you can repeat this activity telling the story in a much fuller and richer form. You might also use pictures to support this story, but not in the bit-by-bit detailed way that you used wordless picture books in Phase 2. Rather, you might have a single picture to set the stage for each instalment of the story.

Telling an “Epic” story

  • Choose a story you know that goes on and on.
  • Add some to it each day.
  • Don’t avoid hard parts—negotiate meanings.
  • Nurturer makes a recording of her retelling each additional segment.
  • Tell the ongoing story, segment by segment to other people with whom you have ongoing relationships, after you have told each segment to your nurturer.

What I did on the week-end (or yesterday)

This is an activity that I find many language learners naturally gravitate to: telling their tutor about all that they did the day before. It soon becomes highly repetitive, but you can return to this activity fruitfully, whenever “yesterday” or “the weekend” were out of the ordinary in some way or other.

What I did on the weekend

  • Tell your weekend (or yesterday’s) activities in great detail.
  • Don’t avoid the hard parts—negotiate meanings as necessary.
  • Have your nurturer make a final recording of her retelling your weekend.

More picture stories, busy books and the Lexicarry

We mentioned the ongoing value of Phase 2 wordless picture storybooks. Using them in the style of Phase 2B—Story-Building with the growing participator in the lead, will always proved a rich talking opportunity. Anno’s Journey was recommended above. Busy pictures will also provide a lot to attempt to talk about.

In the Phase 1 guide (The First Hundred Hours: Language Sessions for Phase 1—Interacting about the “Here-and-Now”) we discuss Patrick Moran’s Lexicarry. It contains comic strip-like picture stories. These story strips are mostly three frames in length. They depict common communication situations, such as bumping into someone and needing to apologise. They differ from cartoon strips in that the bubbles where the words belong are left empty, and you use your imagination to fill in the bubbles (orally, not in writing), based on the situation depicted in the story strip. Even if you have talked about these story strips in Phases 1 and 2, you can profitably do it again in Phase 3. In each phase your discussions of them become richer. In Phase 3, as you tell the stories, make a point of considering many options for what might be said in each of the cartoon bubbles. There is more than one way to apologise for knocking someone down, for example. The nurturer will likely be able to suggest various options in each case.

Using the Lexicarry in Phase 3

  • Attempt to tell each story strip.
  • Then discuss many variations on what the characters might say.
  • Make a recording that summarises this discussion.

Matters currently of wide interest in the community

Ask your nurturer what current topics are being talked about in the community—recent events, community problems, gossip. Some awareness of this may grow out of using news broadcasts or newspapers. Although this is not in the “shared story” spirit, once you have been introduced to a topic, you can return to it from time to time, and it is much easier to discuss than a totally new topic.

Using Matters of Wide Interest

  • Ask the nurturer what are some matters that people in the community are talking a lot about these days.
  • Return to the same topics from time to time for updates.
  • Record your nurturer’s opinion on such matters.
  • Massage as necessary.
  • Raise these topics in conversations with others with whom you have opportunities to chat.

A warning about small talk

By small talk, I mean simply chatting about whatever comes to mind, without much strategy for rapid growth. To engage in small talk is to strengthen a relationship, and perhaps go deeper in that relationship. Another phrase for small talk is chitchat. By late Phase 3, you are able to talk a lot more than you have been previously. If you are an outgoing, talkative person, it is often tempting to spend much or most of your scheduled time with your nurturer simply chatting about whatever comes to mind. Small talk can be thought of as a supercharged activity insofar as your nurturer works harder than other host people would to stay in your growth zone. However, it may not lead to learning new vocabulary at a rapid rate, nor to steadily increasing the difficulty level of the speech that you can understand and produce. All of the chitchat might increase your understanding of the host world, but not in the radical way that is possible in Phase 4, when you systematically approach exploring the host world broadly and deeply.

Basically, we typically don’t grow much through lots of random small talk, but rather we keep talking about what we are already most able to talk about. It can contribute to the problem many people describe as “being stuck on a plateau”. Yet some people fall into the habit of making small talk their primary activity in their special sessions with their paid nurturers or tutors. This may be a special problem for people who are naturally talkative.

You do want to keep your personal relationship with your nurturer at centre stage, not putting “learning goals” ahead of that relationship. But that can be done by beginning each day with a few minutes of small talk, and then allowing other stretches of small talk to arise out of the supercharged participation activities, rather than letting hours of small talk replace those activities. For example, when you’re massaging a story, it will often lead to discussions of your personal lives. Your Shared Experiences can now, by late Phase 3, occasionally consist in a whole day or two of doing something together, followed by lots of Reminiscing in your scheduled sessions.

Occasionally, it will be natural and necessary to let the time slip away as there are important personal needs or joys that need to be shared. However, relationships can go much deeper if you keep growing rapidly, and therefore, keeping relationships at centre stage also means keeping growth in view. If you fall into the practice of using most of your scheduled time for informal chatting, you may become more and more fluent at your current level, without rising to new levels.  In fact, you will probably just develop a special way of communicating with your nurturer that makes it unnecessary to keep growing steadily.

Social life continues to develop

Well, if you are in late Phase 3, and have not put deliberate effort into forming some special relationships, you now need to stop making excuses. It may be getting easier and easier for you to rattle on talking to your nurturer. Starting to communicate in new relationships will be more challenging, and you now need that challenge in order to keep growing well.

Discuss both with a language learning advisor and with your nurturer some possible strategies for developing new relationships. Your nurturer certainly has close relationships with other host people. Perhaps she can think of a way that you can get together at the same time with both her and with those others with whom she is close. Once you have met those other key people in her life, you can develop one-on-one relationships with those people that are partly independent of your nurturer’s relationship with them.

This is a good time to consider living with a host family for a while. That will stimulate you to talk a lot, and allow you to observe host people interacting with one another. Also, people who visit your host family will become acquainted with you, providing other possibilities for relationships. We don’t recommend living with a host family much earlier than mid-to-late Phase 3, as communication ability may be too limited earlier, leading to stress and frustration. Often an earlier immersion living situation does not contribute much to growth.

At the right time, living with the right host family can be a great experience. If it is possible to get out of the city and live with a host family in a rural village, that may even be better. Other options are for unmarried growing participators to find single host people to share an apartment with, or for families of growing participators to take in host boarders, such as students who are in the city to attend a university or institute, and would benefit from free room and board.

 Starting to read?

If you are learning a major language, it may be that growing participation requires learning to read and write. It may be that the people you most identify with are literate, and that literacy is an important part of the life that they are nurturing you into.

Research shows that the main factors that will affect your reading ability in a new language are your reading ability in your native language, and your overall level of ability in the new language (especially the latter). It doesn’t make a lot of sense to worry about reading much earlier than Phase 3, since your level of ability in the new language is so low that you would find little to read at the necessary level, and therefore, would not be able to start becoming literate in the host language in any serious way. Learning to read a second time is different from learning to read the first time. Getting the basic hang of what reading is, and gradually developing fluent reading ability, was a long process we all went through (each in our own way), spread over a few years. In the case of a second language, you are not learning to read from scratch. In fact, except for character-based languages (basically, written Chinese and derivatives), you’ll find that as long as you have a high enough level of language ability for what you are reading, you can learn to read moderately well in a short time just by doing it a lot.

In Phase 3, it may be possible to read many of the familiar stories that you have heard and massaged. If so, and if you’re motivated to do this, then start reading! You may be surprised how quickly you start developing reading fluency.

Here is a warning. Some Phase 3 activities can involve the nurturer reading aloud to the growing participator. Once you have started reading yourself, you may be tempted to follow along as your nurturer reads aloud. However, your primary task still is to develop listening comprehension ability. As a nurturer reads aloud to me in Phase 3, I often find I have to strain to listen, and need to hear some sentences repeated two or three times before I understand them. This effort, leading often to successful understanding, is helping to develop and speed up my listening ability. By contrast, once I can read the language a bit in Phase 3, and I am straining to understand something I have just heard, I find that if I merely glance at the printed version of the sentence I have just heard, I often understand it at once, without completing the process of understanding it from hearing it alone. I need to be struggling through the process of understanding what I hear. Unfortunately, looking at the printed sentence short circuits the process. I suspect that as an already literate adult, newly able to read in the host language, you too will at once find it much easier to get information from the printed words on the page (which just sit there motionless, clearly marked off by the spaces before and after them), than to get information from the vibrations of the air, that is, from the sound (which disappears as soon as you hear it, and is at once replaced by more sounds that you must also cope with). Learning to listen is an enormous task. Reading is something you can just start doing at will, and you can continue improving your ability to read by doing it more, once you know the writing system, and have materials to read at a level accessible to you. So when working at listening to something that is being read to you aloud, don’t cheat by looking at the printed page! I can read my heart out on my own at home, developing all the reading fluency that I want when I’m all alone, but not when I need to be listening to my nurturer in my supercharged participation session.

This brings up a final warning. Some language learners spend a lot of their time with their tutors practicing reading aloud. They struggle to read something aloud, and the tutor sits there and nods. It may provide opportunities to discuss new words, which is good. However, as noted, struggling to read is something you can do on your own, and you don’t need to pay a nurturer to listen to you, and use up your precious time that could better be used doing things that can only be done with a nurturer, such as listening to her read aloud.

Lots of variations, but the same key goals

We’ve discussed a variety of supercharged participation activities for growing participators in Phase 3, the Shared Stories Phase. What unites them is the fact that you are listening to material with content that is already highly familiar and predictable. You are pursuing the following goals:

  • · A deepening relationship with your nurturer
  • · New relationships with host people
  • · Familiarity with a growing volume of language
  • · Steadily growing vocabulary
  • · Understanding increasingly complex material
  • · Understanding more of the host world
  • · Basic conversational ability

A deepening relationship with your nurturer

In the Growing Participator Approach to language learning, “language learning” is seen as being at the centre of a process of being apprenticed into a group and its practices by being nurtured into individual lives. Since opportunities for good participation that allow good growth are hard to find, we have supercharged participation sessions with a paid nurturer. We are trying to cause the sorts of good growth experiences that happen sporadically in life to happen intensively. However, in Phases 1 and 2, the nurturer was only able to barely acquaint you with tools for sharing life. As you move on through Phase 3 she takes you deeper into her practices of talking, storytelling, and explaining, as well as into understanding her expectations of what happens in the world (Scripts of Life), and being increasingly bonded together through Shared Experiences and Reminiscences. Like the activities of Phase 2, the resources used in Phase 3, such as Bridge Stories, provide you with a lot to talk about at a time when your attempts at unsupported free communication might not go very far. This too contributes to increasing shared experience, also deepening the relationship. All the stories you built in Phase 2 and all the stories you massage in Phase 3 are now part of life that you share in common with your nurturer.

New relationships

Your goal is to be involved in many personal relationships, and in groups of host people who are united in purpose and activities, and united by their shared history and common practices. (Such groups are therefore called communities of practice). But during Phase 1, for host people to interact with you extensively was impossible, and during the time that you were in Phase 2 it still required a huge commitment to you on their part, a commitment which probably few host people had. In Phase 3, it still requires reasonable effort for host people to interact with you at any length, but it is easy enough that a few people will find it worth the effort. Thus you start branching out. These new relationships cannot yet go as deep as your relationship with your nurturer, but they can nevertheless be meaningful, rewarding relationships to both you and to the host people involved in them.

Familiarity with a growing quantity of speech

Think of your Listening Library. At the end of Phase 1 it was non-existent. In Phase 2 it grew to perhaps two or three hours, if that. In Phase 3 you add many more hours. Your Phase 2 stories were built mainly of short sentences strung together quite simply. Your Phase 3 stories are richer and more complex. There are much better interconnections between the parts of the stories.

The hardest thing you will do in this new language is to understand native-to-native speech. If you are very much involved with host people, you’ll have lots of opportunities to keep talking, and that will get easier and easier. You can read extensively at a level appropriate for you at a given time, and reading will become steadily easier. By contrast, you probably won’t naturally be given large-scale opportunities to hear speech that you can understand at levels of ability represented by Phases 1 through 5. The Phase 2 activities move you ahead to hearing and understanding much larger quantities of speech than the Phase 1 activities allowed you to hear with understanding. Now the pace with which the quantity increases picks up a lot more in Phase 3. Hearing a lot that you can understand is the path to becoming familiar with how host people talk. The complex processes of language understanding can differ radically from language to language, and you may to hear a huge quantity of speech that you can understand in order to become adept at hearing and understanding native-to-native speech in the host language. (See also the section on the importance of frequency in Appendix 1).

It is therefore worth repeating the admonition to listen, listen, listen to all that you have added to your Listening Library until every bit of it has become easy for you to follow. Otherwise your understanding of much of it can fade away, and when you listen to it months later, it will be almost like listening to some of it for the first time again. By persisting in listening until listening becomes easy, you can know that your brain is learning to process your new language on your new language’s own terms. Some of the power of this phase results from this practice of listening to recordings in your Listening Library until listening has become easy, and until everything you hear in your Listening Library sounds familiar to you.

Steadily growing vocabulary

I observe that, left to their own devices, most language learners do not learn very many words! Researchers used to say that good conversational ability in English required about five thousand words. More recent research puts the number considerably higher than that. Processing speech in large volumes provides the opportunity, following the Iceberg Principle, to become acquainted with large numbers of words, and to strengthen large numbers of words with which one is already acquainted.

Understanding increasingly complex material

This includes moving from the ability in Phase 2 to understand the simplest of narrative with highly predictable content (based on the fact that the story is depicted in pictures, and that you and your nurturer created the recorded story together), to understanding complex stories in Phase 3. In massaging the stories you also increasingly develop the ability to understand abstract explanations (expository discourse).

Understanding more of the host world

Bridge Stories may seem to contribute little to your understanding of the host world, although they contribute greatly to your ability to learn to understand the host world. However, other activities directly enrich your understanding of the host world. These include the Scripts of Life, Familiar-Place Descriptions, Shared Experiences and Reminiscing, and using host stories that were first learned from translations. Even the Bridge Stories will give you insights into the host world if you are alert to ways in which that world emerges as the nurturer explains bits of those stories to you during the process of massaging them. In any case, the speed with which you deepen your knowledge of the host world will increase greatly soon, as you enter Phase 4, the Deep Life Sharing Phase.

“Conversational ability” by the end of Phase 3

As you complete Phase 3, you can look back and see that you have been interacting with your nurturer through small talk, during Shared Experiences, through the Reminiscing activity, and while massaging recordings. If you found that during such activities you were still doing little talking, you added activities that required you to talk more, such as telling stories from your life, talking about a recent day, or Story Retelling. You’ve talked a lot in the 250 hours. In addition, you’ve been developing many new relationships in which you have been interacting with a slowly widening network of people. You are definitely a converser, now! However, you still have far to go as you keep becoming a more host-like converser.

Want to keep your programme simple?

We offered a variety of possible activities to enrich Phase 3. However, if you find this all a bit overwhelming, you really can productively occupy 250 hours with just a small number of activities. Bridge stories are central to Phase 3. You won’t do badly if they dominate the entire 250 hours. As long as you are deepening your relationship with your nurturer, starting to develop some other relationships, hearing large volumes of speech that you understand, adding an average of eight words or more per hour to your iceberg, and greatly enlarging your Listening Library, you are doing O.K. You may also need to add some of the activities aimed at getting you talking more.

On the other hand, if you want the Rolls Royce version, you can try out all of the activities described above, plan a rich and varied programme, and even add some creative activities of your own invention.
Appendix 1: If the approach and programme are new to you

If this programme is new to you, you should read the brief article, The Growing Participator Approach to “Language Learning” and the Six-Phase Programme. If you are continuing on from Phase 2 to Phase 3 (as you will generally assume below), then you have partially or largely come to terms with the Growing Participator Approach.

The Growing Participator Approach versus traditional approaches

Traditional approaches to language learning are sometimes described in terms of metaphors, such as “the mind is a set of containers”, “a language is a set of pieces,” or “grammar is a recipe”. To learn a language, it is believed, one needs to get all of the pieces (words, rules, paradigms, model sentences, etc.) into a container in one’s mind. There is a common feeling that the pieces need to be presented in written form for most people. In fact from the common viewpoint, the pieces are ideally first collected and presented in textbooks. The main goal is understood to be to learn to speak the language by having a teacher help you to master all of the pieces that are found in the textbook. Grammar is also viewed as the recipe for putting sentences together in order to speak. It is believed to be important to learn the recipe and apply it a lot in constructing sentences in order to become fluent in speaking.

By contrast, in the Growing Participator Approach, language (or rather languaculture) is viewed as a way of living, into which newcomers need to be nurtured or apprenticed. We grow into the world of the host people by being led into the worlds of host individuals, starting with one or two, and gradually branching out. Understanding speech, rather than speaking, is the foundational ability, and other abilities, including speaking, reading and writing, are built on that foundation. Recognising and understanding many thousands of words is crucial, as is understanding the life-world of host people. The primary function of grammar for native language users is to guide listeners in the processes of understanding speech. Speech is then produced that conforms to what the speakers would expect to hear from others. In the case of adults learning another language, it is useful to devote a small amount of attention to becoming more aware of grammar, in part, in order to use that awareness as an aid to speaking in a manner that is more native-sounding than would otherwise be the case. Overall though, vast experience with the life that is lived in the language, with the language and through the language is the key to becoming increasingly native-like. In the end, we recognise that almost no one who starts out learning another languaculture as an adult will ever become fully native-sounding and only a small percentage will become highly native-sounding. It is also a fact that there will be great variation in how native-sounding different people become, and we accept that as fine. Our strategies keep such facts in mind, since ignoring them can cause harm.

We aim to learn to understand most of the speech that we hear in the host language. As long as we can understand what others are saying to us, we can generally manage to get our point across when speaking, as well. Besides that, our ongoing experience of understanding speech will lead to improvements in our own speech in the host language, as we become more and more familiar with how host people talk, from thousands of hours of hearing and understanding what they are saying. On the other hand, people who give the highest priority to learning to speak may be able to express themselves to their own satisfaction, but face the embarrassment of often not understanding host people. Also, putting the first priority on speaking ability rather than understanding ability seems to us to be a “me-centred” philosophy. However, for our part, we want to learn languages for others more than for ourselves. For this reason as well, it makes sense to put understanding ability ahead of speaking ability.

We sometimes use the phrase speech-led language learning to refer to the traditional approaches to language learning that view speaking ability as the primary goal. Traditional approaches are also usually writing dependent. The Growing Participator Approach is understanding-led and listening dependent. We see this not as an issue of learning styles, but rather of learning purposes and learning goals. If someone is still in the grips of the speech-led, writing-dependent mindset, then they tend to feel that learning doesn’t count as learning except insofar as it results in speaking.  In the Growing Participator Approach, we push our listening ability far ahead of our speaking ability, quite deliberately. Someone who wants to learn everything immediately for speaking as well as listening will need to go a lot slower than we go, and will be frustrated by the fact that not everything they are learning is of the highest immediate importance. Learning to understand the word “stepsister” in the context of Cinderella will not require much effort. It would take a lot more work to learn “stepsister” well enough to be able to recall it and say it at will from this day forward. What’s more, the hard work may lead to disappointment, as it may be months or years before the speech-led language learner actually needs to talk about a stepsister again. Besides that, speech-led language learners may not want to listen to Cinderella at this point in any case, since they cannot imagine that they would ever want to tell anyone that story. Understanding-led language learners want to be able to understand whatever host people may wish to say to them, and that might include mention of a stepsister. Besides that, they value the fact that listening to the Cinderella story strengthens their understanding ability, even if they never plan to tell anyone that story.

In short, when people try to convert the Six Phase Programme into something that is speech-led and writing-dependent, they are placing themselves at odds with the spirit and plan of the programme. It might be better for them to choose a different programme altogether—one that is designed along lines that coincide with what they are trying to do. In other words, the Growing Participator Approach and the Six-Phase Programme are not for everyone. If you are a strong believer in more traditional approaches, pursue them with our blessing! Lots of people do great at learning a language after having followed a traditional approach in the early stages, and that is no doubt a good strategy for many.

Some people may be familiar with the idea of communicative approaches and wonder how they differ from the Growing Participator Approach, since communicative approaches are also generally set in contrast to traditional approaches. However, communicative approaches are often speech-led and writing-dependent, just like traditional approaches. They also may stick to the metaphors of “the mind as a set of containers” and so on. They may not view language learning as an interpersonal process of being nurtured into a host languacultural world. Also, they may be preoccupied from the very beginning with learning only what is considered especially important for communication in life “outside the classroom”. For a class that is following the Growing Participator Approach, the classroom setting is simply the first kernel of life, from which people grow into outside-the-classroom life eventually. So early on, they will be more concerned with what they can do right now in their relationship with their teacher, than with what they could do in relating to people outside the classroom. The latter will come in its own natural time.

Some essential concepts of the Growing Participator Approach

If you are new to this approach and to the Six Phase Programme, then some concepts you need to understand are:

  • · growing participators
  • · nurturers
  • · supercharged participation sessions
  • · negotiation of meaning
  • · massaging stories
  • · the Iceberg Principle
  • · the word log
  • · the Listening Library
  • · the importance of frequency
  • · languacultures

Growing participator

You, the foreigner, attempting to become an ever-fuller participant in the host world, are a growing participator. This process is never completed.

Growth zone

When we are learning anything, there are those activities which we cannot yet carry out, even with a bit of help, and there are those which we can carry out already, without any help at all. In between these two groups of activities is the “zone” of activities that we can carry out with just a bit of help from a person who is already experienced with those activities. We grow best when such a person is there in our growth zone with us, helping us grow. In the case of language learning, this means that someone is making a special effort to help us understand them, as they talk to us, and to help us express ourselves well, as we talk to them. Finding people who will spend time with you in your growth zone (usually called the Zone of Proximal Development) is a challenge, as it is typically hard work for the host people who do it.


In your early years in the host world, you need a lot of help from host people who meet you in your growth zone, if you are to be able to start participating in their lives as they live them in their world. Such a host person, who kindly, gently, patiently assists you in your efforts to participate in her world, is a nurturer. During Phases 1 through 5, you depend a lot on paid nurturers. It would be helpful if the paid nurturer for Phase 3 enjoys telling stories, and has a knack for story-telling, but is also able to simplify stories and gear them to your current level of understanding ability. People differ greatly in their story-telling ability as well as their ability to adapt themselves to your level of ability (that is, to be truly nurturing).

Supercharged participation sessions

In the host world at large, people generally have little motivation to nurture a brand new newcomer. You need to participate in the host world in order to come to be able to participate in it, since only those who are already able to participate in it will be allowed to participate in it on a scale that will allow them to learn to participate in it. That is what is called a catch-22 situation. Experiences do happen which allow newcomers to get to participate in the host world in ways that let them grow, but those experiences are few and far between. Therefore, you hire a nurturer to spend many hours per week with you, allowing heavily concentrated opportunities to participate in the life of the host world at a level that is possible for you at a given time.

Negotiation of meaning

When the nurturer says something you don’t understand, you ask for clarification, or try to check whether you understood correctly. When you try to express yourself, often the nurturer sees what you are trying to say, and helps you, or indicates that she does not understand you, and so you try again to express yourself in a different way, as she asks for more clarifications, and checks whether she has understood you correctly. This process is called negotiation of meaning.

An example of negotiation of meaning

During the process of negotiating meaning, you will often grope for words. In the Growing Participator Approach, we discourage memorisation of words (see below on the Iceberg Principle). It is often in the groping for a word, or making a stab at it, and receiving help with it from the nurturer, that words become part of our speaking ability.

Massaging stories

When we listen to a voice recording of a story, there may be a little or a lot that we do not understand or do not understand well. We ask the nurturer about those parts, and then negotiate the meanings that we did not understand. In the process we encounter many new words.

Iceberg Principle

We don’t try to totally master every new word that we become acquainted with in your supercharged participation sessions. The fact that we made their acquaintance means that they are in the iceberg of words forming in our heads. Only the words which we have heard and possibly spoken frequently are in the top, exposed part of the iceberg. At the bottom are words we will recognise only in a particular context. As we keep encountering them, they rise in the iceberg in proportion to how many times we encounter them. We try to put thousands of words into our iceberg, and to keep encountering as many as possible. Often when we want to use a familiar word in our own speech, we are not quite able to, but as noted, the nurturer assists us, and in the process the word is moved higher in our iceberg.

Word log

This is a running list of words we have encountered and have become acquainted with. It is not for memorisation, but just for a record of the words with which we have made some acquaintance. They are in our mental iceberg as well. Most of them will be in recordings such as the recorded stories that we have massaged. Therefore just listening to those stories again at a later time will refresh words that we have not re-encountered for a long time. If words come up in our supercharged participation sessions that are not in the voice recordings we are making and/or using, then it is good to make a special recording in the host language mentioning those words and the context in which they arose.

Listening Library

As time goes on, our activities involve us in listening to more and more complex and difficult speech. Most of the activities of our supercharged participation sessions depend on, and/or result in, recordings—recordings of stories, of interviews, and of other spoken materials. The sequence of these materials reflects our growing ability to understand speech. Often materials from several months (or years) ago are still useful to listen to. Therefore each day’s recordings are added to our growing library of recordings that we can understand. The sequence of materials in the collection reflects the growing complexity of the speech that we are able to understand as time goes on. Most of the words in the word log will be found also in the recordings of the listening library. Listening to the recordings therefore refreshes and strengthens those words in our iceberg. Some that seem to have vanished from the iceberg will thus be reawakened!

The importance of frequency

The mental processes involved in understanding and producing speech are strongly affected by the frequency with which they are used. Highly frequent words are understood more easily than less common words. Highly frequent syllables are pronounced more easily than less common syllables. This frequency principle applies at many if not all levels of language processing. Often, people learning another language don’t worry about how much speech they hear and understand. However, it stands to reason, given the importance of frequency, that good language ability will depend on massive exposure to speech that we understand, and massive production of speech that successfully communicates. In the Six Phase Programme, two changes occur as you move from stage to stage. First, things that were infrequent become frequent. Second, the quantity of speech that we hear and understand increases significantly. What were once extremely rare words in speech that we heard and understood, eventually become much more common in our experience. The same applies to aspects of grammar. What was once rare becomes increasingly common as the quantity of speech we are hearing and understanding keeps increasing. Once a word, or some aspect of grammar, or any other aspect of language has become quite common in our experience, it becomes increasingly familiar, and easier to learn and use in our own speech. Therefore we put much emphasis, in the Growing Participator Approach, on the growing quantity of speech that we hear with understanding and that we produce in our own speech.


In the Growing Participator Approach, language and culture are not separate. Culture is the shared life that people experience together, and speech is the most powerful activity involved in the creation, enrichment and ongoing practice of that shared life. The words of a language, and ways of combining them and using them are as much “culture” as is a religious ritual. If we are learning language at all, we are learning “the culture” at the same time, and if we are learning language well, we are learning “the culture” well (and vice-versa), since the two are one. Human life can be viewed as a flow of actions, carried on in a world that is given meaning by the actions carried out in it. The actions of speaking, and nonverbal actions flow along in a single stream of action. Learning to participate in the host world is not a matter of learning “the language” and also learning “the culture”, but rather, it is a single learning task that takes place gradually over a long period of time in which we progress from an extremely un-host-like earlier stages, to much more host-like later stages.

The Six-Phase Programme

The Six-Phase Programme is just one way of realising the Growing Participator Approach in Practice. The Phases are based on the nature of the supercharged participation activities, which keep changing as the growing participators’ abilities change, until they reach the stage where healthy growth continues without the aid of special activities—Phase 6—which goes on for the duration of their life among the particular host people. Although the phases are defined primarily in terms of the special growth activities, they are also characterised in terms of the development of life among host people in general.

Phase Major Supercharged Participation Activity Social Life in General Ability to Understand and Talk that Develops Time in Supercharged Participation Sessions
1) Here-and-Now Phase Activities that involve understanding and responding by actions (TPR) Little interaction with host people is possible Ability to understand speech about what we see before us, and the bare beginnings of talking ability 100 hours
2) Story-Building Phase Communicating around wordless picture stories Some interaction possible Ability to talk about the “here-and-now” and to understand simple stories 150 hours
3) Shared-Story Phase Communicating around familiar stories Able to start developing meaningful relationships with a number of people Ability to understand complex stories and simple explanations, and to tell simple stories 250 hours
4) Deep-Life Sharing Phase Interviewing people in depth about host life Able to develop deep relationships Ability to understand complex explanations, to tell rich stories and give simple explanations 500 hours
5) Native-to-Native Discourse Phase Communication around lengthy sound-recordings of host people talking to one another Able to belong to host groups as a true participant in the life of those groups Ability to understand most of what you hear, and give complex explanations 500 hours
6) Self-Sustaining Growth Phase Full participation in the life of host individuals and groups dominates the life of the growing participators Fit in as a proper participant in host life From a few years to many years

Appendix 2: Resources for Early Sessions

Bridge Stories

The Story of Cinderella

Long ago lived a little girl. Her mother died, and her father married a widow woman who had two daughters. The woman’s two daughters were lazy and mean, and didn’t like to do any work. So they made their stepsister do all the work. One of the jobs she had to do was to clean the cinders (ashes) from their fireplace, and she would become black and dirty from that. So people called the girl Cinderella (cinder girl).

In that land there was a king. His son, the prince, wanted to marry the most beautiful girl in the land. But she must be a girl from a wealthy family, not a poor girl. So he decided to put on a great ball at the palace, and invite all the unmarried girls of the wealthy families to come. He would see them all, dance with many of them, and choose the one he liked the most to be his bride.

Cinderella’s stepsisters went to the ball. Cinderella’s stepmother wanted one of her daughters to become the bride of the prince. Cinderella could not go to the ball. She did not have any nice clothing to wear. Her stepmother and stepsisters told her to stay home, and to do a lot of housework while they were gone.

After the stepmother and stepsisters left, Cinderella sat down and started to sob. She wanted to go to the ball like her stepsisters, and perhaps dance with the prince. But what could she do? She had no nice clothes, and no way to go to the ball.

Suddenly, someone appeared in the room. It was a fairy. The fairy said, “I am your godmother. Why are you crying?”

Cinderella answered, “The prince is holding a ball, and all the wealthy girls of the land were invited. I want to go. Perhaps I could dance with the prince. But I have no nice clothing to wear. My stepsisters and my stepmother left without me. They told me to stay home and work, work, work.

The fairy had a magic wand. She could touch something with her magic wand and make it change into something else. She said to Cinderella, “I will help you to go to the ball.” She touched Cinderella’s ragged dress with her magic wand, and it turned into a beautiful gown. She touched Cinderella’s worn-out slippers, and they turned into beautiful glass shoes. She said, “Now you can go to the ball, Cinderella, but you need some way to get there. They went outside. The fairy saw a pumpkin, and she touched it with her magic wand. It turned into a big carriage. Then she saw some mice in the grass. She touched them with her magic wand, and they turned into horses, hitched to the carriage. Then she saw a lizard, which she touched with her magic wand, and it turned into a coach driver.

The fairy said to Cinderella, now you can go to the palace. But the magic will end at midnight. At that point, the coach will turn back into a pumpkin. The horses will turn back into mice. The coach driver will turn back into a lizard. And your beautiful gown will turn back into your ragged dress. So you must leave the ball before midnight.

The coach started off with Cinderella in it, and soon it reached the king’s palace where the ball was underway. Cinderella got down from the coach and went into the palace. No one recognized her in her beautiful clothing. The prince took one look at her, and he walked up to her and asked her to dance. At once he fell in love with her. They danced and danced. The whole evening, he only danced with Cinderella. Everyone was wondering, “Who is that beautiful girl?”

There was a tower with a big clock outside of the palace. Every hour the bell in the clock would ring. It rang nine times at nine o’clock, ten times at ten o’clock, eleven times at eleven o’clock. When it started to ring at midnight, Cinderella remembered what the fairy had said. She knew that soon her beautiful gown would turn back into her ragged dress, and so she pulled away from the prince, and ran from the palace. The prince ran after her, but she ran very fast. As she ran, one of her glass shoes fell off. The prince stopped and picked it up. Cinderella escaped from the prince’s view. Suddenly her beautiful gown turned back into her old ragged dress. The horses turned back into mice. The coach driver turned back into a lizard. The coach turned back into a pumpkin. Cinderella kept running until she reached her home.

The prince decided that he wanted to marry the beautiful girl he had danced with, but he did not know her name. He did not know where she lived. He did not know anything about her. So he sent his servants to take the glass shoe that Cinderella had lost, and find the girl that it belonged to. They went to every wealthy family in the land that had daughters who had been at the ball. But the shoe belonged to none of them. Finally they came to Cinderella’s home where she lived with the two stepsisters and her stepmother. The stepmother invited them in. She said, “The shoe belonged to my daughter.” The prince’s servants told the daughter to put the shoe on, and she tried, but her foot was too big. Then the second daughter tried, but her foot was also too big.

Just then, the prince’s servants saw Cinderella. Who is that, they asked? “It is just my stepdaughter,” said the stepmother. “She was not at the ball.”

The prince’s servants said, “She must also try on the shoe.” Cinderella tried on the shoe and it fit perfectly. Then she brought out the other shoe that matched it, and showed that she was the owner of the shoes. The servants asked Cinderella to come with them to the palace.

The prince recognized Cinderella as the girl he had danced with all evening. He loved her very much. He told his father that he wanted to marry Cinderella. Then there was a great wedding, and the prince married Cinderella. The prince and his princess Cinderella lived happily ever after.

Noah and the Great Flood

Long ago there lived a man named Noah. He was married and had three sons and three daughters-in-law. In those days all of the people in the world except for Noah and his family had become extremely evil. They were extremely cruel to one another. God looked at the world, and said, “The people must be destroyed because they are so evil. I will send a great flood to drown everyone.” But God saw that Noah was a good man, and did not want to drown him and his family with the rest of the people in the world.

So God told Noah, “I am going to send a flood and drown everyone in the world. Therefore, build a huge boat to save yourself, your wife and sons and daughters-in-law. You will also take a male and a female of each kind of animal into the boat.” God told Noah how to make the boat, and how big to make it. Noah began building the boat. In those days people lived very long. It took Noah many years to build such a large boat.

Then God caused a male and female of every animal to go into the boat. After that He told Noah to take his wife, and his three sons and daughters-in-law into the boat. Then God sealed the door of the boat, and He sent a great flood on the earth. Water came up from below the ground, and down from above. It rained for forty days, and the water rose and rose until it covered even the highest mountains. All the people of the earth were drowned, but Noah, his wife, and his three sons and daughters were safe in the boat, along with a male and female of every kind of animal.

After the flood had continued for 150 days, God sent a wind to dry up the water. As the water went down, the boat came to rest on top of a mountain. But there was still water covering most of the earth. After another three months, more mountains appeared. After another forty days, Noah opened a window in the boat and released a raven. It didn’t return. He released a dove, but it could find no place to land, because much of the earth was still flooded. A week later, he sent out another dove. It returned in the evening with a leaf in its mouth. A week later, he sent the dove out once more. This time, it did not return. Some time later, Noah opened the ark and saw that the earth was dry. God told him and his family to leave the ark, and let all of the animals out.

Then God told Noah that there would never be a great flood again that would kill all people and animals on the earth. He promised that from then on the seasons of the year would always come and go, and life would continue. He caused a rainbow to appear in the sky and told Noah that whenever he saw the rainbow, he should remember God’s promise.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who had beautiful, golden-coloured (yellow), curly hair. So people called her Goldilocks (Gold Hair, or Yellow Hair). She loved to walk in the forest, gathering flowers and chasing butterflies.

One day, very early in the morning she went for a walk in the forest. She got lost, and found herself in a totally unfamiliar place in the woods. She came to a house. She knocked on the door, but no one answered. She looked through the window, but she couldn’t see anyone inside. She went back to the door. It was not locked. Slowly she opened it and went into the house. Then she knew for sure that no one was home.

This house belonged to a family of bears—a mama bear, a papa bear, and a baby bear. The three bears had just gone for a walk, because when they had sat down to eat their breakfast of porridge, it was too hot to eat. The papa bear had a big bowl of porridge that would take a long time to cool. The mama bear had a medium-sized bowl. She blew and blew on it, but it was still a bit too hot to eat. The baby bear had a little bowl of porridge, but it was still too hot to eat. And so the papa bear said, “Let’s go for a walk in the forest. When we come back, the porridge will have cooled.” And so the bears left and went for a walk in the forest. And that was when Goldilocks arrived and found the house with no one home.

Inside the house Goldilocks saw the table with the three bowls of porridge—a big bowl, a medium-sized bowl, and a little bowl. The porridge smelled good and she was very, very hungry. She tasted the porridge in the big bowl, but it was still too hot to eat. She tasted the porridge in the medium-sized bowl, but it was now cold. She tasted the porridge in the little bowl, and it was just right. She ate it all.

Then Goldilocks looked around the room and saw three chairs. There was a big chair, a medium-sized chair, and a little chair. She got up on the big chair. It was hard for her to get up on it, and the chair moved back as she tried to get up onto it. Finally she got up on it, but it was too hard, and so she got down. She got up on the medium-sized chair, but it was too soft. Then, she sat on the little chair and it was just right. She felt very happy, and she started to rock back and forth in the chair and from side to side. Suddenly the chair broke to pieces, and Goldilocks fell to the floor.

Goldilocks looked around again, and she saw three beds, a great big bed, a medium-sized bed, and a little bed. She got up onto the big bed, but it was too hard. Then she got up onto the middle-sized bed, but it was too soft. Then she lay on the little bed, and it was just right. Soon she was sound asleep.

And then the bears came home!

They went straight to the table, to eat their porridge. The papa bear got there first, and he said, “Someone has been tasting my porridge.”

The mama bear then said, “Someone has been tasting my porridge”.

The baby bear got to the table and said, “Someone ate my porridge all up!” and she began to cry.

Then the bears looked around. The papa bear said, “Someone moved my chair a little.” The mama bear said, “Someone sat in my chair.” The baby bear said, “Someone sat on my chair, and broke it to pieces.” Then she bawled loudly.

Then the bears looked around again. The papa bear said, “Someone has been up on my bed.” The mama bear said, “Someone has been on my bed.” The baby bear said, “Someone is on my bed! Quick. Grab her!”

At that, Goldilocks woke up and saw the three bears. She was very frightened. Nearby there was an open window. She ran to the window, jumped out, and ran off into the forest. The bears were watching through the window. Goldilocks ran and ran. Soon she came to a place she recognised, and she found her way home. She never again went into a strange house without being invited in!

The First Man and Woman

After God made the heavens and the earth, and the land and water, and plants, and fish and birds and animals, he made the first man out of dirt and breathed into him. The man became alive. His name was Adam. God made a beautiful place for Adam to live with beautiful rivers and trees. The place was called Eden. A special tree was there called the Tree of Life. By eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, Adam would live forever. God told Adam that he could eat from every tree in Eden, except for one. That one was called “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” God told Adam that if he ate of that tree, he would die. Then God brought all the animals to the Adam, to see what he would call them. But among all the animals, there was none that was a proper companion for Adam. And so God caused Adam to fall asleep. He slept very deeply. While he was asleep, God opened Adam’s side and took out a rib. Then He closed up Adam’s side again. From Adam’s rib, God made the first woman, to be Adam’s wife. Her name was Eve.

Adam and Eve lived together happily in Eden as husband and wife. They were naked, and they felt no shame. One day Satan came to Eve in the form of a beautiful animal. It was a snake, but it did not look like snakes that we know. It did not slide on the ground, but walked on legs. Satan caused the animal to talk to Eve.

The animal said, “Did God say that you must not eat the fruit from every tree?”

Eve said, “You can eat of every tree but one. You must not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and you can’t even touch it, or you will die.

The animal said, “You won’t die if you eat the fruit of that tree. You will become like God, knowing both good and evil. That is why God told you not to eat it. He doesn’t want you to become like Him.”

Eve thought about what the animal said. She wanted to become as wise as God. She saw that the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was beautiful to look at. And then she tasted it, and it was delicious. And so she ate more and gave some to Adam, who also ate it.

Suddenly, Adam and Eve felt ashamed that they were naked. They took leaves from a fig tree, and sewed them together to make clothing. That evening God came to visit with Adam and Eve in Eden, but they were frightened, and so they hid.

God called out to Adam, “Where are you?”

Adam said, “We heard you coming, and so we hid from you in the trees because we are naked.”

God said, “Who told you that you are naked? Did you eat from the tree that I told you not to eat from?”

Adam told God, “The woman that you gave me gave the fruit to me, and I ate it.” God said to Eve, “What is this that you did?” Eve said, “That animal tricked me, and so I ate it.”

God said to the animal, “You are cursed for doing this. You will always slide along the ground.” So the animal became a snake as we know snakes. God said to the snake, “I will make you and the woman hate each other, and you and her child will hate each other. You will injure his heal, but he will crush your head.” Then God said to Eve, “I will make it so that having children will be painful, and giving birth will be painful. Also, you will live for your husband, and he will rule you.” Then God said to Adam, “Because you have sinned, the ground is cursed. You will have to work hard to plant and grow your food, but thorns will grow among the plants that you plant. So you will work hard all your life until you die and return to the dirt. I made you out of dirt and you will become dirt again.

That is when Adam gave his wife the name Eve. Before that he just called her “woman”. He said he named her Eve, which meant “living,” because he knew she would be the mother of all people who would ever live.

God then made clothing for Adam and Eve to cover themselves, since they were now ashamed to be naked. He killed animals, and used the skins of the animals to cover Adam and Eve. Finally, God made them leave Eden, so that they could not eat from the Tree of Life, so that they would not live forever. And so God sent a creature from heaven to guard the entrance to Eden. Adam and Eve never returned to Eden, and they experienced the hard things God had told them about. When they grew old, they died, and turned back into dirt, as God had said they would.

An “attempted” Script of Life

Using a Bus in Kazakhstan:

1)    You are waiting at a bus stop.

2)    There are a few other people there. Don’t stand close to anyone.

3)    You see your bus coming. Start walking toward the street.

4)    It is slowing down.  Guess where the door will be when it stops, and start walking to that spot.

5)    Oops! You walked too far. It stopped farther forward than you expected. Walk quickly ahead to the door.

6)    Stand behind those people already waiting by the door.

7)    The door opens. People start getting off. Stay out of their way.

8)    No one else is getting off now. The people ahead of you step up into the bus.

9)    Step up inside yourself, holding onto the rail as you climb up.

10) All the seats are taken. Move as far up the aisle as you can.

11) Some people don’t want to move up the aisle. Squeeze past them.

12) Take hold of the overhead handrail (using only one hand).

13) The conductor squeezes through the people standing in the aisle, taking their money.

14) Some people show him cards. Other people give him money.

15) He reaches you. He holds his hand out to you. Put five hundred tenge in his hand.

16) He looks at you and waves his hand. He will come back!

17) Some people start to get up from their seats. They ask you, “Are you getting off?”

18) You answer “No” and let them squeeze past you.

19) Now there is an empty seat right next to you. Sit down.

20) The conductor comes back. He gives you two 200-tenge notes and some change.

21) Soon the bus stops at a bus stop. Those people who got up now get off.

22) A man with crutches gets on. Jump up and give him your seat.

23) You are getting near your destination. There are people between you and the door.

24) Ask each one of them, “Are you getting off?” If they say “No”, then squeeze past them.

25) Now you are waiting near the door behind others who will also get off.

26) The bus stops. The door opens. People get off ahead of you.

27) Quickly step down the step, holding the rail. Step off of the bus and onto the street.

Appendix 3: Brainstorming for Script of Life Ideas

Scripts of life will differ based on your host world and their lifestyle.  We suggest you sit down with some other Growing Participators and brainstorm some ideas for scripts of life from your new world.  Especially if you’ve had more opportunities to be in homes or have had your first homestay experience, you will have a richer idea of what common experiences are shared by all.  Once you’ve brainstormed a list of ideas, share it with other GPs in your host world and encourage them to add to your list.  Here is brief selection of examples from the Malay host world:

HomeSweeping and moppingWashing dishesSetting the tableHandwashingWashing with semi-automatic machine

Cleaning the yard

Planting garden vegetables

Planting a potted plant

Watering plants

Ironing, hanging out clothes

Lighting the stove

Changing a gas bottle

Food and Beverage

Making white rice

Making fried rice

Making tea / milo / Nescafe

Making fried noodles

Cleaning a fish

Cutting up fruit

[any and all recipes you’ve observed being made]

Personal careBrushing teethWashing handsDoctor visit, Dentist visitHaircutShave



Paying bills

Mailing a letter

Buying fish, buying vegetables

Using an ATM

Recharging a cellphone

Out and About

Going to a nasi candar restaurant

Buying nasi campur

Going to a hotel

Sports games

Children’s games

Wedding **


ClothingWearing a sarong (men’s way, women’s way)Putting on a headcoveringGetting dressedCar Care (or motorcycle)Washing a car

Changing a tire

Checking oil, air, fluids

Getting gas


Baby care

Changing a diaper/nappy

Bathing a baby

Preparing formula


Village life **

Opening a coconut

Feeding chickens

Using a wood stove, lighting a fire

Drying fish (if fishing village)

** Make sure that you do scripts of life that you have already observed or experienced so they are “familiar stories.”  For example, if you have not yet attended a wedding, don’t try to do this as a script of life yet.  There will be many other scripts of life that are unfamiliar.  These will be rich Phase 4 topics—put these on a separate list of future phase 4 ideas.  For example, if I live in the city, then the village activities which I haven’t observed will be Phase 4 scripts of life.
Appendix 4: Shared Story Resources Rated from Easy to Difficult

Diffi-culty level Resource Manner of use
1. A. Wordless/nearly wordless booksB. Other GPs’ recordings of their wordless book stories with their nurturer. GP (Growing Participator) looks through book in advance then gives the book to the nurturer.  Nurturer re-tells the story without the GP looking at the pictures.  For stories from other GPs, let your nurturer look through the story, then massage the recording with your nurturer.
2. World stories such as:Aesop’s fables, Brer Rabbit, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1001 Nights, Stories from Holy Books Nurturer looks through the story in a language he/she is familiar with and then re-tells the story in own words at GPs level.
3. Silent movies/videos such as:Tom & JerryMr. BeanCharlie Chaplin Two versions may be produced:Nurturer watches video and talks about what is happeningAfter watching video, Nurturer describes what happened
4. Local stories for pre-school or young children including:

  1. local animal moral tales, moral tales, children’s tales
  2. legends & myths
In advance GP becomes familiar with the story in translation.  Then Nurturer retells story in own words.
5. World stories as in #2 above written in the host language. Nurturer reads the story aloud to the GP while GP listens.
6. Local stories written in host language as in #4A and B above. In advance GP hears or reads the story in translation.  It may be a story already done as a “re-told” story in Difficulty Level 4.
7. Local stories written in host language that are more complex or abstract e.g. as in where there is a conflict or misunderstanding in the story or legends or fables. In advance GP hears or reads the story in translation.  It may be a story already done as a “re-told” story in Difficulty Level 4.
8. Simple stories written for children/youth which exist in printed form in the host language and are already familiar to the growing participator (i.e. translated children’s classics). These stories will be longer.  Nurturer reads them aloud to the GP(s).
9. Local stories written for children or young adults where a translation is available. If no translation is available, the nurturer translates it (orally) into the GP’s native language (or some other language she shares with him/her). Once the GP feels familiar with the story, the nurturer reads it to him/her just as it was written for local people (like 7)
10. Re-telling of the plot of a feature-length popular movie available in languages accessible to both nurturer and GP. GP summarizes / re-tells the plot of the movie.
11. A discussion of a more abstract topic printed in the host language that is considered appropriate for youth. For example, it might be a section out of a school textbook (perhaps first or second grade) on science, social studies, health, etc. The nurturer translates it (orally) into the GP’s native language (or some other language she shares with the GP). Once the GP feels familiar with the story, the nurturer reads it to him/her just as it was written for local people (like 7).
12. A discussion of a more abstract topic printed in the host language that is written for adult native speakers. The GP or nurturer finds a discussion of a more abstract topic printed in the host language that is written for adult native speakers.The nurturer translates it (orally) into the GP’s native language (or some other language she shares with him/her). Once the GP feels familiar with the story, the nurturer reads it to him/her just as it was written for local people (like 11).

Notes on ranking of resources:

In addition to the above, you will also be doing “scripts of life” activities and “shared experience” activities.  However, these will vary in difficulty and so you will need to go by your judgement and experience on when to do them.  Some of the scripts of life are very simple (difficulty level 1 or 2) and some can be much more complex.

For languages where the spoken language widely differs from the written language, the gap between 1-4,10 versus 5-9,11-12 will be wider.  You may want to focus more on the spoken but will also find that familiar stories which you have already learned in their spoken version are still reachable in their written version and are a great bridge to the formal written language.

Don’t be concerned about mixing difficulty level a bit – for example, doing activities from 2-4 in the same day.  This will give you a good balance of new word encounters and understandable speech.

Notes on gathering resources:

For the LLA, major tasks in Phase 3 are to . . .

  1. gather as many Phase 3 suitable books as possible (a good phase 3 collection could include 150+ children’s books, silent videos, etc.)
  2. arrange for translations of world stories or stories from GPs’ home culture into host language
  3. arrange for translation of local host stories into English or a shared language
  4. encourage GPs to share their recordings of Phase 3 stories and activities, gather these onto a CD

[1]           We capitalise the names of supercharged participation activities, such as the Bridge Story Activity.


For easier reading the contents of this article can be downloaded here —   Phase 3 Manual.

© Greg Thomson

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