The Untrophy

I spoke about the idea of having an Untrophy at my talk  “Encouraging children to communicate in English” at the IATEFL-TESOL Chile Conference “Communication, culture & community” in July of this year.

My Untrophy is a potato with a flag in it saying: Speak in English! English, please!  and other messages my pupils understand.

An UnTrophy is given to a pupil who is speaking L1 all the time. This pupil can then pass it on to the next person they hear speaking L1. The person holding the UnTrophy at the end of class has a forfeit to do – tidy the classroom and clean the board or simply being the last to leave class.  You could get your students to write forfeits and then they have to pick one out of a bag, but it has to be something they would do themselves.  My forfeits are never things like more homework in English as I don’t want to make homework into a punishment.

I received an email from Cindy Cifuentes Canouet, one of the participants from the conference with how she and her pupils in 7th grade developed the idea further.  Cindy wrote: One day one of the girls brought two eyes for Mr. Potato because she was sad that he couldn’t see!  The next day, another girl asked me if she could take Mr. Potato home because she wanted him to have a mouth and a hat!  And so on and so forth…  They don’t want to leave Mr. Potato in the classroom at weekends!!!!!

As you can see from the next photo, there is now a Mrs. Potato!  Two potatoes on the ‘Speak in English’ patrol! I ask myself if there will be any new additions to the family and if they will keep up the family tradition of being on ‘Speak in English’ patrol! Could Mr. & Mrs. Potato’s children be used to monitor behaviour and be on ‘Be good in class’ patrol? or ‘Be nice to others’ ?

This is Cindy’s 7th Grade from the Windsor School, in Valdivia, Chile.
And here is Cindy with her class.

Parental permission has been given for these photos to be posted on the blog.

I want to say a big THANK YOU to Cindy and her class.


6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cindy said,

    Thanks for commenting it here Vanessa!!! My students and me are happy and proud to have Mr. and Mrs. Potato in our lessons!!…and who knows…maybe we can have little potatoes coming?

  2. 2

    Patti said,

    I love the idea. Is it done with a real potato?

  3. 3

    Yes, but you can use anything. I used to have a really ugly picture frame with a picture of the ‘Rolling Stones’ mouth and tongue and “Speak in English.” written across it. This was fine for older children that were careful with it but I wanted something that when dropped on the floor, wouldn’t break. I had the idea of the potato because it could stand up on its own and I could put the ‘Speak in English’ flag in it. It was Cindy’s class that had the idea of giving the potato features and turning them into people. I though it might be funny to change them into ‘English only police’!

  4. 4

    […] Monitoring is most important during communicative group activities as many will revert to L1. Children find an award very motivational, e.g. a gold star for the table using the most English, or you could give the table not using enough English an Untrophy. […]

  5. 5

    This is such a cute idea! I like this.

Comment RSS · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: