Tonight during our weekly #langchat on Twitter, we talked about how to recycle vocabulary in the World Language classroom. Lots of great ideas were shared but John Cadena won my personal “take-away” of the night by  mentioning the Super Seven.

The blog post he is referring to is here.

If you are unfamiliar with the “Super Seven”, I am going to quote Terry Waltz, Chinese teacher and Comprehensible Input guru, who framed this important tool: “I got to thinking that in writing simple readers, quite often complex actions got broken down to a subset of very basic concepts, too. So I tried to make a list, and came up with the Super Seven.”

  1. Location (to be at a place): est (is)
  2. Existence (to exist somewhere, “there is”): il y a (there is, there are)
  3. Identity (to be something or someone): est (is)
  4. Possession (to have something): a (has)
  5. Preference (to like or dislike something): aime (likes)
  6. Motion (to go someplace): va (goes)
  7. Volition (to want or feel like doing something): veut (wants)

In a nutshell, these are the basic structures you want to recycle over and over in your input to novice students, which will eventually become their output. I translated these into French using the conjugated “il/elle” form because that is how they often appear in my Novice stories but you can add/adapt other forms/tenses as you go.

For those of you who noticed that in French, 1. location = 3. identity = est (whereas in Spanish location = està but identity = es), I did too and had a fun chat with Terry about it. Her answer was and I quote again:



Her point is that we need to focus on a few basic but compelling structures. But if you must have an exact seven, then I would recommend: Making/doing: Fait (does/makes) which is such a high frequency verb in French.

In conclusion, my fellow teachers, let’s…

  1. Let’s be like John and make a poster of these structures to hang in our classrooms
  2. Let’s make sure we use these a lot with our Novice students whether we are selecting an authentic resource or a reader, talking to our students or telling a story
  3. Let’s make sure our students nail these in the first weeks of the school year (not when the textbook says it is time)!