Recycling structures and the Super Seven

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 has since been removed. For another blog post on Super Seven, click  here.

If you are unfamiliar with the “Super Seven”, I am going to quote Terry Waltz, Chinese teacher and TPRS 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 get exposed to these in the first weeks of the school year (not when the textbook says it is time)!


Super Seven poster in Cindee Van Zandt’s classroom

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