Tenisia, or “tennis”, is a post-reading activity that allows for students to consolidate what they have read and reinforce the vocabulary and structures of the reading through a back and forth, fast-paced translation exercise.
This activity should be carried out ONLY after a reading has been gone through as a class and everyone is comfortable with the supplied text. This means that the students should have at least 75% of the text understood at this point in order for them to begin reading on their own at all.
Step 1 – Pairing Off
There are many ways to have students paired off. The key is that students will be working with someone else who has varying skills from their own. They will be rotating throughout this activity, so no need to really overthink how students are paired off. A couple of ways to achieve this:
- Have students stand up (surgite) and then have each student raise their hands and give a partner a high five. The person who they give the high five to is their partner to start with.
- Set up your desks lined up in rows of two facing each other. Then, just have the students take their seats wherever they like and use that as their starting point.
The key is to have students set up where they face a partner so that they can “bat” the text back and forth to each other. You could align your desks in rows, as mentioned before, or you can just have the move around the room and stand in front of their partner. Whatever is the easiest logistical concern for you is key (after all, who wants to spend time moving desks around back and forth for each class!).
Step 2 – Instruct for Round 1
With students paired off, instruct the students on what they will now do. The first student (let’s call that one student A) will read a sentence of Latin to student B. Then, student B will translate back to student A in English what was read. Then, student B will read the next sentence in Latin to student A who will fire back an English translation to student B.
Also let them know that this will be carried out for a limited time (two minutes is an ideal amount of time per “round”) and that they will be rotating to a new partner after the time has passed.
This is why this exercise is called “tenisia” because, like tennis, you are batting the “ball” (or text) back and forth. The students are practicing switching between English and their target language, Latin, while reinforcing the vocabulary and structures that were taught prior to this activity. Again, we are establishing meaning – or reinforcing it here – and by doing so we limit what is referred to as “affective filters” (negative feelings that prevent acquisition or lock-up).
It is key that each student, during this activity, agrees and understands on the translations being supplied, You will want to instruct your students to not tell the other person the answer, but try to guide and coach them instead. This way, they learn also by teaching and slower processing students won’t retain negative feelings from these exercises but instead look forward to them which will help build comprehension.
Step 3 – Rotate!
Once time is up, rotate!
Now, this depends on how you have your room aligned:
- If you have clusters of students meeting in pairs, then just have them move to the next pairing – like musical chairs. You could designate a direction – clockwise, counter-clockwise – just be consistent so that every round students have a new partner.
- If you have them in rows, have one side of the row (let’s say the side with student B facing student A) move up a desk (to their right, for example). The student at the front of the row would then get up and walk back to the last desk in the row.
Instruct your students that now, they are to “check-in” with their partner and determine which one is further back in the text. For example, if one student was on line 10 and the other was on line 15, then they would start at line 10 and go from there. You always start with the partner who is further back so as to not miss anything. This also means the student who was further along gets an opportunity to repeat a bit more, which is never a bad thing for language acquisition.
This activity is easy to pull off – there is very little prep work outside of reviewing a text prior to this activity. The students benefit from this because they will be working with students of all levels which will challenge them in new ways but also giving them an opportunity to really reinforce their knowledge of the text and the language.
You may want to do this activity more regularly after reading a text. For example, in Lingua Latina Per Se Illustrata, there are usually 2-3 lectionēs in each capitulum. One could do a tenisia after each lectio but it could get too repetitive.
The two minute rounds go fast. You will want to at least build in four rounds for a class which would make the activity last about 10 minutes. It could be a great wrap-up activity to a reading or a great way to review prior to an assessment. It is not advisable to use this activity as an assessment in of itself. This should be an activity whereby students are just practicing reading and getting familiar with the language.