Brian Peck is a fabulous TPRS Spanish teacher from Michigan. I first met him at iFLT 2014 in Denver. This year I had the pleasure of spending time with him in the evening coaching sessions developed by Ben Slavic. Ben conducted his famous “War Room” sessions at iFLT 2015 but was off to Europe and India and did not make it to NTPRS 2015. For 5 nights at NTPRS 2015, Jason Bond of Scotland and I managed the “War and Peace Room” sessions as we called it in his absence.
Brian does not actually teach Belizean Creole, also known as Kriol, but was willing to be a risk-taker in order to work on his own development. Many notable TPRSers were present each night Linda Li, Karen Rowan, Bryce Hedstrom, Jason Fritze, Craig Sheehy, Bob Patrick, and Keith Toda just to name a few. In these sessions, teachers would get in front of a group of their peers and teach using comprehensible input any way they wanted. As moderators, we would elicit feedback from the audience and engage in important and kind discussions about the experiences. Amazing professional development took place as we all grew from the wonderful fellowship of sharing and supporting each other.
One of the most compelling interactions for me during the War and Peace sessions was learning Belizean Creole from Brian Peck. There are multiple reasons for this and here is a list of some of them.
- Brian lived and worked for 2 years in Belize and learned the culture and language. He was a primary resource for connecting me with his experiences in Belize.
- He knew the grammar rules, vocabulary, and idiomatic expressions of Belizean language. When we had a question or needed clarification it was always there.
- Brian was great at pointing and pausing an important TPRS skill that put me at ease.
- He was great at using frequent English comprehension checks with the audience. There was a broad and large crowd and since not all of the students spoke English as a first language he needed to check in with them.
- Brian interacted, engaged, and utilized his student actors César and Pilar amazingly. You can see that this married couple had fun and were willing to share parts of their real lives while adding absurd details with this crowd of adult learners.
For all these reasons and more, I loved learning this language. One of the things that really really really appealed to me was that this language is very much a melting pot of languages from Afro-European descendants along with other cultures, customs, and languages from surrounding regions. When Brian spoke this language, it was clear to see that he was channeling the sounds, body language, and attitude of its people. When Brian engaged the audience, his mannerisms and way of being changed as he used the language. Because Belizean Creole is heavily based on the use of English, Brian was able to provide what Krashen articulates as i+1. Brian gave us language that we understood and continued to add more vocabulary, grammar, and expressions as he continued or better… as we were ready. He “stayed inbounds” with the language he used and would ask questions, recycle, and start over when he felt we needed it. When he wanted more repetition, he would turn to his student actors and speak with them.
The ability for a teacher to jump right in and give me a little bit of what I could understand and a little bit of new language that was above my understanding was fun for my brain. There was some language I wasn’t initially sure about but everything was still obtainable in this setting. For me it was a complete sense of immersion that allowed to me to forget I was learning a new language. This language easily embodies what Krashen describes as subconscious learning for me. I thought I was watching a show but I was downloading new sounds and ways to use language. The subsequent lessons/stories that Brian provided, fed my brain more of the”input nutrition” that I needed. His video is a reminder to me about input-rich learning environments. I can’t wait to learn more and I am so happy that I was able to learn from such a talented teacher like Brian Peck.
Have any questions for Brian? Contact him at Bcpeck@gmail.com.
Want to see what written Belizean Creole looks like? Click the photo and have a read…
Are you a grammarian nerd like me and want to see the rich grammar, morphemes, phonology, syntax, and structures of this language? Here you go…This is a wonderful resource by Ken Decker of University of Northern Texas….