Twelve Weeks to BCF
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
Twelve Weeks to Basic Conversational Fluency is designed to help learners make progress toward being able to converse on many familiar topics and share simple familiar stories. The lessons are meant to be done with a language partner, recorded immediately, reviewed frequently, and practiced daily with neighbors.
Twelve Weeks to Basic Conversational Fluency includes 90 short lessons for the first six-week period, or the first half of the program. Each lesson should take about 20 minutes to work through, using selected methods. A summary of each lesson can then be recorded for further listening and study.
This first half of the 12-week program is designed for learners to be able to complete 15 lessons per week, or 3 per day, which would take between 1.5 to 2 hours per day, 5 days per week. Using this schedule, these 90 lessons should take six weeks to complete.
For the second six-week period, learners are given examples to follow, after which they create their own lessons based on the examples. Learners may choose to work through level-specific Topics and Tasks from the checklist we provide, or they may create their own topics and tasks for the lessons they create.
Definitions of the methods are provided. Further explanations for how each method can be used are provided as they are introduced in the lessons.
Dialogue is not a method per se, rather a means for getting the most out of each lesson using the selected method. Dialogue between learners and language partners, from the simplest “hello” to a full interview, is an essential component to each lesson.
A summary of the task or topic for each lesson should be provided by language partners at the end of each lesson, and learners should record these audio summaries. They provide good samples of intended expression for learners to listen to and work on during their personal study.
The lessons are divided into 6 two-weeks periods, each with specific intended outcomes. Learners should view these outcomes as 14-day goals to reach. For best results, learners should submit an audio for review demonstrating these outcomes in their personal speech and dialogue. This is a great way to demonstrate and track progress, and to receive helpful feedback. Here is a schedule of the lessons for each two-week period:
Weeks 1-2: Survival expressions (30 lessons)
Weeks 3-4: Daily situations (30 lessons)
Weeks 5-6: Descriptions (30 lessons)
Weeks 7-8: Personal life events (example provided)
Weeks 9-10: Extended event descriptions (example provided)
Weeks 11-12: Simple familiar story narration (example provided)
These are the 9 methods used in these lessons, listed here in order of appearance, described in detail when first used in the lessons:
Dynamic Repetition in which new words and phrases are repeated in multiple, varied, and memorable contexts for use in high frequency survival situations such as common greetings, basic life needs, etc.
Association of new words with people, places, things, feelings, or situations to quickly learn vocabulary for daily situations and simple descriptions such as the names of common fruits and vegetables.
Role-play new daily situations such as buying grocery items.
Total Physical Response (TPR) to quickly learn actions and positions for daily situations by responding with understanding to instructions and descriptions such as “walk, run, stop, go back” or “my hand is on the book; my hand is beside the book..”
Substitution of new words into pattern phrases or sentences to practice new forms such as “the man is eating…the womanis eating.”
Picture description for describing any scene with new words and expressions such as describing a photo.
Procedure for describing a series or process of actions such as making tea.
Interview to practice asking questions about a topic for language and culture exploration such as asking, “What did you do yesterday?”
Event description for describing any event using new words and expressions such as answering, “What did you do yesterday?”
Story narration for telling a complete simple familiar story using multiple and cohesive paragraphs.
Weeks 1-2 Sample Lessons
Simple Survival Expressions for Everyday Life (30 lessons)
Your 14-day goal is to meet people, survive, and learn as much as you can while using the language.
Lesson 1: Greetings and Introductions
My name is [name]. What is your name?
I am happy to meet you. Where are you from?
Where do you live?
I have just arrived to [place].
This is all I can say.
Thank you for speaking with me.
Dynamic Repetition – Your language partner will say these or similar phrases in the language. These are phrases to memorize and use immediately for high frequency survival situations. Understand what they mean. Listen well. Repeat the phrases in many varied and memorable contexts. Receive correction. Try to pronounce them correctly.
Substitution – Form new phrases for more practice and association by substituting in new words (E.g. Where do you live? Where do you work? Where does she work?
Lesson 8: Numbers 1-12 (or 1-20) and Currency
A visual of the cardinal numbers
Examples of local currency
Association – Your language partner shows you one item from a group of around 20 items, saying it while pointing to it; then saying it and having you point to it, then adding more items following the same method, repeating often, correcting as needed, until you are able to correctly and quickly associate all the items when prompted.
TPR – Respond to demonstrations and instructions from your language partner about using currency. (E.g. Give me 20 Lira, take 5 Lira from here, put 10 Lira on top of this 5 Lira…)
Weeks 3-4 Sample Lessons
Daily Life Situations (30 lessons)
Your 14-day goal is to learn to understand and talk about daily life situations using the language.
Lesson 38: Describe a Simple Familiar Picture
A picture that is simple and familiar to you
Picture description – Describe a picture to your language partner. Your partner may ask questions to help you with the description. Have your partner describe it back to you.
Lesson 53: Making Tea or Coffee
Real or pretend utensils and ingredients for making coffee or tea
Role Play – Pretend to make and serve tea to your language partner. Include appropriate phrases and dialogue. Reverse roles and do it again.
Procedure – Using real or pretend utensils and ingredients describe the series or process of making tea or coffee. (E.g. First grind the beans, then boil the water…). Your language partner may ask questions to help you. Your partner can then describe it back to you.
Weeks 5-6 Sample Lessons
Descriptions (30 lessons)
Your 14-day goal is to learn to understand and give simple descriptions using the language.
Lesson 71: Talk about what you prefer
Pictures or examples of things you prefer
Interview – your language partner asks you questions about what you prefer. Then you ask your language partner about what she prefers.
Lesson 87: What did you do yesterday?
Journal notes in the language about your day
Interview – Your language partner asks you questions about what you did yesterday.
Event description – Describe what you did yesterday.
Below are instructions and examples provided for the second half of the program. Individual lessons are not provided, rather, examples of lessons that learners may use to create their own lessons from topics or tasks on the checklist, or from their own life experiences. The idea is for learners to learn how to generate their own lessons for language they need to learn from daily life events and experiences. In the end, we want learners to be able to understand and tell a simple familiar story in the language. We will take a look at the familiar passage in Mark 2:1-12 to see how this is done.
Weeks 7-12 Sample Lessons
Events and Stories
Read through each section below and examine your 14-day goals. Using the examples provided, you are responsible for creating your own lessons from topics and tasks in the checklist or from your own life experiences. When you complete each two-week period of learning (8, 10, and 12 weeks, respectively), submit up-to a 15-minute audio recording for review. You may use notes. In the recording, you should also include any dialogue you have with your language partner.
Simple Event Description
Your 14-day goal is to learn to describe topics or tasks from the checklist, or from personal events in your life. These lessons will take some time to prepare and up to two hours to work through with your language partner. Here is an example.
Personal Life Event
Time: 2 hours
Understand and learn how to talk about simple life events in your new language.
Props such as photos or videos of the event to help you with the description.
Journal about a recent event in your life that would be interesting to talk about. Simplify this in your new language. Present it extemporaneously to your language partner. Have your partner offer some improvements in grammar, vocabulary, and overall expression. For further listening practice, have your partner reword and record what you have said, as much as possible saying what you intend to communicate. Practice describing this event in conversations with friends and neighbors.
My son and the bully (example)
Yesterday when my son came home from school, he told me what happened at school. There is a big boy at school who has no friends. This boy has no friends because he likes to hit and push other children. He is lonely. My son played with him today. While they were playing the other children laughed at them. But then other children started to play with them. The big boy had fun. He did not push or hit any of the children. They laughed and played together. They enjoyed playing together. I asked my son, “Why did you play with the big boy?” He said, “Because Jesus loves him and I want to be like Jesus.” I was happy to hear this.
Extended Event Description
Your 14-day goal is to learn to describe a series of events using topics or tasks from the checklist, or from your own life experiences. These lessons will take some time to prepare and up to two hours to work through with your language partner. Here is an example.
Personal Life Event
Time: 2 hours
Understand and learn how to talk about extended life events in your new language.
Props such as photos or videos of the event to help you with the description.
Talk about a recent experience that involved several events.
Have your partner listen to your description and help you improve it.
Installing a wood stove (example)
Our first home in the city used natural gas for heating. Then we moved outside of the city. Our neighbors all asked us how we were going to heat our home. It was just May. We asked them how they heated their homes. They said that some homes used radiators with diesel generators, but most homes used wood stoves. Our neighbors described the process for setting up and operating a stove. We decided to get a stove. So, then our neighbors helped us get a stove and install it. The piping system was complicated and went throughout the house. We also had to raise the chimney. One of our neighbors used bricks to raise the chimney. After that, our neighbors helped us get wood and coal. We got coal from the store. We got wood from the village. They recommended that we burn a mixture of olive and oak. We had to find a place to store it for the winter. Our neighbors helped us build a small woodshed to keep it dry from rain. We were thankful for our neighbors.
Simple Familiar Story Narration
Your 14-day goal is to learn to tell a simple familiar story using a topic or task from the checklist, or from your personal selection. These lessons will take time to prepare and up to two hours to work through with your language partner. Here is an example.
Time: 2 hours
Learn to tell a simple familiar story from scripture to proclaim the gospel.
Demonstrate devotion to the Bible as God’s word.
Learn to narrate in paragraphs that come together as a story.
Sketch or drawing of the event (optional)
I want to be able to share the gospel from the Bible. I decided to try to learn to tell a simple familiar story with straightforward action, characters, and dialogue, one that would clearly communicate the gospel to my neighbors. In the story of Jesus healing the paralytic from Mark 2:1-12 (also found in Luke 5:17- 26 and Matthew 9:1-8), Jesus forgives a paralyzed man of his sins, and then he heals him. I live among people who believe Jesus as a miracle-performing prophet, but they do not consider him God. They do not believe he can forgive sins. In this passage, Jesus confronts the disbelief of the religious leaders who watch him forgive and heal the paralytic. I wanted to be able to tell this story. I want my friends and neighbors to hear this story. I want them to understand that Jesus can forgive their sins and heal them. I also chose this passage because it is simple, and I was familiar with it. It has relatively few characters, a simple plot, and few complicated events.
Jesus heals the paralytic Mark 2:1-12 (example)
When he entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the word to them. They came to him bringing a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after digging through it, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
But some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts: “Why does he speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Right away Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”- he told the paralytic – “I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.”
Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:1-12)
I read the story first in English, and outlined it with notes by listing characters, events, and parts that were not events but were important to the story. I then read the story in my new language, took notes, and made an outline.
I made notes as an outline because I wanted something to refer to specific words, phrases, and transitions as I told the story so I would not get stuck. But I also did not want to read the story or tell it from memory.
I simplified the story from the text. For example, instead of saying, “And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said...” I worked on, “Jesus knew their thoughts. Jesus said...” This exposed me to new grammar but also enabled me to simplify the story using the grammar and vocabulary that I already knew, while still communicating the gospel message.
The characters in the story were: Jesus, the Pharisees, other people in the house, friends of the paralytic, and the paralyzed man. The story breaks down into events which are active, and parenthetically reported, which illustrate a significant verb distinction in my new language. This is only one of many ways the story can be outlined. I used these notes when I retold the story:
Jesus was teaching – the people came – (the Pharisees and people were sitting) – (the power of God was present) – men came with a paralytic – they tried to enter the house – (they could not enter because it was crowded) – they went to the roof, dug a hole, and lowered their friend – Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven” – the Pharisees thought, “No one can do this except God alone!” – Jesus knew their thoughts... Jesus said, “Which is easier to say – your sins are forgiven or get up?” – So, he said to the paralytic, “Get up...” – immediately, he stood, took his bed, and went home praising God – everyone was amazed and praised God.
I presented this extemporaneously to my language partner. I referred to the outline while I spoke. He helped me say it better. I had my language partner say the story back to me in his own words while recorded it. I listened to the recording several times, and then re-told the story to some neighbors.
These 12-weeks of lessons with a language partner represent only a portion of our learning during this time. Doing these lessons with a language partner provides us with a great controlled setting to get focused language input and output practice on basic life topics and tasks. When combined with grammar and fluency practice, working through this program should help learners make progress toward reaching basic conversational fluency within 12 weeks.