GPA P2B, Listening to stories

[Note: I recommend reading the GPA Phase 2 Manual for yourself. This post is meant to be an easy-to-read summary of how to do GPA activities if you are self-coaching.]

This activity – making recordings and then clarifying them – is what you’re going to be doing for the rest of P2, and all of P3 and P4. The good news is, it’s FANTASTIC for learning and highly enjoyable!

The goal is to be using recordings which are in your growth zone, and not too hard for you to listen to. This way, listening and clarifying is a relaxing activity.


  1. Record your mentor telling a story which is roughly in your growth zone.
  2. Listen to the recording with your mentor, pausing to discuss – in your target language only! – every point you don’t understand or want to clarify.
  3. Keep a record of all the new words you encounter.
  4. Record examples sentences and definitions for all the new words at the end of each day.

Changes from the P2A activity

  1. Continue to use the same style wordless picture books
  2. Begin by recording your mentor/teacher tell the entire story in one go, unscripted.
  3. Spend the rest of your time re-listening to the recorded story, pausing it to discuss each part you don’t fully understand.

Preparing the Story

Choose a book, print it out, and give it to your mentor in advance for them to look through and think about the story.

Note: Your mentor may want to prepare or write out the story beforehand. The challenge in doing this is that most people don’t write the way they naturally speak, and the goal of this activity is to capture natural speech. So if your teacher prepares a written version of the story, it’s likely to be less natural, as well as possibly more denser and harder to follow. So, work hard at encouraging your mentor to feel OK with just talking through the story. If they really want to prepare something, at least ask them to tell the story from memory, rather than reading from the script. Hopefully that will help it become more natural.

Example 1 hour class (Recording)

30 minsRecord the story (Chinese only). Teacher tells the story in their own words, and you record and listen but don’t interrupt.
20 minsBegin clarifying the recording. See below!

Example 1 hour class (Clarifying)

35 minsListen to the story (Chinese only). Listen to the recording of your teacher telling the story. Every time you hear something you don’t understand, pause the recording and discuss what you didn’t understand, using Chinese only. If it’s a new word – ask your teacher to write it down in your vocab book.
5 minsQuick debrief if needed. Discuss in English the words which you couldn’t explain and write them down as well.
10 minsRecord homework for the student — all the new words with example sentences.

Also, when you finish the book, record one extra recording:
Close the book and have the teacher record themselves re-telling the story from memory.