You Could Have!

Someone just posted on the moretprs list that their 8 year old students were reading “Brandon Brown wants a puppy” and had instantaneously acquired the expression “hace pipi”. Which means “pees”. Of course. That is extremely compelling comprehensible input for an 8 year old. My reflection is that we often forget the Compelling part of Krashen’s hypothesis.

My adult French native students have problems with “should have” and “could have”. But then we saw the scene in Shawshank Redemption in which Andy and Red learn that Brooks has hanged himself because he was unable to adapt to life outside prison, and Red said, “He should have died in here.”  They immediately understood what he meant and from then on were able to use the structure without problems.

Later I saw a joke on the Internet and repeated it to them. A couple were driving through the desert at night and decided that they were too tired to go on. They stopped at the first hotel they found, even though it was more high priced than they would have liked. They slept for five hours and got up early the next morning to continue their journey. They were amazed to see that the bill totalled 350 dollars.

The husband demanded to see the manager and asked why the bill was so high, whereas they had taken an empty room late at night when no one else was going to rent it and had used none of the facilities.

The manager replied that they could have gone to their night club and seen a big star’s show. “But we didn’t!” said the husband. “You could have,” said the manager. “And you could have eaten in our gourmet restaurant.”

“But we didn’t!” said the husband. “You could have,” said the manager. “And you could have used our Olympic swimming pool.”

“But we didn’t!” said the husband. “You could have,” said the manager.

“Okay,” said the wife. And she wrote out a check for fifty dollars and handed it to the manager.

“But this isn’t the correct amount,” said the manager.

“I’ve deducted 300 dollars for sleeping with me.”

“But I didn’t!” said the manager.

“You could have,” said the wife.

After hearing this story, my students have acquired the expression “could have” and use it correctly. Because it is Compelling Comprehensible Input.

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