Communicative or Grammar Textbook Focus: Look at the Grammar

A test of a modern language textbook’s communicative ability is to look at what the book has students do with the grammar after the textbook presentation of the grammar point. For example a Spanish textbook may supply the forms of the verb ser and then give the rules for using ser. The book may give one or two examples of origin such as “I am from Argentina.” Or they make have a sentence or two example to show that ser is used with occupations such as “Sr. Ríos es dentista”. The book may explain ser being used for identification with a sentence such as “It is a backpack.

Does the book provide the modern language students with enough vocabulary to be able to talk about themselves, family or friends using the verb? Does the textbook provide the critical questions that students might ask using that verb? For example, does it provide the students with “Where are you from?” for origin? Do it provide the question “What is this?” so students can ask the question of identifying something? Furthermore, does the book give numerous countries so students can tell what country they, their parents or grandparents are from so they can realistically answer the question? For occupations, does the book provide numerous occupations so the students can say the actual occupation of family and friends? For identification, do the students have a list of classroom objects so when someone says “What is this?” they can respond, “It is a book”? with things they do see in the classroom?

If the textbook does not supply essential questions or realistic answers for the modern language students to apply the grammar to talk about their own lives or the lives of family and friends, then the book’s focus is grammar, not communication.

Does your textbook have a communicative or grammatical focus?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle,  I have 30+ ready-to-use activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking through highly structured or scaffolded, speaking. Students work in pairs to communicate.

My ebook ,Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies is available at  http://bit.ly/tsmash.  It contain many activities to help students advance through the Can-Do statements with half the activities focusing on interpersonal communication/ speaking.

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle, there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity.  My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook contains many cultural activities, http://bit.ly/tsmash

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

Modern Language Student Placement: Best Results with Can-Do Statements

Often modern language teachers have entering students from other locations and the teachers are not sure of the students’ placement.  For example, at a college level, entering modern language students might be screened by the number of years of language prevously taken. This diagnostic screen may not reveal the students’ appropriate placement since not all schools teach the same thing at the same levels.  Another popular screening technique is to ask students questions. Many students panic when they hear the language being spoken after no hearing it all summer and often they  cannot answer questions. These oral questions may not provide a correct placement.

The most reliable diagnostic screening is for modern language students to complete the NCSSFL-ACTFL Interpersonal Communication (Speaking) Can-Do Statements. They put a slash for each proficiency that they can do. If they find whole sections that they cannot do, they put a large dash (–) in front of the section.  Within five to ten minutes, the students have self-evaluate their language proficiency. If students know that in a beginning college course they will cover 80% of the Novice level and the students already know 50% of the Novice level, they realize that they do not belong in a beginning course. They voluntarily transfer to a higher level.  Other students become aware that they do not have the Can-Do statements as active proficiencies.

How do you properly place entering modern language students?

My ebook ,Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies is available at  http://bit.ly/tsmash

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle, there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity.  My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook contains many cultural activities, http://bit.ly/tsmash

Also, at the same site,  I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking through highly structured or scaffolded, speaking. Students work in pairs.

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: How Proficient are your Students?

My slideshare in which I describe what the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements are, their benefits and suggestions for use based on my classroom use of them.

http://www.slideshare.net/hgtuttle/ncssflactfl-can-do-how-proficiency-are-your-students

My two ebooks,Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies and  90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activitiesare available at http://bit.ly/tsmash

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle, there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity. Also, at the same site,  I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking through highly structured or scaffolded, speaking. Students work in pairs.

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

 

Beginning of Year Modern Language Review for Upper Levels

Many modern language teachers start off the school year with a review for their Level 2, 3, 4 and 5 students . Usually, these teachers have the students review grammar or vocabulary. Often, the  teachers focus on the subgoal of learning vocabulary and grammar but not on the big goal of improving oral communication;  the teachers can begin the year with a review of oral communication. ACTFL Proficiencies and, particularly, the Can-Do Proficiency Statements focus on communication, not discrete grammar or vocabulary.   For example, modern language teachers can have their students work in pairs. One student in the group asks a common topic from a communication card. such as home, school, leisure time activities, food, etc. The partner answers the question and the asking student verifies that the answer is close to the written most likely answer.  When the teacher has the students review the communication cards, the students are also reviewing vocabulary and grammar but they are reviewing vocabulary and grammar in context of meaningful communication.

Another activity involves the students looking at a picture for a common topic such as home, school, leisure time activities, food, etc . The students either ask questions about the picture that their partners answer or they  role play two people in the picture.

In addition, as students who are involved in the communication activities mark down how many sentences their partner says or asks and their partners write the same thing for them. In this way the students are also reviewing their fluency to see if they’re at the same high level of fluency that they were at the end of the last year. They set their base line for improvement for this year.

Students want to find out about each other and they like to ask questions about interesting target language pictures; such communication activities allow them to do that. Students like to compete against their own fluency scores.  Students often become bored by doing  isolated non-contextual grammar or vocabulary review activities.

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle, I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking through highly structured or scaffolded, speaking. Students work in pairs.  Also, there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity at  the same location.

Two ebooks, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities and Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies, are available at http://bit.ly/tsmash

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

 

Modern Language Culture -Like it

Many modern language teachers love to return to the target language country. They enjoy the food. They delight in walking the streets to soak up the culture.  Notice the verbs in the previous three statements. They are not factual verbs but they are emotionally positive verbs.

Modern language teachers want their students to like the target language country. However, often the teachers’ presentations do not contribute to a positive feeling about the target language country. When students learn the factual culture such as the country’s name, its location, its flag, its unit of money, its geography, and the famous places in the country these facts do not help the students feel positively about the culture.

Modern language teachers can connect their students to real people from the culture. These teachers go beyond having their students read about the people in their textbook. They have their student talk with a native speaker about common themes such as weekends, sports, food, clothing, housing. They can have a native speaker physically come in the class or they can use a program like Skype to virutally bring a person in. Teachers may show a picture of a person and then have that person phone in.

A native speaker helps students to move from learning  facts about a country to actually meeting someone from the country. Students begin to like that country.

How do you help your students like the modern language culture?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity. At the same location, I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities and Modern Language Proficiciency: Can-Do Strategies ebooks are available at http://bit.ly/tsmash

 

 

Modern Language Formative Assessment or Just Raw Data

The term “formative assessment” is used very frequently in discussing modern language learning. Teachers often cite many different ways of doing formative assessment:  thumbs up or down; five fingers;   A, B, C, D cards;  clickers;  online surveys;  red  yellow green cards;  exit slips;  3-2-1 cards; etc.

Each of these techniques collects raw data. If the activity ends with the raw data, then no formative assessment has been done. Formative assessment implies that the raw data (monitoring), will go to diagnosis, to feedback, and to student implementation of the feedback to overcoming the gap. (Tuttle,Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students 2009.)

In diagnosis, the modern language teacher decides if there is a gap between the intended learning and the actual student learning. If there is a gap, then the teacher does a diagnosis to determine what specific different strategy the student can use to overcome the gap within this class or a few classes. In feedback the teacher invites the student to use the new different strategy. It is highly unlikely that if the original learning strategy or approach did not work, redoing the same strategy or doing more of it will result in success (“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – attributed to Einstein). The modern language teacher builds in classroom time for the student to practice the new strategy; the student may need several classes. The formative assessment has worked when the student has overcome the language gap and can successfully demonstrate the learning. If the student has not demonstrated the learning after several tries then the student may need another different strategy.

What does formative assessment look like in the modern language classroom? An example from my book: Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment will illustrate peer formative assessment.  Student A describes a visual for a minute. Student B records a slash for each said statement. At the end of the minute, Student B tells Student A how many sentences he/she said.  Students know that their goal is eight sentences in a minute. If Student A has not said eight sentences, Students B indicates topics or items in the visual that Student A could have talked about.  Student A then creates sentences for those items.Student A and B  may practice several times that class and even during the next class so that they can say eight different things about the visual in a minute.

In another example from my online speaking activities,  Student A asks Student B the question from a printed card.  Student B supplies an answer.  Student A compares that answer to the written answer which contains the most likely response or  responses. If Student B’s answer does not match, then Student A coaches Student B by giving hints about the answer; Student A does not just give him/her the answer. Once Student B gets the answer, Student A asks the question again so Student B can answer it correctly.

Do you do formative assessment or do you collect raw data?

I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking at http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle. At the same location there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity.

The formative assessment books are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

The following ebooks are available at http://bit.ly/tsmash

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

 

 

Modern Language Proficiencies: Can-Do Strategies

 

Modern Language Mobile Activities for Pair or Small Groups

Many modern language teachers do not use mobile learning in their class because they worry that not every student has a mobile device. However, the modern language classroom is a cooperative environment. As long as at least half of the students have a mobile device (and they do according to Pew 2012),  then students can work in pairs. Even if only a third of the students have mobile devices, then students can work in small groups of three.

For example, in pairs or triads, the modern language student who has a mobile device finds a picture of a family member or friend on the mobile device. The other people in his/her group ask questions in the target language about the person in the photo.  When the partner has a turn, that partner looks at a different picture of a person and tells information about the person.The person with the photo confirms or negates the information.

In pairs or traids, world language students can take a series of five pictures that tell a story by using one student’s mobile device.Then, they combine with another group. The other group narrates the first group’s story and the first group adds any other information to the story. Then they switch roles.

Additionally, in their pair or triad, they look at an Internet image search of a city or town in the target language area.They say a sentence in the target language for the first fifteen different pictures. Each sentence proves unique information. Beginning students can say basic sentences  such as “It is tall.”

How do you use mobile devices in your class to promote student speaking?

I have 30+ activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking at http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle.
The following ebooks are available at http://bit.ly/tsmash

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

 

 

Modern Language Proficiencies: Can-Do Strategies

Modern Language Proficiencies: Can-Do Strategies