Minimize Transitions to Gain 5 weeks of Modern Language Learning

One of the ways to save time in the modern language classroom is to minimize the  transition time between activities. If a teacher does five activities during the class and there is a minute transition between each activity, then the teacher has lost five minutes per class. Five classes a week times five minutes per class is twenty five minutes lost each week. Twenty five minutes per week times forty weeks of school  equals 1,000 minutes; 1,000 minutes divided by forty minutes (a class) is 25 classes or five weeks of school!

Transition time may be lost in the classroom due to the teacher having to hand out material, rearrange the room, collect materials back  or the students having to regroup themselves, get material from their notebook,  or move to a different location. For example, the teacher may have to give each student a  card before the students can do an activity. The students may have to  get up and go to the section of the room that represents their group number.

Teachers can minimize transition time.  When students enter the classroom, they go to the desk nearest the door and pick up a card that they will need for a classroom activity. The teacher makes the  card activity one of the first activities they do and  when the students leave they return the card to the desk. Likewise, students may be in the same group for multiple days to avoid the time in regrouping students each day.  In a similar manner, a teacher may have groups and their locations listed on a PowerPoint screen as the students enter the class. In addition, instead of students moving from one location to another many times during the class, they can stay at one location and progress from a vocabulary activity to a sentence creation activity at that location. Futhermore, the teacher can have a packet for each student with all the various materials for the day.The teacher spends time before the class in preparing these packets but then the students quickly move from one activity to another by going through the packet. As they finish the activity, they move the material for that activity to the bottom of the packet. At the end of class, they hand in the packets as they leave the class.

Modern language teachers can increase the amount of learning time by minimizing the transition time in the modern language classroom.

How much time do you spend in transition time?

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking, I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students.  I am developing activities based on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication and cultural activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

Modern Language Proficiency – What does it mean?

What does proficiency mean in the modern language classroom? Proficiencies are defined either by the state curriculum such as the NYS checkpoint A, B, or C or by the ACTFL proficiency standards / NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements.

Proficiencies do not refer to individual  activities such as  translating a word from English to the modern language nor doing a verb conjugation. A proficiency is not identifying the forms of a verb. A proficiency is not saying the names of  the family members in the modern language from a list of English words.  A proficiency is not pronouncing places. The ACTFL Can-Do statements do have a Grammar proficiency section. Grammar is integrated in meaningful ways such as Interpersonal Communication  Intermediate High- I can participate with ease and confidence in conversations on familiar topics..in various time frames.”

Proficiency refer to the student’s ability to communicate such as speaking  at the Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid level – “I can communicate basic information about myself and the people I know”  as the student says “something about the members of my family  and ask about someone’s family”. When students demonstrate this communication, they have shown a specific speaking proficiency. With the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, students can see their achievements as they accomplish more  proficiencies. Since the Can-Do statements divide up the big level of Novice into three subcategories and each subcategory has numerous proficiencies, students can see progress as they go from Novice Low to Novice Mid to Novice High.

For our students to be proficient in the modern language, we will want to quickly move them from the low subskills of vocabulary and grammar to the proficiencies of language for communication. The more we have them use the modern language for real life purposes, the more proficient they become.

What do you mean by proficiency?

By early May, my book, tentatively titled,  Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies will be published at Smashwords. It contains many strategies for developing  Can-Do proficiencies for speaking,  listening, reading and writing;it also has  sections on vocabulary, textbook and mobile; the major emphasis is on speaking. Each strategy contains a Can-Do statement and a sample activity.

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking which students need as they climb the Can-Do statements. I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students.  I am developing activities based on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication and cultural activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

40 Minutes: How much modern language learning?

Each of us have a class period with our students each day.  How much of those forty minutes contributes to  language learning?  To make the most of the forty minutes, we need to be effective and efficient in our class.

How much time do we need to spend on any particular concept before the students learn it? If we have  taught the meanings of adjectives through showing students the colors and showing them the target language word for each, how much practice do they need before they solidify the meaning of the color?  As we say the color, they  point to anything that color in the classroom (one minute). As we point to things in the room, they say the colors (one minute).  As their partners point to things in the classroom, they say the color (one minute). As they point to things, their partner says the color word (one minute).  After those four minutes of practicing with those words, we move on to having the students communicate using those colors; they ask their partner (Do you have a red pen?  Do you have a brown backpack?  Is the door brown?  Is the wall red?) for about two minutes and their partners answer; then they answer for their partners’ questions for two minutes. We have had the students review the colors in several different ways. We have spent about eight minutes on colors in the class.

The goal is always to quickly move from pure vocabulary to using the words in meaningful sentences. The most time with any vocabulary item should be in communicating ideas. How much time do you spend in vocabulary identification/translation as opposed to the students using the vocabulary in sentences or questions?
However, we might decide to turn this into a vocabulary game. We give each student  a vocabulary card with the color written in the target language on one side and the English on the other. Each student has to go to another student and say the modern language color word for the English written  color. They do this until they have interacted with all the other  students.  By the time we give each student a card, explain what  to, have them play the game, and collect the cards we may have spent eight minutes.

As a follow up, we get students into teams, we say a color in English and they race up to the board to write the color in the modern language before the other team. We do this for eight minutes.

Let’s compare the two ways of learning colors. In the second way, the students have practiced identifying colors in one way. They have only focused on color  word translation. The activities have taken sixteen minutes. However, in the first activity, they have learned the color words in context and used the color words in questions and answers.These first activities have taken eight minutes. They take half the time of the second activities and produce meaningful communication. Which of the two  is an effective and efficient way of learning color words?  How can you double your classroom time by being effective and efficient in your class?

How do you effectively and efficiently help students learn to communicate when you teach vocabulary?

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking, I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students.  I am developing activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication and cultural activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

NSCCFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Modify the Curriculum

There are two basic approaches to trying to implement new proficiencies as the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. In one way, the modern language teachers look at the statements and evaluate their present curriculum and textbook against the statements. They become aware of what parts of the curriculum and textbook cover the statements, which statements are missing from the curriculum and textbook, and how they have to change their approach.  In the second way,the modern language teachers take their present curriculum and  textbook and see how the new way fits into the old. When educators use the second approach, they often miss the intent of the new method and they force the new way into the old with expressions such as  “That sounds somewhat  like what we do in Chapter 5 so we have met that part.”

I have used the first way of implementing the Can-Do Statements.  As I try to have my students meet the  NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements for Interpersonal Communication, I find that my textbook does not contain in one chapter the vocabulary and grammar that my students need. Often a textbook only has a list of words without any actions. Even if we are required to cover certain chapters in our textbook, we might want to consider combining parts of various chapters to create a logical way of approaching the Can-Do Statements. For example, we might take the parts of any chapter that deal with directions  or everyday situations in a city  and have the students do these together so that our students can do Novice High – “give directions” and “Interact with others”. Although this requires more work in rearranging the textbook content, the unit has more of natural flow to it. Students can express ideas that logically fit together. I do not have to say “Wait until two more Chapters and we’ll learn that.”

I have begun to modify my past online activities and my future ones to include the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements for Interpersonal Communication. For example,
I have
1) Spanish Friend Family Member Detailed Description - Partner Speak ACTFL Novice Mid “communicate basic information” and Novice High “exchange personal information” Can Do
2) a Spanish Speaking Mat Can Do for NCSSFL-ACTFL Novice-Mid “I can communicate some basic information about my everyday life-places”; Novice-High “I can ask for and give simple directions”, “I can make plans with others”, and “I can interact with others in everyday situations”.

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am developing activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Use for Pre-Assessment

Since the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements measure specific proficiencies, modern language teachers can use them for pre-assessment.

In pre-assessment mode, a teacher has an incoming student or students  use the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do statements as a checklist  to identify what they think they can do in the language. This assessment works well when the students come from another teacher, school, state or another level such as high school to college. Within five to ten  minutes students can self-assess  themselves using the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do Statements for Novice and Intermediate level.

I give these Can-Do Statements to my students in a beginning level college Spanish class. I realize that these students come from a wide background of language learning levels not only in terms of how many years of Spanish they have taken but also in terms of how long ago they studied Spanish.  I ask the students to put a slash in front of each Can-Do statement  if they are confident they can do the speaking activity. Also, I ask them to put a question mark next to any question that they are unsure of what it means.

After class, I quickly count how many checks are in each level such as Novice Low, Novice Mid, etc for each student. I enter these into a spreadsheet and have the spreadsheet calculate the class average for each level. I do a visual scan of their papers to see what  specific sections within each level they generally feel they cannot do. Many whole class language gaps became apparent Novice Mid- Can Make Simple Statements.

From this pre-assessment, I better know what areas of the Can-Do Statements I should focus on to help the students move up in their language proficiency.

In the same checklist manner, the Can-Do Statements can become a  quick modern language placement tool.

How do you pre-assess your modern language students’ proficiency?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am developing activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: A Real Focus For Learning Modern Languages

Modern language teachers teach a modern language. But what do they teach?  How similar are modern language curriculums across the county, state, and nation? When students have two years of modern language, do they all have the same level of proficiency?  What does proficiency mean?

The previous ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines stated what teachers could expect of students in general terms for proficiency.  The new  NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements clarify what being proficient means at each level (Novice, Intermediate, etc.) for speaking, listening, reading and writing.  These statements are worded in terms what the student can do.  The Can-Do Statements have very specific statements in terms of what the student can do such as at the Novice Mid level  “I can greet and leave people in a polite way”, “I can introduce myself and others”, “I can answer a variety of simple questions”, and  “I can ask some simple questions”

Now teachers can assess their curriculum and textbook  in terms of these  Can-Do Statements. The teachers will discover that the Can-Do Statements focus on real-world language such as asking for someone’s email  or rejecting an invitation.  Teachers can ask themselves, “How does my present classroom activity help my students to advance in the Can-Do statements?”

The teachers can set Can-Do goals for their students and the students can see their growth in the proficiencies.  Both students and teachers will realize that achieving various Can-Do statements is a  true reflection of proficiency as opposed to covering a unit in a textbook.

Do you use the Can-Do Statements with your students?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am develop activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

Making Modern Language Long Vocabulary Lists into Meaningful Communication

Oftentimes a modern language teacher such as Miss Windber has to teach a long list of modern language vocabulary words such as forty food words to her students. Her students have great difficulty in learning forty words at once. She starts by dividing the food list into categories such as fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.

Miss Windberg prepares an important target language question about food for each  group of seven to nine words. As an illustration, she starts off with the question “What would you like to eat?” then she teaches seven to nine of the category words. After her students quickly practice identifying and saying these words, she has her students get into pairs. Each student asks his/her partner   in the modern language the first category question of “What would you like to eat?” four times. The partner replies with a different answer each time using “I would like to eat (the food)” or “I would not like to eat (the food)”. For the next set of seven to nine words, she introduces another food question such as “How is the ….?” and follows the same pattern. The long vocabulary list is broken into the smaller units and every time the students learn or review an important question for the topic. At the end of the vocabulary lesson, not only do they know the forty words but they can ask and answer questions about food in a mini-conversation.

How do you teach long list of vocabulary words?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 27 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks