Are your world language students conversing now?

A critical question for world language teachers is “Are my students having a conversation in the target language now?” If students are not conversing in the language, then teachers have to ask themselves, “How can I modify what I am doing so that they can converse in the language?” Vocabulary study is not an end to itself and grammar study is not an end to itself. The sooner that teachers move their students from isolated words and isolated grammar into communication, the soon their students will converse. For example, in terms of verbs, as soon as students learn the first person and the second person of a verb they can begin to converse with a question such as “Do you smoke?” and a response such as “No, I do not smoke.” or a question of “Do you cook?” and a response of “Yes I cook.” When world language teachers teach high frequency verbs that students want to ask questions about and answer, then students will want to communicate. Likewise, vocabulary can be incorporated into questions. For example, for location vocabulary, a student might ask, “Which ice cream store is your favorite?” and the partner can respond. When students ask each other meaningful questions about their world, they communicate in the language. Little mini-conversations can build into big conversations. Are your students conversing in the language now?

Some Spanish activities to help your students move are
Spanish Tell Me About Yourself Substitution Sentences    Talk about yourself by substituting your information in given sentences.
Spanish Family Indepth Speed Interviews- Partner Talk    Do 4 Family Interviews of 10 questions each Spanish Answering Oral Questions Review 1 – Partner Talk   Answer 10 questions with a time period
Spanish Describing School Classes Spontaneous Speaking – Pairs   Speak about class with structured choices – two levels, 49 terms
Spanish AR Verbs Modified Speed Dating Whole Class Speaking   Answer Oral Questions Review 1 – Partner Talk

Five Minute Classroom Check

What world language students do in their classroom reveals much about their teachers’ priorities. If teachers say that speaking is a priority and yet their students do not speak / converse in class, then speaking is not really a priority.

Teachers can do an every five minute check to determine what their students are doing in class. At the end of each five minutes, the teachers write down the exact type of activity that their students are doing in the classroom such as “learn vocab,” “tell time to partner,” “do gram. sheet,” “play gram. race” and “talk about classes.” Whenever the class is doing the same activity at the five minute mark, the teachers place a slash after the already written down activity.

After class, the teachers tally up what activities the students did and for how long. This provides a realistic view of what actually happens in the class. Teachers may find that their students spend more time preparing to speak such as learning vocabulary then in actually speaking. Teachers might consider ways to move their students from  “learning about” to “using” language.

World Language Engagement to Communication

World language teachers often comment on how engaged their students are. Their students are engaged in vocabulary relay races, vocabulary cooperative learning, bingo like translation games, flashcard partner quizzes, etc. to learn about a topic such as “family”. Students spend many classroom minutes on these activities in which they translate between English and the world language. These engaging activities represent discrete, pre-communication activities.

However, the real goal of world language is communication. The teachers could engage students in communication activities. If the teachers focus on the topic of “family”, they may use a traditional family tree to teach the family members in the world language and then show non-traditional families to increase the vocabulary that students need to talk about their actual families. The teachers ask, in the target language, “What is the relationship of Mary to Paul?” and the students answer “sister” based on the shown family tree. The teachers ask the class,”Who, in the class, has a sister?” or “Who, in the class, has more than one sister?” so students begin to apply the vocabulary to their own lives. After a few minutes of the teachers asking questions about the various shown relationships, they move to students doing a mini-communication activities in pairs. A student asks the partner, “Do you have a sister?” and the partner answers. If the partner, answer “Yes, I have a sister.” then the asking partner asks follow up questions such as “What is her name?”,”How old is she?” and “Do you get along well with her?” If the answering partner says, “No, I do not have a sister,” then the asking partner moves on to another family member. The asking partner asks about three family members and then they switch so that the answering partner now asks questions. In the same amount of time that students previously spent on discrete vocabulary translation learning, they are applying the vocabulary to their own personal life in meaningful communication in the world language.

Do your world language students spend more time in engagement or communication?

Resources:
— 45 +Modern Language and Spanish spontaneous speaking activities for beginning students. Almost entirely in target language.  Scaffolded for success. Game like speaking- http://bit.ly.mlcomcult   click on top tabs for categories
— 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities
ebook with many speaking and cultural activities  http://bit.ly/tsmash
— Modern Language in-depth cultural investigation activities (4 activities in one pack)- http://bit.ly/mlcult
–Foreign language formative assessment speaking book: http://bit.ly/impfltfa
–Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do ebook http://bit.ly/tsmash

90% in the Target Language

 

ACTFL says 90% of the teachers and students speaking should be in the target language
1. The world language class is the only time that our students will hear the world language. We need to maximize the amount of world language the students hear.
2. The more language input the students receive, the better they can learn the language (Krashen).
3. If we do 90% of a 40 minute class in the target language, then 36 minutes is completely in the world language (ACTFL).
4. “In most beginning world languages classes (Levels 1 and 2), English is the predominant language” (Burke). Students hear more English in the class than the world language!
5. Code switching (world language <-> English) prevents the students from being completely in the target language. Many classroom activities like English-to-world language flashcards, word translation board games, and translation relays have students use English.

Some metaphors:
–Imagine your students taking one step forward for each time the world language is spoken in the class and one step backward each time English is spoken in the class. How far can your students move forward in your class?
–Each time we teachers speak in the world language, the students’ world language learning becomes brighter; each time we speak in English, the dimmer the students’ world language learning becomes. How bright is your classroom?

Resources:
— 45 +Modern Language and Spanish spontaneous speaking activities for beginning students. Almost entirely in target language. Game like speaking- http://bit.ly.mlcomcult
— 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities
ebook with many speaking and cultural activities  http://bit.ly/tsmash
— Modern Language in-depth cultural investigation activities (4 activities in one pack)- http://bit.ly/mlcult
–Foreign language formative assessment speaking book: http://bit.ly/impfltfa
–Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do ebook http://bit.ly/tsmash

Reach ACTFL’s Culture Thru Ethnography & Mobile

First page of my  NECTFL presentation handout:

Good mobile traits

ACTFL’s Culture Standards

ISTE’s Culture Standards

Most students and level of most culture

Facts vs feelings

Stereotypes

Levels of Culture

Ethnography

Learning about another culture
Quantify information

Map

Fact, inference or value for a picture

Lima, Perú

Sports Analysis

One picture

Qualify information

Ethnographic questions
Similarities
Weather and Location
News/TV app

Communicating with another person/people

Text-based
Video chat projects

Interview

Resources:

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook with many speaking and cultural activities  http://bit.ly/tsmash
45 +Modern Language and Spanish spontaneous speaking activities for beginning students. Game like speaking- 
http://bit.ly.mlcomcult

Modern Language in-depth cultural investigation activities (4 activities in one pack)- http://bit.ly/mlcult

Foreign language formative assessment speaking book: http://bit.ly/impfltfa

Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do ebook http://bit.ly/tsmash

World Language Role Playing With a Photo

Steven Smith describes the role playing oral testing which is one of the three parts of the oral testing for the GCSE (General Certification of Secondary Education) in the UK. He describes the activity in which a student asks questions and answers questions.The questions are based on common topics/themes. The same situation can be used at all levels of the language but the language sophistication increases. This type of testing eliminates pre-learned conversations/ presentations.

Steve writes the following:
Instructions to candidates 
Your teacher will play the part of your French friend and will speak first.
You should address your friend as tu.
When you see this – ! – you will have to respond to something you have not prepared.
When you see this – ? – you will have to ask a question.

Tu parles de ton collège avec ton ami(e) français(e). 
• Ton collège – description (deux détails).
• ! Sciences –ton opinion et une raison.
• Projet – septembre (un détail).
• ? Matière favorite.

I have done a variation on this activities for many years. Each group of two students sees a photo (projected via PowerPoint) that they have never seen. They role play the situation such as a party, a family at a restaurant, two friends at a sports event,or students in class. One student picks a person in the picture and his/her partner picks another person in the picture. Each student has to ask and answer questions or react about the situation or problem; the goal is a total of ten (different questions + answers/reactions) for each student in three minutes; students need to have a fairly equal number of questions and answers/ reactions. To be counted each answer has to be comprehensible and appropriate.

Since I do this activity in pairs during class time, all my students speak at the same time. They record the number of questions and statements by writing a question mark (?) for each question asked and writing a slash (/ ) for each said response or reaction. They try to improve their score each speaking time.

During the actual testing, I listen to a pair of students. I find that when students talk to each other, their speaking is more natural, they ask critical questions, and they give authentic responses. They usually pick a topic and talk in depth about it. Sometimes they do one topic and go to a related one such as this restaurant food to food at a birthday party).

http://bit.ly/mlcomcult  contains many communication activities for beginning to  advanced students; the activities have high structure to help students. These activities are for all world languages and specifically for Spanish.
90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities contains many speaking activities
for beginning students. Students enjoy using their mobile devices as a basis for
speaking.

Asking and Answering Questions about a Picture Oral Testing

Steven Smith describes the talking about Photo card questions oral testing which is one of the three parts of the oral testing for the GCSE (General Certification of Secondary Education) in the UK. He describes the activity in which a student sees a picture, the student asks three questions about it and the teacher asks the student two surprise questions about it.. The pictures are based on common topics/themes. The same picture can be used at all levels of the language but the language sophistication increases. This type of testing eliminates pre-learned conversations/ presentations.

I have used a variation on these for many years, both when I taught public school and now that I teach college beginning Spanish. I have my students, in pairs, look a topical or thematic picture that they have never seen before. Without any preparation, they alternate asking and answering questions. For example, Student A asks a question, Student B answers it and asks Student A a different question, then Student A answers it and asks a different question. They talk for three minutes. I grade them on a combination on the total number of questions/answers times the number of different questions as long as their answers/questions are comprehensible and appropriate (answers the question). For example, if Student A asks four different questions and answers four questions, the score is (4 questions + 4 answers) x (4 different questions) = 8 x 4 = 32. If Student A asked variations on the same question such as How is the father? How is the mother? How is the son? and How is the daughter?, the score is (4 questions + 4 answers) x (1 question) = 8 x 1  = 8. Students learn that to do well in the question asking picture activity, they need to ask a wide variety of different questions just as they do in a real life conversation.

http://bit.ly/mlcomcult  contains many communication activities for beginning to advanced students; they have high structure to help students. These activities are for all world languages and specifically for Spanish.   90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities contains many speaking activities for beginning students.