Using Modern Language (FL) Apps Even When …

I have written a blog about identifying and categorizing Spanish apps. As I’ve been thinking about the present state of modern language /foreign language apps, I’ve realized that the inadequacies of these language apps present great learning opportunities for our students.

Students can look at and do a vocabulary or phrase modern language app /foreign language app such as Learn Spanish ((Droid) or Hola (Droid)

Then

– Students can analyze what important vocabulary is missing from the topic and make a supplementary list. For example, the housing category may have tableware but not bed or chair.

– If the app only presents individual words, the students can create a meaningful target language sentence or question for each word. For example, for the word “lake”, the students may ask “What is your favorite lake?”

– Students can analyze what important phrases or questions are missing and can create those lists. They may see look at a “time”category but they find that the question “When?” is missing. They make up a question using that question word.

– They can analyze what important topics are missing from the app. Perhaps the app has housing and animals but does not have occupations and city places.

– They can see how many meaningful sentences they can create from the present vocabulary list.

– They can answer any questions given in the app. For example, they can answer “How much does this cost?” with the price of a shirt.

– They can rearrange the questions or statements to create a logical conversation about the topic.

– They can think of a typical language task for a topic such as having a dirty spoon on the restaurant table and use the existing sentences and add others to be able to get a clean spoon.

In this way, students go from consumers to producers. They analyze what they are doing to see what is missing. They think about critical vocabulary, phrases, and topics instead of simply doing a drill program. They do not just repeat but they answer or comment on. They build on. The students become language users!

How do your students deal with modern language apps that do not do everything  well?

I originally published this blog at my eduwithtechn site

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Spontaneous Speaking in Foreign Language/Modern Language: Contrasting Spontaneous Speaking to Structured Speaking

There are two very different types of speaking in the modern language  or foreign language classroom.

Very structured speaking- mechanical speaking

…. Focuses more on the correctness of vocabulary and grammar than on the actual content. “What did you buy on Monday? I bought shoes. What did you buy on Tuesday? I bought a blouse.”

…. Uses the same vocabulary and grammar of the question in the answer. “Does she go to the store? Yes, she goes to the store.”

… Uses convergent questions (When? Where? Who?) which only have a few limited answers. Each answer is highly predictable.

… Often has different forms of the same verb in subsequent statements/questions. “I go to the store. My father goes to the store. My brothers go to the store.”

… Limits the questions/ statements to one topic such as places such as in the following fill-in-the-blank exercise. “I go to the store. I go to the mall. I go to the park.”

… Does not follow the logical order of a conversation in subsequent sentences/ questions but these sentences/ questions exist only to practice the indicated grammar or vocabulary. “Where is the bed? It is in the bedroom. Where is the stove. It is in the kitchen.”
… Is not interactive except in that the partner asks a predetermined question which the person answers.

… Is not personal. Usually a student does not express his/ her own opinion but follows the prescribed format.

… Most like a textbook/ workbook exercise

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Spontaneous speaking / free speaking

… Focuses on the actual meaning/content of the answer, not on the form (grammar or vocabulary). “Do you like winter? No, I hate it.”

… Uses different words in the answer or subsequent statements. “How was class? I took a test.”

…Uses divergent questions (Why? How? which leads to a huge array of possible answers. The answers probably are unpredictable. “Why do you think the team will win”?
… Moves the conversation/ monologue forward through subsequent statements/questions “After I left school, I went to my favorite restaurant. I had two hamburgers with fries.”

… Guides the conversation /monologue through many related topics. Students may start talking about school, then talk about sports, and then talk about things they will do this weekend.

… Requires the partner to react with the conversation. There is give and take during the conversation. “I thinking of going to a horror movie. How does that sound to you?”

… Is very personal. The speaker offers his/her opinions and views and tells how he/she does something. “ I never order onions on my pizza. I do have double cheese.”

… Most like a real conversation.

Do your  modern language/ foreign language students do more spontaneous speaking or structured speaking?

I originally published this blog  at my eduwithtechn site

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Modern Language Spontaneous Speaking Find Someone Who +

Many modern language/ foreign language teachers use a form of the common Find Someone Who activity to get students speaking. For example, the teachers may ask, in the target language, for the students to  find someone who has five pens, has two books, has a blue notebook or find someone who sings, bikes, swims, etc.  Students enjoy asking each other questions and hearing the answers. Usually, the answering student simply repeats the question as a sentence.

However, with just a slight modification, this modern language activity can turn into more spontaneous speaking.

1) Usually, if the answering student answers in the negative, Do you swim?  No, I do not swim, then  the asking student moves on to another student. In a variation, if  the student answers No, he changes his/her answer to be a positive.   Do you swim? No, I do not swim.  I do bike or No, I do not swim.  My father swims.

2) When a student answers in the positive, he /she adds at least one more piece of  information.  Do you swim? Yes, I swim when it is hot,  Yes, I do swim in Lake Ontario, Yes, I swim with my friend, Bob.

3)  When a student answers in the positive, the asking student asks a follow-up question such as Where do you swim?  When do you swim? The answering student answers the additional question.

4)  After the answering student answers, the asking student agrees, “Me too” or Me neither” or  disagrees, “I do not like to swim.”

How do your get your modern language students to speak spontaneously?

I originally published this blog at my eduwithtechn site

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Spontaneous Speaking in Modern Languages – Not Just Saying Grammar Exercises

I recently heard a modern language teacher brag about how much speaking her students did in the classroom. She said that her students orally did every book grammar exercise. She was amazed at how much they were speaking.  Yes, the students were orally saying the grammar exercises but they were not spontaneous speaking.  They could do the exercises perfectly but they could not use those  grammar concepts in their own conversation about a topic.  I asked her how closely the exercises resembled a real world conversation and she countered that the students  had to know every grammatical form to be able to communicate.

To change grammar exercises to real speaking, we have to ask ourselves, “How would a target language person  use this grammar point in an authentic conversation?” and try to duplicate that in the classroom.  We can start our students off with just responding to their partners. For example, in teaching the Spanish preterite tense, students can start on their path to  spontaneous speaking by seeing a long list of common verbs, selecting 10 verbs that describe what they did do in the past and then saying a past time word like yesterday or the past week  and the verb in   the “I” form.  I always have my students  do at least a three part sentence (Past time word +subject/verb +what or where or how such as “Yesterday I ate at McDonalds.”  As a student says the sentence to his/her partner , the partner agrees or disagrees by repeating it or modifying it; a modification may be “Yesterday I ate at Burger King.”,  “Last week I ate at McDonalds.”, or “Yesterday I ate two hamburgers and French Fries at McDonalds.”  Once students realize that their partners are listening and responding to what they say, they begin to make more realistic sentences.  Then the partners say a sentence and the listening students respond. They alternate until they each have said eight sentences. By saying their sentences and having their partners respond, they find out more about their partners. They start to use  language in an interactive manner where they have to listen carefully to their partner and respond accordingly.

This blog has been moved from my EduwithTechn blog

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Scaffolding Modern Language Speaking For Fluency Through Questions

 

In the Modern Language / Foreign Language  class, speaking is the least developed skill.  Teachers may spend much time in teaching a new grammar concept but they usually do not spend that same amount of time in helping students to become better at speaking. One way to help students improve their oral communication involves scaffolding their speaking from very structured speaking to  spontaneous speaking.

Students can start off by  looking at a sheet  of questions and asking one of  the written basic target language question such as “How are you?” and   “Where do you live?”to their partner who answers. Then, the partner  asks them a different question from the sheet. They continue asking and answering for many questions.   A next baby step incorporates the students modifying these basic questions.  I have included  italicized words  for  Spanish students to change (http://bit.ly/squestc).  For example students might change ¿Cuántas clases tienes? to  ¿Cuántos libros tienes?

After students have reviewed question words, they can ask question words about   randomly given common topics such as school and home.  Their partner checks to see which question words they used and tells them which they did not use.  As students develop their ability to ask questions about a topic, their partners answer these questions (http://bit.ly/squestw).

Next,  the students move on to asking and answering questions about a  common topic as presented through a graphic such as clip art picture of a girl at a birthday party or  a family at a beach. The  students randomly select the topic to speak about and begin to have their conversation about the topic (http://bit.ly/scontop)

As students become proficient at asking a wide variety of questions and answering those questions, they increase in their ability to speak. They become more fluent; they begin to speak spontaneously.

This blog has been moved from my eduwithtechn blog  http://wp.me/p262R-EZ

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook

Common Core and Modern Languages

No, there are no common core standards for Modern Languages.    Yes, Modern Language teachers are looking at  the English Language Arts Common Core.      No, those teachers should not panic.

I  have been in education for over 40 years.  I have seen many many movements and new  approaches.  I have been in education long enough to see the same movement resurface with a new name.  With each new building principal came a new way of doing things, with each new superintendent came the newest approach, and with each new leader of  state education or professional organization came a new vision.  Usually the new approach, especially the common core in Modern Language,  does not require multiple days of professional development even a half day; most times modern language teachers can make the change within about an hour.

I have used a simple technique to change to any new  approach.    I analyze the new approach thoroughly and then determine
1. What am I presently doing that directly fits in that approach?
2. What am I doing that I can modify slightly to fit the approach?  Sometimes it is as simple as a name change or where something goes in a lesson. For example, what  is the new name for an anticipatory set?  I believe that Common Core English just uses different labels than we do in Modern Languages when we use the labels from ACTFL or state guidelines.
3. What do I have to change completely or add to what I already do?

ACTFL has published some info on the Common Core and Modern Languages. I am waiting for someone to develop the magic cheat sheet that converts  the English Language Arts Common Core to Modern Language learning.  We already do  them, we just have to give our activities a new name or number.

I have attended two workshops on Common Core and Modern Languages  and neither kept it simple. In fact, I walked out more confused than when I went in.  A Modern Language department could do a  CC to ML conversion chart  in about a fifty minute meeting.

If you know of anyone who has developed the magic conversion chart, please let me know so I can share it with other Modern Language teachers.

I have developed many  Spanish activities that allow students to begin to express themselves and to begin to move toward spontaneous speaking as in a natural conversation.  My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card-whole class), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs),  Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing from 2-4 people) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas- pairs or small group),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics in pairs),  and Grammar speaking games (pairs or small group). Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My three formative assessment books:   http://is.gd/tbook