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:

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at 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

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