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

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

Visuals Convey Meaning in World Language

Many methodologies such as Comprehensible Input, Immersion, the Total Physical Response Approach and the Direct Approach urge that teachers uses visual techniques to convey the meaning of a word, phrase or sentence (http://moramodules.com/ALMMethods.htm#The%20Direct%20Approach). By using these techniques teachers and students can be in the world language for 90% of the class (http://www.actfl.org/news/position-statements/use-the-target-language-the-classroom-0). In addition, instead of students going from learning an abstract world language word to an English word, they learn a world language word and see a concrete image for that word’s meaning. Dale’s Cone of Experience indicates that students remember better when they see instead of just hear (http://imagestack.co/52385894-edgar-dales-cone-of-learning.html).

A Sample of visuals:

1) Visuals – pictures, pictures from travels, pictures from the Internet, drawings, chalk talks, maps, timelines, projected images, graphs

2) Realia and props – clothing, food, movie ticket, game ticket, doll house

3) Actions – demonstrations, modeling, manipulatives, gestures (hand gestures, facial expressions, body language)

(Sources: http://mslizethbrown.weebly.com/tangibles.html

How often do you use these visual techniques to help your students better understand meaning in their new world language? How often do your students use visuals to help them express their ideas?

At http://bit.ly/mlcomcult, there are many world language visual stories for students to talk about.