Certificates of Modern Language Speaking

The awarding of badges for successful achievement  of a learning goal has become very popular in education.  I have modified badges into certificates and, specifically, certificates of speaking for my beginning Spanish students.

I design a specific speaking task such as orally answering ten written questions about a previously unseen picture in two minutes. These questions cover very basic questions such as “Where is the person?… How old is the person?..”  The students orally answer each question and their  partners make a slash for each meaningful, appropriate, and comprehensible answer on a score sheet. I do include fourteen questions so that if students cannot figure out how to answer one question, they can skip  it and do another question.  In addition, more advanced students can try to answer all fourteen in two minutes.  When the speaking students have achieved three times of answering the required number of sentences in two minutes,  they  show me their score sheet, sign in on a class list under that certificate, and they receive a certificate.  My certificates are half page certificates and they state the exact speaking achievement such as “orally answered ten written questions about a previously unseen picture in two minutes”.

I tell them that they now have proof of well they are doing in their Spanish speaking for this particular task. They can put the certificate in on their family or dorm fridge, take a picture and email it to friends and relatives, put it on their Facebook page, etc.

I have different certificates for their different speaking tasks.  My students are now working on a family certificate in which they have to say ten different things about a family member. They cannot say the same basic sentence such as “”My father is tall….  My father is strong”; they have to include different verbs or use verbs in different ways.

Many students commented that this is the first time they have ever known how well they do on speaking in the target language  except on a speaking test.

How to acknowledge your students’  achievements in speaking their new  modern language?

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle
90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

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

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 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://is.gd/tbook

Some Modern Language Student Speaking Questions to Ponder

As we start the new school year, we might want to ponder these questions about our students’ modern language speaking.

Will  my students study the modern language or use the modern  language more?  Even beginning level students can have conversations if we structure class.

Who needs more practice in speaking the target language – me or my students? If my students, then, how do I have them practice the language more in the classroom?

If I want my students to converse in the modern language, how do I help them develop good skills in asking and answering questions?

How can I move from a tennis classroom in which I serve a question or sentence to one student at a time to a soccer classroom in which all students participate at the same time so that students can speak more in the classroom?

For how many minutes each classroom will my students converse? How many sentences do I want my students to use in their  conversation? Four, six, eight, ten sentences or more at a time?  How will I help to increase in the amount that they can say during a conversation?

How will I help my students to go from memorizing sentences to spontaneously modifying memorized sentences to create their own personal meaning sentences?

How fluent (in terms of sentences per minute) do I want my students to be in spontaneous speaking?  How do I structure my lessons for them to increase in their fluency?

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

I have developed  5 Modern Language Visual activities (no words) and 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 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://is.gd/tbook

Develop Flexible Sentence Learning for Better Modern Language Speaking

Many students deal on the literal level as they learn a modern language. When they learn a sentence, they learn it on a literal level; this sentence means this specific thing.  They see the sentence as a fixed sentence, as one block of solid cement even though the cement has various sections. For example, when  they learn “Where is the school?” they do not realize that they can ask “Where is (the party, house, concert, game, etc”). Even more, they do not realize that they can use various verbs after “Where?” such as  “Where (do you eat, does he practice, do the people go?, etc.”). They are stuck in the literal one cement block of learning the sentence.

“Where is the school?” can be transformed into many modern language sentences; this flexibility opens up the students’ speaking.  Each part of the student becomes a flip book with many different possibilities.  They can change the question word, the verb and the noun.  When students see sentences as flexible  flip books, they discover that they can say many different  things with a few basic sentences or questions.  One sentence widens out to many sentences.  This flexibility contributes to their modern language  fluency.

These steps help develop this flexibility:
1) From each unit or section, pick eight target language critical sentences that have great flexibility.
2)  Underline in each of the first four sentences the part that the students can change.
3) Have the students see how many different modern language sentences they can say by just changing the underlined part of the sentence. They can say them to their partner who counts their variety. Then the partner can say different sentences based on the original sentence. If they make changes to questions, their partners can answer the questions.
4) Give students the other four sentences without any underlined parts and see how well they can transform those sentences into a multitude of meaningful sentences. Have pairs of students compete to see who can make the most different sentences.

I have developed two activities for Spanish  students that develop flexibility with word/phrase substitutions  1) Spanish Tell Me About Yourself Substitution Sentences and  2) Spanish Friend /Family Member Detailed Description – Partner Talk

How do you help your students to be flexible in their modern language use?

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, shows how easy it is to use mobile learning in the classroom  to develop language communication even when only half the class has mobile devices.  It is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.

I have developed 27 Spanish activities  and 5 Modern Language Visual activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

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://is.gd/tbook

How to show student achievement (SLO) in Modern Language class for Teacher Evaluation

With the new teacher observation system, modern language teachers have to be able to show student gain from a pre-test to a post-test (student learning outcomes or SLOs) Although many teachers have opted to use a grammar point such as the future tense as their performance measure, I would suggest that having a speaking goal is much more impressive.

For example, a teacher could state that as a result of studying the vocabulary and grammar of the school unit, students will be able to say ten sentences about school. For a pre-test students talk to their partner who records the number of sentences said about school at the beginning of the unit. Most students will say no sentences or they may be able to make up one or two. The teacher collects these partner sheets and transfers them to her official sheet or puts them directly into a spreadsheet.

After studying the unit, the students can easily say ten random sentences to  explain what they do in the class such as “I study.  I do my homework. I work alot.  I write. I have three pens. I work with a classmate.  I talk in Spanish. I look at pictures.  My Spanish book is big. My teacher teaches.”   Again, they can tell these sentences to their partner who counts the sentences and records the number. The teacher collects these partner sheets and records them on her official sheet to show the dramatic increase in sentences said.

She puts the numbers  in a spreadsheet to get both individual and class achievement. She  produces a chart that shows the very low scores in the beginning speaking  and the very high speaking scores at the end.

Administrators who see the results will be doubly satisfied. Not only has the teacher shown improvement in his/ her students’ academic growth but he/she has had them speak which is what many administrators see as the main goal of modern language study. They see this as a worthwhile performance goal.

How will you show student growth in your modern language class?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (29+) includes Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Speaking Mats ( Student can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas in pairs or small group), Modified Speed Dating (Students ask their  partners one question from a card-whole class), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), 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.

At the same site, I have a series of modern language visual stories with no words (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students.  These can be used in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

My book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, and my book, Formative Assessment, Responding to Students, are available at http://is.gd/tbook