Reflection on Students’ Modern Language Success Using Can-Do Statements

Although I try to reflect during the semester/ year on what I can do to improve my students’ modern language  success, I find that the end of the semester/year allows me a bigger picture of their success. This semester I gave  the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements to my college beginning Spanish students at the start of the semester. I used a reformatted form which had the Novice Level on one side and the Intermediate on the other. Students checked off what they felt they could do.

During the course, I extended the textbook material  to cover the Can-Do Statements. I modified the tests to include more assessment of these Statements. I gave them the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements at mid-point for their self-assessment.  Many students, especially students who had never taken a language before, were amazed at their progress. They realized that they still had much to learn before they could function in many world situations.

At the end of the semester, I gave out the Can-Do Statements for self-assessment again.  I asked the students to comment on their ending results. All students had mastered at least 85% of the Novice level. They could not do the statements that requirement different tenses since we only cover the present tense in beginning Spanish.  Many could do numerous statements on the Intermediate Level. They were very aware of their language growth in the course. I gave a supplementary speaking final to assess how well their self-assessment was realistic. 95% of the students exceeded my expectations.

The Can-Do Statements provide built-in reflection as to the students’ progress. I have a plan for how to help the students do an even better job of meeting the very real-world Can-Do  Statements. The following ebooks are available at  http://bit.ly/tsmash

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

Modern Language Proficiencies: Can-Do Strategies

Modern Language Proficiencies: Can-Do Strategies

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Recording Language Proficiency Progress

Frequently, a modern language teacher and  his/her students measure their progress in a course in terms of the chapters covered in the textbook. For example, a teacher might say, “We have just finished Chapter 3.”  However, textbook coverage implies nothing about actual student language proficiency. Likewise, to say that a course covers chapters one through eight of the textbook has no proficiency meaning. However, to say that by the end of the course, the  students have met the Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid level indicates a specific proficiency.

A language proficiency model focuses on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements.  A teacher states, “By the end of  this unit, in Novice Mid you ‘can ask some simple questions'”. The teacher provides basic instruction and many opportunities for the students to ask and answer questions.

After the students have demonstrated  several times that they can do the  Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid “ask some simple questions”, they place a huge checkmark in front of that Can-Do statement on their Can-Do listing for Interpersonal Communication. They see their language progress in this unit. They have proof  that they have learned new language proficiencies each chapter.

Each new unit teachers can focus on additional Can-Do statements and scaffold their class so that students can demonstrate their new proficiencies. The students continue to show their progress by checking off more and more Can-Do statements.They reach a point where they have checked off  a whole subsection and, eventually, all of the sublevels for a whole level such as Novice Mid. These Can-Do statements serve as their learning progress chart.

How do assess your students’ language proficiency in each unit?

By early May, my ebook tentatively titled Modern Language Proficiencies: Can -Do Strategies  will be available at Smashwords. This ebook covers Can-Do statements and strategies for speaking, listening, reading, and writing plus it has sections on the role of  vocabulary, grammar, culture, textbooks and mobile devices in the development of  these proficiencies. The major emphasis is on speaking.

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:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You 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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

Modern Language Proficiency – What does it mean?

What does proficiency mean in the modern language classroom? Proficiencies are defined either by the state curriculum such as the NYS checkpoint A, B, or C or by the ACTFL proficiency standards / NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements.

Proficiencies do not refer to individual  activities such as  translating a word from English to the modern language nor doing a verb conjugation. A proficiency is not identifying the forms of a verb. A proficiency is not saying the names of  the family members in the modern language from a list of English words.  A proficiency is not pronouncing places. The ACTFL Can-Do statements do have a Grammar proficiency section. Grammar is integrated in meaningful ways such as Interpersonal Communication  Intermediate High- I can participate with ease and confidence in conversations on familiar topics..in various time frames.”

Proficiency refer to the student’s ability to communicate such as speaking  at the Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid level – “I can communicate basic information about myself and the people I know”  as the student says “something about the members of my family  and ask about someone’s family”. When students demonstrate this communication, they have shown a specific speaking proficiency. With the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, students can see their achievements as they accomplish more  proficiencies. Since the Can-Do statements divide up the big level of Novice into three subcategories and each subcategory has numerous proficiencies, students can see progress as they go from Novice Low to Novice Mid to Novice High.

For our students to be proficient in the modern language, we will want to quickly move them from the low subskills of vocabulary and grammar to the proficiencies of language for communication. The more we have them use the modern language for real life purposes, the more proficient they become.

What do you mean by proficiency?

By early May, my book, tentatively titled,  Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies will be published at Smashwords. It contains many strategies for developing  Can-Do proficiencies for speaking,  listening, reading and writing;it also has  sections on vocabulary, textbook and mobile; the major emphasis is on speaking. Each strategy contains a Can-Do statement and a sample activity.

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking which students need as they climb the Can-Do statements. 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:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You 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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Use for Pre-Assessment

Since the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements measure specific proficiencies, modern language teachers can use them for pre-assessment.

In pre-assessment mode, a teacher has an incoming student or students  use the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do statements as a checklist  to identify what they think they can do in the language. This assessment works well when the students come from another teacher, school, state or another level such as high school to college. Within five to ten  minutes students can self-assess  themselves using the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do Statements for Novice and Intermediate level.

I give these Can-Do Statements to my students in a beginning level college Spanish class. I realize that these students come from a wide background of language learning levels not only in terms of how many years of Spanish they have taken but also in terms of how long ago they studied Spanish.  I ask the students to put a slash in front of each Can-Do statement  if they are confident they can do the speaking activity. Also, I ask them to put a question mark next to any question that they are unsure of what it means.

After class, I quickly count how many checks are in each level such as Novice Low, Novice Mid, etc for each student. I enter these into a spreadsheet and have the spreadsheet calculate the class average for each level. I do a visual scan of their papers to see what  specific sections within each level they generally feel they cannot do. Many whole class language gaps became apparent Novice Mid- Can Make Simple Statements.

From this pre-assessment, I better know what areas of the Can-Do Statements I should focus on to help the students move up in their language proficiency.

In the same checklist manner, the Can-Do Statements can become a  quick modern language placement tool.

How do you pre-assess your modern language students’ proficiency?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am developing activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication 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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: A Real Focus For Learning Modern Languages

Modern language teachers teach a modern language. But what do they teach?  How similar are modern language curriculums across the county, state, and nation? When students have two years of modern language, do they all have the same level of proficiency?  What does proficiency mean?

The previous ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines stated what teachers could expect of students in general terms for proficiency.  The new  NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements clarify what being proficient means at each level (Novice, Intermediate, etc.) for speaking, listening, reading and writing.  These statements are worded in terms what the student can do.  The Can-Do Statements have very specific statements in terms of what the student can do such as at the Novice Mid level  “I can greet and leave people in a polite way”, “I can introduce myself and others”, “I can answer a variety of simple questions”, and  “I can ask some simple questions”

Now teachers can assess their curriculum and textbook  in terms of these  Can-Do Statements. The teachers will discover that the Can-Do Statements focus on real-world language such as asking for someone’s email  or rejecting an invitation.  Teachers can ask themselves, “How does my present classroom activity help my students to advance in the Can-Do statements?”

The teachers can set Can-Do goals for their students and the students can see their growth in the proficiencies.  Both students and teachers will realize that achieving various Can-Do statements is a  true reflection of proficiency as opposed to covering a unit in a textbook.

Do you use the Can-Do Statements with your students?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am develop activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication 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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

What Can Your Modern Language Students Do in Terms of Real-Life Communication?

As I prepare for my Spring semester,  I am asking myself for each chapter in the textbook “What can the students do after learning this unit?”  Unfortunately, the most common answer is to “talk about the topic” .  How real world is their learning? As  I think about the school chapter (classes, things in the school, parts of the classroom), I realize that the topic is one that relates to students but I wonder how often will they use these vocabulary words, phrases and questions outside of school?  How important is it to daily life outside of the school in the target language country?  Most modern language travel books do not even include school as a topic.

Maybe we should rethink the topics in textbooks to better prepare our students to actually be in another country.  What topics are truly important for students to be in a target language country? For example, NCSSFL-ACTFL  Can Do Statements include in the Novice Mid level “I can ask and understand how much something costs”.  When do your student learn “how much something costs” in your curriculum?  Mine occurs in the fifth or last chapter we cover.  How does that match up with what students would need to know if they were in another country? Let’s move from academic modern language to real world modern language for our students!

How does your textbook match up with real world modern language use?

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 ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.You can instantly use these many communication 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  http://bit.ly/tuttlebks

Assessing Modern Language Variety of Speaking With Questions in Spontaneous Speaking

This semester before the official final, I had the students, in pairs, have a question and answer conversation about a common topic.  They saw a previously unseen picture based on one of the common topics in our class such as family, school, sports or activities, and restaurant/ eating. Immediately, without any preparation, they began to ask and answer questions about the picture for three minutes. Each pair had a different picture. I used a scoring sheet which had the different question words on it.  I marked down which question words each student used and counted each question and each answer.

The average for my students was 10.5 sentences with 6.3 different question words in three minutes for a previously unseen picture. The two students did twenty one sentences (answers and questions) in that time.  For example, one pair ask six different Spanish question words (How many?  When?  How?  Which?  What? and Where?)  However, this score does not really represent the variety of questions since that group had three different How (¿Cómo?) questions (What is the person like? How is the person’s health? What is his/her name). My students showed that they can ask a variety of questions and answer those questions in spontaneous speaking about a previously unseen picture.

What speaking variety do your students show?

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