Change Modern Language Reading Passages to Target Language Only

ACTFL’s 90% guideline push us to use the target language in the classroom.  However, that target language push seems to break down when it comes to a final and specifically, the reading passage on a final.  Many finals such as the former New York State Regents have a passage in the target language and then comprehension questions in English. The implication seems to be that the students cannot understand the new modern language enough to answer questions.

Even beginning students can answer questions in the target language about a reading passage. If students read a passage that states “Bob goes to the store for milk”, students can answer in the target language reading comprehension questions such as “Who goes to the store?” or  “Where does Bob go?”.  Students answer with the word directly taken from the passage.

Teacher can increase the difficulty of the reading comprehension by using synonyms so students do not answer  directly from the passage.  “Bob buys twelve apples and two carrots for four dollars”  A reading comprehension question might be “Which does he buy more of:  vegetable or fruit?” or “How much does he spend?”  Notice that in these questions the student has to know the synonym for the word in the passage.

An even harder level is that of inference where students have to use logic.  “Bob watches the TV weather and takes his umbrella to work.”   The weather will probably be A) snow  B) rain  C) cloudy  or D) windy. In the inference level, the student has to go beyond the literary meaning and make an assumption. People use an umbrella for protection from the rain.

Do you keep reading comprehension in the target language even at beginning levels?

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

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Your Feedback on 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook

Dear colleagues,

I am writing an  ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, with the anticipated publication date of May 2013 and I would appreciate your feedback.   I have the following categories and  numerous classroom examples of each category in the book:

Introduction (Why? What is it? How to implement? Why focus on communication?)
Speaking Activities
Mobile images
Internet searching
Internet image searching
Timer
Survey /Polls
QR code
Voice and video recording
Phone
Video chat
Apps for media
Texting
Twitter
Facebook
Writing to a blog Wiki or website
Listening activities
Reading activities
Listening activities
Culture (is integrated into the activities)
Assessment activities

Are there any other categories of mobile learning activities that you feel need to be included in a book on mobile learning? If so, would you please add a comment  to this blog that includes that particular mobile learning category with a phrase of definition or explanation of the term.  Thank you very much.  With your help, this book will better help modern language teachers as they begin mobile learning to improve their students modern language communication skills.

Also, if you would please answer a question about what you would be willing to pay for such an ebook https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1v1jFzrtGHApRxGaf6kcwYY9DKYYm-nrzDm0mXr7R_sI/viewform#start=invite

Please forward to any other modern language  teacher who uses mobile learning for his/her reaction.

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (24+) 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

What type of reading should be on a modern language test?

For me, the purpose of a modern language course  is to teach the modern language so students can use it. Therefore, I become confused when I see a test in which students read a modern language passage  and then have to answer questions about it  in English. I used that type of testing when I took Latin over 50 years ago. I hope that modern language methodology has changed since then. That  type of testing is a translation testing. That type of testing raises some questions:
– Why is it more important for the students to translate than for them to use the modern language?
– Cannot we teach them  reading techniques to be able to read and answer in the modern language?
– Why are we giving them a reading exercise that is harder than reading in the modern language?  If they are answering questions in the modern language, they can look for the same or similar words in the passage to find the answer.  If they are working in English, they have to translate the words into Spanish to find the answer.

I teach my students three simple techniques that allow them to successfully read in the modern language:
1) Answer the question word. If the question word asks “How many…?, they look for a number.
2)  Look for the answers in the passage in order.  First find the answer to question one, then look for the answer to question, etc.  If students know that the answer to question four follows the answer to question three, they can logically find the answer.
3) Look for the same words or similar words  in the question and in the passage.  The writer may use a synonym such as  boy for youth. If the question asks, “When did he eat the hamburger?”, the reader can look for these words in the passage and, probably, if there are two or more of those words, find  the answer.

With these techniques, they can answer literal or factual questions very successfully. With more practice, they can answer higher level reading such as inference and interpretation with the language.

Let’s move to in-language  reading testing instead of  translation reading. Let’s show our students that we believe they can read and understand in the modern language.

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner 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 drawings from 2-4 people), 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. I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students. Can use 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

Cell and Smartphones to Improve Modern Language Learning

ACTFL Nov. 17, 2012

Rationale: World wide change;   QR codes

 Developing some language skills:
Speaking: their world, real things, apps → speaking, speaking eportfolio, peer assessment

Reading: authentic newspapers, TV website mini-articles, ereader for literature, create own readings
Writing: text teacher, text activity, twitter, wiki/blog
Culture: see actual up-to-the -moment culture, analyze cultural differences within the target countries

Assessment and formative feedback: short formative assessments, QR codes for differentiated feedback, Edmodo

Concern: Dumping textbooks, etc on mobile devices;

school can create QR code sheets per unit as their textbook.

Creating QR codes:

1) Shorten url by using bit.y  (https://bitly.com/). Type web address  in upper right.  If you accept their name or click on custom to customize your url.
2) Next go to http://createqrcode.appspot.com/, type in the URL (you can put more than one in), decide on your size, copy it.   I usually save it, then copy the graphic into my document or PowerPoint.

How do you use cell and smartphones to improve Modern Language learning?

Other resources:

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner 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 drawings from 2-4 people), 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. I have a series of modern language visual stories (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students. Can use in any language since there are just visuals, no words.

Free Flickr Images for common vocabulary collected by my students Blog, http://wp.me/p262R-De for full info. 1) Go to http://www.flickr.com, 2) click on the word Search, 3) click on Tags only, on the right side of the search box, 3) then enter spancon +(casa, clima, comida, deporte, descripcion, la hora, naturaleza, numeros, or trabajo- see the blog for the listing such as spancon +comida. No words, just pictures. Can be used in any language for quick vocabulary review using real objects and for speaking in short sentences. Click on Slideshow in upper right for pictures to show the pictures quickly.

Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment (Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education). For each of fifteen language functions such as socializing, asking for and giving information, explaining, etc., my book provides ten different speaking strategies to help students to improve. Also, includes a procedure to assess all students in just three minutes. http://bit.ly/flspeakfa. Also, have a book,Formative Assessment, Responding to Students.

Two Youtube videos on the importance of speaking in modern language class http://bit.ly/mlspeaking and of monitoring students’ speaking http://bit.ly/MLFAP2

Search for modern language on my education and technology blog bit.ly/hgtblog

(Am on EdTech’s “The Honor Roll: 50 Must-Read K–12 Education IT Blogs”). Am in the process of moving all modern language blogs over to this blog.