Teach Positive Attitude Toward Another Culture, Not Hate

We, World Language teachers, have the responsibility to teach our students to feel positive about other cultures. We have to move beyond the “cute, quaint and weird” aspect of culture. When students see the quaint and weird, they feel negative about the other culture. They do not want to associate with such people.

We have to emphasize that the world is a “We”, not an “us vs. them”. We should avoid contrasting the cultures to show how we are different; differences do not lead to positive feelings about another culture. We should constantly be asking our students to identify similarities among the L1 and L2 cultures. In each class, we should show pictures of the L2 people doing daily tasks so our students see the many similarities such as our basic need to eat, play, have families, etc. As they see a picture of people on a street in Quito, they realize that they have many similarities with such people.

Our students come into our L2 class with many negative stereotypes from media. For example, they have the movie perception that Colombia is a drug infested violent place. We have to eliminate negative or even hateful feelings toward another culture.

Let our classes be that place that stops negative feelings and even hate toward other cultures.

(A summary of a presentation that I, Harry Tuttle, did on Culture for NYSAFLT.)

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The Power of Memorized Phrases for Can-Do Speaking

The 2017 Can-Do statements constantly mention “memorized …phrases” at the Novice level of Interpersonal Speaking. Memorized phrases imply that the students have memorized a whole phrase or question; they learned it as as unit, not as individual words. Memorized phrases or questions imply going beyond learning a discrete word to learning a phrase or question that communicates meaning. Memorized implies that the students can spontaneously recall this phrase or question and use it whenever they need it in a conversation. Since the question and answer are memorized, the students automatically respond to a memorized question with a commonly used memorized answer such as answering “How are you?” with “I’m fine.”

The memorization frees the students from having to create their own questions in a word by word fashion. Often students take a memorized question and vary a part of it such as “Where is the bathroom?” to “Where is the airport?” These memorized questions and answers form the basis for many varied questions and answers;once students memorize the formula of the question, they can substitute in the variable such as a place.

What memorized phrases do your students know?

A few Spanish activities that encourage memorized phrases:
Spanish Answer Oral Questions Review 2-Partner Talk  Answer 10 questions within a time period
Spanish Family Indepth Speed Interviews- Partner Talk  Do 4 Family Interviews of 10 questions each
Spanish School In-Depth Speed Interview-Partner Talk    Do 4 school interviews of 10 questions each

 

Unmet Students’ Expectation of World Language Class

Beginning language students come to their world language class with an expectation. The vast majority of these students believe that the purpose of the language course is to speak the language. However, they soon find out that the class really focuses on “vocabulary and verbs” as a former high school French student wrote as he thought what his college Spanish class would be based on his former language experience. Students want to be able to speak the language and, yet, many teachers spend so much time preparing them to speak by learning vocabulary and learning verbs that the students do not get to speak. Students want to communicate in the language. How do we change our world language courses so that we met the students’ expectations and their parents’ expectations?

Some activities to help you develop communication in your  Spanish classroom:

Spanish Describing School Classes Spontaneous Speaking – Pairs    Speak about class with structured choices – two levels, 49 terms

Spanish Friend /Family Member Detailed Description – Partner Talk   Say 9 sentences about a friend using 36 choices.

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

Why Not Accept ACTFL Can-DO Proficiencies as Your Department Proficiency?

As I talk to many world languages teachers and department chairs, I am amazed at how few have actually accepted the ACTFL Can-Do as the school district world language proficiencies. I think that there are numerous reasons. They …

– Do not know about the ACTFL Can-Do proficiencies. I have trouble with this reason since professional publications and conferences constantly refer to the Can- Do proficiencies. ACTFL has them listed on their web page.

– Do not understand the Can-Do proficiencies. The Can-Do proficiencies are written for students to understand. Unlike some some of the previous ACTFL standards, these standards are very easy to understand.

– Feel that the present district department proficiency standards are superior to the ACTFL standards. Often the same people that feel that their standards are superior cannot specify what their standards are. They refer to the existing syllabus, curriculum, or even textbook as their standards. They often cannot specify what students will be able to do in the language at the end of the first year except for grammar tenses.

– Do not want to be help accountable for meeting the ACTFL standards.When a district adopts the ACTFL Can-Do proficiencies, they become part of a national and international world language curriculum. Their results can be compared year after year and be compared to other districts.

– Do not want to change the syllabus, textbook, classroom instruction and tests to meet the ACTFL Can-Do proficiencies. Yes, if a district accepts the ACTFL Can-Do proficiencies, then it has to figure out how to help their students to achieve the various levels.

– Do not really believe that world language is about being proficient in speaking, reading, writing, etc. They believe that the biggest factor in defining how good the students are in the language is the how well and how many verb tenses the students know. In their minds, conjugation is king.
Why has your world language department not accepted the ACTFL Can-Do proficiencies?
A few online activities that your students can use to begin to meet the ACTFL standards.
Spanish Speaking Food Cooperative Learning Can-Do Whole Class    Answer questions about food – Can Do
Spanish Speaking What I Do (Can-Do Statements)    Answer Can-Do based questions

Spanish Speaking: City Mat Can-Do Novice Mid and High   Talk about city using categorized word lists Can-DO

Formulaic Language for Better Communication

 My Syracuse University’s LLL and LECNY presentation

Why use?

Formulaic language – prefabricated language chunks memorized and retrieved as a whole -Wray, 2008

Background:
– Used often by native speakers
– Mentally processed faster
– Many components
– Closed and open
– Part of ACTFL 2012 guidelines

Note: Learned as a whole, no grammatical knowledge

Guidelines:
– Focus on communication
– Use high frequency real life use questions and answers (Check WL TV shows/ movies)
– Give a purpose to each class (asking and answering the question)
– Do variations on a question word
– Use for common topics
– Make sure students can answer the question
– Practice many, many. many times each class so students can ask and answer
– Create cumulative conversation

Practicality: Use ACTFL Interpersonal Can- Do Statements as guidelines for creating questions.

Communication value: If students learn  1 question and answer(s) per day x 150 days = 150 different questions and answers. WOW!

How do your students use formulaic language in your classroom?

40+Spanish & WL spontaneous speaking activities and some cultural activities http://bit.ly/wlspt

 

A collection of 13 beginning student activities Spanish speaking activities about school and classes http://bit.ly/ssclassessp

 

 

World Language Students’ Perceptions about Class

While world language teachers may have a certain perception of their courses such as that their students are learning to communicate in the language, students may have a very different perception. College students who were in a beginning level Spanish class that did about fifteen percent of each class in student-to-student conversation were asked at the end of the semester for their suggestions on how to redesign the class in any way they wanted.

Their comments reveal their perceptions of the class:
– At the start of each unit, give the students a packet of all the vocabulary and grammar.
– Instead of having students talk with partners, spend more time covering the textbook information.
– Go over the Spanish words and translations at the end of each class.

Even though the students were in a class that devoted much time to conversations, they still perceived the class as a basic vocabulary, grammar and textbook language class. They did not seem to value conversation in the world language.

What perception do your students have about your world language class?

An activity that can help your students move toward focusing more on communicating in the language is Spanish Friend /Family Member Detailed Description – Partner Talk    Describe a person using guided supplied vocabulary . A packet of 13 beginning student Spanish activities speaking activities about family and friends http://bit.ly/ssfamilysp

 

 

Return on Investment (ROI) in World Languages

How much teacher preparation, materials needed, and class time go into an activity and how much student learning comes out it? If we measure student learning by ACTFL’s Can -Do statements, then we have an objective measure of student learning.

If a teacher prepares a vocabulary bingo game to help students learn common actions by preparing  bingo cards for two hours and the students spend ten minutes in class, what ACTFL proficiency has been achieved for that investment? The answer is none. Vocabulary by itself is not communication. If on the other hand, a teacher prepares om thirty minutes two sets of ten written questions about the common actions of family members and this activity takes ten class minutes, then the return is a student demonstration of Novice Mid,  “I can communicate basic information about myself and the people I know.” There is a high return on the investment.

Backward planning improves ROI. How do what we do and what our students do lead directly toward the students achieving a specific oral proficiency? If we spend days on students learning and practicing vocabulary, we have a low ROI. If we quickly move our students from learning vocabulary to using the vocabulary in meaningful sentences then we obtain a high ROI.

What is your ROI in World Languages?

Some materials that can help you students communicate about topics are at http://bitly/ml, click on a top topic and then look at the list below.