A Sentence a Day For Improved World Language Communication

Every class world language teachers can teach their students at least one different sentence or question that the students will need to carry on a meaningful conversation. The teachers move the students beyond learning vocabulary lists to learning a critical statement or question. The teachers select sentences for the meaning that they convey, not for the grammar or for the specific vocabulary. The world language teachers select sentences that have high frequency in the language. and are of high interest to the students. These sentences or questions will be ones that can be easily modified such as “Where is the restaurant?”; students can easily substitute any location word for the word “restaurant”. If the teachers teach a question, then they will also teach at least one typical answer such as “The restaurant is on Main Street.”

The critical sentence may or may not be in the present textbook unit. For example, during a food unit, teachers may teach the statement of “I like hamburgers.” or the question of “What do you want to eat?” and a typical response of “I want to eat pizza.” Even if the food unit does not involve prices, the teachers may include “How much does the sandwich cost?” since it is a common question associated with eating out. Likewise, the teachers may teach “Do you cook much?” and “Yes, I do cook much.”

Over the school year, their students will have learned one hundred and eighty critical different sentences or questions. Their students can have an in-depth conversation about many topics with another person.

Do your students learn at least one new and different sentence or question each day?

http://bit.ly/mlcomcult has many activities that allow beginning and advanced students to say sentences and ask questions. There are activities for all world languages and specifically for Spanish.

Modern Language Speaking Minimum: 20 sentences daily per student

ACTFL’s 90% guideline indicates that teachers and students should speak 90% in the target language each class.  However, such a guideline only addresses the language of the communication not the quantity or quality of the communication.
Many modern language departments state that speaking is 20% of the final. So how much of each class should the students speak?  Speaking, for me, does not include doing grammar or vocabulary drills.

I propose that each student in a modern language class should speak at least 20 sentences each class.  If a  beginning student says 10 sentences in a two minute period, each student only needs to speak for a total of  four minutes. If students work in pairs, each partner would take four minutes for a total of eight minutes for the two students.   8/40 is 20% of the class. Upper level students can say more sentences in the same time period.

To reach 20 sentences per student, students need to work in pairs.  Students can count their partners’ sentences and provide valuable feedback for improvement.  If we start small by just having students answer basic written questions (Who? What? Where? When? How?…) about a picture and gradually progress  to students  spontaneous speaking about any common topic.

How many sentences does each student say each class in your modern language class?

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