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

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

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

Improve your students’ modern language communication and culture awareness through mobile learning tools and apps. Engage your students in these easy to integrate in-class and out-of-class learning in fourteen different mobile categories.  Have them participate in authentic culture.

http://bit.ly/90mlact

 

 

 

 

 

My structured 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 activities for any modern language  such as visual stories with no words (the beach, the city, school, etc.) for two students to role play; the restaurant role play involves four students.

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

Do We Teach Modern Language Survival Skills?

For modern language teachers, an essential question is “What would your students do if they were suddenly transported to the target language area?” This question leads to other questions: “Would they be willing to talk to native speakers?… Would they be able to communicate their basic needs for survival?…Would they be able to communicate personal things to the native speaker and ask the native speaker about personal things?”

A follow up question is “How well do we prepare our students to communicate in the target language?” Do we truly teach them survival skills? An exchange student emailed his mother that he had not learned how to say “Where is the bathroom?” so that was the first thing he looked up on his computer when he got to the target language country.  Another student commented that she wished her teacher had spent more than two minutes on “turn right.. turn left..go straight..two blocks” so that she could follow map directions.

How well can your students communicate their basic survival needs?

My e-book, 90 Mobile Learning Mobile Learning Activities, promotes language communication through fourteen different categories of easy-to-implement  mobile activities.

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

Improving Students’ Modern Language Skills Through Mobile Learning

Recently, I was honored to have a chapter, “Improving Students’ Modern Language Skills through Mobile Learning” published in the Handbook of Mobile Learning. The Handbook covers these major categories: Foundations and Future: Learning and Learning Support; Teaching and Instructional Design; Policies, Administration and Management; and Cases and Perspectives.  While most of the 53 chapters have a review of the literature or are a research study, I selected a different approach. My article suggests a wide variety of  classroom mobile activities  to improve students’ modern language speaking. I focus on speaking since the essence of language learning is to be able to speak the language. I believe that often teachers do not use a new technology such as mobile learning since they cannot envision how the technology will help their students.

After doing that chapter, I expanded my activities into an e-book, 90 Mobile Learning Mobile Learning Activities.

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

Modern Language Speaking Mats (Learning Mats) For Meaningful Conversations

A modern language learning mat or speaking mat allows students to quickly  find words that they want to use to talk about the topic.  These mats derive from the learning mats used for very young children who see an alphabet mat, a numbers mat, an animal mat or for older children such as a states mat.  Foreign language mats usually follow one of two formats: critical words and expressions for several important  topics or  critical words and expressions for a specific topic.

Speaking mats differ from the usual foreign language textbook listing of vocabulary such as classroom words listing. Most textbooks supply just a list of  common nouns such as  “chair”,  “teacher”,  and  “book”.  However, that list probably does not teach the students how to say   “The chair is uncomfortable”, ” The teacher praises me”, or “The  teacher always corrects me” which are expressions the students would want to say.

Most modern language speaking mats organize the topic by categories. For example, a clothing speaking mat may include a category of the  actual clothing, a category of  describing clothing, a category of where clothing can be worn, and a category of asking questions about clothing. The category of  the actual clothing is the smallest category in the speaking mat, on the other hand, the description of clothing category, usually adjectives, is the biggest category since these are the words that students most often want to use in talking about clothing.

The modern language students use the speaking mat as a  quick reference; if they do not know word, they look it up on the speaking mat that has both the foreign language word and the English word. The speaking mat has all the critical words in one location as opposed to a student having to look up each word in a dictionary or to constantly ask the teacher. These foreign language students use the mat to orally express their feelings about clothing and to describe clothing.

For example, modern language students for homework may be asked to prepare ten sentences about clothing.The next day in class they will be prepared to ask their questions or make their statements about clothing. They want to be able to say more than the simplistic “The dress is red” as they talk about movie stars in their dresses; they want to say, “That silk dress does not fit her;  the stripes make her look fat.”

I have prepared some Speaking Mats for Spanish and am working on several more:
Spanish Activities / Sports Spontaneous Speaking Mat – Small Group
Spanish Clothing Spontaneous Speaking Mat – Partner Talk
Spanish Casa /House Spontaneous Speaking Mat – Partner Talk
Spanish Food Speaking Mat

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