Are your world language students conversing now?

A critical question for world language teachers is “Are my students having a conversation in the target language now?” If students are not conversing in the language, then teachers have to ask themselves, “How can I modify what I am doing so that they can converse in the language?” Vocabulary study is not an end to itself and grammar study is not an end to itself. The sooner that teachers move their students from isolated words and isolated grammar into communication, the soon their students will converse. For example, in terms of verbs, as soon as students learn the first person and the second person of a verb they can begin to converse with a question such as “Do you smoke?” and a response such as “No, I do not smoke.” or a question of “Do you cook?” and a response of “Yes I cook.” When world language teachers teach high frequency verbs that students want to ask questions about and answer, then students will want to communicate. Likewise, vocabulary can be incorporated into questions. For example, for location vocabulary, a student might ask, “Which ice cream store is your favorite?” and the partner can respond. When students ask each other meaningful questions about their world, they communicate in the language. Little mini-conversations can build into big conversations. Are your students conversing in the language now?

Some Spanish activities to help your students move are
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 Spanish Answering Oral Questions Review 1 – Partner Talk   Answer 10 questions with a time period
Spanish Describing School Classes Spontaneous Speaking – Pairs   Speak about class with structured choices – two levels, 49 terms
Spanish AR Verbs Modified Speed Dating Whole Class Speaking   Answer Oral Questions Review 1 – Partner Talk

90% in the Target Language

 

ACTFL says 90% of the teachers and students speaking should be in the target language
1. The world language class is the only time that our students will hear the world language. We need to maximize the amount of world language the students hear.
2. The more language input the students receive, the better they can learn the language (Krashen).
3. If we do 90% of a 40 minute class in the target language, then 36 minutes is completely in the world language (ACTFL).
4. “In most beginning world languages classes (Levels 1 and 2), English is the predominant language” (Burke). Students hear more English in the class than the world language!
5. Code switching (world language <-> English) prevents the students from being completely in the target language. Many classroom activities like English-to-world language flashcards, word translation board games, and translation relays have students use English.

Some metaphors:
–Imagine your students taking one step forward for each time the world language is spoken in the class and one step backward each time English is spoken in the class. How far can your students move forward in your class?
–Each time we teachers speak in the world language, the students’ world language learning becomes brighter; each time we speak in English, the dimmer the students’ world language learning becomes. How bright is your classroom?

Resources:
— 45 +Modern Language and Spanish spontaneous speaking activities for beginning students. Almost entirely in target language. Game like speaking- http://bit.ly.mlcomcult
— 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities
ebook with many speaking and cultural activities  http://bit.ly/tsmash
— Modern Language in-depth cultural investigation activities (4 activities in one pack)- http://bit.ly/mlcult
–Foreign language formative assessment speaking book: http://bit.ly/impfltfa
–Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do ebook http://bit.ly/tsmash

Equal distribution of questions for world language students

Do world language teachers engage all students equally? Do they have an equitable distribution of questions for all students as indicated in the Teacher Expectations and Student Achievement model? The research shows that teachers consistently call on those students with higher ability more often than students of lower ability. (Teacher Expectations for Student Achievement: TESA and GESA, http://schoolfile.org/index_files/u4/tesa.pdf). Those students who do not get called on as often feel inferior to the other students. Often those of lower ability need as much if not more teacher time as students of higher ability.

Teachers can assess if they do equitable distribution by using a paper or online seating chart. Each time they call on a student, the teachers record a slash for that student. At the end of the class, they can analyze if they did call on all students equally. Teachers may ask a colleague to do this observation as teachers do in the TESA model.

Teachers who want to do equitable distribution can use several techniques. In one technique, they use their seating chart. They may start on the left side from the back to front, go on to the next row from back to front, until they have called on all students. Likewise, teachers can write the students’ names on 3×5 cards, mix up the cards, and then call on students based on the card. The teachers do not call on any student a second time until they have called all students. When the teachers have gone through all the cards once, they mix up the cards and continue to ask students questions.

Teachers can vary the type of questions asked to students: yes-no (Do you eat pizza?); either or (Do you drink soda or water?); factual (When do you eat supper?); or evaluation (Why do you eat at Roberto’s?). Teachers can insure that all students can be successful in answering questions by modifying the type of question.

Although technically not equitable distribution by the teacher, simultaneous pair work ensures that all students get equal opportunities to participate.

How do you guarantee equal distribution of questions to all your world language students?

There are many pair language activities at http://bit.ly/mlcomcult for beginning to advanced students. These activities are for all world languages and specifically for Spanish.

Comprehensible Input’s Impact on World Language Learners

If world language teachers do 70% of the class in the target language, then the students hear the language and the students use the language for 70% of the time. If  those teachers use  comprehensible input through gestures, visuals, etc, then the teachers can increase the class to 90% or 100%  of comprehensible input (ACTFL says teachers should talk 90% in the target language). What impact does changing from 70% to 90% have?

In a comprehensible input based classroom where 90% of the classroom is in the target language, each day students hear  and use 20% more language than in a classroom with 70% language, Each week in less than four total classroom days of 90% input, the students have exceeded the amount of language heard and used  in a 70% classroom. By the end of the week, they will have heard 1.4 days more of the  target language.  Within less than a month of 4 weeks, the 90% comprehensible input teachers will have picked up 1.4 x 4 days or 5.6 days extra.  10 months at 5.6 days = 56 additional days of hearing their world  language.These teachers have actually increased the students learning time without increasing the school year.

Do you increase or decrease your students’ opportunity to hear and use the target language?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle,  I have 5 any language  picture speaking activities and 25+ ready-to-use Spanish structured speaking activities  for beginning students (including 5 Can-Do ones); and numerous students-as-investigators cultural activities(modern language culture).  At  http://bit.ly/tsmash, I have two ebooks, Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies and 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities (mainly speaking and culture). At http://bit.ly/tuttlebks, I have a book, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment.

World Language Fantastic 40 Minutes: From Translation to Communication

Students are in a world  language class for forty minutes five times a week or  40 minutes x 5 days = 200 minutes; 200 minutes/ 60 minutes in an hour  = 3.33 hours a school week.  These fantastic forty minutes are the only time that the world  language students can listen to their teachers speak the target language and react to the teachers and the only time the students can communicate in the target language and have other students react. During a five day school week of 120 hours (5 day x 24 hours), the students spend only 2.75% of their time in world language class. That extremely small number means that world language teachers have to maximize communication time in the classroom.

How much target language do your students hear during the Fantastic 40?  How much target language do your students speak during the Fantastic 40?  Could someone mistake your modern language class for an English class due to the large amount of English being spoken?

When world language teachers move from translation activities to communication activities, they move closer to the language goal of producing students who can communicate. Instead of having students play a translation game (one students holds up a card with English on one side and Spanish on the other while the partner says the Spanish for the English),  students can say basic sentences. For colors, the students can say the colors of the objects in the class such as “The door is brown.” or they can change it into a question activity such as “The door is brown, right?” or “Is the door brown?”  The teacher provides the sentence structure and then the students create the sentences that their partner answers/responds to. The students use the colors to describe or ask about their class; they communicate basic information. They use the colors for communication instead of for translation games.

How much world language do you use during the Fantastic 40 in you class?  How much do the students use? Do they use words for communication instead of translation?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle,  I have  5 any language  picture speaking activities; 25+ ready-to-use Spanish structured speaking activities (including 5 Can-Do ones) for beginning students; and numerous Spanish students-as-investigators cultural activities.

At  http://bit.ly/tsmash, I have two ebooks, Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies and 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities (mainly speaking and culture).,

At http://bit.ly/tuttlebks, I have the book,  Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment.

 

Making Modern Language Long Vocabulary Lists into Meaningful Communication

Oftentimes a modern language teacher such as Miss Windber has to teach a long list of modern language vocabulary words such as forty food words to her students. Her students have great difficulty in learning forty words at once. She starts by dividing the food list into categories such as fruits, vegetables, meat, etc.

Miss Windberg prepares an important target language question about food for each  group of seven to nine words. As an illustration, she starts off with the question “What would you like to eat?” then she teaches seven to nine of the category words. After her students quickly practice identifying and saying these words, she has her students get into pairs. Each student asks his/her partner   in the modern language the first category question of “What would you like to eat?” four times. The partner replies with a different answer each time using “I would like to eat (the food)” or “I would not like to eat (the food)”. For the next set of seven to nine words, she introduces another food question such as “How is the ….?” and follows the same pattern. The long vocabulary list is broken into the smaller units and every time the students learn or review an important question for the topic. At the end of the vocabulary lesson, not only do they know the forty words but they can ask and answer questions about food in a mini-conversation.

How do you teach long list of vocabulary words?

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

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

8 Minutes of Every Student Speaking in Each Modern Language Class

I recently did a presentation on improving students’ oral communication through formative assessment and someone asked how much time I spend on having my students speak. in the target language.  My definition of  student speaking in the modern language does not include doing grammar exercises such as “Did you buy the fruit?  Yes, I bought it” where the focus is on the correct verb form. Neither do I include in the category of speaking  vocabulary exercises such as “What do you do with your pen?  I write.”  These sentences do not communicate ideas;they only practice grammar or vocabulary.

My answer to how much the students should be speaking in the modern language class is to  take the percent for the speaking part  on the final and multiple it by the number of minutes in a class. For example, if speaking on your final counts 20%,   then multiple  20%  percent x 40 minutes of class  = at least 8 minutes of speaking per student per class.  When students work in pairs during a conversation, then students can accumulate minutes easily.

If we believe that oral communication is critical and if we want our students to be speakers of the language, then we have to allocate at least eight minutes of  each class  to develop their speaking in the target language. We need to have speaking activities that allow for the exchange of reactions and ideas. When students really communicate with one another, they become very engaged.

For how many minutes do your students speak each class?

90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle
90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities by Harry Grover Tuttle

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://is.gd/tbook

How many courses do I need before I can speak to people in the target country?

The other day in  Spanish class my students were doing a “city” map activity in which they named real places in a city and then gave directions from one place to another in the city. When two males finished the direction activity, they did a high-five since they both could do it.  One of the students asked, “How many Spanish courses do I need before I can talk with people in Mexico?”

He did not say “How many courses do I need before I can use the subjunctive?” or “How many courses do I need before I can use  double object pronouns in a sentence?” He wants to use the language, not study it.

I wonder how well our textbooks teach students to converse with other people.  How well do these books help students to survive in the target language country?  Take a moment and ask yourself,  “What  well can my students now converse with target language people? Can my students participate in an actual conversation that starts at one point and goes to another quickly?  Can my students express their travel needs in a country?”

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 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

Possible Speaking Type Activities To Move Toward Spontaneous Speaking

Welcome to this blog to provide world language / modern language / foreign language teachers with strategies to help their students improve in their communication.

There is a huge gap between  the world language / modern language / foreign language teachers’ desire for their students to speak (converse) in the language and the students’ actual ability to converse  in the language.  I have created numerous activities that help to move the students through scaffolded output to spontaneous speaking. Equally importantly, these activities allow the students to communicate what they want to communicate, not just memorized dialogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (20+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask  a question from a card), Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawing) and Speaking Mats (Can talk using a wide variety of nouns, verbs and adjectives to express their ideas),  Spontaneous Speaking (based on visuals or topics),  and Grammar speaking games. Available for a nominal fee at Teacherspayteachers:  http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle