Internet Images for World Language Culture

Some ideas from Beers, Maggie. (2001). A media-based approach to developing ethnographic skills for second language teaching and learning. Zeitschrift für Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht [Online], 6(2), 26 pp. Available: https://zif.spz.tu-darmstadt.de/jg-06-2/beitrag/beers2.htm

Instructional materials for modern languages were once limited to one-dimensional textbooks which often presented a static, unproblematic representation of the target language culture (Kramsch, 1988, 1989).

Now the Internet can deliver multi-modal texts from the target language culture that include sound, image, text, and video.

These texts, deemed “authentic” because they are intended for native speakers of the target language, are able to present a dynamic, multifaceted view of the target language culture with up-to-the-minute detail and accuracy. “

– Do your students use one-dimensional textbook cultural images or do they see many different images of a place or event?
– Do your students see and hear the culture through images, texts and videos?
– Do you use authentic images?
– Do the images show multifaceted views of the culture?
– Are the images up-to-the-minute?

May the way you use culture help students to see the oneness of the world.

For cultural activities that actively involve students go to http://bit.ly.mlcomcult and look under culture. Also, there are many cultural activities in 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities.

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Real Life Conversations in World Language, Not Textbook Topic Conversations

World language textbooks do not have real life conversation in any meaningful order. For example, in a college textbook the food unit and the question “How much does it cost?” are in the last chapter covered in the semester. Students wait for over four months to learn the foods and how to say “How much does it cost?”  However, if a person actually went to a world language country that person would have to use food vocabulary and the question “How much does it cost?”  on the first day!  A textbook topic such as “the classroom” is not critical to a real life conversation and yet is is often a very early chapter in many tesxtbooks.  Many textbooks use  topics that do not produce real life common language conversation; these textbooks prevent students from being able to have a realistic conversation with someone outside the classroom.

Do your students learn critical vocabulary for real-life conversations or do they learn vocabulary for classroom based conversations?

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

Communicative or Grammar Textbook Focus: Look at the Grammar

A test of a modern language textbook’s communicative ability is to look at what the book has students do with the grammar after the textbook presentation of the grammar point. For example a Spanish textbook may supply the forms of the verb ser and then give the rules for using ser. The book may give one or two examples of origin such as “I am from Argentina.” Or they make have a sentence or two example to show that ser is used with occupations such as “Sr. Ríos es dentista”. The book may explain ser being used for identification with a sentence such as “It is a backpack.

Does the book provide the modern language students with enough vocabulary to be able to talk about themselves, family or friends using the verb? Does the textbook provide the critical questions that students might ask using that verb? For example, does it provide the students with “Where are you from?” for origin? Do it provide the question “What is this?” so students can ask the question of identifying something? Furthermore, does the book give numerous countries so students can tell what country they, their parents or grandparents are from so they can realistically answer the question? For occupations, does the book provide numerous occupations so the students can say the actual occupation of family and friends? For identification, do the students have a list of classroom objects so when someone says “What is this?” they can respond, “It is a book”? with things they do see in the classroom?

If the textbook does not supply essential questions or realistic answers for the modern language students to apply the grammar to talk about their own lives or the lives of family and friends, then the book’s focus is grammar, not communication.

Does your textbook have a communicative or grammatical focus?

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle,  I have 30+ ready-to-use activities (about 24 for Spanish and 6 for all Modern Language) to develop student speaking through highly structured or scaffolded, speaking. Students work in pairs to communicate.

My ebook ,Modern Language Proficiency: Can-Do Strategies is available at  http://bit.ly/tsmash.  It contain many activities to help students advance through the Can-Do statements with half the activities focusing on interpersonal communication/ speaking.

At http://bit.ly/tpthtuttle, there are four modern language culture inquiry activities and one Spanish culture inquiry activity.  My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities ebook contains many cultural activities, http://bit.ly/tsmash

My Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment and a general Formative Assessment book are available at http://www.routledge.com/books/search/author/harry_grover_tuttle/

What Can Your Modern Language Students Do in Terms of Real-Life Communication?

As I prepare for my Spring semester,  I am asking myself for each chapter in the textbook “What can the students do after learning this unit?”  Unfortunately, the most common answer is to “talk about the topic” .  How real world is their learning? As  I think about the school chapter (classes, things in the school, parts of the classroom), I realize that the topic is one that relates to students but I wonder how often will they use these vocabulary words, phrases and questions outside of school?  How important is it to daily life outside of the school in the target language country?  Most modern language travel books do not even include school as a topic.

Maybe we should rethink the topics in textbooks to better prepare our students to actually be in another country.  What topics are truly important for students to be in a target language country? For example, NCSSFL-ACTFL  Can Do Statements include in the Novice Mid level “I can ask and understand how much something costs”.  When do your student learn “how much something costs” in your curriculum?  Mine occurs in the fifth or last chapter we cover.  How does that match up with what students would need to know if they were in another country? Let’s move from academic modern language to real world modern language for our students!

How does your textbook match up with real world modern language use?

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

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

Modern Language Textbooks Focus on Grammar, not Communication

I believe that our modern language textbooks are really just grammar textbooks in disguise. Here’s some reasons

1)  Most of the conversation or dialogues in the textbook are structured  to teach/practice the grammar.  These conversations do not have a natural flow as real life conversation do. Verification: Ask a  native speaker if she or he would actually say that conversation.

2) Most textbooks have more pages devoted to grammar than to communication. In one text there were twice as many pages devoted to teaching/ practicing grammar than to communication exercises or even vocabulary. Often the communication exercises were simply meant to practice the grammar.  Verification:  If no one cares about the answer, then the questions are probably grammar exercises.

3) Most textbooks have many identification nouns, few verbs and even much fewer adjectives so students cannot express their feelings about the topic.  Textbooks often teach a group of verbs only when they demonstrate a grammatical point such as stem changing verbs, reflexive  or preterite irregular verbs.  Most textbooks do not give students a wide range of adjectives so that the students can actually talk about the topic.  For example, one textbook has a unit on classes but only uses the verb  “is”; students cannot communicate much about classes. Verification: If students in a  beginning language class are studying classes, can they tell what they like or dislike about each class such as “”The test is hard, The teacher gives too much homework. We never use computers in class.”

Is your textbook really a grammar book or does it focus on communication?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (28+) includes Structured Speaking (Students substitute in or select words to communicate in pairs), Modified Speed Dating (Students ask partner a question from a card-whole class), 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), Role Playing (Students talk as people in pictures or drawings from 2-4 people), 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

Replacing the Modern Language Textbook with QR Codes: The Advantages

In another blog, I argued how textbooks can be replaced with QR codes.  I think that modern language classroom is an ideal place to replace the textbook with QR codes.

The advantages to QR code -based modern language learning:
– With QR codes, teachers can link  to a comprehensive list of vocabulary for a given topic. The teachers can indicate critical vocabulary and useful vocabulary.  Some  textbooks introduce certain fruits in one unit and, then, more fruit in another unit.  Many textbooks have only a partial list of vocabulary for a topic even when it is the only unit for that topical vocabulary.  Many textbooks do not include verbs, adjectives, and typical sentences when they present the  noun vocabulary list  for a topic. The teachers may link to various language apps that not only illustrate the word but show it in English and the target language.
– With QR codes, foreign language  teachers can link to videos that  introduce and review grammar  in diverse ways.  The educators can have QR codes that link to different types of online grammar practice.  The educators are not limited by the textbook’s manner of presenting or reviewing grammar.
– With QR codes, modern language  teachers can link to audio or video files of native speakers who are talking about important topics.  Either the teachers or the students can record the native speakers as they talk about such things as family, eating, weekends. These conversations are authentic conversations, not ones designed to teach a particular grammar point.  Likewise the teachers can link to radio or TV shows from the target area.
– With QR codes, foreign language teachers can link to current or past cultural events in the target language country.  Students can learn about the culture as it happens as opposed to waiting for the textbook to possibly cover it in a future unit. The teachers can use QR codes to show what is happening at this very moment in the target language country.
– With QR codes, the modern language teachers can link to  pictures or videos that serve as speaking prompts or the basis for a conversation.  These same pictures or videos can serve as writing prompts.  The teachers select  target language cultural pictures.  For example, students look at a family having a  Sunday picnic in Tijuana, México.
– With QR codes, the foreign language teachers can link to quick formative assessments that students take in just a few minutes to demonstrate their achievement of some learning goal.
– With QR codes, modern language teachers can link to target language reading such as  the news,  magazine articles, and  literature.  They can have the students read authentic materials.  Students can select which aspect of the news they want to read about  such as  sports, TV, politics, and food.

Why not try a mini-QR code lesson  to see how engaged in the target language the students become?

My Spanish spontaneous speaking activities (25+) includes Modified Speed Dating (Students ask their  partners 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.  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