Minimize Transitions to Gain 5 weeks of Modern Language Learning

One of the ways to save time in the modern language classroom is to minimize the  transition time between activities. If a teacher does five activities during the class and there is a minute transition between each activity, then the teacher has lost five minutes per class. Five classes a week times five minutes per class is twenty five minutes lost each week. Twenty five minutes per week times forty weeks of school  equals 1,000 minutes; 1,000 minutes divided by forty minutes (a class) is 25 classes or five weeks of school!

Transition time may be lost in the classroom due to the teacher having to hand out material, rearrange the room, collect materials back  or the students having to regroup themselves, get material from their notebook,  or move to a different location. For example, the teacher may have to give each student a  card before the students can do an activity. The students may have to  get up and go to the section of the room that represents their group number.

Teachers can minimize transition time.  When students enter the classroom, they go to the desk nearest the door and pick up a card that they will need for a classroom activity. The teacher makes the  card activity one of the first activities they do and  when the students leave they return the card to the desk. Likewise, students may be in the same group for multiple days to avoid the time in regrouping students each day.  In a similar manner, a teacher may have groups and their locations listed on a PowerPoint screen as the students enter the class. In addition, instead of students moving from one location to another many times during the class, they can stay at one location and progress from a vocabulary activity to a sentence creation activity at that location. Futhermore, the teacher can have a packet for each student with all the various materials for the day.The teacher spends time before the class in preparing these packets but then the students quickly move from one activity to another by going through the packet. As they finish the activity, they move the material for that activity to the bottom of the packet. At the end of class, they hand in the packets as they leave the class.

Modern language teachers can increase the amount of learning time by minimizing the transition time in the modern language classroom.

How much time do you spend in transition time?

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

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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

Timed Fluency for Students’ Modern Language Speaking Improvement

One measure of fluency is the number of sentences per minute.  To assess the student’s fluency, the evaluator counts the number of sentences during a specific time period such as one minute, two minutes, three minutes, etc.  Mr. Pilo, a modern language teacher, easily teaches  his students to peer assess each other as they say sentences.  He  tells the students to count the sentences that he says during a minute.  After he talks for a minute, he has students tell how many sentences they heard.  He talks again but this time he includes two non-sentences such as “She downtown” and “To walk to the store”.  He verifies that the students counted the complete sentences and not the incomplete ones. In addition, he tells students to only count sentences that are comprehensible and meaningful.

Next, he has students get in pairs.One student becomes Student A and the other becomes Student B.  Student A talks about a topic he gives them while Student B counts the number of sentences by making a slash (/).  At the end of the minute, Student B counts the slashes and tells Student A how many sentences he/she said.  They reverse roles and Mr. Pilo gives a second topic.

Since students know how many sentences that they said, they can work on improving their fluency. Mr. Pilo gives suggestions and elicits suggestions from the high performing students.  The students  practice these improvements and then practice speaking for short period of times many times during a week. The students keep track of their fluency on a simple two row chart; the top row  has spaces for the date and the bottom row  has spaces for the number of sentences said.  The students see that they  increase in their fluency.

How do you frequently measure your students’ speaking fluency?

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at http://bit.ly/90mlact.

I have developed 27  Spanish activities  and 4 Modern Language Visual activities that allow students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to begin 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