If you’re concerned about how to manage student behavior in the 90+% TL classroom, there’s one thing that you MUST get right: PAIRING incomprehensible L2 input with compelling and comprehensible extralinguistic input.
Here are the key tips for PAIRING that we’ve discussed so far:
- Use Fewer Words – Don’t use unnecessary L2 words.
- Keep Students Attention and Increase Student Motivation– Students have to be watching the source of instruction (output).
- Only Short ‘Deciphering Periods’ – The topic of today’s post.
It’s important to realize that most students can’t sustain on-task behavior, in an immersion setting, for extended amounts of time. Being in an L2 environment can be stressful, confusing and discouraging. Only highly motivated language learners can sustain an effort to interpert their foreign surroundings for extended amounts of time. So it’s important to…
…have ‘deciphering periods’ that last only 3-5 minutes.
What do I mean by ‘deciphering periods’? It’s the time a student is bravely trying to figure out what is happening when they’re being exposed to new content. During deciphering periods…:
- …a teacher is introducing new content.
- …students are unfamiliar with content.
- …the meaning of content is uncertain. (since it’s being introduced in L2 immersion setting)
- …students may tend to feel more stress. (because of the uncertainty and unfamiliarity)
- …the probability of students giving up, and disengaging from the source of instruction, increases.
Because students are vulnerable during deciphering periods, it’s important to keep those times short. After a student has invested energy into figuring out (or decifering) target vocabulary, follow up with a low-stress activity. Low-stress activities can include:
- Watching engaging video clips in the TL. (Spanish examples) (French examples) (It’s helpful to choose video clips that reteach, or model, the content you’ve just finished introducing.)
- Participating in review activities or tasks, which have been explained and mastered in the past.
- Doing some kind of individual seat work. Ensure that the task is simple and that student success is anticipated.
If you pattern the flow of your class time with plenty of SHORT ‘deciphering periods’ broken up by low-stress (non-threatening) activities, students will stay more engaged in an L2 immersion environment.
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