Effective Routines for Lower Elementary L2 Learners

Routines are…

  • …a good way to help L2 students feel more comfortable in a TL immersion setting.
  • …a great way to repeat target phrases enough times to enable acquisition.
  • …a teacher’s best friend.  It keeps kids on task and cuts down on the amount of original material teachers have to come up with.

Here are some examples of effective routines for lower elementary L2 learners.

1.  Before class starts, line up outside the door.  My students do this routine every time they come to my class.  After their teacher drops them off, the students must stand quietly and look at me.  (Insist on this.  It sets a good tone for the beginning of class.  It tells the students that you expect their attention; that serious learning will take place in your classroom.)  While they are lined up (and before they walk into the room) I have my students repeat these phrases after me in the target language:

“I don’t speak English.”

“I DO speak _______ (name of L2).”

“English: NO”

L2: Yes”

“Goodbye, English!” (and we wave goodbye in the direction they came from down the hall)

“Hello (L2)” (and we wave hello in the direction of the L2 classroom entrance)

And then I give some commands in the TL.  “Important: Silence.  Important: Attention.  Aidan, open the door.  Isabella, follow me.”  And then we walk into the classroom.

2- Tip toe around the edge of the reading rug area.  Once everyone has entered the room and is tip toeing, I say (in the TL), “Count to ___.” (pick whatever number is appropriate for your students.)  Count in the TL together.  When you’ve finished counting, tell the students to sit down.  You should expect the students to sit down with their hands folded and looking at the source of instruction.  Watch me tip toe, and count, with students in this clip.

3- Sing a welcome song or a greetings song.  Make up your own words to the tune of a well known song.  I sing two songs with my students at the beginning of class.  The words (which we sing in the TL) go like this: “Quiet, Quiet. Don’t talk a lot.  Don’t talk a lot.  Quiet, Quiet.  Don’t talk a lot in this class.”  (The purpose of this song is not to discourage TL use.  It’s to discourage speaking L1 at inappropriate times.  You know how little ones can get.)  We also sing, “Hello Class.  We are going to have a fun time learning (L2).”  Pick songs that students can echo.  Avoid wasting time making them memorize words to L2 songs that they’ll never understand.  Keep it simple.  Lot’s of echoing is good.

4- Lights ON lights OFF game.  I show lots of short video clips in my class.  Before and after the video clips we play the Lights ON/OFF game.  Watch me play this game in this video.

5- Analyze ClassDojo.com data.  The classdojo screen is great for foreign language teachers.  Use the number bubbles by each student to review numbers and ask L2 questions like, “Who has more points?  How many points does Aiden have?”  You can also point to the numbers and have students practice identifying them in the TL.  Watch me analyze data with students in this clip.

There are so many more things you can do with lower elementary L2 learners in routines.  Subscribe to this blog to have the latest posts sent to your inbox.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Link to “Effective Routines for Upper Elementary L2 Learners.”

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