My Favorite Activity For Interpersonal Mode (With Links To Handouts)

Over the last several weeks we’ve discussed How To Make The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Two Hands Technique For CI)

I’m excited, now, to share my favorite interpresonal mode activity with links to handouts that you can reproduce (or modify and reproduce if you teach a language other than Spanish).  I call it the:

Info Search Activity

Benefits of the Info Search Activity:

  • Use this activity for all levels of L2 proficiency. (Even novice learners!)
  • The activity can be adapted to help students practice conversing about a wide variety of topics.  (Consider using it at least once during every unit!)
  • All students are engaged.  (Students must talk, listen, read and write in the target language.)
  • All students get to walk around the room.  (No more bored students at their desks!)
  • There’s no excuse to use L1.
  • After the directions are given, there is little need for teacher involvement or supervision.  Teacher can use the time to circulate throughout the room participating or assessing student performance with a rubric.
Get your foreign language students talking with this great interpersonal mode activity!

Get your foreign language students talking with this great interpersonal mode activity!

How does the Info Search Activity work?

Click here for an video/visual explanation of how the activity works.

How to fascilitate the Info Search Activity:

1-  Pass out the directions worksheet (click here to view the Spanish version.  Feel free to translate this into other languages and reproduce for your students.)

2-  On the directions worksheet, students fill out their fake name and any other information you want them to exchange with other students. (i.e. how they feel, their birth date, their favorite food…etc.)

3-  Pass out the data collection sheet (or have it printed on the back side of the directions sheet).  (click here for Spanish version.)

4-  Students walk around the room with their data collection sheet asking each other target language questions in order to complete it..

Helpful tips for giving instructions (in the target language) for this activity:

1-  Fill out the directions worksheet together.  It’s helpful to project a copy of the worksheet on a SMART board to help students know what to fill out.

2-  Model and explain each step.  Circulate throughout the room, after every step of the instructions, to ensure that every student has filled out the directions form correctly.

3-  Write the target conversation on the board and have it printed on their data collection sheet.  This helps students know exactly what they are supposed to say in order to obtain data from their peers.

4-  With all students watching you, model how to collect data.  Pick a confident student.  Ask the student the target questions and record the data onto the SMARTboard copy of the data collection sheet.

5-  After students have watched you use the target language and record the data, pick a confident student to model the steps for recording data.  (Repeat this step with different students until you’re sure that each student knows what to do.)

6-  Practice the target conversation chorally as a class using the Two Hand Method.

7-  Instruct students to stand up and start using the target language to collect data and record it on their sheet.

8-  Circulate throughout the room to help confused students and/or to assess student performance on a rubric.

Remember, you can use this interpersonal mode activity for every unit!  Just change the content of the directions sheet so students can have a fun, engaging way to practice having L2 conversations.

For tips on managing student behavior during this activity click here.

What are other ways you get your students talking in the target language.  Feel free to post your comments below.

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 4)

Sometimes I don’t know how to help novice learners (with almost NO L2 vocabulary foundation) practice language in the interpersonal mode.  I learned a great strategy at a RLRA presentation at ACTFL 2012.  Read below to see how well this activity can work for teaching basic vocabulary (like classroom object nouns).  Keep in mind that you can use the same activity for many different vocabulary units.

Use this activity to help students practice a conversation without having strong vocabulary foundation.

Use this activity to help students practice an L2 conversation without having a strong vocabulary foundation.

1-  Get the materials ready.  On index-sized cards, make a classroom set of pictures and their matching words.  (i.e. a picture of a pencil will be on one flash card and the L2 word for pencil will be on another flashcard.)  Make enough so that each student can have either a picture or one of the matching words.

How to practice the interpersonal mode when students don't even know basic nouns: Try using this conversation 'matching' activity:

Not sure how to practice the interpersonal mode when students don’t even know basic nouns in the TL? Try using this conversation ‘matching’ activity:

2- Here’s how the ‘Find Your Match’ activity goes.

  • Students are randomly giving 1 picture or 1 matching word.
  • All students hold their picture (or word) against their body so no one else can see.
  • Each student must use the target language to find ‘their match.’  Students find their match when they find the person that is holding the flashcard that matches or corresponds to theirs.  (i.e. The student with the L2 word for ‘pencil’ must find the student with the picture of the pencil.  The student with the L2 word for ‘scissors’ must find the student with the picture of the scissors.)
  • Students walk around the classroom asking their classmates the following question in the target language, “Do you have _____?”  (i.e. Do you have a pencil?  or Do you have scissors?)
  • When Student A asks Student B, “Do you have ____?” student B responds with, “Yes,” or, “No” in the target language.
  • If the answer is, “no,” then student A continues his/her search for the match by asking other students, “Do you have ____?”
  • If the answer is, “yes,” then the two students have found their match.  They must sit down quietly together until the rest of the class has found their match.

3- How to give students meaningful directions while staying in the target language.

  1. Make sure the students can pronounce all of the L2 words before you attempt this interpersonal mode activity.  If students don’t know how to say the word for the flashcard that’s in their hand, the activity will breakdown.
  2. Model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity with the help of 4 students.  Ask 4 students to come to the front of the class.  Give them 4 large, sample pictures (the same pictures that will be used in the ‘Find Your Match’ activity).  Have students hold the pictures in front of them so the whole class can see which picture they have.  Show the class that you have a written L2 word that matches one of the 4 pictures.  While the whole class is watching you, put a confused look on your face as you examine your word and the four pictures.  Go up to the first student (who is holding the first of 4 pictures).  Say in the target language, “Do you have ____?” (and say the word that your holding in your hand).  If the student stares at you, repeat the question and tell them to answer with “Yes” or “No” in the target language.  The answer should be “No.”  Go down the line and repeat this until you get the fourth picture which will be the matching picture.  After the 4th student says, “YES,” show excitement because you’ve found your match.  Then grab your “match’s” hand and sit down together to show that all students should sit down quietly until all other students have found their match.
  3. Ask a confident student to model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity with your guidance.  The confident student will repeat all the steps under #2 above.
  4. If the class still looks confused, ask another confident student to model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity.
  5. When it looks like most of the students get the gist of what’s happening, hand out the matching flash cards.  Each student should have one.
  6. Using the two hand method, signal the start of the “Find Your Match” activity.  Repeat, “Do you have ____?  Yes/No.” in the target language over and over so that the students realize that you are doing what they have to do with each other.
  7. Circulate through the room.  Remind students to sit down quietly when they have found their match.  Help the students who are not sure what to do.
  8. When everyone has found their match, consider mixing up the flash cards and starting again.

Thanks to RLRA for this idea.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Part 1 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 2 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 3 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 4 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Using Your Hands During Interpersonal Mode Instruction

It’s hard for novice learners to understand what’s happening when the instructor is staying in the target language.  All of the L2 words and phrases can sound like a jumble of unfamiliar syllables.  One of the most important jobs of a foreign language teacher is to pair those unfamiliar sounds with meaningful extralinguistic input through PAIRING.  Although there are a million things a teacher can do to PAIR, the more limited focus of this post is to share strategies for using your hands to make your instructions for interpersonal mode tasks more meaningful.

One of the biggest tricks that a foreign language teacher can have up her sleeve is: USE FEWER WORDS.  The more words you use the more you risk confusing your novice L2 learners.  So when you’re trying to communicate that…

  • …each student will have a partner and that
  • they will have to practice an L2 conversation that has the 4 following components…

…don’t throw in extra words!  It will be too difficult for novice learners to track with you if you say something like this in the target language: “With a partner, do the following:  Partner 1 says, “Hello.”  Partner 2 says, “Hello.”  Partner 1 says, “What is your name?” Partner 2 says, “My name is _____.”  Partner 1 says, “How are you feeling today?”  Partner 2 says, “I’m feeling _____.”  Both partners say, “Goodbye.”

During that string of instructions, many novice learners will not have the L2 skills to even understand that you are talking about 2 people saying things back and forth to each other. (Remember, it’s easy for novice learners to hear the target language as a jumble of foreign syllables.)  So break it down as easy as you can.  Try doing something like this:

1- Write the target conversation on the board like this:

  • 1- Hello.
  • 2- Hello.
  • 1- What is your name?
  • 2- My name is _____.
  • 1- How are you feeling today.
  • 2- I’m feeling _____.
  • 1- Goodbye.
  • 2- Goodbye.

2- Put your two hands up in the air pretending that each hand is a person.  Hand 1 is Partner 1 and Hand 2 is Partner 2.  Make your hands face each other.

foreign language teaching strategies

how to teach a foreign language by staying in the target language.

3-  Help students know that Hand 1 represents Partner 1 and Hand 2 represents Partner 2.  Do this by making Hand 1 and 2 talk to each other.  Say the word, “One,” in the target language while making Hand 1 talk.  Then say the word, “Two,” while making Hand 2 talk.  Repeat this three or four times.  Students will start making a connection between Hands 1 & 2 and the numbers 1 & 2 on the board written next to some L2 words.

4-  Continue helping students know that Hand 1 represents Partner 1 and Hand 2 represents Partner 2 by having your two hands act out the interpersonal conversation you have written on the board.

5-  Help students practice the conversation by having them raise their two hands like yours.  Repeat steps 3 and 4.  This time, however, have students repeat every word/phrase you say while making their hands 1 & 2 act out the conversation that’s written on the board.

If you follow steps 1 through 5 you will have effectively helped students know that what they are practicing is a conversation between two people.  They know which words Partner 1 should say and which words Parter 2 should say.  You’ve given them a model that allows your instruction to be comprehensible.  Your use of the two hand method has helped you reduce the amount of L2 words you’re saying; increasing the chance that they will understand your instructions.

Now students will be ready to successfully practice the conversation with a partner in class.

This two hand method is also helpful for teaching novice learners what the word, “repeat,” is in the target language.  Sometimes a very young learner will not know what to do if you say (in the TL), “Repeat after me: Red.”  If this is the case, use the two hand method to show that you want them to say the word that you are saying.

  • Stand close to the student.  (Maybe 3 feet apart)
  • Put Hand 1 in front of your mouth and pointing in the direction of the student.  (As if Hand 1 were talking to the student)
  • Say, “Repeat: Red.”
  • Then put Hand 2 closer to the student and point Hand 2 towards yourself.  (As if Hand 2 were talking back to the teacher)

This may help the student understand that you are expecting him to say the word that you are saying.  If the student still does not say the word “red” after you:

  • Keep your 2 hands in the same positions.
  • Put hand 1 in front of your mouth and say, “Red,” and make Hand 2 say, “red” from the direction of the student.
  • Repeat this fairly quickly 3 or 4 times.
  • On the last time, make Hand 1 say, “red,” but make Hand 2 be silent and look at the student as if your saying, “please say what Hand 2 was supposed to say.”
  • After these steps the students should be able to successfully learn that you want him to repeat what you are saying.

Remember, the point of the 2 hand method is to reduce the amount of words you say in the target language; increasing the chance that students will find meaning in your L2 immersion environment.

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).

Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 3)

As a review, if you want novice learners to succeed during your interpersonal mode performance tasks…:

  • …keep the conversations teacher-led and teacher-initiated, at first.
  • …keep the L2 conversations super-simple.
  • …before you ask a student to respond to your L2 target question(s), make sure you’ve modeled the conversation plenty of times.
  • …show engaging, targeted and simple L2 conversations modeled on video. (like these and this)

When you’ve modeled and repeated the target conversation (until the students are almost sick of it), THEN it’s advisable to move past teacher-student conversations and onto student-student conversations.

1-  Start by letting CONFIDENT STUDENTS model the student-to-student target conversation in front of the class.

Don’t start by picking random students to model target conversations.  It’s intimidating and awkward for novice learners to practice a foreign language in front of their peers.  To them, the sounds of the L2 words are funny and strange.  Even if they know how to say the word, there’s a chance that they will feel awkward pronouncing the words in front of friends (since it’s not ‘normal’ or ‘familiar’ to them).  It’s even harder for ‘shy’ students to use the target language in front of their peers.  Always make sure you’re asking novice learners to do things that you are positive they can do well.  It’s important to not embarrass language learners.  Encourage future willingness to participate by doing things that increase student confidence.

By starting with confident students, less confident learners can watch to see what will happen if they stir up the courage to participate.  Reluctant students will watch to see…

  • …how the audience reacts to the student L2 speaker. (are they regarded as cool? dumb? stupid? a teacher’s pet? smart?)
  • …how the audience reacts to any mistakes the L2 speaker makes. (will they get laughed at?  encouraged?)
  • …how the teacher responds if the L2 speaker struggles. (does the teacher yell? smile? encourage? take points off?)
  • …what happens if the L2 speaker does well.
  • …what happens if the L2 speaker does poorly.
  • …etc.

If you want shy students to participate, make sure all students are warmly and genuinely praised for trying, regardless of if they’re successful or not.

2-  Have the target conversation written on the board.

This allows both the model students and the rest of the class to see what they need to say and to know what will be expected of them when it’s their turn.  It also gives the teacher a non-threatening way to prompt the student if he/she get’s stuck (just point to the script).

3-  Give lots of praise and meaningfully reward all students who participate.

Convince every observer that participating in L2 class will be positive, safe, non-threatening and rewarding.  Convince everybody that failure will not be followed with reprimand or any other negative consequence.  If a student is genuinely trying, they should always be encouraged and praised, even if they make mistakes.

4-  Be strict with students who make their peers feel embarrassed for trying.

5-  Eventually have all students, regardless of confidence level, attempt modeling the conversation.

6-  Repeat the target conversation chorally.

Let the students get lots of pronunciation practice.  Remember, their mouths aren’t used to moving in the new ways L2 requires.  Use your two hands as two puppets.  Make hand 1 say what person 1 is supposed to say.  Hand 2 models what person 2 should say.  It helps novice learners know that what’s happening is a L2 conversation.

7-  When students are very comfortable and familiar with the target conversation, allow them to practice without the direct supervision of the instructor.

There are many ways to do this.

  • You can make two lines of students and have them practice the conversation and then slide down the line and practice again with a new partner.
  • Depending on the target vocabulary, you can have students walk around the room writing down information that they discover after they speak in the target language with their peers.  (When is your birthday?  What is your favorite color?  What is your favorite food? How do you feel today?  What is your (fake) name? etc.)
  • You can arrange the desks/tables to put them in groups and practice the conversation with the peers they’ve been assigned to?
  • etc.

How about you?  What are ways that you help students have meaningful practice in the interpersonal mode in the foreign language classroom?  Leave comments below.

Part 1 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 2 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 3 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 4 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

 See what others are saying about Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language.

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com/blog – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

Your voice is valuable! Share your target language teaching experiences!

Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments) and/or #langchat (for general language teaching comments).