Introducing New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (part 3 – modeling)

You don’t have to use L1 to introduce new vocabulary to foreign language students.  Instead, stay in the target language by using any of the following techniques:

It’s important to make language learning meaningful.  Don’t rob students of the joy of meaningful language acquisition by introducing vocabulary using L1.  When you start teaching language by using L1, you make language class about skills introduction, skills practice and skills assessment.  Teaching and practicing skills won’t be very fun unless you teach a class full of language nerds.  Instead, make language learning meaningful.  Introducing vocabulary AND staying in the target language not only has the potential to make make class more fun, but students will be able to retain more L2 for longer amounts of time. (see this post on why we should make students’ experiences of L2 meaningful)

One way to effectively introduce new target language vocabulary AND stay in the target language is by providing models or demonstrations of how L2 is used.

If I were to use modeling to introduce new vocabulary, here’s what I would try (and also what I’d be thinking in my head).

1- Keep students from getting lost.  It’s easy for students to get “lost” if you introduce unfamiliar words and phrases in the target language.  Sometimes listening to unfamilar L2 content can feel disorienting and unsettling.  To keep them from getting lost, ensure that you clearly communicate what the purpose of your instructional activities are.

If L2 immersion feels like wandering in a dark room, explicit and comprehensible performance objectives has the effect of handing your students a flashlight.

Students will be able to navigate the L2 immersion environment more effectively if they know exactly what you’re trying to teach them.  This is very important.  It gives the students a target to aim for.  It gives them an anchor to hold on to.

2- Students need to know what the performance objective for the day is.  In other words, they need to know what I’m trying to teach them on a given day and what I’m expecting them to learn.  I do this by writing the word, “IMPORTANT” on the board (in the target language) in big red letters.  Next to the L2 word for “IMPORTANT,” I write down the target phrases, words and/or sentences they need to know for the day’s performance tasks.

3- Always have the target vocabulary/phrases/questions posted conspicously while you are modeling L2 or showing models of L2 being used.  I frequently refer to the posted target phrases throughout the time that I am introducing the new content.  This helps students stay focused.

4- Give a demonstration or MODEL of how you want the L2 words/phrases/questions to be used.  If you are giving them language they can use in an interpersonal mode setting (for example), MODEL the language in a conversation.

5- Typically I start with a MODEL that is fun and attention getting.  I might use a video that I’ve made like this (for introducing the L2 for “How old are you?” or “When is your birthday?”) or this (for introducing L2 colors).  French teachers can try rythmic chants like these from RLRA.  There are many resources online.  You don’t need to make your own.

6- I realize that students are going to need repeated exposure to the new vocabulary.  Sometimes I forget that the first several times I introduce a word (or a phrase) the L2 sounds like jibberish to my students.  In order for the content to start sounding itelligible, I need to give them meaningful and repeated exposure.

7- Here are some ways I repeat the L2 modeling without boring the students.

  • I use the two hand method for modeling.
  • I show other videos of people modeling the new L2 content. (check out this resource from University of Texas at Austin.)
  • I might ask some heritage speakers in my class to model.
  • I might show the same 4 seconds of a video 7 times in a row.  It has the effect of making the students laugh because it’s repeated so much.  It also lets them hear the target word/phrase so many times that it starts getting stuck in their head.
  • If I make my own video or presentation for modeling, I make sure I repeat the target content several times. (click here for a video example)

How about you?  What are ways that you introduce new vocabulary in the target language by using modeling?  Leave 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).

Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (part 2 – “circling”)

You don’t have to use L1 to introduce new vocabulary to foreign language students.  Instead, stay in the target language by using any of the following techniques:

I recently watched a FLENJ webinar with Joshua Cabral as the presenter.  He talked about “circling” as a great way for introducing new vocabulary AND staying in the target language.  The big point of his whole webinar was how to make language acquisition meaningful.  (It was really good.  See my notes/reflections here.)

Joshua Cabral would ask, “why have students repeat a new vocabulary word 5 times when you can introduce the same word 5 times meaningfully by using the “circling” strategy?”

“Circling” is a thoroughly developed, well documented TPRS strategy.  I don’t have the skill to introduce the strategy comprehensively.  But Joshua’s brief, simple tips can go a long way in helping a foreign language teacher introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language.

  1. Show a picture of the vocabulary word you are introducing. (i.e. an airplane)
  2. Ask a question that get’s a “yes” or “no” answer. (i.e. “Is this an airplane?”)
  3. Ask an either/or question.  (i.e. “Is this an airplane or a train?”)
  4. Ask a question requiring a negative response. (i.e. “This is a train, right?”)
  5. Ask a question that requires a one-word answer. (i.e. “What color is the airplane?”)
  6. Ask an open ended question.  (i.e. “Where can you travel in an airplane?”)

Joshua also says that:

  • Circling gets students to think in the target language.
  • When new words are presented in context the chances for retention/acquisition increase.
  • You don’t have to use all 5 circling questions types all the time.  You know your students.  Use any or all of them and develop a routine that words well for your students to discover new L2 words in meaningfully and in context.

Joshua wrote a post on this topic here.

Remember: when you introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language it provides students with so many opportunities to learn L2 easily (and even accidentally.  Stay in the target language and they will learn things that you haven’t even tried to help them learn.  Stay in the target language and you’ll help them produce “L2 Fruit” independently, creatively and for years to come.

 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).

Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (“i+1”)

It can be done.  There are many different ways to introduce new L2 vocabulary while staying in the target language.  Stay tuned to this blog (over the next few Tuesday’s) for posts on…

…how to introduce new vocabulary AND stay in the target language.

1- Use What They Know To Help Them Progress (“i+1”)

This method is simple and extremely effective.  (Watch a video clip of Señor Howard modeling this technique with some simple Spanish words.)  Let’s say, for example, that students know the L2 colors.  Now you can easily teach any L2 noun by displaying 2 different pictures of the same noun but in different colors.  Like this:

"Red Bird"

Picture 1 – RED BIRD  (There are a lots of ways to teach new vocabulary WHILE staying in the target language.)

 

"Green Bird"

Picture 2 – GREEN BIRD (Use two pictures, like these, to introduce new vocabulary AND stay in the target language.)

Here are some examples of how you can introduce new vocabulary using these two pictures:

  • Teacher says, “Michael, stand up.  Point to the RED bird.” (Interpretive Mode)
  • Teacher points to the green bird and says, “Michael, is this the RED bird.” (Interpersonal Mode)
  • Teacher says, “Class, which is the RED bird?  Picture 1 or Picture 2?”
  • Teacher says, “Michael what color is THIS bird?” (teacher is pointing to one of the pictures).  If the student needs is stuck, ask this follow up question, “Is THIS bird GREEN or is THIS bird RED?”
  • Teacher puts the pictures at opposite ends of the room.  Teacher says, “Class point to the RED bird.”  Teacher says, “Class point to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Michael, stand up and walk to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Boys, stand up and walk to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Girls, stand up and walk to the RED bird.”  Teacher says, “Boys, SIT DOWN.”  Teacher says, “Girls, SIT DOWN.”

The principle is this: use what the students already know to help them acquire new L2 vocabulary.  The principle comes from Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis.  Krashen says a learner will acquire language when they receive L2 input that is ONE STEP beyond his/her current stage of linguistic competence.  (This principle is commonly reffered to as “i+1” in the foreign language teaching profession.)

When you introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language it provides students with so many opportunities to learn L2 easily (and even accidentally.  Stay in the target language and they will learn things that you haven’t even tried to help them learn.  Stay in the target language and you’ll help them produce “L2 Fruit” independently, creatively and for years to come.

 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).

No Duct-Taping L2 Fruit On The Foreign Language Proficiency Tree

A grower’s ambition is to cultivate her fruit trees so that they produce plentiful fruit for years to come.  And that’s the goal we have for our foreign language students: we want them to grow, mature and blossom; bearing healthy L2-fruit, not just in the classroom, but in their future workplaces and communities.  Whenever our students show evidence of L2-fruit on their outstretching language branches, we celebrate their steps towards target language acquisition.

How do we ensure our language students will bear healthy L2 fruit for years to come?

How do we ensure our language students will bear healthy L2 fruit for years to come?

Unfortunately, some of the methods used in our profession reveal a misunderstanding of the way L2-fruit is produced.  Instead of providing instruction that fosters natural and independent L2-fruit production, we take pieces of L2 fruit and try to duct tape them onto our students’ branches.  Learners will have a hard time producing healthy, lasting L2-fruit when our primary work is:

  • facilitating the memorization of uncontextualized vocabulary lists.
  • modeling how to use a foreign language grammar reference book to successfully conjugate verbs on their homework.
  • giving out word searches and crossword puzzles for ‘foreign language fun time’.
  • practicing verb conjugation raps from YouTube that help memorization but leave the students unsure of what to do when it comes to applying the skill during a conversation task.
  • conducting conversation activities that are motivated by a need to practice isolated skills rather than a purpose to engage in meaningful communication.

These efforts might allow students to display some L2 knowledge for a test or classroom activity.  However, it’s quickly evident that it doesn’t produce lasting L2 fruit.  (How many times have you heard an adult say, “I don’t remember anything from my high school language courses?”)

We must stop duct-taping L2-fruit on students’ foreign language branches and start focusing on their foreign language root system.

I’ve changed my focus.  For almost three years I’ve started following ACTFL’s recommendation of staying in the target language for over 90% of class time.  (Side note: speaking in the target language doesn’t magically make your students acquire the target language.  Unless you effectively PAIR incomprehensible L2 with meaningful, compelling and corresponding extralinguistic input, you’ll be wasting your time.)

Since I’ve made the switch, my students surprise me by what they can do with the language:

  • Today I told students that we are in the month of November and a 4th grader raised his hand and said (in the target language,) “My birthday is in November.”  Perfect sentence structure.  Correct form of the verb.  The last time we formally discussed that phrase in a lesson was10 months ago when he was in 3rd grade.
  • A 1st grader got excited that she beat a fellow student in around the world (to practice identifying numbers).  The boy next to her forgot to sit down after he was beaten.  She looked at him pridefully and said (in the target language), “Sit down.”  (We’ve never formally practiced that word).
  • My kindergarten students (whom I’ve seen for less than 240 minutes of instruction) come into the classroom and start tip toeing around the reading rug.  I say (in the target language), “Class, count to 10,” and they do.
  • Today my fourth graders were shouting at me in unison (in the target language), “It’s not for Adam.  It’s for Nehemiah!” because I was giving the pen to the wrong person.
  • We pass out papers, split up into groups, explain the instructions to games, administer formal assessments using Turning Technology data collection devices, and more ALL IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE.
  • Click here to watch video demonstrations of how I teach my students while staying in the target language.

It’s working!  Students are producing L2 spontaneously and creatively.  They don’t need L2-fruit duct-taped to their branches.  Their root system is developing.  They are producing fruit on their own.

Just like with fruit trees:

1- There is a dormant/silent period when L2 learners are immersed in a foreign language environment.  Don’t expect students to produce fruit right away.  Fruit trees don’t.  It takes several seasons for fruit to develop.  While the students are in their ‘silent’ period:

2- Don’t be discouraged if you start out with a low-yielding fruit output.  Fruit trees gradually produce more and more fruit with each season.  Don’t lose hope.  Keep focusing on the ‘root system’ by staying in the target language and making incomprehensible L2 input meaningful through PAIRING.

It’s being done.  Foreign language teachers are staying in the target language and effectively making input comprehensible.  Their students are producing L2 creatively and spontaneously inside and outside of the classroom.  Check out the writings from language professionals like these:

What about you?  What are your success stories?  How are you focusing on the root system to ensure your students are producing long lasting L2-fruit?  Leave 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).