Top 10 Lists…

To commemorate 100 posts published on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language, here are some Top 10 (and 15) Lists. In other news, I’ll be taking some time off from publishing these posts every Tuesday. Click here if you care to contribute opinions, comments and feedback regarding the future of this blog on a survey.

Top 10 Most Shared Posts:

  1. How To Avoid “Freaking Out” Novice L2 Learners When Staying In The Target Language
  2. How Not (I Repeat: NOT) To Assess The Progress Of L2 Students In A 90+% Target Language Classroom
  3. Debunking 5 “Teaching In The Target Language Myths”
  4. Debunking 5 MORE “Teaching In The Target Language Myths”
  5. A Common Teaching In The Target Language Mistake
  6. No Duct-Taping L2 Fruit On The Foreign Language Proficiency Tree
  7. Management Strategies For The 90+% Target Language Classroom: Increase Student Motivation
  8. My Favorite Activity For Interpersonal Mode (With Links To Handouts)
  9. “They Look At Me Weird” – Dealing With The Awkwardness Of Using L2
  10. 37 Links To Online Resources For “Teaching In The Target Language”

Top 15 Most Helpful Posts For Teachers Who Want To Start Teaching In The Target Language

  1. The First Week Of Staying In The Target Language With Your Students
  2. Q/A: What To Do On The First Week Of Class & When To Use L1
  3. What To Say In The Target Language On The First Day Of Class – Novice L2 Learners
  4. How To Manage Student Behavior & Stay In The Target Language: Increase Motivation
  5. Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
  6. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8)
  7. Assessing A Student’s Progress In A “90+% Target Language Use” Classroom
  8. Turning Tedious Tasks Into Teaching In The Target Language Triumphs
  9. When District Expectations Make It Hard To Teach In The Target Language
  10. 90+% Target Language Use: How To Respond To Administrative Pushback
  11. Dos and Don’ts For Handouts In The 90+% Target Language Classroom
  12. Effective Routines For Upper Elementary L2 Learners
  13. Effective Routines For Lower Elementary L2 Learners
  14. Overcoming The Obstacles To Making Input Comprehensible
  15. How My Walls Help Me Stay In The Target Language

Top 10 Posts To Read If Your Students Resist Instruction In The Target Language:

  1. How To Avoid “Freaking Out” Novice L2 Learners When Staying In The Target Language
  2. “My Students Don’t Feel Comfortable When I Spend Long Amounts Of Time Teaching In The Target Language.”
  3. “Ahhh! How Am I Supposed To Give Activity Directions In The Target Language”
  4. My First Successful “Staying In The TL” Lesson
  5. Interpretive Mode – Build A Reluctant Student’s Confidence
  6. Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
  7. ClassDojo.com & Teaching In The Target Language
  8. “They Look At Me Weird” – Dealing With The Awkwardness Of Using L2
  9. My “Staying In The Target Language” Story/Journey (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
  10. Helping Students NOT Feel Dumb/Stupid/Embarrassed

Top 15 Most Practical Posts:

  1. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Have” & “To Want” Verbs
  2. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Introducing “To NOT Want”
  3. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Teaching How Change In Quantity Affects The L2 Sentence
  4. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Eat” Future Tense
  5. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Eat” Past Tense
  6. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Listen” & “To Like” Verbs
  7. Step By Step Guide For Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Go” Future, Past & Present Tense
  8. Using Your Hands During Interpersonal Mode Instruction
  9. My Favorite Activity For Interpersonal Mode (With Links To Handouts)
  10. Blindfolded – 5 Tips For Using A Blindfold In Your Foreign Language Classroom
  11. Lionel Messi & A Quick Tip For Staying In The Target Language
  12. Quick Tips: 4 Ideas For Getting Your Students To Use The Target Language
  13. Quick Pics Tip: How To Mention “Happy New Year” With Novice L2 Learners
  14. Technology To Help You Teach In the Target Language: EDpuzzle
  15. You Gotta See This Resource From Post-Primary Languages Initiative

Top 8 Most Reflective/Thoughtful Posts:

  1. How Not (I Repeat: NOT) To Assess The Progress  Of L2 Students In A 90+% Target Language Classroom
  2. Bad Oatmeal & A Simple, Sort Explanation Of How To Stay In The Target Language With Novice Students
  3. What I Learned About Comprehensible Input From My Crawling Infants
  4. The Vocab List Analogy
  5. No Duct-Taping L2 Fruit On The Foreign Language Proficiency Tree
  6. Language To Language OR Language To Living
  7. Being In Diapers And Staying In The Target Language
  8. “They Look At Me Weird” – Dealing With The Awkwardness Of Using L2

Top 10 Nerdiest Posts

  1. Why Do I “Use Fewer Words?” …Input Has Quantitative Qualities
  2. “Why Aren’t They Getting This?” – Input: Multiple Forms & ICI
  3. Forms Of Input – Linguistic & Extralinguistic
  4. Forms Of Input – Representational Input
  5. Forms Of Input – Gesticulated Input
  6. Forms Of Input – Constructed Situational Input
  7. Forms Of Input – Incidental Situational Input
  8. Forms Of Input – Inflectional Input
  9. The Key: “Pairing”
  10. Overcoming The Obstacles To Making Input Comprehensible

Top 10 Posts With Video Demonstrations:

  1. What To Say In The Target Language On The First Day Of Class – Novice L2 Learners
  2. Video Recording: 1st Graders Learning Days Of The Week & Colors In The Target Language
  3. Video Recording: 5th Graders Learning “To Be” Verb Conjugations In The Target Language
  4. Video Recording – Comprehensible L2 Immersion Environment
  5. Senor Howard’s Video & Why He Does What He Does (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
  6. Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (“i+1)
  7. Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners
  8. Demo Lesson On Video: Cinco De Mayo
  9. Demo Lesson On Video: 2014 World Cup
  10. You Gotta See This Resource From Post-Primary Languages Initiative

Thanks for reading!

Señor Howard

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

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com – @calhwrd

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

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).

ClassDojo.com & Teaching In The Target Language

A language teacher from Pennsylvania recently asked me a question about using ClassDojo.com.

classdojo staying in the target language

Although I don’t imagine that it would be an effective resource in every setting (or with every age group), it is a HUGE part of what I do with my students.  (It’s so huge that I was pulling out my hair trying to keep student’s on task for an hour last year when our district servers went down and I couldn’t access the website!  hahaha!)

Here are some reasons why it works so well in my “90+% target language use” classroom.

1- The sound effects give my students comprehensible feedback regarding their behavior.

If you’re familiar with the website, you know that each student is assigned an avatar/cartoon/monster/character.

classdojo senorhoward

Each student’s avatar gains and loses points based on their behavior.  Teachers can elect to have a sound effect accompany the gain or loss of any point.  Those sound effects are key for me because my novice students won’t understand my L2 corrective phrases and sentences.  However, when they hear a “BOOM” (and see that their avatar has lost a point) they immediately get the idea that their behavior is off-task and won’t be accepted in my classroom.  9 times out of 10 I can redirect off task behavior at the click of a button; without needing to say a word.

Furthermore, I like the sound of the positive sound effect: “DING.”  Whenever a student gets a point, the “ding” makes them feel proud and motivates my young learners to want to do well.

2- The students and I love using L2 to discuss points accumulation and numbers identification.

Sometimes, when there’s a few minutes to kill at the end of class, I’ll randomly choose a student and they will have to say all of the L2 numbers that I point to on the ClassDojo homescreen.  I love doing this because my youngest students are masters at counting but start stumbling when I ask them to say a random number that I point to.

Often we will also talk about which student has the most points.  We talk about it so much that even my 2nd graders can ask and answer complete L2 sentences like, “How many points does Roger have?” and “Who has the most points?”

Whenever I see a student get excited about earning a point, I take the opportunity to use the Two-Hand Method to teach them to say, “Look Sr. Howard! I have 8 points!”

3- My end of the month ClassDojo.com routine.

The student that accumulates the most ClassDojo points in any given month receives a prize.  Then we reset the points to zero and start the new month fresh.

At this point I like to practice the L2 months in a meaningful way.  I say something in the target language like, “we have to say goodbye to all the points because we are saying goodbye to _______ (i.e. August, December).”  Then I have the students say, “Goodbye points,” and I reset the point bubbles.  Then I sing a “goodbye to the month” song.  Then we say goodbye to all the months that have passed in the school year so far.  By the end of the year students know all of the months without ever having to complete a formal thematic unit on the months of the year.

4- It helps me keep the students’ attention.

It doesn’t take long for novice students to disengage when they hear incomprehensible L2.  This is a very important point because, if a novice student isn’t watching the source of instruction, there’s ALMOST NO WAY that L2 will be acquired. (Since *pairing will not be occurring.)  With this in mind, a teacher needs to do everything he can in order to maintain the attention of his students.  ClassDojo.com helps me toward this end.  The sounds are attractive (at least to young students).  The avatars are attractive.  The idea that a student has their name up on the screen (and that they’ve chosen their avatar) is attractive.  It encourages them to watch what’s happening at the front of the classroom.

5- I can use it throughout the class period.

Some teachers ask me, “So do you just enter the ClassDojo data at the end of each class period?”  And I say, “No.  I enter the information throughout every portion of the class.”

I can enter the data onto any mobile device. (Just download the free app)  This is handy if I’m showing the students a video clip.  I can have the class list open on the ClassDojo app and be giving students points for paying attention or using the target language while their watching the video.  It’s also handy if the students are walking around the room doing some kind of interpersonal mode activity.  I can circulate throughout the room and record ClassDojo data on my mobile device.

I can quickly switch between windows/screens using the computer keyboard, wireless mouse or SMARTboard screen.  Let’s say we’re doing an activity using power point and a student knocks my socks off with an amazing L2 answer/contribution.  I can easily switch screens and give any amount of points to communicate that I’m very pleased.  In that moment every student WANTS to make the same positive contribution because they see how richly I rewarded the exemplary behavior.

6- I can use the ClassDojo reports.

  • I can print an individual student’s behavior report and send it home.
  • I can invite parents to sign up to receive live behavior updates.  I can also send messages to parents through the website without compromising my personal contact information.
  • I can run whole class reports and use them to award prizes at the end of the year.
  • I can run student reports at the end of each marking period and use them as a performance assessment.
  • I can have an objective count of how many points a student has lost and assign detentions accordingly
  • etc.

How to make ClassDojo.com more attractive to older students:

You may want to avoid using ClassDojo with older students to avoid making them feel childish.  But there are some things you could do to use this free resource and still make it age appropriate.

  1. Have every student be the same avatar.  I’ve done this before.  I choose a Critter Option instead of an Avatar Option.  I make it look really neutral.  Then the students don’t feel singled out…and it looks less like a childish cartoon.
  2. Don’t display the home screen in front of the students as much.  Keep it more private.  Enter data on a mobile device.  Show individual students the data as part of a teacher-student conference to discuss progress/performance.
  3. Turn off the sound effects in the settings menu.

 

Click here to read an older post on how I use ClassDojo to increase student motivation.


*Disclaimer: This term is my own and I’m using it for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that this is a term found in formal, academic writing.

Señor Howard

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

Caleb Howard – www.SoMuchHope.com@calhwrd

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

Share your target language teaching experiences!

Have the contents of this blog ever impacted your teaching or philosophy of teaching?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).

The First Week Of Trying To Stay In The TL With Your Students

Need ideas for what to do on the first days of staying in the target language with your students?

1- Motivational Speech

Help the students know WHY you are staying in the target language.  Here’s what I tell my students.

2- Motivational Structure

Hearing ONLY L2 takes patience and determination on the part of the learners.  Give them some incentive to stick with it.  Here’s the incentive that I offer my students.

3- Catch Students Off Guard

How would your students react if the first lesson you taught had NO WORDS?  What if you didn’t say anything at all?  No L1 AND no L2.  I might start out by saying something like:

“We’re gonna kick L1 out the door.  We’re not gonna use L1.  See ya later L1.  Bye-bye!

 

But some of you might think, “I don’t understand L2.  I won’t know what to do!”  Well you’re right.  But I don’t expect you to know what to do when you hear L2…yet.  You will later.  To start, I’ll help you know what to do by communicating without language.

 

It’s sort of fun.  Watch.  First let’s start by spending 5 minutes DOING nothing and SAYING nothing.  Your job, during that time, is to get used to the silence and to watch me.  Silence is okay.  And watching me is so important that I’ll say it again: WATCH ME!  Remember… first 5 minutes quiet…then watch me.  And my guess is, even though I won’t speak any language, you’ll still know what to do.”

After the 5 minutes of silence:

  • Stand up.
  • Walk towards the students.
  • Point to a student and motion for them to stand.  (After they stand up, hand them their pencil/notebook/bag or whatever they brought with them to class.)
  • Motion for the student to follow you with their things.
  • Motion for the student to stand in the spot you point to off to the side.  (I don’t suggest asking the student to stand up in front because they might feel too “on stage.”  Off to the side will feel more comfortable.)
  • Motion for the student to stay there.
  • Smile and give them a thumbs up to help them know they are doing the right thing.
  • Walk towards the other students.
  • Point to a second student and motion for them to stand.
  • Motion for the second student to follow you and point for them to stand next to student #1.
  • Repeat these steps until the whole class is standing up in a line at the side of the room with their things.
  • Using the same types of motions/gestures/pointing, seat the students (one at a time) at new desks.
  • When the whole class is seated again, in their new seats, smile with a sense of satisfaction.  Let them read on your face that you feel that you accomplished your task.  You did it all without using language.  Give them a thumbs up.  Give them a quiet acknowledging applause just like a soccer player would do to the home team fans at the end of a soccer game.
  • If the students are responding well…continue the silence.  Motion for them to wait.  Motion for them to stay quiet.  Maybe show them that you’re looking at the clock and that you want them to stay quiet for 5 more minutes.  If they are really into it, you can even motion for them to sit at their desks with their hands folded.  If they all respond well, give them a thumbs up so that they know you’re proud of them for responding to your non-verbal cues.

4- Debrief With The Students

Start speaking L1 again.  Tell them, “Wow!  You just spent 15 minutes doing exactly what I asked…but I didn’t even use any L1!  How did you do it?”  Let them raise their hands and offer answers as to how they understood what you expected.  Help them realize that people can receive and respond to many different forms of input.  Usually we all think that we only respond to linguistic input.  But there’s SO MUCH MORE!  Explain to them that there’s:

5- Tell Them About *Pairing

Tell them that if they watch you they’ll know what to do.  Tell them that you’ll start sprinkling in bits of L2.  Explain how you will *pair incomprehensible L2 with comprehensible and meaningful extralinguistic input.  Tell them that if they watch you, that they’ll have opportunities to start seeing what hundreds of L2 words and phrases mean just because of your *pairing technique.

6- Start The Week With Some Fun Easy Lessons…

…to get them used to what it’s like to follow you even though you only use L2 words (plus lots of extralinguistic cues!)  Here are links to some lesson ideas, which include a script of what you can do and say:

Teaching Grammar While Staying In The Target Language.

Introducing New Vocabulary While Staying In The Target Language.

Giving Activity Directions While Staying In The Target Language.

7- Have Fun And Be Creative

You know your students.  You have creative ideas.  Never feel limited to what you read on this blog.  I share the ideas that I use NOT to suggest that it’s the only way to do it.  They should be a launching pad for you.  Use the ideas you like and build upon the ideas that you can make better!

 


*Disclaimer: These terms are my own and I’m using them for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that these are the terms found in formal, academic writing.

 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).

Being In Diapers & Staying In The Target Language

I talked with my students about diapers during our last session of the school year.

I switched into using L1 so that I could debrief with them about why I teach L2 the way I do.  Here’s what I told them:

“You guys do a great job!  I’m very proud of what you do every time you walk into my class.  You’re learning a lot.  AND you are learning in a very special way.  You are learning like you’re in diapers.”

(I paused to let the awkwardness of the statement take its effect.)

“Yes.  You are learning like you’re in diapers.  Here’s what I mean.  I try to teach you L2 like I’m your mom and like you’re in diapers.  You see, when you were a baby and still crawling around the floor, you were learning your first words.  Maybe you didn’t even realize that you were learning how to talk, but you were.  You said things like, “Dada,” “Mama,” “potty,” and “drink.”  To help you learn them, your mom didn’t use flashcards.  Your mom didn’t give you homework.  When you were in diapers she didn’t have you repeat your words 5 times each.  She didn’t have you write them 10 times on a piece of paper.

You learned your first words without trying to learn them.  You learned them without realizing you were learning them.  You could almost say that you learned your first words by accident.

That’s how I’m trying to teach you L2.  Some of you might feel like L2 class with Sr. Howard is just fun.  We don’t copy spelling words.  We don’t have lots of homework.  We don’t stare at each other and repeat vocabulary words 7 times.  Your hand doesn’t get tired from copying lists of words.  That makes some of you feel like we don’t do “learning kinds of things” in here.  But that’s not true.  Everything I do with you is on purpose.  Every single thing we do, from the moment you walk down the hall towards my room, is on purpose.  I’m always trying to help you learn L2 words the way you learned your first words when you were in diapers.  If you watch me…if you stare at me whenever you’re in here…if you realize that everything I’m doing is on purpose, you’ll have hundreds of chances to learn L2 EVERY TIME you see me.  And you don’t have to copy, you don’t have to do packets of worksheets, you don’t have to do lots of memorizing.  L2 class is like T.V.: all you have to do is watch.  Next year, if you keep doing these same things, you’ll have hundreds of chances to keep learning L2 every time you walk through these doors.

Some of you know what I’m talking about because you’re surprised that you’ve said so much in L2 this year.  You’ve said things like _________”  (Then I recall some of the amazing things that students have started to say in L2 this year.)  “You’ve learned all of these things without even trying.  Keep watching me and you’ll learn L2 the way you learned when you were in diapers.”


That was my motivational speech and it’s based on their ability to pay attention and my ability to meaningfully and repeatedly *pair comprehensible input with incomprehensible L2 input.  It’s fun.  It’s natural.  It’s easy for the students.  It’s producing exciting results.


*Disclaimer: These terms are my own and I’m using them for the purpose of reflecting on my own foreign language teaching practice.  The reader should not assume that these are the terms found in formal, academic writing.

 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).

Todd & A Series On CI – (Part 3): Why Aren’t They Getting This? – Input: Multiple Forms & ICI

With students who are not used to being immersed in a L2 environment…:

…there are times that I sense the need to use MORE gestures and facial expressions and use FEWER L2 words, phrases and sentences.

When I’m starting to get too many looks (from students) like this…

confused

…it’s my cue to start doing more of the following:

Sometimes, instead of affirming students with L2 phrases like, “Nice Job,” “Great work,” and “You really do great in L2 class,” I will simply smile, clap and give an energetic thumbs up.

Sometimes, instead of saying the L2 phrase for, “Come here,” I will simply use a hand gesture to get the student to come.

Sometimes, instead of making a request in L2 like, “Would you please pass out the papers?” I will simply hold up the stack of papers and use hand gestures to show that I want the volunteer to give one sheet to each student.

Sometimes, instead of reprimanding Roger in the TL by saying, “Roger, make sure your eyes are on the screen!” I will simply snap my fingers while looking sternly at him and then point to the screen in order to redirect his off-task behavior.

Sometimes, if a student is brand new to a 90+% TL environment, it’s necessary (for a while) to use LESS L2 and MORE non-verbal methods of communication.

This strategy is one of the ways that I avoid students looking at me like this:

blank-stare

It’s a strategy that I use to avoid students blurting out comments like:

“I didn’t understand a word you just said!”

“Excuse me.  I don’t speak ______ (name of L2).”

“Huh!?  What!?  I don’t know what to do because I don’t speak your language!”

Strategies (like the ones above) really help!

Recently I asked my students to hold up 1 finger if they felt “always lost” in L2 class and to hold up 10 fingers if they felt “never lost” in L2 class.  Every single student held up either 8, 9 or 10 fingers!!!  Generally, almost all of my students know what’s expected of them and know exactly what to do.  These results are possible because I use strategies like the ones I will discuss in this blog post.


With that being said, there are occasional times when a student of mine will give me a blank stare when I least expect it.

Confused-student

Recently I was SURE a student would be able to respond when I said, “Stand up,” (in the target language) especially because I even used my hands to motion for him to stand.

I thought I was making it as simple as possible.  One short command.  One very obvious gesture.

However, he gave me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.

I thought to myself, “How much more obvious can I make it?”  “If this simple, obvious hand gesture doesn’t make the L2 input comprehensible, then I don’t know what will!”

A lot of times I get the blank stare especially when I have a new student that transfers into the district.  No matter what I gesture…no matter how obvious I make it, they just stare at me.  Their facial expressions say, “Who is this guy?  What is he doing?  What language is he speaking?  What in the world am I doing here?  I have no idea what’s going on?”

I’m making it as meaningful = as possible…but the student is completely lost.

Here’s another example:

This happens every week or two.  I’ll ask a student a question like, “What’s your name?” or, “What color is this?” (in the target language) and the student will not know what I’m asking or what the answer is.  In order to help him out, I tell him the answer.  I ask him to repeat the correct answer after me.

Simple enough, right?  However, the student gives me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.  He can’t even repeat the correct answer that I ask him to repeat.

I think to myself, “Hello!?!? – “Repeat” is a target language command that we use dozens of times every class!  How can you be giving me a blank stare for, ‘Repeat!?!'”

So I try the Two-Hand Method to get him to say the simple, one-word answer after me.

The Two-Hand Method fails and the student gives me a blank stare.  NO RESPONSE.

A lot of times, in scenarios like these, every other student in the class is thinking what I’m thinking, “Hello!?!  All you have to do is say the exact same word that Sr. Howard is saying.”  Occasionally a compassionate peer will address the confused student in English and tell him, “Just say what Sr. Howard is saying.”

What is happening in these situations?

Why do I get a blank stare / no response?

I’m using the most simple of gestures!  Why does the student look at me with a blank stare even though I’m doing everything I can to “make the input meaningful?”

The reason I’m surprised, in situations like these, is because there are a couple of things (regarding the nature of input) that I’m not keeping in mind.

More specifically, I’m not keeping in mind that…:

1- …an individual can receive multiple forms of input at one time…

and that…

2- …one form of input can affect a person’s ability or willingness to respond to another form of input.


As an example, consider Andrew (in the picture below):

boy playing video game 1

Andrew is playing his new video game.  He loves it!  Ever since he got it for his birthday, it’s all he wants to do whenever he has free time.  He hardly does anything else.  He loves the graphics.  He loves the adventure.  When he’s playing, he’s in his own “video-game-world.”

What do you think happens when Mom tries to call him to the dinner table?

“Honey…it’s time for dinner,” Mom says.

No response from Andrew.

What’s happening here?

Is Andrew ignoring his mom?  Did Andrew not hear his mom?  Did it register in his mind that he heard his mom said something, but his video game adventure kept him from really processing WHAT she said?

For the purposes of this discussion, the specific details of what Andrew experienced are irrelevant.  All we need to consider is that at the moment of Mom calling him to the dinner table…:

1) …Andrew is receiving not one form of input, but two (or more) forms of input.

AND

2) …one form of input is affecting Andrew’s willingness/ability to respond to the second form of input.

What are the specific and different forms of input that Andrew is receiving?

The first form of input is coming from his video game.  (Let’s call it Input #1.)  His video game might be flashing words on the screen. (i.e. You have 2 lives left!)  His video game might be producing L1 words and phrases. (i.e. You’re dead!  Game over.)  Even if his video game is not producing L1 words (or written phrases/sentences) there are still situations/scenarios that Andrew is interpreting. (i.e. The enemy has Andrew’s character cornered.  Andrew thinks, “Ahhh! What should I do now?!?”)

The second form of input is coming in the form of his mom’s voice. (Let’s call it Input #2.)  She’s in the kitchen, calling for him to come to the dinner table.

The input from the video game (Input #1) is so exciting to Andrew, so enthralling, that it’s limiting his capacity to pay attention to other forms of input that are being directed to him.  He’s either:

  • so engrossed in the video game that he doesn’t even process the input of his mom’s voice (i.e. unable to respond) or
  • he values his ‘video-game-playing time’ so much that he’s willing to disregard his mother’s wishes in order to continue playing. (i.e. unwilling to respond)

So WHAT does this have to do with L2 class?

What does Andrew (and his video game) have to do with my L2 student giving me a blank stare when I say, “Stand up,” and motion for him to stand?

Just like Andrew received multiple forms of input in the example above, my L2 student receives multiple forms of input when I say, “Stand up,” and motion for him to stand.

Input #1, for my L2 student, is my L2 command: “Stand up.”

Input #2 is my non-verbal hand gesture: I motion for him to stand.

(Important side note:  It’s VERY IMPORTANT to note that Input #1 is incomprehensible to my student.  This is important because incomprehensible input has the potential to do to my student what video games do to Andrew:

It affects his ability or willingness to respond to other input.)

Here’s what I mean:

At the moment that I gesture and give the L2 command for “stand up,” here’s what I’m thinking in my head:

“Student, I know you don’t understand the L2 word I’m using.  I know all of this L2 is brand new to you.  But don’t worry, I will make it easy for you.  First of all, “Stand up,” is such a short phrase.  It’s not like I’m asking you to follow multi-step directions.  It’s just one phrase.  Second of all, to help you find meaning (although I’m using incomprehensible L2), I will use a gesture.  It’s a simple gesture.  All I’m doing is motioning, with my hands, for you to stand.  That way, even though you don’t understand the L2 phrase I speak to you, you’ll be able to make sense of it because the hand gesture is so simple.”

Even though that’s MY experience…it’s NOT MY STUDENT’S experience.  Here’s what he’s thinking in that same moment:

“Huh!?!  I’m frozen.  I’m overwhelmed.  My anxiety level is high.  I have no idea what is happening.  All I heard was a jumble of sounds.  This is really uncomfortable for me.  I have no idea what that jumble of sounds means.  How am I supposed to know what to do right now!?  This is embarrassing.  Everyone is looking at me.  I hate this.  How am I supposed to respond if I don’t know what that jumble of sounds means!?!”

Behind the blank stare are feelings and thoughts like these.

The overwhelming nature of the incomprehensible input makes it so that it’s attention-consuming.  Just like Andrew wasn’t able to think about anything besides his video game, often a student (who isn’t used to being immersed in L2) will be unable to think about anything else when they hear incomprehensible input.

The L2 phrase, short as it may be, is nothing but an overwhelming jumble of sounds.  It’s incomprehensible, unsettling and so confusing.  Even though there is an accompanying, simple hand gesture, there’s nothing else on my student’s mind besides, “What the heck was that!?  I have no idea what Sr. Howard is trying to say.”

Just like Andrew wasn’t able to respond to his mom’s instruction (because his video game was too all-consuming), my L2 student isn’t able to be helped by my simple hand gesture because my incomprehensible L2 command is too all-consuming.


How does the “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” (as described at the beginning of this post) help overwhelmed students like this one?

The strategies listed at the beginning of this post can help.  These strategies train students to look for meaning in new places.  Students are used to relying on language to gather meaning in a situation.  However when they are introduced to an unfamiliar L2 environment, their ability to gather meaning from language is eliminated.  But there are other ways to find/gather meaning.  Students can find it in other forms of input like gestures, facial expressions, body language, etc.  However, as I mentioned above, they won’t have the capacity to notice or pay attention to these extra linguistic forms of input if they are too overwhelmed by your incomprehensible foreign language.  At the beginning of their L2 immersion journey, (while they are still afraid of hearing your “jumble of sounds”) make it easy for your students to notice those helpful extra linguistic cues by occasionally refraining from L2 use.

Once the students become more familiar with finding meaning through extra linguistic input, and once the students become less overwhelmed by the sound of unfamiliar L2, the teacher can start using the target language without getting looks like…

Confused-student

What else can we do to help overwhelmed students like these?

There are so many tips on this blog for helping students that are overwhelmed in an L2 immersion setting.  Check out some of the posts below for tips:


The THEORY behind the “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” practice.

Todd is a stick figure and he is helping us with our current blog series on input and comprehensible input.

Todd - Comprehensible Input

Check out the pictures (below) that help explain the theory behind this “occasionally use MORE gestures and LESS L2” practice.


Picture 1

input can be verbal input from person

Todd can receive verbal/linguistic input.


Picture 2

image

Todd can receive non-verbal/extra-linguistic input.


Picture 3

image

Todd can receive multiple forms of input at one time.

Sometimes Todd can successfully process (and appropriately respond) to simultaneous and multiple forms of input.


Picture 4

image

Sometimes Todd receives one form of input that affects his ability to respond to another form of input that he is receiving simultaneously.


Language Acquisition Theory Statement:

Since…

…it’s possible for a student, especially one who is at the beginning of their L2 acquisition journey, to be overwhelmed by a piece of incomprehensible input…

And since…

…it’s possible for incomprehensible input to be so overwhelming that it keeps the student from being able to pay attention to, and process, other forms of input (which a teacher introduces in an attempt to encourage L2 meaning)…

A teacher should…

…train a student (using some of the strategies listed in this post) to notice ways he/she can find meaning in an unfamiliar L2 immersion environment by using available non-verbal (extra linguistic) input.


The conversation is just beginning.

Over the next several weeks, the posts on Tuesday’s Tips For Staying In The Target Language will delineate the massive implications that simple sketches (like the ones above) have on foreign language teaching and foreign language acquisition.

Todd will help me discuss and/or continue to discuss…:

  • …the nature of input and comprehensible input.
  • …different forms of input and comprehensible input.
  • …a qualitative analysis of the various forms of comprehensible input and their usefulness in facilitating foreign language acquisition.
  • …making input comprehensible.
  • …how making input comprehensible and meaningful (to foreign language students) can cause language acquisition “magic” to occur.
  • …obstacles to making input comprehensible in a classroom full of students.
  • …strategies for overcoming the making-input-comprehensible-obstacles that exist in a foreign language classroom.
  • …a comprehensive rubric for assessing the effectiveness of a foreign language teacher.

STAY TUNED!

 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).

“My Students Don’t Feel Comfortable When I Spend Long Amounts Of Time Teaching In The Target Language.”

 “My students don’t feel comfortable when I spend extended amounts of time teaching in the target language.”

“My students complain when I stay in the target language.  They say, “Miss…I don’t speak Spanish!” or “What she sayin’!?” or “I didn’t understand a word you just said!”

“Staying in the target language may be a good instructional goal to shoot for, but it just wouldn’t work for my students.”

Along these lines, a reader made some insightful comments after reading last week’s blog post:

I think many HS students walk into a WL class “expecting” those L1 -> L2 connections to be made.  Many of them think they can’t function unless they “know” what those words mean in L1, and they dislike having that knowledge gap created.  It’s difficult for many of them to “trust” in the L2.  Lots of L1 interference comes into play here.  (I’m not commenting on whether these things are good or bad pedagogically — those are just my observations of student reactions).

If a foreign language teacher approached me for advice pertaining to situations like these I would say:

1-  My students, as well, experienced levels of discomfort when I switched into staying in the target language.  (Read my story of transitioning into 90+% TL use.)

When I asked students to participate, they would often say things like, “But Sr. Howard, I don’t understand Spanish!”  I guess their conclusion was that they were in the wrong place.   It was as if they felt like they boarded the wrong flight.  “I must be in the wrong place because this feels like a place for people who speak Spanish.  …and I DON’T!”  They assumed that my “Speaking Only Spanish” class wasn’t for them because they didn’t speak Spanish.

2-  Expect the transition into 90+% target language use to include a level of discomfort.

It’s normal for individuals to feel uncomfortable (especially at first) in an L2 immersion environment.  Explain to your students that it is okay if they feel uncomfortable.  Explain that it’s normal to feel confused or overwhelmed when someone starts talking with sounds they’ve never heard before.

3-  Give students a reason (or motivation) to “stick with it” even though it’s uncomfortable at first.

Click here to read a list of what I did to increase student motivation to “stick with it”.

Read this post for what I believe is the most important reason to “stick with it”.

4-  Give students tools/strategies to make sense of their new L2 world.

There are times when a class of mine might need a refresher on what tools and strategies to use in order to make sense of the language they’re hearing.  Whenever this happens, I pause instruction in the target language to tell my students, in English, things like:

  • “Don’t expect to understand 100% of what I say with my mouth.  Your goal isn’t to understand everything.  I don’t expect you to understand everything.”
  • “You can’t understand what I’m saying by just listening.”
  • “You have to WATCH, WATCH, WATCH!”
  • “You might think, ‘Sr. Howard, why do you make us be so quiet while you are teaching?  It’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop!’  Boys and girls, I ask you to be so quiet because the only way you will learn Spanish in my class is if you are watching what I’m doing or showing you.  If you are talking to a friend, or if your whisper makes someone stop looking at me, NO SPANISH LEARNING will be happening.  And you have a job to do when you are in this room.  Your job is to learn Spanish.  And to learn Spanish, I make it very easy.  All you have to do is WATCH.
  • “I never get mad at a student for trying.  I never get mad at a student for making a mistake.”
  • “I do get very mad at a student for making fun of someone else who makes a mistake.  I also get mad at a student if she keeps another student from WATCHING the source of instruction.”
  • “In this class, mistakes are good.  In this class I will say, “Hooray!” when you make a mistake because it means that you tried!”
  • “You’ll notice that I do some of the same things over and over again.  Those are the important things to pay attention to.  Also, notice what I write under the word, “IMPORTANTE” on the board.  Those are the important things to pay attention to.”
  • “You’ll never understand if you don’t WATCH what I’m doing or what I’m showing.”
  • “Spanish class is like TV:  All you have to do is watch.”

It’s important to give your students tools for making sense of their new L2 world because they can no longer rely on their ability to understand what’s being spoken.

5-  When you stay in the target language, your students will stay uncomfortable IF you haven’t made a philosophical distinction between an ‘L2 immersion environment’ and a ‘COMPREHENSIBLE L2 immersion environment.’

It’s one thing to be in an L2 immersion environment and have no idea what’s being said.  (i.e. Example #1: Listening-in on a telephone conversation between two native speakers of a language you’ve never heard before)  It’s another thing to be in an L2 immersion environment (or situation) where you can understand completely what’s being said, even though you’ve never heard the language.  (i.e. Example #2: Someone just indulged in their first bite of a chocolate dessert and closes their eyes before slowly saying something to the effect of, “Delicious,” in the target language.)

In your 90+% target language environment, try to avoid facilitating an immersion experience like example #1 from above.  Instead, try to facilitate situation after situation after situation of examples like example #2 from above.

Remember to keep in mind this general rule:

Hearing a foreign language ALONE will not allow a person to acquire a foreign language.

6-  Stick with it.  Students will gradually become less uncomfortable.

Many transitions in life are uncomfortable at first.  When you start a new exercise routine, it can be painful at first.  When you start setting your alarm to wake up early after a long vacation, the first couple mornings can be very difficult.  A first year teacher is in for quite a long year as she transitions into a new teaching job.

If you give up quickly, you’ll never be able to notice that, eventually, it does get easier.  Tell yourself and your students that it won’t always be as hard as it is during the first couple weeks.  Stick with it and it does become easier.

The majority of my students have not only moved past experiencing discomfort in a comprehensible L2 immersion environment, many of them actually love it!  Some of them even forget that they’re actually learning L2.

A few minutes ago (as I am writing this post) one of my students just walked into my classroom with his mom.  We chatted for a while before it was time for them to leave.  When his mom said it was time to go, he said, “I wish that I could just stay here and live with Señor Howard.”  I asked another dad if his son told him what we did last time in Spanish class.  His Dad rolled his eyes and said, “Yes, he told me like 200 times.”  One mom said, “We’ve moved a lot, and we’ve never had a language class experience like my son is having now with you.  He is learning so much.”

An Italian teacher from Australia just tweeted me the other day and said:

“Gotta tell you that you inspired me! Am now running Year 8 and 9 classes in 100% Italian except for the last 3-5 mins! Thanks!  …and not only that, but have managed to inspire the other 7 people in my faculty! Xlnt results,kids focused,& enjoying it!:)”

7-  More about experience than language study.

If you still find your students feeling uncomfortable or uninspired, long after you’ve made the transition into staying in the target language, consider doing things to help the students focus less on language learning and focus more on whatever experience they are having in the target language.

For an example of this, read the posts on teaching grammar while staying in the target language.  You’ll notice from the scripts that a participating student could easily forget he’s learning language because the activity (eating cereal and/or wondering who’s going to get to eat the cereal) is so engaging.  If your activities/experiences are worthwhile and meaningful, it could be that the students begin to acquire L2 without even realizing it.

More posts to help you get started:

Rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  1. If something you are about to say in the target language isn’t going to be comprehensible, it’s not worth saying.
  2. Use less words.
  3. Set a goal that your students will not think, “I have no idea what my L2 teacher is saying.”
  4. It’s not unrealistic to set a high goal for how much of the input will be comprehensible for the students.
  5. Even though you are speaking a language that is foreign to them, you should strive to make sure that at least 80% of the input is comprehensible.  They may not understand every word.  …but that’s okay.  If you shoot for input being comprehensible 80% of the time it won’t matter as much to your students that they don’t understand every word.  The will still be able to decipher.
  6. It’s hard work for students to decipher the input that you are trying to make comprehensible.  Give them frequent deciphering breaks.

Keep the conversation going!

Have you tried out any of these teaching suggestions from Tuesday’s Tips for Staying in the Target Language?  How did it go?  Leave comments below or add to the conversation on twitter by using #langchat (for general language teaching comments) and/or #TL90plus (for staying in the target language” comments).

 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!

The Benefits of Insulting Students In The Target Language

Warning: don’t try this staying-in-the-target-language strategy if you struggle with behavior management in the classroom.

This year I’ve been developing a very fun, very silly and very effective instructional strategy to teach the following L2 components while staying in the target language:

  • subject pronouns
  • irregular verb conjugations
  • ‘to be’ verbs
  • making something negative (i.e. “I am,” vs. “I am not.”)

It all started when I began calling myself Superman in front of the students.

I learned to use INSULTS to help students learn difficult aspects of a foreign language.

I learned to use INSULTS to help students learn difficult aspects of a foreign language.

Whenever I had to move a heavy desk, or pick up a chair, or when I balanced a yard stick on my hand, I would always follow with, “I am Superman,” in the target language.  They would laugh at me and I could immediately tell, by the look on their faces, that they wanted to tell me that I wasn’t Superman.  They wished that they knew how to say, “Señor Howard…you ARE NOT Superman,” in the target language.  In order to help them learn how, I used the “Two-Hand Method.”

The students learned and they loved it!  They loved insulting me!

The next time I said, “I am Superman,” almost the entire class said, “You ARE NOT Superman,” in unison.  I put an offended look on my face.  I pretended that I was insulted because they said that I wasn’t Superman.  I put my hand on my hip.  I shook a finger in their face.  When they laughed, I continued pretending to be offended.  Then, while still looking offended, I paused.  And when the moment was perfect (while everyone was watching quietly with a huge amount of curiousity as to how I was going to proceed) I emphatically repeated, “Yes I AM Superman.”  The students would immediately laugh and keep telling me, “You ARE NOT Superman!” all in the target language.

Just in case there were a few students who were lost, I wrote the target phrases on the board like this:

“I am Superman” | “Yes I’m Superman”

“You are NOT Superman” | “No you’re not Superman”

Some of the students felt strange to be insulting their foreign language teacher.  So in order to help them know that I was really proud of them for using the target language in this way, and in order to motivate them to continue this behavior, I gave them lots of points on classdojo.com.  (See my classdojo post here and Sra. Spanglish’s post here for using classdojo for motivating foreign language students to stay in the target language.)

Using this strategy, I was able to indirectly teach students some subject pronouns, some verb conjugations, how to make something negative, etc.  By writing it on the board I was giving them some L2 literacy skills.  And we were all having a blast!

When they had enough practice insulting me, I settled things down by giving them points on classdojo and then moving on with what I had been teaching.  Now I repeat this activity at random times throughout my lessons, whenever I do something impressive (i.e. lifting a chair or balancing something or modeling the target language).

I’ve taken this idea a step further by starting to insult my students.  In order to make the insults friendly and fun, I use the names of popular cartoon characters from TV or from movies.  I might look at a 4th grade boy and say (in the target language), “You are Dora,” or you are, “Princess Ana/Queen Elsa.”

Insutling students (in a thoughtful way) can help them learn tough L2 skills without even trying!

Insutling students (by calling them cartoon character names, in a thoughtful way) can help them learn tough L2 skills without even realizing it!

All the students laugh and don’t even realize they are learning “to be” verb conjugations and subject pronouns.

In order to keep the student from being embarrassed, I prompt the boy to insult me back.  He might respond with, “You are Barney,” or, “You are Doc McStuffins.”  I’m careful to always let the student win the insult battle, so that he doesn’t feel embarrassed.  I also make sure that the experience is rewarding (and not threatening) by giving him classdojo points or rewards after participating.  When fellow students see that there is great reward in insulting their language teacher, they start calling out insults in the target language.  It’s fun!  And students learn so much!

Students will learn advanced L2 skills without even trying if the experience is meaningful, fun, 100% in the target language, and contextualized.

Have you had any success using this strategy or strategies like it?  Share your stories and 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).

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.”

Management Strategies for the 90+% TL Classroom – Ensure That You Are Pairing (Part 3)

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:

  1. Use Fewer Words – Don’t use unnecessary L2 words.
  2. Keep Students Attention and Increase Student Motivation– Students have to be watching the source of instruction (output).
  3. 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.

 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).

Management Strategies for the 90+% TL Classroom – Ensure That You Are Pairing (Part 2)

(This post contains Sr. Howard on video.  Click here or see below.)

If a FL teacher wants to effectively manage a 90+% TL classroom, she needs to make sure she is pairing the incomprehensible L2 with compelling and comprehensible extralinguistic input. If a FL teacher wants to use PAIRING effectively IT’S IMPERATIVE that his students are continuously and actively watching the point of instruction.

To illustrate, consider the following three examples:

  1. A teacher is introducing weather vocabulary.  The student can repeat the target vocabulary all she wants.  But if she never looks at it’s corresponding picture, she won’t connect the syllables she’s uttering with the meaning they represent.
  2. Imagine that a teacher puts a cupcake in his mouth and uses the moment to model L2 phrases like ‘That’s delicious!’ or ‘Yummy!’ in the TL.  An off-task student may hear the L2 phrases, but if he’s not watching the point of instruction he will not see the context clues that allow the target language to be comprehensible.
  3. A teacher wants to teach basic phonics (in the TL) and is modeling how to pronounce the syllables in the months of the year.  A student can easily repeat the sounds a teacher models.  But if the student isn’t watching the syllables that the teacher is pointing to, she will never know which letters/characters produce those sounds.

There are many reasons why a student may not be watching the source of instruction.  He may be hungry, emotionally overwhelmed, worried about classmates opinions, etc.  I’ve even noticed that my students get distracted because speaking in the TL feels funny and awkward to them.  Whatever the case may be, a teacher needs to do everything he can to keep students’ attention.  Without it, all the efforts to PAIR will be for nothing. It won’t be long before students begin engaging in off-task behavior.

In my class, I do these 3 things to make to show students that I have high expectations for how they behave.

1.  My 2 rules are simple.  In Spanish class I say, “Importante – silencio.  Importante – attención.”  (Watch a video of how I make this meaningful for my Spanish students)  The students must know that 1- it’s important to be absolutely silent and that 2- all eyes need to be on me.  This is the case whenever I am modeling L2 or giving instructions.

2.  I immediately reward exemplary behavior.  I use tons of verbal praise.  I use ClassDojo.  (See this link for more on ClassDojo and behavior management in the 90+% TL classroom.)

3.  I effectively redirect off-task behavior.  Sometimes, I feel very mean and strict during the first 1-3 mins of class.  But this is okay because it sets the tone for how I want the students to behave.  Don’t feel the pressure to be a nice, friendly teacher.  Be strict for the sake of increasing the amount of PAIRING instances (which leads towards L2 acquisition).  Remember, students cannot benefit from your PAIRING instances unless they are watching the source of instruction.  If you feel that a student’s behavior is negatively affecting the learning environment, don’t just let it go.  Effectively redirect it.

What do you do to make sure students are watching the source of instruction?  Leave comments below.

Management Strategies – Ensure Input Is Comprehensible (Part 1)

 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

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