(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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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