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).

How To Avoid “Freaking Out” Novice L2 Learners When Staying In The Target Language

Great question on Twitter, yesterday, from a high school french teacher named Martha Behlow:  (Link for tweet here)

90% target language in upper levels is realistic, but what about levels 1 & 2?  How do you keep them from freaking out?

There were some wonderful answers offered by Virginia Rinaldi, Cecile Laine, Laura Sexton and Kristi Placido (As of 12:57pm ET on 12/8/2014).  In more words, or less, they suggested the following: (live links below for further reading on each topic from Tuesday’s Tips…)

I’ll add my thoughts here:

1- Picture your novice/intermediate-low students as infants and toddlers learning their first language.  (Easier to do if you are a parent)  Doing this will help you avoid thinking,

“Ahhh!  ACTFL says students and teachers should stay in the target language at least 90% of the time!!  How am I supposed to do that with novice learners!?!”

You wouldn’t expect your 10-month-old to produce very much L1.  Older infants might only be able to attempt single words or parts of words.  To communicate their thoughts and feelings, they would rely on signs, body language and noises.  Verbal communication is led/directed/initiated by the adult.  The dynamic should be the same in the L2 classroom.  Your novice learners shouldn’t be expected to carry on conversations in the target language, just like you wouldn’t expect your 1-year-old to carry the conversation around the dinner table.  Novice language learners need to be observers.  They need to hear L1 in context.  They need to hear L1 in comprehensible forms.  When language is comprehensible, and when there’s repeated opportunities to hear the CI in a meaningful context, language will be naturally acquired.

This doesn’t mean that novice learners don’t need to be immersed in L2.  They do!

2- Novice learners don’t need L1.  They can be very successful in an L2 immersion environment.  Use the following effective and practical strategies to stay in the target with novice learners:

3- Not only can novice students SURVIVE in an L2 immersion environment – THEY CAN THRIVE.  When you teach a foreign language by speaking L1, you tend be a “skills instructor” and a “memorization facilitator”.  It’s not a very natural approach and it doesn’t yield very organic results.  Consider an analogy of a tree; where the tree is your student and his ability to produce L2 is like a tree’s ability to display fruit.  Being a skills instructor is like being a farmer who’s trying to hang individual pieces of fruit on the branches of a tree.  It’s awkward.  It’s not natural.  It looks a bit funny to see fruit pieces duct-taped or stapled to the branches of a tree.  The fruit won’t stay up there for very long before it falls off.  Using L1 to teach L2 is a strategy that doesn’t focus on a learner’s “language root system.”

According to this analogy, a novice speaker might have 10 pieces of L2-fruit that you’ve helped them hang up.  An intermediate speaker might have 50 pieces of L2-fruit that you’ve helped them hang.  If you have a highly motivated “skills memorizer” in your class, you might be able to help them hang one or two hundred pieces of L2-fruit on their tree.

When you stay in the target language and ensure that input is comprehensible, you are focusing on the student’s root system.  You are no longer focused on producing fruit by duct taping it up on the foreign language proficiency tree.  You are feeding the tree.  You are nourishing the tree.  The tree might not produce L2 fruit right away.  But it will in time; and the fruit it produces will emerge on it’s own.  And it will continue to produce fruit on its own even when there’s no instructor their to duct tape it on.  Watching your students produce L2 fruit on their own is so exciting.  (See more on this analogy/topic by clicking here.)

4- Don’t talk over their heads. In other words: DON’T USE TOO MUCH L2 VOCABULARY.  Try to only say the words they know.  And say those words over and over and over again.  Language learners (including infants learning L1) need to hear new words and phrases over and over before they acquire and produce those language terms on their own.

You might ask, Sr. Howard…“what the -ell am I supposed to do with my novice students for 200 minutes or more a week if 1- I’m supposed to stay in the target language? and 2- If I’m only supposed to say a handful of words!?!”  For my answer, check out the links under point #2 of this blog or some of the following links:

Keep the conversation going!  How do you help your novice students not “freak out” when you speak in the target language?  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).

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).

What To Say In The Target Language On The First Day Of Class – Novice L2 Learners

This post contains video clips of Señor Howard teaching in the target language.

Here’s what I said on the first day of L2 class this year.  Click this link to watch a video clip of how I started the first moments of class in the target language.

To make the L2 input meaningful, I…:

What else do you do to make incomprehensible L2 input meaningful through PAIRING?  What did you do in the target language on the first day of class?  Leave comments below.

Staying in the target language is definitely do-able!  It’s also fun!  Click here to read the story of how I started staying in the target language.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

P.S. Here’s a good blog post from a Latin teacher (@silvius_toda) who stays in the target language.  (An approach to teaching Latin that I think is wonderful!)  The blog shares detailed strategies for how to approach the first weeks of L2 teaching.

P.S.S. Another first day of L2 class post.  This one from @MartinaBex

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.”

Do’s and Don’ts for Handouts in the 90+% TL Classroom

This post contains a link to a handout that Sr. Howard uses in his 90+% TL classroom.

It seems to be programmed into our foreign language teacher heads: we MUST give vocabulary lists to our students.  However, teachers that hand out lists of L2 vocabulary mostly end up providing L1 translations for the words.

Students need lists.  They need reference sheets.  I’m not saying that you should never hand out any paperwork.  But when you do:

Try to avoid writing down vocabulary in the target language on your handouts.

In fact, it may be helpful not to include ANY words on your handouts.  Use pictures instead.  Your handouts should have lots of pictures with corresponding blank spaces that students have to fill in once they decipher the meaning of new L2 words.  Make the students write down vocabulary in the target language.  Don’t write it for them.

Try making your handouts look like this.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Effective Routines for Upper 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 upper elementary L2 learners.

1- Students find their seat by matching numbers.  Each desk should have a different number written out in the target language.  Each student receives a number when they walk into the classroom.  Students match the number to it’s written form to find out where they sit for the day.  Make the task more challenging by replacing low numbers for higher ones as the year goes on.  This routine allows…

  • …students to walk around the classroom.  (rather than having to sit in their seat for the whole class)
  • …students to practice L2 numbers. (helpful Spanish numbers review videos)
  • …students to practice reading in the TL.

2- Attendance and greeting routine.  Take attendance at the beginning of every class.  Ask students to respond to the sound of their name with appropriate phrases in the TL.  As the year progresses, introduce more advanced ways of responding.  (i.e. start with ‘Present’ or ‘Here’ and move onto ‘Here I am.’ ‘I’m here.’ ‘I arrived.’ ‘I made it on time.’ etc.)  Teach students to say, “He’s not here,” when an absent student’s name is read.  Once students are comfortable with the routine, a teacher can take extra time to ask students target questions that have been previously introduced. (i.e. “How are you, today?”  “How are you feeling?”  “How is your brother?” “I like your shirt.” etc.)  The possibilities are endless.

3- Write the heading on top of paper work.  Whenever my students receive a new paper they copy down a heading.  I use the TL to instruct volunteers to pass out the papers.  I have the class write the following in the TL:

My name is ________.  My classroom teacher’s name is _________.

Today is ______ (day of week) the ____ (#) of _________(month) of the year 2014.

Once students have copied the heading you can:

  • ask students to come to the board to fill in the blanks.
  • ask students to read the heading out loud.
  • read the heading out loud as a class.
  • ask students to make any corrections to mistakes on the board.

4- Calendar/Weather routine.  Click here to see how I do my calendar/weather/greetings routine at the beginning of class.

There are many other routines that can be helpful for teaching L2 to students by only speaking in the TL.  What are some that you find useful in your classroom?  Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Instructional Strategies: Señor Howard’s Video and ‘Why does he do what he does?’ Part 3

This post contains video clips of Señor Howard teaching in the target language.

It’s important for foreign language teachers, who teach in the TL, to develop routines.  The following video clips show Señor Howard leading students through some effective instructional routines.  This post is Part 3 of a series. (Part 2 | Part 1)

At 6min18secs – “I’m finishing one portion of the lesson and moving on to the next.  Notice that I take 5-15 seconds to help the students calm down, get quiet and look at the source of instruction.  It’s important to get the students used to having it quiet in the class.  Quietness shouldn’t be awkward.  Quiet is a sign that students are on task.  When students are on task it’s more likely that input from the teacher will be comprehensible.”

At 6min36secs – “Here’s another routine and I use it with Kindergarten and 1st graders.  When they walk into the room, we tip toe around the edge of the rug.  I say a few words and then ask them to count in the target language.  This routine/movement is helpful for practicing numbers.  It’s helpful for getting students familiar with following directions in the TL.  For example, students follow my directions regarding when to stop, what number to count up to, when to sit down, etc.  The first few times I did this routine I gave only one or 2 directions.  But the more times I repeat the routine the more directions/commands I can introduce and practice with students.”

At 6min38secs – “When I want the students to acquire words we’ve been practicing in routines, I speak very clearly and with pauses between words.  This deliberate way of speaking allows the sentence to sound like separate words instead of one very long, continuous word.  Sometimes teachers forget that novice L2 learners can’t picture the spelling of the TL words in their heads.  They don’t necessarily know where a word begins and where a word ends.  Breaking the flow of the sentence, by inserting pauses between words, allows students to know when a word starts and when a word ends.”

At 6min50secs – “I’m giving the command: ‘to count’.  But a lot of my Kindergarteners don’t know the L2 word for ‘count’.  In order to help them get a sense of what I’m asking them to do, say and count a lot of numbers.  This allows them to think, “I’m not quiet sure what Sr. Howard is asking us to do, but my guess is that it has something to do with numbers.”  When students have that kind of conclusion or thought process, I know I’ve made input comprehensible.  It’s not 100% comprehensible.  But it will be as we repeat this routine week in and week out.”

At 7min46secs – “In class, we are talking about how many ClassDojo.com points students have earned for the month.  I do this routine with every grade I teach.  This particular class is a 5th grade class.  They are responding to target questions with complete L2 sentences.  It’s very helpful to write target questions and phrases on the board.

  • It focuses the attention of the class.
  • It helps them know the particular skill you want them to practice.  It’s like writing the performance objectives on the board.
  • It gives the students confidence in the L2 environment.  Many times students may know an answer but they hesitate to offer the answer because they aren’t 100% sure what the teacher is asking or expecting in response.
  • It helps a teacher avoid the awkwardness of having to skip a student that doesn’t know how to respond.  Instead of skipping a student because they’ve hesitated too long, you can point to what’s on the board and help them succeed.
  • It helps learners indirectly practice skills needed for reading and writing.

At 8min – “I switch between addressing an individual student and addressing the whole class.  Doing this allows students to repeatedly hear verb and noun differences in the 2nd and 3rd person.  It allows students to receive grammar instruction without even realizing it.”

This concludes a series of practical instructional strategy tips for using routines in an L2 immersion environment.  Click here for more video examples of Señor Howard teaching in the target language.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Instructional Strategies: Señor Howard’s Video and ‘Why he does what he does?’ Part 2

This post contains video clips of Señor Howard teaching in the target language.

It’s important for foreign language teachers, who teach in the TL, to develop routines.  The following video clips show Señor Howard leading students through some effective instructional routines.  This post is a continuation of last week’s post.

From 1min56sec – 2min40sec – “I’m asking students to respond using the TL.  If students aren’t confident, participating isn’t their favorite thing to do.  I keep in mind that they might be intimidated.  I make sure to smile and nod a lot.  I try to verbally praise students after they respond, even if their response wasn’t correct.  After a student participates, I want them to feel that it went well even though it might have been nerve-wracking.”

At 2min30sec – “A student misses the target and hits the SMART board instead of my hands.  The class laughs.  It was an honest mistake.  So rather than trying to calm down the students (with verbal instruction and hand gestures or an angry tone) I move on to the next activity.  If your next activity is attention-getting enough (as in the case of the continuation of this instructional video clip) redirect off-task behavior by moving on.”  (speaking of SMART board check out this post for tips on using SMART board in class from @SenoraWienhold)

At 3min23sec – 4min10sec- “I decide to make the task more difficult by increasing the amount of target questions they have to respond to.  If you’re following ACTFL’s recommendation to stay in the target language at least 90% of the time, make sure your students are aware of sudden changes you might make in difficulty level.  To prepare my students for a more difficult task:

  • I interrupted the flow of the activity with an obvious break.
  • I slowed my voice down.
  • I used slower and exaggerated body language.
  • I modeled the performance task with correct answers.
  • I gave the first student participant a lot of time to think about what I was asking and what he needed to respond with.
  • I helped him feel more confident with his unconfident first answer by repeating the same target question.  The repetition reaffirmed for him that he was right.  It also changed his lack of confidence (in relationship to me) to a relational humor (because I was teasing him in a friendly way by repeating the same question over and over.)

The point is: do everything you can to help your students be successful.  Some teachers try to trick students.  Keep in mind that some students will be very embarrassed if they make a mistake in front of their peers.  Don’t unnecessarily trick someone into making a mistake.  Staying in the TL is intimidating enough.  Don’t compound it by tricking students on purpose.”

At 4min45secs – “I teach young students.  It’s helpful for them if I change things up every 5-10 minutes.  In this case, the students had been sitting on a rug for a while.  It was a big class so they were cramped a bit.  The movement at 4min45secs helped students take a stretch break.  Afterwards, they are refreshed and ready to keep engaging in the TL instruction.”

At 6min9secs – “I use a random student picker.  It’s helpful for a lot of reasons:

  1. It creates an expectation in the class that everyone participates.
  2. It keeps me from having to remember who I’ve picked and who I haven’t picked.
  3. It keeps students on-task.  There’s a constant feeling that they might get picked.
  4. It keeps students from blaming me for picking them too much or not picking them enough.”

At 6min9secs – “It’s time to turn on the lights.  Try to avoid being a teacher who does things that students can handle on their own.  Look for chances to give commands to students that can be repeated often.  Turning on and off the lights is perfect for this.  I have the students repeat the command with me until the lights are finally on.”

Next week’s blog post will continue picking apart Sr. Howard’s demo routines in the TL.  We’ll continue answering the question: ‘Why does Sr. Howard do what he does?’

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Instructional Strategies – Sr. Howard’s Video and ‘Why does he do what he does?’

This post contains video clips of Señor Howard teaching in the target language.

Summary of last week’s post: ROUTINES are a great way to making students feel more comfortable in your 90+% TL classroom.  Included in the post was a link directing you to a video of Señor Howard leading some routines he uses in the classroom.

Read the rest of this post to find out why Señor Howard does what he does for his routines.

At 4secs – Señor Howard prepares to put on a video. (find it at SenorHoward.com)  “I put on a video 4-8 mins after I do some type of whole group instruction or discussion.  Usually after 4-8 minutes of hearing the target language, a student gets tired of trying to decipher L2.  In an effort to not lose the attention of students, it’s a good idea to put on an engaging/attractive instructional video (still in the target language) that will allow students a reprieve from the hard work of tracking with what the teacher is discussing in the target language.”

At 22secs – Señor Howard’s video shows a numbers count down.  “Notice that each number is spelled in the target language underneath.  Teachers encourage their students towards success every time they allow students to see the TL written.  Written words allow students to practice reading/phonics skills.  Written words allow students time to study the word.  During the study time, students may have the chance to activate prior knowledge to help TL acquisition and/or comprehension.” – “Lots of students can count UP very easily.  Help students acquire other skills with numbers by practicing counting DOWN.”

At 25-60secs – Señor Howard takes advantage of ‘down time’ while students are engaged with the instructional video.  “It’s so nice to be able to have a moment to gather my thoughts while the students are occupied.  It helps me think about what’s next in the lesson.  I can prepare materials.  Sometimes I take a moment to record student performance data from current and previous activities.  Sometimes I pull aside a struggling or off-task student re-explain my expectations in L1.  Make use of these great ‘down times’.”

At 1min – Señor Howard pauses the instructional video.  “Some of the instructional videos that I use (which can be found at senorhoward.com) I show to the students repeatedly throughout the year.  At the beginning of the year I let them watch the video.  As the year progresses I start pausing the videos to allow students chances to practice some of the skills they see modeled in the video.  Sometimes I’ll use a soft object to help organize a conversation practice activity.  I ask a target question and throw the object to the student who will respond.  It’s fun for students to throw something.  It increases students’ desire to participate.”

At 1min5secs – Señor Howard uses his hands as puppets to help make input comprehensible.  “When practicing interpersonal mode activities, I use Hand 1 and Hand 2 to model what Person 1 and Person 2 are supposed to say.  It’s such a helpful technique that I picked up from some great teachers at ‘Real Language Right Away.’  It eliminates a lot of confusion among students regarding what they are supposed to say and when they’re supposed to say it.”

At 1min18secs – Señor Howard tries to only asks students to perform an interpersonal mode task when they’ve had the task modeled repeatedly.  “An L2 immersion environment is naturally intimidating.  Being put on the spot (in front of peers) is also intimidating.  Intimidation can squash a students desire to practice L2.  Try to eliminate intimidation from your classroom.  Expect your students to participate only when you’ve given them sufficient chances to understand what’s happening in a language task.  Model the performance activity repeatedly.  Use effective techniques for making input comprehensible.  Only then can you start to kick intimidation out of your classroom and allow your L2 students to flourish.

Next week’s blog post will continue picking apart Sr. Howard’s demo routines in the TL.  We’ll continue answering the question: ‘Why does Sr. Howard do what he does?’

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com@HolaSrHoward