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).

Language To Language OR Language To Living

I was silently YELLING at my students in my head.

angry teacher

“We’ve been over this a thousand times!”

“They are the simplest of L2 questions.  I know they’re novice students, but…C’MON!!!  How can they NOT know how to respond to “How are you?” or “What’s your name?” in the target language!!?!

  • I’ve modeled the target questions and responses!
  • We’ve gone over it again and again in class!  …even with puppets!
  • I made an “engaging” video to help them remember!
  • We’ve played practice games!
  • I’ve done everything I know how to do!”

Granted, the students COULD answer the questions during the games/activities IN CLASS.  However, as soon as I surprised them with the same L2 questions in the hallway or in the cafeteria they would look at me with a blank stare, pause and say, “huh?”

Confused-student

Why?

Why COULDN’T they answer (in an improvised, or real-life, situation) the same questions they were correctly answering during the classroom games/activities?

I think it was because I was asking them to do something I never prepared them to do.

Here’s what I mean:

At the beginning of my teaching career I taught students L2 by speaking L1.  I used a lot of different strategies to help them memorize L2 to L1 translations.  When I planned my lessons, the question in my head usually went something like this: “What can I do during class today to make sure my students know that, ‘¿Cómo estás?’ means, ‘How are you?'” (Side Note: Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t think that this is necessarily a WRONG approach to teach a foreign language.  I don’t believe there is one BEST way to teach L2 in every academic setting.  For more on this click here.)

So we would practice…and memorize…and repeat…and play practice games…and sing practice songs.

Some things went well.  The students could participate.  Some students would get good at winning those practice games.  But when I asked some of those winning students to answer one of those L2 questions at random outside of class it would always seem like they would think the following thoughts:

“Uh oh.  Sr. Howard just asked me a Spanish question that I think I’m supposed to know.  He said, ‘¿Cómo estás?’  Ummm…wait…I know that one.  What does ‘¿Cómo estás?’ mean again?  Oh yeah.  It means, ‘how are you?’  Okay wait…I know this.  Ummm.  So if he’s asking me ‘how are you?’ I need to tell him how I’m feeling.  Okay.  I’m feeling good.  But what is, ‘I’m feeling good,’ in Spanish?  Oh yeah…that’s, ‘estoy bien,’ I think.  Okay…so he says…’¿Cómo estás?’…and I say, ‘estoy bien.’  I hope this is right.”

Do you see their struggle?  Do you see how they couldn’t use L2 naturally because they were trying to make connections between the two languages in their heads?

My classroom activities weren’t fully preparing them to use L2 naturally in a real-life situation.

There was a missing link.  They were learning things ABOUT L2.  But they weren’t quite able to connect what they were learning to real-life.

During the last few years I’ve made some changes to my approach to teaching a foreign language.  The changes have helped me learn what thousands of foreign language educators already know.  I’m not well acquainted with the available research on foreign language teaching approaches/methods.  So I can’t astutely describe the changes I’ve made.  But a phrase popped into my head the other day that sums it up well for me:

Language To Language OR Language To Living

In 2012 I decided to start teaching a foreign language by staying in the target language.  Together with my students, I’ve thrown L1 out the window.  With no L1, the students don’t spend time making connections between two languages.  Now there’s only L2.  And the L2 is connected to all the things that happen when we’re together.  (See video examples here.)

I’ve observed some things that have surprised me.  The one surprising thing that I’ll take the time to point out now is MY STUDENTS CAN DO IT!  They can answer those same, simple L2 questions even when we’re outside of the classroom.  We’ll run into each other at the local mall…AND THEY CAN ANSWER THEM.  I’ll see them at the food store…AND THEY CAN ANSWER THEM.  Outside on the playground…THEY CAN ANSWER THEM.  Even the youngest students!  Even after I haven’t seen them for 2 months during summer break!

The difference is that I don’t use class time to practice Language To Language connections.  I use class time to foster Language To Living connections.

I probably would’ve realized these things years ago if I would’ve taken the time to read the available foreign language acquisition research.  Instead I’ve had to stumble upon it on my own.  But slowly, I’m getting it.  I’m getting that…:

  • …when I effectively teach a foreign language by speaking the foreign language, the students will have been experiencing in the classroom what they’ll need in order to use L2 naturally outside of the classroom.
  • if I DO CHOOSE to teach a foreign language by speaking L1, I’ll need to make sure that I set aside the necessary class time to help them make that next connection.  I can’t only spend time helping them make connections between two languages.  I have to help them make the connection between the L2 they’ve learned and the real life situations they’ll have to use it in.

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).

How My Walls Help Me Stay In The Target Language

Here are some pictures of what I have on my walls.  Underneath the pictures you’ll find descriptions of how I use it to stay in the target language.

los meses del año

los meses del año

I keep a list of the months of the year posted on the side of my whiteboard.  I refer to them everytime my students have to fill out the heading (in the target language) on the top of their papers.  I like highlighting the current month (notice ‘septiembre’ in pink) to help students easily identify the answer to questions like, “What month are we in?” during routines like this one. (video post of a product I use for my calendar routine).

¿Qué hora es?

¿Qué hora es?

lista de los números en español

lista de los números en español

los colores en español

los colores en español

I like to have commonly used L2 questions and answers on my walls.  It helps reduce the amount of times students have that clueless look on their face when I ask them a question.  If they don’t know how to respond, I can quickly point to the wall that has the appropriate reference tool for them.

image

A card like this one is on the corner of every student desk.  Students are given a number on a flash card when they arrive at class.  They must take their flash card and match it to the corresponding written number on the corner of the desk.  This becomes their assigned seat for the day.  (Other routines for upper elementary L2 learners)

una alfombra de colores

una alfombra de colores

I chose this rug for my room because it had distinct and bold color spaces.  I can ask students to walk to (or sit on) whatever L2 color I say.  It’s great for giving and responding to directions in the target language. (Click here, here and here for some video clips on learning the colors in Spanish)

días de la semana

días de la semana

The days of the week are posted on the whiteboard so students can easily answer calendar routine questions like, “What day is it?” and, “What day was yesterday?”

What do you have up in your foreign language classroom?  How does it help you and your students stay in the target language?

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

 

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

Instructional Strategies: Targeted Repetition

My youngest brother grew up in the public school system in which I’ve been teaching Spanish for the last 10 years.  I gave him a quick Spanish quiz this morning as we were hanging out on vacation.  I said:

  • If, “I have internet.” = “Tengo internet.” and
  • “I don’t have internet.” = “No tengo internet.”
  • …how do you say, “I sometimes have internet,” in Spanish?

He thought about it for a while and, after getting a hint, he was able to say “A veces tengo internet.”  Our family congratulated him, for his demonstration of L2 retention, and he immediately said, “That’s one thing that the Vineland Public Schools sure did: REPETITION”

If you were familiar with my district’s L2 program two decades ago, you would know that he wasn’t necessarily complimenting the curriculum or instructional methods.  The curriculum (through grade 8) was basically the same set of thematic units repeated every year.  He implied that the program wasn’t inspirational, innovative or effectively structured.  However, he admitted that the repetition of the same content each year DID contribute to his ability to retain some things.  In short:

REPETITION IS GOOD

Why is repetition a helpful instructional strategy in the 90+% TL classroom?

1- Repetition creates a familiar environment in the L2 classroom.  For L2 learners, L2 is a very unfamiliar thing.  Unfamiliarity can cause some students to be uncomfortable, intimidated, and vulnerable.  Teachers can make ‘the feel,’ of an L2 classroom, more comfortable if they consistently recycle content and activities.

2- Repetition enables L2 acquisition and retention.  Sometimes I ask my students to teach me the language they speak with their family.  IT’S HARD!  If I ask them to teach me a Turkish greeting phrase, I can’t produce it the next day until I’ve heard them repeat it to me many times.  The syllables sound so unfamiliar.  The progression of sounds just doesn’t stick in my head.  It seems like I have to hear it a thousand times (over a series of days/weeks) before I can produce the phrase without reading or repeating it.  These experiences have helped me be patient with L2 learners in my class.  I say the same basic things over and over again knowing that my students need to hear it a thousand times before they’re able to produce L2 content on their own.

3- Repetition makes lesson planning less complicated.  Lesson planning is very important.  However lesson planning can get overwhelming if a teacher feels like the students need to experience new content and fresh activities every day.  Instead, create meaningful and targeted routines that allow students to repeatedly encounter target vocabulary in meaningful, focused and comprehensible ways.  It will help students feel more comfortable and help teachers feel less busy.

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

Instructional Strategies For the 90+% Target Language Classroom: Routines

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

Teaching a foreign language, by staying in the target language at least 90% of the time, can make students feel uncomfortable (especially at first).  Your words can sound completely unfamiliar, especially to a novice speaker.

One of the easiest ways to make students feel more comfortable in an immersion setting is by creating meaningful routines.

Routines …:

  • …allow students to anticipate what will happen next.  (When students know what to expect, they will be less confused by the unfamiliar sounds of the target language.)
  • …help create a structure that enhances comprehension.  (The target language without context and repetition is almost meaningless.)
  • …allow for target vocabulary repetition.

Check out these video clips.  The three clips show Señor Howard using routines as an effective instruction strategy for the 90+% target language classroom.  In the next blog I’ll discuss how these routines, and others can help enhance comprehension in the immersion setting.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com@HolaSrHoward

Management Strategies for the 90+% TL Classroom – Ensure That You Are Pairing (Part 1)

A teacher’s chances of winning the behavior management battle, in a 90+% TL classroom, soar when she excels at pairing incomprehensible L2 input equivalent  and comprehensible extralinguistic forms of input.  Student tendency to engage in off-task behavior increases when he/she doesn’t understand what is happening in class.  Therefore, a 90+%-TL-using-teacher should have a goal of causing students to understand most of what’s happening in an L2 immersion environment.

How can a foreign language PAIR effectively?

1.  Use Fewer Words – When speaking in front of students, many teachers think that they need to sound like a native speaker.  This is, generally, NOT a good practice.  Staying in the TL (depending upon the proficiency level of the students) isn’t about sounding like a native speaker.  Don’t try to string together fancy sounding words.  Don’t try to speak quickly and fluidly.  These actions actually make incomprehensible L2 input feel more aversive to L2 learners.  And when this happens, students easily lose hope and give up.

Instead, teachers should consider the following principles in order increase the chance that a student will be willing to engage in an L2 immersion environment:

  • Use fewer words
  • Speak slowly
  • Insert brief pauses between words
  • Focus primarily on using vocabulary from the day’s performance objectives.

I learned the ‘Use Fewer Words’ principle when my daughter was 10-20 months old.  I quickly learned better ways to verbally instruct my crawling, non-language-using daughter to stay out of the kitchen?  Obviously a parent should not say something like: “Infant daughter, there are some dangerous things in the kitchen.  Furthermore your father and mother are not in there to supervise you.  Therefore our desire is for you to stay in the living room with us.”  In a situation like this, a parent needs to eliminate extra words.  I took my daughter to the threshold between the kitchen and living room.  I pointed to the kitchen side of the threshold and said, “NO, NO, NO.”  I pointed to the living room side of the threshold and said, “YES, YES, YES.”  I took the extra time to repeat these statements 3 or 4 times.  She was able to understand because I used fewer words and I made their meaning obvious.  If I would’ve used 4 sentences with complex ‘native speaker level words’ my daughter wouldn’t have even listened or looked at me.  (In teacher words: she would’ve engaged in off-task behavior.)

These same principles can be applied to foreign language classrooms.  When communicating with L2 learners, eliminate extra words.  Take extra time to ensure that your words are paired with comprehensible extralinguistic input.  Use situations, and context, to make words and phrases meaningful.  The more understandable the input is, the easier it will be for students to stay on-task during learning activities.

 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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