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 – Introduction

It’s not easy to teach a foreign language by staying in the TL.  Neither is managing off-task behavior.  When I considered following ACTFL’s recommendation, to stay in the TL at least 90% of the time, my biggest question was: “How do I effectively manage the classroom and keep students engaged?”

Without practical strategies for managing off-task behavior in an L2 setting, I felt like staying in the TL would never happen for me.  I needed to know…

  • …how to avoid students saying: “Sr. Howard, I don’t understand a word you’re saying!”
  • …how to avoid a disrespectful response after I reprimanded an off-task student in the target language. (i.e. ‘WHAT!?  WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SAYING!?’)
  • …how to motivate classes to stay engaged even though they didn’t understand every word I was saying.
  • …how to encourage on-task behavior without making the learner feel intimidated (as a result of the compliment being in a language they didn’t understand.)
  • …how to handle heritage speakers wanting to interupt instruction with direct translations of what I was saying.

After I attended ACTFL 2012, I took time to develop a new classroom management plan that would work for my students and me.  The plan worked!

Starting today, and over the next several weeks, I’ll share those practical ideas and strategies.  Remember: for students to acquire L2, while listening to only L2, the input needs to be comprehensible.  AND…For the input to be comprehensible the students need to be watching a contextualized source of instruction.  So classroom management is a HUGE deal.  Take it seriously.  Feel free to use any of these ideas (or adapt them) for use in your classroom.

What questions do you have about how to manage student behavior while staying in the target language?  Leave comments and questions below.

More posts on this topic:

Management Strategies – Increase Student Motivation

Management Strategies – Ensure That Input Is Comprehensible (Part 1)

Management Strategies – Ensure That Input Is Comprehensible (Part 2)

Management Strategies – Ensure That Input Is Comprehensible (Part 3)

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).

Comprehensible Input: Behavior Management is HUGE

Foreign language teachers spend a lot of time and energy preparing visuals, props and handouts so that their input with be comprehensible or understandable to their students.  But just remember…

…any effort to make input comprehensible IS WASTED if students aren’t completely engaged and paying attention.

This is such an important point that you can almost say “A comprehensible-input-issue is a classroom management issue”.  A foreign language instructor that wants to stay in the target language must have an excellent plan for behavior management.

If the students aren’t watching you and/or the point of instruction, none (or very little) of the input will be comprehensible.

Language learners (depending on their proficiency level) can’t rely on their sense of hearing to help them understand what’s being communicated.  Teachers need to use any number of strategies to help the spoken language be understood not through the students sense of hearing but through their sense of sight, or touch or through creating predictable situations where a limited amount of target vocabulary can be explored, experienced, experimented with…etc.  Consequently if input is to be comprehensible a student needs to be watching and engaged during all instructional activities.

A foreign language teacher should invest just as much energy into effective classroom management strategies as she/he does into strategies for making input comprehensible.

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

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).