One of the biggest threats to students understanding what is happening in the foreign language setting is teachers who use too many words. Wanting to sound impressive in the target language, some teachers use complicated sentences spoken at very fast rates. Although this may sound pretty to proficient speakers, it sounds like a jumble of chaos to language learners.
80% of the comprehensible input battle will be won if you drastically reduce the amount of words that you use during instruction.
Instead of using lots of words in the target language:
- Focus on using words associated with your performance objective(s) for that day. …and use those words and phrases repeatedly.
- Train yourself and your class to feel comfortable with silence. Only fill silence with words in the target language that are meaningful or that help students take steps towards mastering the day’s perfomance objectives.
- Try to reduce the amount of words for a direction you give. For example, instead of saying in the target language “I want you to walk on this side of the hallway” say “This side.” or “This side please.” Another example: Instead of saying in the target language, “I want the boys to sit on this side of the rug and the girls to sit on this side of the rug,” say “Boys here and girls here”
- Try to incorporate words you use often into routines. This allows students to hear important target vocabulary repeatedly and in a context that is anticipated, safe and comfortable.
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