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  “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 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 –

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