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 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 – – @HolaSrHoward

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