Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Have” & “To Want” Verbs

Goodbye memorization.  Adiós drills.  Auf Wiedersehen worksheet packets.

Say hello, bonjour and 您好 to students beginning to say, “I forgot I was learning a language,” “I learned it without even trying,” and “I can’t believe that was so easy.”

Teachers can make learning L2 grammar natural and almost effortless.

Teaching grammar doesn’t have to be a headache for you or your students.

Read the following transcript of how a foreign language teacher makes even acquiring L2 grammar skills easy for her L2 students.  (Note:  The transcript is written in English, although you should imagine the teacher saying all of her statements in the language that you teach.  i.e. French, Russian, Arabic, etc.)

“Hello students.”

(Students stand at the entrance of the foreign language classroom.)

“John. You sit here.  (Teacher points to the chair in which John should sit.)  Stacey.  You sit here.  Carlos.  You sit here.  Jenny.  You sit here.”  (Etc. until all the students are seated.)

“And I…  …I sit here.  (Teacher sits down.)  No.  No, no, no.  I don’t sit here.  (Teacher moves to a different seat.)  I sit here.   Mmm…no.  I don’t sit here, either.  No, no, no.  (Teacher moves to yet a different seat.)  I sit here.  Yes.  Yes.  That’s right.  I sit here.  I don’t sit there (Teacher points to her first chair).  I don’t sit there.  (Teacher points to her second chair).  I sit here.  Yes.  Here is where I sit.”

(Teacher has a bag.  Inside the bag is a variety pack of breakfast cereals.  Teacher pulls out an individual box of Cheerios and prepares to speak very slowly and with intention.)

Using fun and inexpensive food can help you teach grammar by staying in the target language and making it FUN!

Put the textbooks and your use of L1 aside. Instead use Cheerios to help your students acquire even tough L2 grammar skills in a fun and natural way.

“Class.  I have Cheerios.   Mmmmmm.  Delicious.  I have Cheerios.  Delicious, delicious, delicious.  I have Cheerios.  I have Cheerios and I like Cheerios.”  (Teacher points to a student across the room.)  “You. (Teacher gives an evil smile.)  You don’t have Cheerios.  I have Cheerios but you don’t.  You don’t have Cheerios.  Only me.  I have Cheerios.  Delicious, delicious Cheerios.”  (Teacher points to another student.)  “You.  (Evil smile.)  You don’t have Cheerios.  I have Cheerios but you don’t.  You don’t have Cheerios. AND you (Teacher points to the first student.) you don’t have Cheerios.  But I do.  I have Cheerios.”

(Teacher stands up with Cheerios in hand.  Teacher writes on the board the following L2 sentences.  “I have Cheerios.”  “You don’t have Cheerios.”)

(Teacher starts walking around the room, with her box of Cheerios, pointing to various students.)

“I have Cheerios.  But you don’t.  You don’t have Cheerios.  And you don’t.  You don’t have Cheerios.  And you don’t.  And you don’t have.  And you don’t have.  And you don’t have.  And you don’t have Cheerios.”  (Teacher continues until she has pointed to all students and told them that they don’t have Cheerios.)

(Teacher sits down back in her chair.  Teacher looks satisfied.  Teacher takes a deep, satisfied breath and says:)

“But I do.  I do have.  I have Cheerios.”

(Long dramatic pause.  Class is completely silent.)

(Teacher looks at the student next to her, named William.  Teacher pulls out a second individual box of Cheerios.  Teacher looks at the second box of Cheerios.  Teacher looks at William.  Looks back at Cheerios.  Looks back at William.  Teacher shrugs her shoulders and, with a happy smile on her face, gives the second box of Cheerios to William.)

(Teacher stands up and writes the following three sentences on the board: “I have Cheerios.  William has Cheerios.  You don’t have Cheerios.)

(Teacher goes around the room repeating the following phrases in the target language:  “I have Cheerios.  William has Cheerios.  But you don’t have Cheerios.”)

(Teacher takes out 4 more boxes of Cheerios.  Teacher asks random students:)

“Do you want Cheerios?”  (Teacher models how to say, “Yes I want Cheerios,” with the two hand method.  Teacher continues to walk around the room asking, “Do you want Cheerios?” and helping students to say, “I want Cheerios,” or, “Yes, I want Cheerios.”)

(Teacher gives the 4 boxes of Cheerios to 4 students who are sitting especially quiet, attentive and still.)

(Teacher writes on the board (in the target language) “Who has Cheerios?”  “_____ has Cheerios.”  “Who doesn’t have Cheerios?”  “______ doesn’t have Cheerios.”  Additionally, the teacher may choose to write, “Does _____ have Cheerios?”  “Yes, ______ has Cheerios.  No, _______ doesn’t have Cheerios.”)

(Standing next to the written sentences on the board, Teacher begins asking students the target questions and helps students respond by pointing to each word in the correct answer.  After each student attempts an L2 answer, the student should be rewarded. i.e. classdojo.com points.  Teacher continues this discussion (in L2) until class time is over.  If students get bored (from the repetitiveness) Teacher may choose to stop the activity and show some related L2 videos or do some other attention-getting activity.)

REFLECT: What did the students experience during this activity?

  • The teacher stayed in the target language.
  • The students realized that they could easily survive in an L2-immersion environment.
  • The students naturally learned some subject pronouns.
  • The students learned some first person, second person and third person verb conjugations.
  • The students naturally learned how to make something negative.
  • The students saw L2 in written form.
  • The students practiced responding to L2 questions with complete L2 answers.
  • The students got rewarded every time they offered L2 answers.

Your approach to teaching a foreign language can have a huge difference in what your students experience in the L2 classroom.  Your approach makes the difference between students thinking that it’s:

  • challenging or easy.
  • complicated or simple.
  • overwhelming or exciting.
  • work-intensive or second-nature.
  • intentional or natural.

I’m starting to realize that foreign language teachers CAN structure an L2 learning environment to give students an experience of actually forgetting that they are learning a second language.  If it’s done right, students can actually learn L2 without even trying to learn L2.  (More on this in future blog posts)

My next blog posts will be like this one.  I’ll give many additional examples of how to teach different verbs, L2 question words, subject pronouns, past, present and future tenses and more.

How about you?  How do you make learning L2 grammar as easy and as natural as possible for your students.  Leave comments below.

 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).

Part 1 – Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: “To Have” and “To Want” Verbs

 Part 2 – Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Introducing “To (NOT) Want”

Part 3 –  Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Teaching How Change in Quantity Affects The L2 Sentence

Part 4 –  Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Teaching Future Tense of “To Eat”

Part 5 –  Step-By-Step Guide for Teaching Grammar In The Target Language: Teaching Past Tense of “To Eat”

How To Avoid “Freaking Out” Novice L2 Learners When Staying In The Target Language

Great question on Twitter, yesterday, from a high school french teacher named Martha Behlow:  (Link for tweet here)

90% target language in upper levels is realistic, but what about levels 1 & 2?  How do you keep them from freaking out?

There were some wonderful answers offered by Virginia Rinaldi, Cecile Laine, Laura Sexton and Kristi Placido (As of 12:57pm ET on 12/8/2014).  In more words, or less, they suggested the following: (live links below for further reading on each topic from Tuesday’s Tips…)

I’ll add my thoughts here:

1- Picture your novice/intermediate-low students as infants and toddlers learning their first language.  (Easier to do if you are a parent)  Doing this will help you avoid thinking,

“Ahhh!  ACTFL says students and teachers should stay in the target language at least 90% of the time!!  How am I supposed to do that with novice learners!?!”

You wouldn’t expect your 10-month-old to produce very much L1.  Older infants might only be able to attempt single words or parts of words.  To communicate their thoughts and feelings, they would rely on signs, body language and noises.  Verbal communication is led/directed/initiated by the adult.  The dynamic should be the same in the L2 classroom.  Your novice learners shouldn’t be expected to carry on conversations in the target language, just like you wouldn’t expect your 1-year-old to carry the conversation around the dinner table.  Novice language learners need to be observers.  They need to hear L1 in context.  They need to hear L1 in comprehensible forms.  When language is comprehensible, and when there’s repeated opportunities to hear the CI in a meaningful context, language will be naturally acquired.

This doesn’t mean that novice learners don’t need to be immersed in L2.  They do!

2- Novice learners don’t need L1.  They can be very successful in an L2 immersion environment.  Use the following effective and practical strategies to stay in the target with novice learners:

3- Not only can novice students SURVIVE in an L2 immersion environment – THEY CAN THRIVE.  When you teach a foreign language by speaking L1, you tend be a “skills instructor” and a “memorization facilitator”.  It’s not a very natural approach and it doesn’t yield very organic results.  Consider an analogy of a tree; where the tree is your student and his ability to produce L2 is like a tree’s ability to display fruit.  Being a skills instructor is like being a farmer who’s trying to hang individual pieces of fruit on the branches of a tree.  It’s awkward.  It’s not natural.  It looks a bit funny to see fruit pieces duct-taped or stapled to the branches of a tree.  The fruit won’t stay up there for very long before it falls off.  Using L1 to teach L2 is a strategy that doesn’t focus on a learner’s “language root system.”

According to this analogy, a novice speaker might have 10 pieces of L2-fruit that you’ve helped them hang up.  An intermediate speaker might have 50 pieces of L2-fruit that you’ve helped them hang.  If you have a highly motivated “skills memorizer” in your class, you might be able to help them hang one or two hundred pieces of L2-fruit on their tree.

When you stay in the target language and ensure that input is comprehensible, you are focusing on the student’s root system.  You are no longer focused on producing fruit by duct taping it up on the foreign language proficiency tree.  You are feeding the tree.  You are nourishing the tree.  The tree might not produce L2 fruit right away.  But it will in time; and the fruit it produces will emerge on it’s own.  And it will continue to produce fruit on its own even when there’s no instructor their to duct tape it on.  Watching your students produce L2 fruit on their own is so exciting.  (See more on this analogy/topic by clicking here.)

4- Don’t talk over their heads. In other words: DON’T USE TOO MUCH L2 VOCABULARY.  Try to only say the words they know.  And say those words over and over and over again.  Language learners (including infants learning L1) need to hear new words and phrases over and over before they acquire and produce those language terms on their own.

You might ask, Sr. Howard…“what the -ell am I supposed to do with my novice students for 200 minutes or more a week if 1- I’m supposed to stay in the target language? and 2- If I’m only supposed to say a handful of words!?!”  For my answer, check out the links under point #2 of this blog or some of the following links:

Keep the conversation going!  How do you help your novice students not “freak out” when you speak in the target language?  Leave comments below.

 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).

The Benefits of Insulting Students In The Target Language

Warning: don’t try this staying-in-the-target-language strategy if you struggle with behavior management in the classroom.

This year I’ve been developing a very fun, very silly and very effective instructional strategy to teach the following L2 components while staying in the target language:

  • subject pronouns
  • irregular verb conjugations
  • ‘to be’ verbs
  • making something negative (i.e. “I am,” vs. “I am not.”)

It all started when I began calling myself Superman in front of the students.

I learned to use INSULTS to help students learn difficult aspects of a foreign language.

I learned to use INSULTS to help students learn difficult aspects of a foreign language.

Whenever I had to move a heavy desk, or pick up a chair, or when I balanced a yard stick on my hand, I would always follow with, “I am Superman,” in the target language.  They would laugh at me and I could immediately tell, by the look on their faces, that they wanted to tell me that I wasn’t Superman.  They wished that they knew how to say, “Señor Howard…you ARE NOT Superman,” in the target language.  In order to help them learn how, I used the “Two-Hand Method.”

The students learned and they loved it!  They loved insulting me!

The next time I said, “I am Superman,” almost the entire class said, “You ARE NOT Superman,” in unison.  I put an offended look on my face.  I pretended that I was insulted because they said that I wasn’t Superman.  I put my hand on my hip.  I shook a finger in their face.  When they laughed, I continued pretending to be offended.  Then, while still looking offended, I paused.  And when the moment was perfect (while everyone was watching quietly with a huge amount of curiousity as to how I was going to proceed) I emphatically repeated, “Yes I AM Superman.”  The students would immediately laugh and keep telling me, “You ARE NOT Superman!” all in the target language.

Just in case there were a few students who were lost, I wrote the target phrases on the board like this:

“I am Superman” | “Yes I’m Superman”

“You are NOT Superman” | “No you’re not Superman”

Some of the students felt strange to be insulting their foreign language teacher.  So in order to help them know that I was really proud of them for using the target language in this way, and in order to motivate them to continue this behavior, I gave them lots of points on classdojo.com.  (See my classdojo post here and Sra. Spanglish’s post here for using classdojo for motivating foreign language students to stay in the target language.)

Using this strategy, I was able to indirectly teach students some subject pronouns, some verb conjugations, how to make something negative, etc.  By writing it on the board I was giving them some L2 literacy skills.  And we were all having a blast!

When they had enough practice insulting me, I settled things down by giving them points on classdojo and then moving on with what I had been teaching.  Now I repeat this activity at random times throughout my lessons, whenever I do something impressive (i.e. lifting a chair or balancing something or modeling the target language).

I’ve taken this idea a step further by starting to insult my students.  In order to make the insults friendly and fun, I use the names of popular cartoon characters from TV or from movies.  I might look at a 4th grade boy and say (in the target language), “You are Dora,” or you are, “Princess Ana/Queen Elsa.”

Insutling students (in a thoughtful way) can help them learn tough L2 skills without even trying!

Insutling students (by calling them cartoon character names, in a thoughtful way) can help them learn tough L2 skills without even realizing it!

All the students laugh and don’t even realize they are learning “to be” verb conjugations and subject pronouns.

In order to keep the student from being embarrassed, I prompt the boy to insult me back.  He might respond with, “You are Barney,” or, “You are Doc McStuffins.”  I’m careful to always let the student win the insult battle, so that he doesn’t feel embarrassed.  I also make sure that the experience is rewarding (and not threatening) by giving him classdojo points or rewards after participating.  When fellow students see that there is great reward in insulting their language teacher, they start calling out insults in the target language.  It’s fun!  And students learn so much!

Students will learn advanced L2 skills without even trying if the experience is meaningful, fun, 100% in the target language, and contextualized.

Have you had any success using this strategy or strategies like it?  Share your stories and comments below.

 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).

Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (part 2 – “circling”)

You don’t have to use L1 to introduce new vocabulary to foreign language students.  Instead, stay in the target language by using any of the following techniques:

I recently watched a FLENJ webinar with Joshua Cabral as the presenter.  He talked about “circling” as a great way for introducing new vocabulary AND staying in the target language.  The big point of his whole webinar was how to make language acquisition meaningful.  (It was really good.  See my notes/reflections here.)

Joshua Cabral would ask, “why have students repeat a new vocabulary word 5 times when you can introduce the same word 5 times meaningfully by using the “circling” strategy?”

“Circling” is a thoroughly developed, well documented TPRS strategy.  I don’t have the skill to introduce the strategy comprehensively.  But Joshua’s brief, simple tips can go a long way in helping a foreign language teacher introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language.

  1. Show a picture of the vocabulary word you are introducing. (i.e. an airplane)
  2. Ask a question that get’s a “yes” or “no” answer. (i.e. “Is this an airplane?”)
  3. Ask an either/or question.  (i.e. “Is this an airplane or a train?”)
  4. Ask a question requiring a negative response. (i.e. “This is a train, right?”)
  5. Ask a question that requires a one-word answer. (i.e. “What color is the airplane?”)
  6. Ask an open ended question.  (i.e. “Where can you travel in an airplane?”)

Joshua also says that:

  • Circling gets students to think in the target language.
  • When new words are presented in context the chances for retention/acquisition increase.
  • You don’t have to use all 5 circling questions types all the time.  You know your students.  Use any or all of them and develop a routine that words well for your students to discover new L2 words in meaningfully and in context.

Joshua wrote a post on this topic here.

Remember: when you introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language it provides students with so many opportunities to learn L2 easily (and even accidentally.  Stay in the target language and they will learn things that you haven’t even tried to help them learn.  Stay in the target language and you’ll help them produce “L2 Fruit” independently, creatively and for years to come.

 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).

Introduce New Vocabulary AND Stay In The Target Language (“i+1”)

It can be done.  There are many different ways to introduce new L2 vocabulary while staying in the target language.  Stay tuned to this blog (over the next few Tuesday’s) for posts on…

…how to introduce new vocabulary AND stay in the target language.

1- Use What They Know To Help Them Progress (“i+1”)

This method is simple and extremely effective.  (Watch a video clip of Señor Howard modeling this technique with some simple Spanish words.)  Let’s say, for example, that students know the L2 colors.  Now you can easily teach any L2 noun by displaying 2 different pictures of the same noun but in different colors.  Like this:

"Red Bird"

Picture 1 – RED BIRD  (There are a lots of ways to teach new vocabulary WHILE staying in the target language.)

 

"Green Bird"

Picture 2 – GREEN BIRD (Use two pictures, like these, to introduce new vocabulary AND stay in the target language.)

Here are some examples of how you can introduce new vocabulary using these two pictures:

  • Teacher says, “Michael, stand up.  Point to the RED bird.” (Interpretive Mode)
  • Teacher points to the green bird and says, “Michael, is this the RED bird.” (Interpersonal Mode)
  • Teacher says, “Class, which is the RED bird?  Picture 1 or Picture 2?”
  • Teacher says, “Michael what color is THIS bird?” (teacher is pointing to one of the pictures).  If the student needs is stuck, ask this follow up question, “Is THIS bird GREEN or is THIS bird RED?”
  • Teacher puts the pictures at opposite ends of the room.  Teacher says, “Class point to the RED bird.”  Teacher says, “Class point to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Michael, stand up and walk to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Boys, stand up and walk to the GREEN bird.”  Teacher says, “Girls, stand up and walk to the RED bird.”  Teacher says, “Boys, SIT DOWN.”  Teacher says, “Girls, SIT DOWN.”

The principle is this: use what the students already know to help them acquire new L2 vocabulary.  The principle comes from Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis.  Krashen says a learner will acquire language when they receive L2 input that is ONE STEP beyond his/her current stage of linguistic competence.  (This principle is commonly reffered to as “i+1” in the foreign language teaching profession.)

When you introduce new vocabulary by staying in the target language it provides students with so many opportunities to learn L2 easily (and even accidentally.  Stay in the target language and they will learn things that you haven’t even tried to help them learn.  Stay in the target language and you’ll help them produce “L2 Fruit” independently, creatively and for years to come.

 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).

No Duct-Taping L2 Fruit On The Foreign Language Proficiency Tree

A grower’s ambition is to cultivate her fruit trees so that they produce plentiful fruit for years to come.  And that’s the goal we have for our foreign language students: we want them to grow, mature and blossom; bearing healthy L2-fruit, not just in the classroom, but in their future workplaces and communities.  Whenever our students show evidence of L2-fruit on their outstretching language branches, we celebrate their steps towards target language acquisition.

How do we ensure our language students will bear healthy L2 fruit for years to come?

How do we ensure our language students will bear healthy L2 fruit for years to come?

Unfortunately, some of the methods used in our profession reveal a misunderstanding of the way L2-fruit is produced.  Instead of providing instruction that fosters natural and independent L2-fruit production, we take pieces of L2 fruit and try to duct tape them onto our students’ branches.  Learners will have a hard time producing healthy, lasting L2-fruit when our primary work is:

  • facilitating the memorization of uncontextualized vocabulary lists.
  • modeling how to use a foreign language grammar reference book to successfully conjugate verbs on their homework.
  • giving out word searches and crossword puzzles for ‘foreign language fun time’.
  • practicing verb conjugation raps from YouTube that help memorization but leave the students unsure of what to do when it comes to applying the skill during a conversation task.
  • conducting conversation activities that are motivated by a need to practice isolated skills rather than a purpose to engage in meaningful communication.

These efforts might allow students to display some L2 knowledge for a test or classroom activity.  However, it’s quickly evident that it doesn’t produce lasting L2 fruit.  (How many times have you heard an adult say, “I don’t remember anything from my high school language courses?”)

We must stop duct-taping L2-fruit on students’ foreign language branches and start focusing on their foreign language root system.

I’ve changed my focus.  For almost three years I’ve started following ACTFL’s recommendation of staying in the target language for over 90% of class time.  (Side note: speaking in the target language doesn’t magically make your students acquire the target language.  Unless you effectively PAIR incomprehensible L2 with meaningful, compelling and corresponding extralinguistic input, you’ll be wasting your time.)

Since I’ve made the switch, my students surprise me by what they can do with the language:

  • Today I told students that we are in the month of November and a 4th grader raised his hand and said (in the target language,) “My birthday is in November.”  Perfect sentence structure.  Correct form of the verb.  The last time we formally discussed that phrase in a lesson was10 months ago when he was in 3rd grade.
  • A 1st grader got excited that she beat a fellow student in around the world (to practice identifying numbers).  The boy next to her forgot to sit down after he was beaten.  She looked at him pridefully and said (in the target language), “Sit down.”  (We’ve never formally practiced that word).
  • My kindergarten students (whom I’ve seen for less than 240 minutes of instruction) come into the classroom and start tip toeing around the reading rug.  I say (in the target language), “Class, count to 10,” and they do.
  • Today my fourth graders were shouting at me in unison (in the target language), “It’s not for Adam.  It’s for Nehemiah!” because I was giving the pen to the wrong person.
  • We pass out papers, split up into groups, explain the instructions to games, administer formal assessments using Turning Technology data collection devices, and more ALL IN THE TARGET LANGUAGE.
  • Click here to watch video demonstrations of how I teach my students while staying in the target language.

It’s working!  Students are producing L2 spontaneously and creatively.  They don’t need L2-fruit duct-taped to their branches.  Their root system is developing.  They are producing fruit on their own.

Just like with fruit trees:

1- There is a dormant/silent period when L2 learners are immersed in a foreign language environment.  Don’t expect students to produce fruit right away.  Fruit trees don’t.  It takes several seasons for fruit to develop.  While the students are in their ‘silent’ period:

2- Don’t be discouraged if you start out with a low-yielding fruit output.  Fruit trees gradually produce more and more fruit with each season.  Don’t lose hope.  Keep focusing on the ‘root system’ by staying in the target language and making incomprehensible L2 input meaningful through PAIRING.

It’s being done.  Foreign language teachers are staying in the target language and effectively making input comprehensible.  Their students are producing L2 creatively and spontaneously inside and outside of the classroom.  Check out the writings from language professionals like these:

What about you?  What are your success stories?  How are you focusing on the root system to ensure your students are producing long lasting L2-fruit?  Leave comments below.

 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).

Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 4)

Sometimes I don’t know how to help novice learners (with almost NO L2 vocabulary foundation) practice language in the interpersonal mode.  I learned a great strategy at a RLRA presentation at ACTFL 2012.  Read below to see how well this activity can work for teaching basic vocabulary (like classroom object nouns).  Keep in mind that you can use the same activity for many different vocabulary units.

Use this activity to help students practice a conversation without having strong vocabulary foundation.

Use this activity to help students practice an L2 conversation without having a strong vocabulary foundation.

1-  Get the materials ready.  On index-sized cards, make a classroom set of pictures and their matching words.  (i.e. a picture of a pencil will be on one flash card and the L2 word for pencil will be on another flashcard.)  Make enough so that each student can have either a picture or one of the matching words.

How to practice the interpersonal mode when students don't even know basic nouns: Try using this conversation 'matching' activity:

Not sure how to practice the interpersonal mode when students don’t even know basic nouns in the TL? Try using this conversation ‘matching’ activity:

2- Here’s how the ‘Find Your Match’ activity goes.

  • Students are randomly giving 1 picture or 1 matching word.
  • All students hold their picture (or word) against their body so no one else can see.
  • Each student must use the target language to find ‘their match.’  Students find their match when they find the person that is holding the flashcard that matches or corresponds to theirs.  (i.e. The student with the L2 word for ‘pencil’ must find the student with the picture of the pencil.  The student with the L2 word for ‘scissors’ must find the student with the picture of the scissors.)
  • Students walk around the classroom asking their classmates the following question in the target language, “Do you have _____?”  (i.e. Do you have a pencil?  or Do you have scissors?)
  • When Student A asks Student B, “Do you have ____?” student B responds with, “Yes,” or, “No” in the target language.
  • If the answer is, “no,” then student A continues his/her search for the match by asking other students, “Do you have ____?”
  • If the answer is, “yes,” then the two students have found their match.  They must sit down quietly together until the rest of the class has found their match.

3- How to give students meaningful directions while staying in the target language.

  1. Make sure the students can pronounce all of the L2 words before you attempt this interpersonal mode activity.  If students don’t know how to say the word for the flashcard that’s in their hand, the activity will breakdown.
  2. Model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity with the help of 4 students.  Ask 4 students to come to the front of the class.  Give them 4 large, sample pictures (the same pictures that will be used in the ‘Find Your Match’ activity).  Have students hold the pictures in front of them so the whole class can see which picture they have.  Show the class that you have a written L2 word that matches one of the 4 pictures.  While the whole class is watching you, put a confused look on your face as you examine your word and the four pictures.  Go up to the first student (who is holding the first of 4 pictures).  Say in the target language, “Do you have ____?” (and say the word that your holding in your hand).  If the student stares at you, repeat the question and tell them to answer with “Yes” or “No” in the target language.  The answer should be “No.”  Go down the line and repeat this until you get the fourth picture which will be the matching picture.  After the 4th student says, “YES,” show excitement because you’ve found your match.  Then grab your “match’s” hand and sit down together to show that all students should sit down quietly until all other students have found their match.
  3. Ask a confident student to model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity with your guidance.  The confident student will repeat all the steps under #2 above.
  4. If the class still looks confused, ask another confident student to model the ‘Find Your Match’ activity.
  5. When it looks like most of the students get the gist of what’s happening, hand out the matching flash cards.  Each student should have one.
  6. Using the two hand method, signal the start of the “Find Your Match” activity.  Repeat, “Do you have ____?  Yes/No.” in the target language over and over so that the students realize that you are doing what they have to do with each other.
  7. Circulate through the room.  Remind students to sit down quietly when they have found their match.  Help the students who are not sure what to do.
  8. When everyone has found their match, consider mixing up the flash cards and starting again.

Thanks to RLRA for this idea.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

Part 1 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 2 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 3 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 4 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

 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).

Using Your Hands During Interpersonal Mode Instruction

It’s hard for novice learners to understand what’s happening when the instructor is staying in the target language.  All of the L2 words and phrases can sound like a jumble of unfamiliar syllables.  One of the most important jobs of a foreign language teacher is to pair those unfamiliar sounds with meaningful extralinguistic input through PAIRING.  Although there are a million things a teacher can do to PAIR, the more limited focus of this post is to share strategies for using your hands to make your instructions for interpersonal mode tasks more meaningful.

One of the biggest tricks that a foreign language teacher can have up her sleeve is: USE FEWER WORDS.  The more words you use the more you risk confusing your novice L2 learners.  So when you’re trying to communicate that…

  • …each student will have a partner and that
  • they will have to practice an L2 conversation that has the 4 following components…

…don’t throw in extra words!  It will be too difficult for novice learners to track with you if you say something like this in the target language: “With a partner, do the following:  Partner 1 says, “Hello.”  Partner 2 says, “Hello.”  Partner 1 says, “What is your name?” Partner 2 says, “My name is _____.”  Partner 1 says, “How are you feeling today?”  Partner 2 says, “I’m feeling _____.”  Both partners say, “Goodbye.”

During that string of instructions, many novice learners will not have the L2 skills to even understand that you are talking about 2 people saying things back and forth to each other. (Remember, it’s easy for novice learners to hear the target language as a jumble of foreign syllables.)  So break it down as easy as you can.  Try doing something like this:

1- Write the target conversation on the board like this:

  • 1- Hello.
  • 2- Hello.
  • 1- What is your name?
  • 2- My name is _____.
  • 1- How are you feeling today.
  • 2- I’m feeling _____.
  • 1- Goodbye.
  • 2- Goodbye.

2- Put your two hands up in the air pretending that each hand is a person.  Hand 1 is Partner 1 and Hand 2 is Partner 2.  Make your hands face each other.

foreign language teaching strategies

how to teach a foreign language by staying in the target language.

3-  Help students know that Hand 1 represents Partner 1 and Hand 2 represents Partner 2.  Do this by making Hand 1 and 2 talk to each other.  Say the word, “One,” in the target language while making Hand 1 talk.  Then say the word, “Two,” while making Hand 2 talk.  Repeat this three or four times.  Students will start making a connection between Hands 1 & 2 and the numbers 1 & 2 on the board written next to some L2 words.

4-  Continue helping students know that Hand 1 represents Partner 1 and Hand 2 represents Partner 2 by having your two hands act out the interpersonal conversation you have written on the board.

5-  Help students practice the conversation by having them raise their two hands like yours.  Repeat steps 3 and 4.  This time, however, have students repeat every word/phrase you say while making their hands 1 & 2 act out the conversation that’s written on the board.

If you follow steps 1 through 5 you will have effectively helped students know that what they are practicing is a conversation between two people.  They know which words Partner 1 should say and which words Parter 2 should say.  You’ve given them a model that allows your instruction to be comprehensible.  Your use of the two hand method has helped you reduce the amount of L2 words you’re saying; increasing the chance that they will understand your instructions.

Now students will be ready to successfully practice the conversation with a partner in class.

This two hand method is also helpful for teaching novice learners what the word, “repeat,” is in the target language.  Sometimes a very young learner will not know what to do if you say (in the TL), “Repeat after me: Red.”  If this is the case, use the two hand method to show that you want them to say the word that you are saying.

  • Stand close to the student.  (Maybe 3 feet apart)
  • Put Hand 1 in front of your mouth and pointing in the direction of the student.  (As if Hand 1 were talking to the student)
  • Say, “Repeat: Red.”
  • Then put Hand 2 closer to the student and point Hand 2 towards yourself.  (As if Hand 2 were talking back to the teacher)

This may help the student understand that you are expecting him to say the word that you are saying.  If the student still does not say the word “red” after you:

  • Keep your 2 hands in the same positions.
  • Put hand 1 in front of your mouth and say, “Red,” and make Hand 2 say, “red” from the direction of the student.
  • Repeat this fairly quickly 3 or 4 times.
  • On the last time, make Hand 1 say, “red,” but make Hand 2 be silent and look at the student as if your saying, “please say what Hand 2 was supposed to say.”
  • After these steps the students should be able to successfully learn that you want him to repeat what you are saying.

Remember, the point of the 2 hand method is to reduce the amount of words you say in the target language; increasing the chance that students will find meaning in your L2 immersion environment.

 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).

Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 3)

As a review, if you want novice learners to succeed during your interpersonal mode performance tasks…:

  • …keep the conversations teacher-led and teacher-initiated, at first.
  • …keep the L2 conversations super-simple.
  • …before you ask a student to respond to your L2 target question(s), make sure you’ve modeled the conversation plenty of times.
  • …show engaging, targeted and simple L2 conversations modeled on video. (like these and this)

When you’ve modeled and repeated the target conversation (until the students are almost sick of it), THEN it’s advisable to move past teacher-student conversations and onto student-student conversations.

1-  Start by letting CONFIDENT STUDENTS model the student-to-student target conversation in front of the class.

Don’t start by picking random students to model target conversations.  It’s intimidating and awkward for novice learners to practice a foreign language in front of their peers.  To them, the sounds of the L2 words are funny and strange.  Even if they know how to say the word, there’s a chance that they will feel awkward pronouncing the words in front of friends (since it’s not ‘normal’ or ‘familiar’ to them).  It’s even harder for ‘shy’ students to use the target language in front of their peers.  Always make sure you’re asking novice learners to do things that you are positive they can do well.  It’s important to not embarrass language learners.  Encourage future willingness to participate by doing things that increase student confidence.

By starting with confident students, less confident learners can watch to see what will happen if they stir up the courage to participate.  Reluctant students will watch to see…

  • …how the audience reacts to the student L2 speaker. (are they regarded as cool? dumb? stupid? a teacher’s pet? smart?)
  • …how the audience reacts to any mistakes the L2 speaker makes. (will they get laughed at?  encouraged?)
  • …how the teacher responds if the L2 speaker struggles. (does the teacher yell? smile? encourage? take points off?)
  • …what happens if the L2 speaker does well.
  • …what happens if the L2 speaker does poorly.
  • …etc.

If you want shy students to participate, make sure all students are warmly and genuinely praised for trying, regardless of if they’re successful or not.

2-  Have the target conversation written on the board.

This allows both the model students and the rest of the class to see what they need to say and to know what will be expected of them when it’s their turn.  It also gives the teacher a non-threatening way to prompt the student if he/she get’s stuck (just point to the script).

3-  Give lots of praise and meaningfully reward all students who participate.

Convince every observer that participating in L2 class will be positive, safe, non-threatening and rewarding.  Convince everybody that failure will not be followed with reprimand or any other negative consequence.  If a student is genuinely trying, they should always be encouraged and praised, even if they make mistakes.

4-  Be strict with students who make their peers feel embarrassed for trying.

5-  Eventually have all students, regardless of confidence level, attempt modeling the conversation.

6-  Repeat the target conversation chorally.

Let the students get lots of pronunciation practice.  Remember, their mouths aren’t used to moving in the new ways L2 requires.  Use your two hands as two puppets.  Make hand 1 say what person 1 is supposed to say.  Hand 2 models what person 2 should say.  It helps novice learners know that what’s happening is a L2 conversation.

7-  When students are very comfortable and familiar with the target conversation, allow them to practice without the direct supervision of the instructor.

There are many ways to do this.

  • You can make two lines of students and have them practice the conversation and then slide down the line and practice again with a new partner.
  • Depending on the target vocabulary, you can have students walk around the room writing down information that they discover after they speak in the target language with their peers.  (When is your birthday?  What is your favorite color?  What is your favorite food? How do you feel today?  What is your (fake) name? etc.)
  • You can arrange the desks/tables to put them in groups and practice the conversation with the peers they’ve been assigned to?
  • etc.

How about you?  What are ways that you help students have meaningful practice in the interpersonal mode in the foreign language classroom?  Leave comments below.

Part 1 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 2 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 3 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 4 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

 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).

Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (part 2)

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

If you want to help novice learners succeed during your interpersonal mode performance tasks, you’ll have to take it easy (at first) and keep things very simple.  Start by having lots of interpersonal conversations between person 1 (you: the teacher) and person 2 (the entire class together).

Here are 2 types of conversations that novice learners (even those who don’t have any L2 vocabulary foundation) can have with you:

1- Choice between two items.

Step 1 – Make sure students know what the L2 word is for 2 items.  The way I would do this is by taking two items out of a surprise bag or box.  (A pencil and a piece of paper, for instance)  Take item one (pencil) out of the bag.  Repeat the L2 word for pencil several times.  Consider passing the pencil around the room and having L2 learners repeat the L2 word for pencil.  Repeat the procedure for item 2 (a piece of paper).

Step 2 – Ask the entire class which item is which.  Ensuring that all attention is on you, hold up the pencil and ask the following phrase in the target language, “Is this the pencil or is this the paper?”  Students will most likely answer with the L2 word for pencil.  Affirm their correct answer by saying the following complete phrase in the target language, “Yes.  This is the pencil.”  Repeat the procedure with item 2 (paper).  “Is this the pencil or is this the paper?”  “Yes.  This is the paper.”

Step 3 – Ask an individual student which item is which.  Repeat the line of questioning with individual students as opposed to the entire class.

Step 4 – Add adjectives.  Pull out additional ‘surprise’ items.  (i.e. A big blue pencil and a small red pencil.)  Now (after establishing the L2 meaning for the adjectives) you can ask questions like, “Is this the big pencil or the small pencil?”  “Is this the red pencil or the blue pencil?”  “Is this pencil red and big or red and small?”  Etc.

You can repeat this type of interpersonal mode questioning with a wide variety of L2 vocabulary.  (i.e. “Is this the color green or is this the color blue?”  “Is this the number 7 or the number 17?”  “Is the mother’s name Elsa or is the mother’s name Anna?”)

2- Conversations about eating food.  (Video Example of Sr. Howard doing this in the target language)

It’s fun to talk about eating food in class.  Check to see if you have students with food allergies.  If no, proceed.

  • Take out a bag of Cheerios.  Pour some onto a plate.
  • Say things in the target language like, “Delicious,” “Yummy,” and “Good.”
  • Write the following TL phrase on the board, “I want ____.”
  • Say, “I want 5 Cheerios.”  Then count out 5 Cheerios and put them in your mouth.
  • Repeat the phrases “Delicious,” “Yummy,” and “Good” in the target language.
  • Say, “I want 7 Cheerios.”  Then count out 7 Cheerios and put them in your mouth.
  • Repeat the phrases “Delicious,” “Yummy,” and “Good” in the target language.
  • Ask the following in the target language, “Who wants Cheerios?” or “Do you want Cheerios?”
  • If someone raises their hand, point to the target phrase on the board and ask them to repeat, “I want Cheerios.”
  • Ask them if they want 5 Cheerios or 7 Cheerios.  If they say, “7,” ask them to repeat the complete phrase after you, “I want 7 Cheerios.”
  • Repeat this type of questioning as long as students are interested.

How about you?  What are ways you help your novice learners succeed in the interpersonal mode?  Leave comments below.

Part 1 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 2 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 3 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

Part 4 – Making The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners

 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).