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).

My Favorite Activity For Interpersonal Mode (With Links To Handouts)

Over the last several weeks we’ve discussed How To Make The Interpersonal Mode As Easy As Possible For Novice Learners (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Two Hands Technique For CI)

I’m excited, now, to share my favorite interpresonal mode activity with links to handouts that you can reproduce (or modify and reproduce if you teach a language other than Spanish).  I call it the:

Info Search Activity

Benefits of the Info Search Activity:

  • Use this activity for all levels of L2 proficiency. (Even novice learners!)
  • The activity can be adapted to help students practice conversing about a wide variety of topics.  (Consider using it at least once during every unit!)
  • All students are engaged.  (Students must talk, listen, read and write in the target language.)
  • All students get to walk around the room.  (No more bored students at their desks!)
  • There’s no excuse to use L1.
  • After the directions are given, there is little need for teacher involvement or supervision.  Teacher can use the time to circulate throughout the room participating or assessing student performance with a rubric.
Get your foreign language students talking with this great interpersonal mode activity!

Get your foreign language students talking with this great interpersonal mode activity!

How does the Info Search Activity work?

Click here for an video/visual explanation of how the activity works.

How to fascilitate the Info Search Activity:

1-  Pass out the directions worksheet (click here to view the Spanish version.  Feel free to translate this into other languages and reproduce for your students.)

2-  On the directions worksheet, students fill out their fake name and any other information you want them to exchange with other students. (i.e. how they feel, their birth date, their favorite food…etc.)

3-  Pass out the data collection sheet (or have it printed on the back side of the directions sheet).  (click here for Spanish version.)

4-  Students walk around the room with their data collection sheet asking each other target language questions in order to complete it..

Helpful tips for giving instructions (in the target language) for this activity:

1-  Fill out the directions worksheet together.  It’s helpful to project a copy of the worksheet on a SMART board to help students know what to fill out.

2-  Model and explain each step.  Circulate throughout the room, after every step of the instructions, to ensure that every student has filled out the directions form correctly.

3-  Write the target conversation on the board and have it printed on their data collection sheet.  This helps students know exactly what they are supposed to say in order to obtain data from their peers.

4-  With all students watching you, model how to collect data.  Pick a confident student.  Ask the student the target questions and record the data onto the SMARTboard copy of the data collection sheet.

5-  After students have watched you use the target language and record the data, pick a confident student to model the steps for recording data.  (Repeat this step with different students until you’re sure that each student knows what to do.)

6-  Practice the target conversation chorally as a class using the Two Hand Method.

7-  Instruct students to stand up and start using the target language to collect data and record it on their sheet.

8-  Circulate throughout the room to help confused students and/or to assess student performance on a rubric.

Remember, you can use this interpersonal mode activity for every unit!  Just change the content of the directions sheet so students can have a fun, engaging way to practice having L2 conversations.

For tips on managing student behavior during this activity click here.

What are other ways you get your students talking in the target language.  Feel free to post your 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

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

When working with novice L2 learners, I think facilitating interpretive mode activities is super easy.  It’s the interpersonal mode that I find more challenging.  I’m jealous of foreign language teachers that get to work with intermediate or advanced level students.  It seems a bit easier to launch students into L2 conversations if they have a vocabulary foundation to work with.  However, when I think of facilitating interpersonal mode activities with novice learners, questions like these come to mind:

  • How can I help students have conversations if they have little or no L2 vocabulary foundation?
  • How can I stay in the target language and give comprehensible orientation regarding how to navigate the interpersonal mode activities?
  • How can I help novice learners stay engaged if their L2 skills only enable them to carry a 1 or 2 sentence/phrase conversation?
  • How can I make L2 conversations exciting when the topics of such simple conversations tends to be dull? (i.e. “What’s your name?”  “How are you?  “I’m fine.”  etc.)
  • How can I teach students to have L2 conversations effectively enough to enable them to have these conversations spontaneously with other people outside my classroom?

Here are some principles I keep in mind when I try to encourage novice L2 learners to engage in the interpersonal mode:

1- Keep the conversations teacher-led and teacher-initiated at first.

Novice L2 learners aren’t going to be able to handle being sent off into groups to have L2 conversations.  You might be able to get away with it if you give them instructions in L1.  However if you’re trying to stay in the target language according to ACTFL’s recommendation, it’s better to keep it teacher-led and teacher-initiated at first.

Since novice learners generally lack confidence and hesitate to use the target language, I try to keep the spotlight off of any one individual student.  I have interpersonal conversations with the whole class.  I ask the entire class a question and ask them to respond.  (see video example 1 and video example 2)  Do this often.  It helps build confidence.  The repetition will help them understand and acquire the particular L2 component you are trying to teach.

If there is a student that shows confidence, try performing the interpersonal mode task with him or her.  Reward his/her willingness to participate with something more than verbal praise.  (I use classdojo.com for rewarding and redirecting while staying in the target language.  See this blog post for more info.)

2- Keep the L2 conversations super-simple.

Don’t try to teach too much L2 too fast.  L2 acquisition is a process.  Don’t try to bypass important steps.  Language learners need to hear the same things repeated many times in order to acquire L2.  In this video example, I make the interpersonal mode activity super-simple by asking students multiple choice questions that have only 2 options.

  • Step 1 – I make the L2 words for ‘boy’ and ‘girl’ comprehensible. (see video example)
  • Step 2 – I ask the class simple L2 questions like, “Is Roger a boy or a girl,” and only expect them to answer with one word. (see video clip)
  • Step 3 – I repeat this many times to ensure acquisition.
  • Step 4 – I do funny things to keep students engaged.  I use humor to keep eyes on me. (see video clip)

3- Before you ask a student to respond to your question, make sure you’ve modeled the conversation plenty of times.

An effective foreign language teacher knows that he/she must encourage student self-confidence and avoid student shame/embarrassment.  Once an L2 learner loses confidence it’s easy to lose their willingness to try.  Avoid ‘losing’ students by making sure you’ve modeled an interpersonal mode performance task plenty of times.  A novice student should feel 90-100% sure of what’s expected of them before being asked to speak aloud in the target language.

4- One way to repeat simple conversations plenty of times (and avoid boring students )is by showing engaging, targeted and simple L2 conversations modeled on video.

Every once in a while (during the course of a lesson) get the attention off of you.  Find videos of other people modeling the same L2 skill that you are trying to teach.  It’s even better if you can find video clips of native speakers that are the same age as your L2 students.  See a video example here of how I did this during one of my lessons this year.  I like to make my own L2 model conversation videos (like this), but that’s extra work.  You can find plenty of examples online.

5- Once the students are comfortable with responding to the teacher’s target questions with the appropriate L2 response, allow confident students to model conversations in front of the class.

When I ask novice learners to model conversations in front of students, I like to have a script written for them on the board.  It helps them feel confident that they’ll know exactly what to do when they are nervous in front of their peers.

6- Once several pairs of students have modeled the conversation in front of the class, then ask all students to pair off and perform the conversation together.

This is a little easier said than done.  Think through the details of how you want the students to pair up.  Think through where they will stand.  Think through what they will do when they’re done.  I’ll share more ideas on how to do this in future posts.

How about you?  How do you make the interpersonal mode as easy as possible for your novice L2 learners?  Share 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).

What To Say In The Target Language On The First Day Of Class – Novice L2 Learners

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

Here’s what I said on the first day of L2 class this year.  Click this link to watch a video clip of how I started the first moments of class in the target language.

To make the L2 input meaningful, I…:

What else do you do to make incomprehensible L2 input meaningful through PAIRING?  What did you do in the target language on the first day of class?  Leave comments below.

Staying in the target language is definitely do-able!  It’s also fun!  Click here to read the story of how I started staying in the target language.

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward

P.S. Here’s a good blog post from a Latin teacher (@silvius_toda) who stays in the target language.  (An approach to teaching Latin that I think is wonderful!)  The blog shares detailed strategies for how to approach the first weeks of L2 teaching.

P.S.S. Another first day of L2 class post.  This one from @MartinaBex

How My Walls Help Me Stay In The Target Language

Here are some pictures of what I have on my walls.  Underneath the pictures you’ll find descriptions of how I use it to stay in the target language.

los meses del año

los meses del año

I keep a list of the months of the year posted on the side of my whiteboard.  I refer to them everytime my students have to fill out the heading (in the target language) on the top of their papers.  I like highlighting the current month (notice ‘septiembre’ in pink) to help students easily identify the answer to questions like, “What month are we in?” during routines like this one. (video post of a product I use for my calendar routine).

¿Qué hora es?

¿Qué hora es?

lista de los números en español

lista de los números en español

los colores en español

los colores en español

I like to have commonly used L2 questions and answers on my walls.  It helps reduce the amount of times students have that clueless look on their face when I ask them a question.  If they don’t know how to respond, I can quickly point to the wall that has the appropriate reference tool for them.

image

A card like this one is on the corner of every student desk.  Students are given a number on a flash card when they arrive at class.  They must take their flash card and match it to the corresponding written number on the corner of the desk.  This becomes their assigned seat for the day.  (Other routines for upper elementary L2 learners)

una alfombra de colores

una alfombra de colores

I chose this rug for my room because it had distinct and bold color spaces.  I can ask students to walk to (or sit on) whatever L2 color I say.  It’s great for giving and responding to directions in the target language. (Click here, here and here for some video clips on learning the colors in Spanish)

días de la semana

días de la semana

The days of the week are posted on the whiteboard so students can easily answer calendar routine questions like, “What day is it?” and, “What day was yesterday?”

What do you have up in your foreign language classroom?  How does it help you and your students stay in the target language?

Señor Howard – www.SenorHoward.com – @HolaSrHoward