I had a grad school seminar this past weekend (aka class aaaallllll weekend) and despite the stress and hassle, I have to say it was very beneficial. My mind is buzzing with ideas for assessment, teaching, and generally with language learning paradigms. My big epiphany from the weekend (don’t judge!): for students to gain any kind of useable proficiency, it is essential to use the language in class! I always start the year out strong with speaking lots of Spanish, but as the semester progresses my TL use has slipped lower and lower.
Today, my goal was to introduce new vocabulary with minimal use of English. My professor advocates for comprehensible input, but furthermore, for not translating vocabulary – no English, ever. This rubbed me wrong a bit in our first seminar – well, I think English is useful for establishing meaning, let’s avoid the guessing games, ACTFL’s recommendation is 90% TL – but I also know that I speak way too much English in class, so I wanted to see how much I could do in Spanish, establishing meaning in other ways. Here’s what I did:
I’m starting Realidades chapter 3a, which is the food chapter. I decided to start with drinks, mainly because I saw a great demo by Lee Burson and Erin Smith at FLAG a few years ago, which gave me a good idea of how to get lots of reps. I gave them a handout with some glasses and mugs, with lines to write their vocab at the bottom. I modeled on the doc cam, writing the word on the blank, and then coloring the appropriate cup to represent the drink. Throughout, I asked questions, starting with te gusta questions, continuing with ¿Bebes _____ en el desayuno?, comparison questions (¿Prefieres jugo de naranja o jugo de manzana?), and open ended questions – ¿Qué tipo de refresco prefieres? ¿Qué bebes en el almuerzo? I had a plastic apple and orange that helped establish meaning for apple and orange juice, we drew a cow for leche, for refresco I gave brand name examples, and té dulce I gave a quick translation for. Minimal English? Check! Engaging? Kind of. I really have a great group of kids first period, who put up with the amount of questions I asked with out getting too squirrelly, but it would not work (or at least for not as long) with my 4th block group. After all the listening and sitting still, I gave them a simple survey activity to complete with a few classmates – ¿Bebes _________?/Sí, mucho/a veces/todos los días/No, nunca. I had to translate the frequency phrases, but they definitely needed a change of pace and this worked well.
Spanish 2 to come tomorrow!