Foreign Language Writing Activity: Students Use Vocabulary in Context

The importance of teaching and learning vocabulary in context is spreading.  Gone (hopefully) are the days of teaching words in isolation and out of context.  We need to keep this in mind as well when students write.  I am guilty of asking students to “write each vocabulary word in a sentence” when the sentences are in isolation and don’t follow any sort of logic or context.

Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comWhen would anyone need to write like this?  The answer is never, or only in a foreign language class.  So, I needed to change my writing prompts to make sure that students are writing with a context.  This tends to be a bit more manageable with students that have a higher proficiency, but I wanted to make sure that I was instilling the concept and skill of writing in context with my younger (lower proficiency) students early on so that this would become the norm as they gain in proficiency.

Here is an example of a writing assignment that I do with my elementary students to scaffold them into writing in context.  It is a foldable that represents a house.  They begin by “building” their house, which is simply folding a piece of paper in half, then folding in each side.  Students then cut two lines on each flap and glue on a roof. Next, they write the names of rooms in the house (and the yard) on the flaps, which represent doors or windows.

Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comStudents then write six sentences stating what they like or don’t like to do in each room in the house.  This gives them an opportunity to use all the verbs they have learned in context along with the rooms in the house.  Once I go over the draft sentences with each student, they write the sentence inside the room.

Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comFinally, students cut out a picture of the activity and glue that inside the room as well.  This is a great way to reinforce the meaning of the words in the sentence without resorting to translation.

Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com When finished, these can be used to have a conversation with students where they read the sentences of other students and respond to react to what they read.

Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com

Lots of possibilities with other concepts.  I’m just getting starting.  Please comment on other ideas.

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6 responses to “Foreign Language Writing Activity: Students Use Vocabulary in Context

  1. Reblogged this on Making Learning Stick and commented:
    A good example of learning in context

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant idea! Thanks for sharing a concrete lesson plan idea with a model image of the finished product. If *I* am excited about this project, I can’t imagine how excited the students will be.

    Like

  3. Great idea!

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  4. I’m totally doing this! Merci pour l’idée.

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  5. Love it! How about places in a town. Instead of a roof, it could be a sign, “La ville de…”. Each flap is a store and under could be what one buys there. Ex: À la librarie, on achète des livres.

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