Category Archives: Activities and Games

Move Student Speaking and Writing from Novice to Intermediate

At the novice level, students are speaking and writing with single words and lists initially, then move on to chunked phrases.  Here are some examples:

Novice Low/Mid:

  • green
  • apple, banana, orange
  • Josué
  • soccer, football
  • movies, restaurant

Novice High:

  • My favorite color is green
  • I like apples, bananas and oranges
  • My name is Josué
  • I play soccer and football
  • On the weekend I like to go to the movies and to a restaurant

Move Student Speaking and Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comAs students move up to the intermediate proficiency level they begin to create discrete sentences on their own that move beyond chunked phrases.  This tends to be the most challenging for students as they begin to create with language and are not relying on memorized phrases to chunk together.  Rather than changing the detail after a memorized phrase such as “my favorite ______ is _______” and “I like __________” they are moving on to changing subjects, using various propositions and varying their verb forms and tenses.  Teachers can help scaffold this process for students by assisting them in creating sentences.  Students are often challenged by how to add details to a sentence to make it their own, particularly when writing.

I have found that using question words with students is a simple and effective way to have students add details to their sentences that move from memorized, chunked phrases to discrete sentences that are created by the student.  The more they do this the more they will grow in confidence and begin to do it on their own when writing.

A simple reminder of question words as students  write about a topic will guide them toward writing discrete sentences that they create on their own and and will move solidly on to the intermediate low proficiency level. For example, if a student writes ” I like to swim.” suggest a few question words to help make the sentence a bit longer and more detailed.  With whom?  When?  Where?

This will move the sentence from “I like to swim” to “I like to swim with my friend Julie on Saturday at the community pool.”  The more students get accustomed to adding details this way the more they will do it on their own when speaking and writing.

Here are a few posts I’ve written that have some suggestions and resources for guiding students through this process of moving their speaking and writing from novice to intermediate.  Click on the images to see the posts.

Spanish & French Verb Tense and Sentence Writing Powerpoint Activities

twist-on-memory-moves-students-from-novice-to-advances

screen-shot-2016-01-02-at-4-23-45-pm

students-are-ring-in-foreign-language-proficiency

screen-shot-2015-12-31-at-11-51-33-amscreen-shot-2015-12-31-at-5-26-05-pm

Students rise in proficiency, but what about language accuracy?

It’s the question on everyone’s mind.  What is the role of accuracy in foreign language as students grow in proficiency?  Do we tend to accuracy?  Do we just focus on proficiency and assume that the language will become more accurate with time and practice?

Students are rising in proficiency, but what about language accuracy? (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

The ACTFL performance descriptors are an effective tool to determine precisely what students can do at each proficiency level (and sub level).  The descriptors go on to state what the language output of students looks like at each level.  Take a look:

Students are rising in proficiency, but what about language accuracy? (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

While these are very useful, we are often met with the issue of inaccuracy in language.  To be clear, proficiency is about communicating a message and is not so focused on polished and accurate language forms.  Essentially the language structures need to be accurate enough for the message to be understood.  It is generally understood in second language acquisition research that continued exposure (input) to language structures in context will lead to internalization and acquisition of the native-like language structures.

The issue here is that it is often challenging to focus specifically on a particular language element or structure when providing students with contextualized input.  Is there are a way to provide this focused input to students?  Is there a way for students to be actively engaged in the content, which will peak their interest?

I have been faced with this challenge of students moving up to the intermediate proficiency level and speaking and writing in complete, discrete sentences, but the verb forms are often not correct.  Students communicate their message, but I want to provide contextualized input of a particular structure so that students  move toward more accurate language as well.  I’m assuming you have been here?

In an effort to make input compelling and interesting to students I try to have them create the content as much as possible.  The more they choose the topic the more they will be interested and will pay attention to the themes and language structure being highlighted. Combining student-generated content and a focus on a particular language structure I developed these activities.

Students are rising in proficiency, but what about language accuracy? (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com Students are rising in proficiency, but what about language accuracy? (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

Students begin by  writing the correct form of the verb when given the subject and the infinitive.  To reiterate  the correct form students them locate the subject, infinitive and verb form in the grid.  It works like a word search.  Until this point, it’s a very mechanical exercise that is devoid of context.  So, the next step is to write a sentence with each subject and verb form.  This is where the student-generated content comes in.  Some students choose to write personal sentences, other prefer to write about topics that interest them and some prefer to be humorous.  Regardless of the sentences, in the end the correct verb forms in a contextualized sentence provide very focused input for students.

I have seen a marked increase in accurate verb forms when students use this type of writing activity.  The word-search element provides an interesting way to focus on the correct verb form and the sentences that are student-generated highlight correct usage in context. You can take a it a step further and use the student sentences to create a task such as collating sentences into different categories and graphing results.  The important thing to keep in mind is that all the while students are seeing and using the sentences that contain the accurate verb forms in context.  Increased exposure to these language forms is what is needed to move toward acquisition.

If you would like to help your students  polish their language structures, take a look at these activities.  There are many topics in both French and Spanish.  Click on the links below to access these resources and watch the accuracy of your students’ language rise with their proficiency.

Spanish:

French:

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards

I am always a fan of repurposing things in my classroom.  Why completely reinvent the wheel when you can just spin it in a different way?  Playing cards are something that I always seem to have so I got to work trying to figure out how I can use them to get students speaking the target language.  I always want to make sure that in addition to practicing vocabulary and language structures (initially) that activities and tasks also provide ample opportunities for authentic communication as well.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)Last year I wrote a blog post about an activity that I crafted using playing cards.  You can read the details of that those activities HERE. I was looking though Pinterest and saw that there was a math game that many teachers are doing using playing cards and I started thinking about how I could do this type of activity with my foreign language students.  The teachers were having groups lay out the cards in a path of their choice and using them as a sort of playing board.  I thought that this be easily modified for use with foreign language vocabulary and language structures and it also lends itself very easily to proficiency levels depending on the task and prompts given to the students.

In my previous playing card activity post I wrote about a reference sheet that I created for students that coincides with each card in the deck.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)

I decided to have students use this same reference sheet to engage in this new activity.  Students have a chance to get a little creative with how they lay out the card path.  Once laid out they get a copy of the reference sheet.  This can be pictures, time, subject/verb pairings, questions…unlimited possibilities.  In addition to the deck of playing cards and the reference sheet, each group of 3-4 students also gets one die and a playing piece, such as different coins or any small object that distinguishes the players.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)Each player takes a turn by rolling the die and moving the number of spaces (cards) along the path.  They find the box on the reference sheet that corresponds with the card they land on (4 of diamonds, king of hearts, 10 of spades, etc.) and speak using what is in the box.  If students are novice they may identify with a singe word or phrase, but intermediate students could use the word or picture in a complete, discreet sentence.

The first student to reach the end of the path is the winner.  This can sometimes move quickly, so I have students keep points by the number of wins and go back and start again each time there is a winner.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish)Be sure to keep this communicative by asking students to do more than say a verb form, time or vocabulary word.  Consider what the proficiency levels of the students are and have them speak using the reference prompt in context and with the text type that is at their proficiency level.

You can get these card reference sheets on a number topics by clicking the links below.

Spanish:

French:

Spanish Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary

I wrote a post recently on foreign language class lesson planning that follows the “Learn, Practice, Apply” sequence that I learned about from the teachers that I work with in Nicaragua.  I have found this simple framework very useful when planning lessons and activities in my foreign language classroom. I created these Spanish Tab Books that follow this sequence.

Spanish Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary www.wlteacher.wordpress.comThe first pages provide scaffolded notes so that students get familiar with the new material, then they practice the material on the next pages, and finally students apply the material on the last page. The “apply” stage is often left out when teaching new material. These tab books assure that  students get to this stage in the learning process.

Setting Up the Tab Book:
-Cut the pages in half on the dotted line.
-Cut out the box on the bottom of each page along the dotted lines.

Spanish Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary www.wlteacher.wordpress.com Photo Feb 13, 8 29 31 PM-Place the pages on top of each other so that the tabs are visible on the bottom.  Students can highlight the tab titles.
-Staple the pages together in the upper right corner.  Students can also highlight the tabs on the bottom.

Spanish Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary www.wlteacher.wordpress.com

These Tab Books can be glued into an interactive notebook and/or referenced as needed when reviewing. It has all the information needed to review in one convenient place.

You can get over 30 versions of these French Tab Books by clicking the link below.

French Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary

I wrote a post recently on foreign language class lesson planning that follows the “Learn, Practice, Apply” sequence that I learned about from the teachers that I work with in Nicaragua.  I have found this simple framework very useful when planning lessons and activities in my foreign language classroom.  I created these French Tab Books that follow this sequence.

French Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary ww.wlteacher.wordpress.comThe first pages provide scaffolded notes so that students get familiar with the new material, then they practice the material on the next pages, and finally students apply the material on the last page. The “apply” stage is often left out when teaching new material. These tab books assure that  students get to this stage in the learning process.

Setting Up the Tab Book:
-Cut the pages in half on the dotted line.
-Cut out the box on the bottom of each page along the dotted lines.

French Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary ww.wlteacher.wordpress.com Photo Feb 13, 8 27 16 PM
-Place the pages on top of each other so that the tabs are visible on the bottom.  Students can highlight the tab titles.
-Staple the pages together in the upper right corner.  Students can also highlight the tabs on the bottom.

French Tab Books to Learn, Practice and Apply Grammar and Vocabulary ww.wlteacher.wordpress.com

These Tab Books can be glued into an interactive notebook and/or referenced as needed when reviewing. It has all the information needed to review in one convenient place.

You can get over 30 versions of these French Tab Books by clicking the link below.

French and Spanish Vocabulary and Grammar Tab Books

I recently wrote a post on foreign language class lesson planning that follows the “Learn, Practice, Apply” sequence that I learned about from the teachers that I work with in Nicaragua.  I have found this simple framework very useful when planning lessons and activities in my foreign language classroom.  I created Tab Books on a number of French and Spanish vocabulary and grammar topics that follow this sequence.

French and Spanish Vocabulary and Grammar Tab Books www.wlteacher.wordpress.comThe first pages provide scaffolded notes so that students get familiar with the new material, then they practice the material on the next pages, and finally students apply the material on the last page. The “apply” stage is often left out when teaching new material. These tab books assure that  students get to this stage in the learning process.

Setting Up the Tab Book:
-Cut the pages in half on the dotted line.
-Cut out the box on the bottom of each page along the dotted lines.

French and Spanish Tab Books www.wlteacher.wordpress.com
-Place the pages on top of each other so that the tabs are visible on the bottom.  Students can highlight the tab titles.
-Staple the pages together in the upper right corner.
-These Tab Books can be glued into an interactive notebook and/or referenced as needed when reviewing. It has all the information needed to review in one convenient place.

You can get over 50 versions of these French and Spanish Tab Books by clicking the links below.

Everyone to the Table: Foreign Language Vocabulary Activity

This is a fun and interactive way for students to practice vocabulary meaning, recognition and spelling.  I call this activity “Everyone to the Table!”

Foreign (World) Language Vocabulary Activity (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comBegin with 4-5 tables with 3-4 students at each table.  On each table put 5-8 pictures of vocabulary that students are learning along with a piece of paper or index card with the words for the pictures. Students can easily be involved in this part of the process by having them draw or find pictures on the internet prior to the day of the activity..  They can also write the words needed on index cards or pieces of paper.  Memory/concentration cards work well in this activity as well.

For the first few rounds students should work together with their team to put the picture and word card together.  They should mix up the pictures and words before beginning.  Have students do this several times and the group that assembles the pairs first raises their hand and gets a point for their team.  With each subsequent round add in 2 new picture/word pairs.  It’s good to add in some review vocabulary as well.

Once groups understand what they are supposed to do, the class can move on to another version of the game.  This time teams mix up their words and pictures, but when the teachers says “Everyone to the table!” groups rotate to a new table and pair up the words and pictures.  The first group to assemble the pairs raises their hands and gets a point.  Groups then mix up the pictures and words and again rotate to the next table.  New picture/word pairs can be added in this round too. When 2-3 rotations are complete the team with the most points wins.

Language Activity : Hide and Speak (or Write)

I’m always looking for ways to get students up and moving in the classroom while they are practicing their foreign language speaking and writing skills.  This is an activity that I call “Hide and Speak (or write)” that accomplishes this goal and students enjoy it and often ask to play.  I’m happy to oblige because they speak (or write) so much during this activity.

Hide and Speak (or Write): Foreign (Wolrd) Language Activity to Practice Speaking and Writing (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com

  • Begin by hiding 20-30 prompt cards.  These can be index cards with vocabulary words, an image, a question about a reading, or proficiency-based questions aligned with ACTFL standards.  The possibilities are endless for prompts based on the material that is being covered in class.  Memory Cards or  Task Cards work very well for this this activity.
  • Pairs of students set out to find the prompts and when they do they return to the teacher with the card and perform the task: identify the image in the target language, use the word or verb in a sentence, answer a proficiency-based question or complete a Task Card.  Lots of possibilities.  This can all be through speaking or writing.  When writing I give pairs a small white board and marker.
  • If the pair responds correctly they can get a point for their team or the teacher can make it a point for the entire class with the goal being to get a certain number of points collectively in a specified amount of time.  The teacher keeps the prompt card and the pair sets back out.
  • Be sure to tell pairs that they need to wait in line to check in with the teacher so that that they don’t call crowd in.

Check out these task cards these task cards and memory cards that work well in this activity.

Get Students Moving and Practicing Foreign Language Vocabulary

This a very effective go-to activity that requires very little prep and gets students moving and using the target language immediately.  It’s also a great way to use a set of memory/concentration cards that you may have in your classroom.  If you need cards you can find them here:

Get Students Moving and Practicing Foreign (World) Language Vocabulary (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comSet up desks or tables around room, spaced out enough for students to move around, and put several pictures on each table. Play music and kids move around (maybe dance if they are so inclined), then when the music stops students stand behind a table.

Choose a word card, say it out loud and student with that picture identified says they he/she has the corresponding picture card on his/her table (int he target language of course). He/she then uses the word in a sentence and puts a point up by his/her name on the board. Play the music again and continue the same process of stopping the music and students saying a sentence with the word if they had the picture match.

Students really enjoyed this activity, review lots of vocabulary, and speak a lot.  You can also allow the winner of the round to be the one to start and stop the music the next time, choose a word card and say it to the class.  Try this with verb forms as well, with the conjugations 0n the desks.

Spanish Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards

Task Cards are individual cards that offer students opportunities to engage with a particular topic in various forms.  Each typically has a prompt or activity that students complete either individually or in pairs or small groups.  There are usually different challenge levels as well.  Task cards are particularly useful because they provide lots of opportunities for hands-on activities and movement in the classroom.  They also lend themselves very easily to differentiation.

Spanish Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards wlteacher.wordpress.comThere are 6 categories of prompts in the verb form task card sets, prompts include:

  • 1 Subject Pronoun, 4 Infinitives, student writes verb forms (cards 1-6)
  • 1 Infinitive, 4 Subject Pronouns, student writes verb forms (cards 7-12)
  • 4 Verb Forms, student writes infinitive (cards 13-18)
    Subject Pronouns and Conjugated Verb, student completes sentence (cards 19-24)
  • Sentence with Verb Missing, students chooses verb and writes form (cards 25-30)
  • Infinitive, student writes complete sentence (cards 31-36)
    These activities can be done in writing (response sheet included) or orally.

Spanish Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards wlteacher.wordpress.com

There are 5 categories of prompts in each vocabulary task card set.  Prompts include:

  • Picture with choice of 4 words (cards 1-12)
  • Word with choice of 3 pictures (cards 13-18)
  • Fill in missing letters (cards 19-24)
  • 2 pictures, student writes words (cards 25-30)
  • Picture, student writes a sentence with the word (cards 31-36)

Spanish Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards wlteacher.wordpress.com

For additional ideas on using these Spanish Task Cards see my previous post on 10 Ways to Use Task Cards in the Foreign Language Classroom.