Category Archives: Grammar and Structures

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.

Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comLast 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.

Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

 

 

 

 

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.

Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comEach 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.

Foeign Lanuage Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com unspecified-3-1Be 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:

Make Sure “I Can” Statements Are Communicative

We have made major strides toward language proficiency in recent years.  Classroom instruction, activities and tasks have all become much more communicative in nature.  Assessment has moved more toward what students can do with the language rather than simply what they know about the language.  One of the most important and effective tools available in this shift toward proficiency has the publication and implementation of the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can Do Statements.  The simple use of the phrase “I Can” has put the focus on what students are able to accomplish in the foreign language and move beyond just listing vocabulary and manipulating grammar structures.

Is "I Can" Enough to Demonstrate Proficiency? (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

The Can Do Statements are intended to be used for any language and any age or developmental level.  The reality is that a “one size fits all” approach is often challenging, particularly when a novice mid can be 6 years old or 30.  For this reason many teachers have developed classroom or unit-based Can Do Statements that are developmentally appropriate to the age of the students.  As many of us create individualized Can Do Statements it is important to keep our communication and proficiency goals in mind.  It is easy to assume that simply putting “I Can” in front of a prompt will make it communicative.

Take a look at these “I Can” Statements and determine if they are communicative and based on proficiency:

  • I can count to 100
  • I can say the days of the week
  • I can day the date
  • I can say I like and I don’t like
  • I can say sentences in the present tense
  • I can say sentences in the past tense
  • I can say sentences in the future tense

These are a good starting point, but they can be more communicative by providing context.  Essentially they should provide an opportunity for students to do something with the language that they can produce.  The above statements demonstrate what a student knows about the language, but a change in the prompt toward more communication will allow students to show what they can do with the language.

  • I can tell you my phone number, age and address (using the numbers 1-100)
  • I can tell you what day(s) I have a class, lesson, sports practice or rehearsal (using the days of the week)
  • I can tell you my birthday and the birthdays of my friends or the date of an upcoming or past event (using knowledge of how to say the date)
  • I can tell you what activities, food, movies, books, art, sports that I like to do or don’t like to do (using the phrases “I like” and “I don’t like”
  • I can tell you what I typically do during the day or on the weekend or what I am doing right now (using the present tense sentence structure)
  • I can tell you what I did yesterday, last week, last year or earlier today (using the past tense sentence structure)
  • I can tell you what I am going to do tomorrow, next week, next year or later today (using the present tense sentence structure)

The examples above show that “I can say” does not lend itself to a conversation, whereas “I can tell” invites more detail, interaction and personalization of the language.

“I can say” is good starting point when working toward proficiency, but be sure to add in I can Statements that give students an opportunity to use the language in a communicative context as well.  These are the types of tasks and prompts that will lead to increased proficiency.

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.

Hide and Speak (or Write): Foreign Language Activity to Practice Speaking and Writing

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.

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.comSpanish Verb Form Task Cards

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.comSpanish Vocabulary Task Cards

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.

French 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.

French 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.

French Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards wlteacher.wordpress.comFrench Verb Form Task Cards

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)

French Verb Form and Vocabulary Task Cards wlteacher.wordpress.comFrench Vocabulary Task Cards

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