Category Archives: Listening

Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Reflexive Verbs

This is a great activity that I use to get students moving around the classroom and speaking to each other in the target language using reflexive verbs along with reflexive pronouns.  Student ask each other when they do certain activities (wake up, go to bed, wash up, etc) and record answers. I provide students with a question sheet as well as an answer sheet ( which includes times to use in response to questions). All information is presented with pictures to avoid translation. A follow-up activity requires students to ask about another person so that a different reflexive pronoun is also used.  Students have a lot of fun with this communicative activity.

You can create these activities in WORD or you can download complete activities that are ready to use here:

Foreign Language Travel Scrapbook Project

Foreign (World) Language Travel Scrapbook Project (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comThis is a project that can be done with level 1 students in a foreign language.  It gives them an opportunity to use the vocabulary and structures typically taught in a first year course.

The focus of this project is travel and geography vocabulary.  Once students make the scrapbook of a trip, there are opportunities to use the books to do additional speaking, reading, listening and writing activities.

  • Begin by giving a sheet with directions for creating a travel scrapbook with directions for each page including examples.
  • Then hand out a storyboard for students to do a rough draft of their book.
  • Students then assemble the travel scrapbook.
  • When the books are done, students read their book to the entire class or to a small group.
  • Provide a sheet to those students who are listening so they can fill in information when they are listening to other students in the class read their final book.

A final activity gives  students a chance to use the information that they recorded during the presentations to write sentences about that they heard and saw. You can download complete, ready-to-use versions of these projects here:

Interactive Music and Lyric Activities for Foreign Language Practice

Interactive Music Video Website for Foreign (World) Language (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comThese are very interactive music activities that I came across on Lyricsgap.com.  The songs are on video (linked to youtube) and for each song there are 2 types of activities to practice the lyrics: Fill in the missing word or phrase (three levels) and karaoke.

There are lots of song in different languages and you can even add to the activities or upload your own song to the site.  The song and activities are assessed and approved before they are placed on the site.  These are fun activities for students to do individually or in pairs:

Using the Gouin Series in the Foreign Language Classroom

The Gouin Series is an activity that helps to move students from listening to speaking.  It was developed by Francois Gouin in the 19th century. The teacher presents a series of six to eight relatively short statements that describe a logical sequence of actions that takes place in a specific context—buying a gift, cooking a meal, making a cake, making a phone call, writing and sending an email. The statements include concrete action verbs and use the same tense and the same person.  The teacher first presents the statements to the class orally, accompanying them with pantomime of the actions involved.  Props are useful. The class responds first by doing the actions, and then responds by saying the words while still performing the actions. The class speaks first as a group and then as individuals.

Elements of a Gouin Series:

  • An introduction to  set the scene
  • Concrete action verbs
  • One specificcontext
  • One tense
  • One person
  • 7-10 -syllables
  •  6-8 statements
  •  Props or visuals
  • Logical sequence

How to Teach a Gouin (Action) Series:

  1. Teacher presents orally, with pantomime and props
  2. Teacher repeats orally, class pantomimes with teacher
  3.  Teacher repeats orally without pantomime, class pantomimes,
  4. Teacher repeats orally, individuals pantomime
  5. Class repeats orally and pantomimes
  6. Individuals lead the series
  7. Possible reading, writing activities

Example of a Gouin Series:

Going to Class

  • I put my book in my bag.
  • I walk to class.
  • I enter the classroom.
  • I sit down.
  • I take out my book.
  • I put my book on the table.
  • I open book.

Up and Down: Foreign Language Vocabulary and Verb Form Activities

Up and Down: Foreign (World) Language Vocabulary and Verb Form Activity (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comThis is an effective activity for students to practice language forms and vocabulary.  It is adaptable to many different structures.

Screen Shot 2019-01-14 at 6.16.31 AM

The three activities offer students an opportunity to work collaboratively.  Here is my favorite one because it is most interactive:

Students cut up the squares and line them up in order in one long strip placing the response under the prompt. There are two variations

–Start with principio/début and go to fin

–Start with fin and go to principio/début

IMG_6930    IMG_6929

You can also find 20 versions of this activity on a number of French and Spanish vocabulary and grammar topics on the links below:

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Involves the Entire Class

This is a great activity to get the entire class involved in saying and listening to the vocabulary in the foreign language. The teacher begins by cutting the strips of paper on the dotted line and giving five students a slip with two pictures on it. These students go to the front of the class without revealing their pictures to the rest of the class.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Involves the Entire Class wlteacher.wordpress.com

The other students in the class each receive the first sheet and begin by writing down the names of the five students in the front of the room.

One at a time members of the class take turns trying to guess who has which picture  on their sheet. All students record the answers as they are given.

An order of students should be established by the teacher and this order will be repeated until a student has correctly identified all the people/pictures on his/her turn. If the answers are not correct the questions continue.

Students should be informed that each person has only two pictures and that no two people have the same picture.

You can also download several version of this activity here:

Foreign Language Vocabulary Activities (The Barrier)

I try to find new ways to use these materials beyond their original intended purpose before giving up on them.  One such activity is the Memory or Concentration game that always seems to be on a shelf somewhere in the classroom.

In this variation two students sit facing each other and place a barrier such a book between each other so that each one can’t see the tabletop area in front of the other person.  One student takes the picture cards and the other takes the cards with the words.   The student with the words lines the cards up in any order that he wants.  He then reads off the list to the other person who lines up his picture cards in the order that he hears.  When done, the barrier is removed and they can check to see that they are lined up in the same order.  They can then switch sides or try other variations such as having the student with the picture cards read off the list and the student with the word cards lines them up in the correct order.  Here is what it may look like:

French Memory Games

Spanish Memory Games

Interactive and Communicative Whole-Class Speaking Activity

This is a very engaging and interactive way for students to practice  vocabulary in a communicative way. It requires students to speak to everyone in the class in order to complete the task. The activity employs information-gap and jigsaw language teaching techniques to engage student participation.

Each student has pictures of 4 things/objects (the example below uses city locations)  and students also have a sheet with all of the objects.   Students circulate and ask their classmates if they have the various objects (or are going to tge various places in the example below) and record their name if the answer is YES.

This is a great way to get students talking to everyone in the class and it reinforces the vocabulary through repetition in a meaningful and communicative context.

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Download Whole-Class Communicative Speaking Activities Here:

Presenting New Vocabulary-Comprehensible Input and Circling

The role of the teacher in the presentation of new vocabulary is primarily to provide the students with comprehensible input that will help students to build on their current understanding of vocabulary in the foreign language (i) and expand their knowledge through comprehensible input (i +1).  This is Krashen’s Comprehensible Input Hypothesis.

post-its-comprehensibleinput

The teacher must be very aware of the vocabulary, particularly verbs and nouns, that the students have acquired previously and use this vocabulary along with visuals to present the vocabulary that is centered around a particular theme.  This will keep the learning of new vocabulary in the target language.

The teacher first presents several sentences linking the words that the students know (i) with new vocabulary (i+1).   Then, the teacher…

  • asks yes/no questions
  • asks either/or questions
  • asks a questions that requires negative response
  • asks questions that require one-word answers (questions words are used here)
  • asks an open-ended, detail oriented question question that reuires students to add to the “story”

This technique is referred to as circling (as the questions circle around the new word and eventually land on the student production).  Here is an example of this technique that is presenting vocabulary for places in the city.  Several sentences and images have been produced by the teacher linking verbs that students know and a place in the city where someone may do that activity.  Assume that the teacher is referring to an image of a boy studying along side a picture of a library.

  • Is John studying?  Is John studying at the library?  John is studying at the library, isn’t he?
  • Is John studying or playing football at the library? Is John studying at the hotel or at the library?
  • Is Mary studying at the Library?  Is John sleeping at the library?  Is John studying at the mall?
  • Who is studying at the library?  Where is John studying?
  • At what time does John study at the library?  Who studies at the library with John?

At this point students have taken the input  and assimilated it into their L2 vocabulary (uptake).  Their ability to create a detail at the end of the questioning is evidence that they understand and can use the new word, particularly if the last two questions are asked without reference to the pictures.

Reading Comprehension and Teacher Read Aloud

Reading aloud by the teacher is often discouraged in the foreign language classroom as this puts the focus on the teacher and does not give the students an opportunity to practice reading aloud themselves. Reading aloud by the teacher, in fact, is particularly important for language learners at various stages of learning. Beginning readers tend to read word by word. Reading aloud by the teacher helps them to process larger language units and phrases rather than focusing on single words and translation. A study by Amer (ELT Journal) investigated the effect of teacher reading aloud on the reading comprehension of foreign language students reading a story. Results clearly demonstrated that the experimental group (teacher read aloud) outperformed the control group (student silent reading). This indicates that reading aloud by the teacher can have a significant positive effect on reading comprehension. It is interesting to try reading the story to students without having them follow along to see how much they understand, then to read along with the text. The decreased focus on word-level comprehension is emphasized here and it will show students in a very clear and obvious way that they do not need to translate word for word when reading. This will then, ideally, transfer to their own reading comprehension, either aloud or silently.