Category Archives: Reading

Emerging Literacy in a Foreign Language

This is a typical writing and reading (Emerging Literacy) activity that I do with novice students (with the goal being to read and write at a novice mid sentence level*). In this particular version, my 3rd graders had learned lots of words for animals and we had recently begun learning the words for places in nature where they can be found.

Emerging Literacy in a Foreign (World) Language. (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comThe class could list about 20 animals (individual words-novice low*), and they are beginning to recognize how they are written. We started this class by listing the words on the board (animals and places in nature), then I gave them the verb “est” (is) and some prepositions to go along with the places (as phrases; “sur l’herbe” -on the grass). Students then put the structure together verbally in pairs to makes sentences (novice mid). We then moved on to writing the sentences and drawing a picture to show the meaning (novice mid*).  Once done, I went around to each student and had then read the sentences, then I covered the sentences and had them describe the pictures orally.

*ACTFL Proficiency Scale

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) 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) Foreign (World) Language Writing Activity: Vocabulary in Context (French, Spanish)

Lots of possibilities with other concepts.  I’m just getting starting.  Please comment on other ideas. – A Great Resources for Reading Website Text in a Foreign Language – A Great Resources for Reading Website Text in a Foreign (World) Language (French, Spanish) No need to look up words in the dictionary or with an online translator with this useful translation website.  Enter a website address and you’ll be taken to a Lingro supported version of the page where every word is clickable. Click on a word to see its definition.  There are 11 languages available with translation available between each of the individual languages.  There are even ways to track the words that you click to check yourself after reading the page in the foreign language.

Foreign Language Reading Strategy: Highlighting

Text highlighting is a great way to assess what students understand in a reading without translating or responding to questions.  Decide on colors and review the colors and parts of speech with examples.  You way want to have students only focus on one particular part of speech (subjects = who?) or various responses.  This is also a helpful activity for students to practice recognizing parts of speech in a sentence.  You could also set it up so that students highlight various verb tenses to demonstrate their ability to recognize the tenses and contextualize them when reading.  It is likely that not all students will have all of the colors of highlighters.  In this case I have them complete the activity by rotating to stations around the room.

Foriegn (World) Language Reading Strategy: Highlighting (French, Spanish)

Foreign Language Reading Activity for Beginners

This activity gives beginner students an opportunity to see how much they  understand in the target language. To begin, the teacher posts 6 paragraphs written in the target language around the classroom. It is important to focus on vocabulary and structures that the class has covered. Students are given a set of questions whose answers can be found in each of the paragraphs. Students move around individually or in pairs to each paragraph and record the answers. This is a great beginning reading activity that can then be used to get students speaking in class once they have all of the information and the teacher verifies the information with the class orally.  Once students are familiar with this type of activity it can be used with more advanced vocabulary and structures in subsequent years.  It is a great way to focus on cultural elements as well.

These activities can be created using WORD documents.

You can download full versions here:    FRENCH     SPANISH

Classic Memory Game to Help with Vocabulary Retention

Classic Memory Game to Help with Vocabulary Retention (French, Spanish)

Students enjoy playing Memory to review and practice vocabulary.   The cards can also be printed back to back and used as flashcards with pictures on one side and words on the other. Depending on the level of the students, they can make sentence out loud each time they get a pair.  I have found that this is also a great station activity.

Download  Memory Games on these topics :

French Memory Games

Spanish Memory Games

Numbers 1-20
Sports and Activities
City Places
Class Objects
Food and Drinks
Fruits and Vegetables
Rooms ad Furniture
Musical Instruments
Jobs and Professions

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.

Foreign Language Word Recognition and Vocabulary Review

This is a fun way for students to practice or review vocabulary . The activity is  based on magic squares. There are 16 squares in each grid and each contains  a vocabulary word (vegetable vocabulary in the example below).   Below to the grid are 16  pictures. The student writes the number for the match in the grid. If done correctly, each row, column, and diagonal add up to 34.  Great as a class starter or for a substitute.  There is also a template below so you can make your own version with your own vocabulary.

You can make these activities in a WORD document using the template below or you can download the activities below the template that have the words and pictures in them.

Effective Reading in a Foreign Language

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 6.12.02 PM

As teachers proceed with reading and reading strategies in a foreign language, it is important to keep in mind these characteristics of successful and unsuccessful readers.  The list below will help teachers determine what reading strategies are needed by their students.

Using “Context Clues” to Determine Word Meaning

Using "Context Clues" to Determine Word Meaning (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comWhen faced with an unfamiliar word, students need to consider the context of the word in order to locate clues for predicting the meaning.  Teachers often talk about using “context clues” to determine meaning, but there is very little published on what the strategies might be to engage this process.  Below are some suggestions for explicit instruction on determining the meaning of an unknown word.

Type of Word: Is the word used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.?

  • Articles often preceded nouns.
  • Adjectives are typically before or after a noun, or after a form of “to be”
  • Nouns are often found after prepositions
  • Regular verbs have predictable endings
  • Subject pronouns often precede verbs
  • Adverbs are often found in front of or after verbs

Semantic Relationship: Other words in the sentence may provide clues to the meaning of a word.

  • The noun in a sentence may provide a clue to the meaning of the verb. For example: The architect designs buildings.
  • The verb in a sentence may provide a clue to the meaning of a noun. For example: The architect designs buildings.
  • Nouns and verbs may provide clues to the meaning of another word in a sentence. For example: The architect designed the building using a state-of-the-art computer program.