Category Archives: Speaking

Foreign Language Interactive Speaking Activity to Practice Vocabulary and Structures

El Camino/Le Chemin is an engaging and interactive speaking activity that students can do in pairs or small groups. Very quick set-up with no prep needed. Just print out the two pages that make up the game board and students are ready to go.  Students can do this activity in groups of 2 or 3. Each player needs a game piece to move around the board. They can use a bingo chip, a coin or any object of similar size. One die is also needed for the activity.

Foreign (World) Language Interactive Speaking Activity (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comAll players start at “Début” or “Comeinzo.” Taking turns, each player rolls the die and moves the number of spaces rolled. The object is to land on the numbered boxes in the correct order (1-12). They can move in any direction, but they can’t use the same box twice in a turn. They can share a box with another player. The winner is the first player to land on square #12. The game can be made longer by having players return to “Début”  or “Comienzo”and work toward #12 a second time.

Foreign (World) Language Interactive Speaking Activity (French, Spanish) www.wlteacher.wordpress.com

Each time a player rolls the die and moves closer to the next number, he/she must say the verb, number, time, category word, etc. of the square he/she lands on. They can also be required to say a complete sentences.

You can download these activities here:

Foreign Language Speaking Activity, Easily Adapted to Proficiency Levels

This activity gives students a chance to express themselves confidently at their current proficiency level.  It is easily adapted by simply prompting students as to how they should speak (text type).

Foreign (World) Language Speaking Activity, Based onProficiency Levels (French, Spanish) www.wlteacher.wordpress.comTypically I have students work in pairs or in groups of 3. Begin by setting up a sheet with 12 categories on it that are number 1-12.  Provide 2 dice along with this paper.  Give each pair or group a small bag (not transparent) with small slips of colored paper along with a sheet that has a point value assigned to each color. For fun I also include a “Zut” or “Caramba” color which has no points assigned. You could also  put slips of parer with point values in the bag, but I like to keep it more engaging and colorful.  You can project the category sheet that the entire class can reference, but again I prefer to keep the activity centered in the group, so I provide an individual reference sheet.  The plastic frames that can hold a sheet of paper have come in very handy for me with various activities.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity, Easily Adapted to Proficiency LevelsStudents begin by each individually rolling 1 or both dice and attend to the category of the number.  If done correctly (group consensus), the student chooses a colored slip out of the bag and keeps a running total of points.  He/She puts the slip back in the bag.  After a predetermined amount of play time, the “winner” is the students with the highest points.

The teacher can easily adapt the speaking to the proficiency level of the students by using the tasks/functions and text types by ACTFL proficiency level.  You can learn more about these asks/functions and text types on the ACTFL OPI website.  Be sure to download the OPI Familiarization Manual.

If the students are at the novice level, they will give one word answers or short phrases, most likely giving an example of something in that category.  If they are at the intermediate level they can speak using a series of sentences or be required to ask a question of another player about the topic.  If students are at the advanced level they can speak at length in paragraph form.  The categories at this level will need to be more complex in nature, perhaps pertaining to world events or characters and plot in a story.

An Exercise in Foreign Language Circumlocution

The 100th day of school is a very important day in many elementary schools and there are lots of activities to celebrate, all based on the number 100. Each year, I challenge my 3rd graders to list 100 words and expressions that they know in the target language in 20 minutes. I give pairs of students a card with a category and they brainstorm words and expressions. It’s a great way for them to use category words in preparation for circumlocution.

An Exercise in Foreign Language Circumlocution (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comWe then write the list. I always hold off on using the words for numbers, unless they are needed to reach 100. We did not need to resort to them this year.  It is all about the context.  Rather than listing words for fruit, ask students to tell you which fruits are their favorite, or to describe the colors.  Instead of asking for examples of verbs, have students tell you what they like to do on the weekends with their friends, and follow it up with when and where.  Once they communicate in context the words and expressions keep coming.

A Change in Words Can Change a Student’s Mindset

I’ve been reading a lot about student motivation and I wrote a post last summer about extrinsic and intrinsic motivation.  The focus of that post was student choice in what they talk and write about so that the motivation to use the foreign language is self-motivated (intrinsic) rather than the motivation being a grade or to please the teacher (extrinsic).  The more I have searched the internet and communicated with teachers in my Personal Learning Network (PNL) the more I have found that students can take a more metacognitive approach to motivation.  This will help to make motivation that is typically more extrinsic more intrinsic.

A Change in Words Can Change a Student's Mindset (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comIt essentially comes down to changing how students approach challenging linguistic situations.  This is reminiscent of Vygotsky’s Private Speechwhich is speech spoken to oneself for communication, self-guidance, and self-regulation of behavior.  He argued that children use private speech when learning to navigate the word around them, including language development.  If students change the words and questions they use to approach their work, the outcome will be different. A mindset that is more focused on growth and overcoming challenges will lead to higher confidence and a clearer understanding, whereas a fixed mindset causes students to limit their confidence and potential (Carol Dweck, Mindset).

Here are some examples of self-talk (private speech) that follow a fixed mindset along with a change in approach that is more focused on a growth mindset.  The examples are in English, Spanish and French as they can be easily assimilated into the world language classroom.  Perhaps students can write their own growth statements.

A Change in Words Can Change a Student's MindsetA Change in Words Can Change a Student's MindsetA Change in Words Can Change a Student's Mindset

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking

Once you get a hang of the process, creating QR codes to access student recordings is fairly straight forward and students can quickly learn to do it themselves.  There are mays ways to use QR codes in the foreign language classroom.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comOne thing I like to do is make the codes available to parents so that they can listen to their kids speaking the language.  For example, I made this bulletin board interactive so that the students voices can be heard reading their writing assignment.  All it takes is a QR reading app on a smartphone to quickly and instantly hear the student’s voice.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comHere are the steps for recording audio and creating a QR Code.  There are various apps for recording audio and a number of website to create QR codes.  These are simply the ones that I use.

Record on an app like Voice Record (available for free).

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You can use Google drive to upload the audio files or Dropbox .    Create a folder for the audio. Put the audio files into the folder.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comClick on an audio file and select share.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comCopy the URL.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comGenerate a QR link. Use http://www.qrstuff.com/
Paste the URL into the box and QR code will generate to the right. You can download the image or copy the image from the screen.

Using QR Codes to Record and Access Student Speaking (Foreign Language, French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice French and Spanish Structures

This fun and engaging speaking activity is a great opportunity for students to practice language structures.  These activities focus on grammar points and are similar to the vocabulary activities in a previous post.

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice Grammar Topics (Dice Game) French and Spanish wlteacher.wordpress.comStudents can do this activity in groups of 2 or 3. Each group needs a copy of the game board, one die, and 36 bingo chips.

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice Grammar Topics (Dice Game)Players take turns rolling the die twice. The first number is the vertical number and the second number is the horizontal number. The player locates the box at the intersection of the two numbers and says the correct form of the subject and verb in the box. For more of a challenge players can be required to use the verb form in a sentence.  There are also possibilities for other grammar points such as adjectives, possessive and demonstrative adjectives.

If correct, the player scores the number of points in the box. Once a box is used the player covers the box with a bingo chip and that box can’t be used again. If a player rolls the die and the corresponding box is taken he/she forfeits the turn.

Play continues between players until all the squares are covered. The winner will be the player with the most points once the board is covered.

You can download complete version of these activities in French and Spanish on the topics listed below.

Spanish Language Structure Activities

French Language Structure Activities

Topics:

  • Regular Verbs
  • Irregular Verbs
  • Present Tense
  • Past Tenses
  • Future Tense
  • Demonstrative Adjectives
  • Possessive Adjectives

Chat Stations in the World Language Classroom

When I read about Chat Stations on the Cult of Pedagogy website and I immediately saw how this could be very beneficial in the world language classroom.  This procedure gives students an opportunity to work cooperatively in the target language while moving around the room and working with different prompts.

Chat Stations in the Foreign (World) Language Classroom. (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comThe types of prompts can be as simple as makings lists for novice learners (fruit, vegetable, clothing, city locations), describing a photo for intermediate learners, or stating and supporting opinions for more advanced language learners.  It is a fairly easy set-up and follow-up as a large group will be much richer once students have worked on the prompts in small groups.  This type of activity is also an effective opportunity for formative assessment and feedback from the teacher as the teacher circulates among the groups and interacts as necessary to clear up any language issues that groups may struggle with. Here is a video from Cult of Pedagogy explaining how to use and set-up Chat Stations.

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice French and Spanish Vocabulary (Dice Game)

This fun and engaging speaking activity is a great opportunity for students to practice vocabulary.Students can do this activity in groups of 2 or 3. Each group needs a copy of the game board, one die, and 36 bingo chips.

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice Foreign (World) Language Vocabulary (French, Spanish) wlteacher.worpress.com

Players take turns rolling the die twice. The first number is the vertical number and the second number is the horizontal number. The player locates the box at the intersection of the two numbers and identifies the picture in the box. For higher proficiency levels players can use word in a sentence.

Small Group Speaking Activity to Practice Foreign (World) Language Vocabulary (French, Spanish) wlteacher.worpress.comIf correct, the player scores the number of points in the box. Once a box is used the player covers the box with a bingo chip and that box can’t be used again. If a player rolls the die and the corresponding box is taken he/she forfeits the turn.

Play continues between players until all the squares are covered. The winner will be the player with the most points once the board is covered.

You can download complete version of these activities in French and Spanish on the topics listed below.  Take a look at this post if you are looking for this activity with more of focus on language structures.

Spanish Vocabulary Activities

French Vocabulary Activities

Topics:

  • Animals
  • Classroom
  • Clothing
  • Colors
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Rooms & Furniture
  • City Places
  • Food & Drinks
  • Jobs and Professions
  • Transportation
  • Days, Months, Date
  • Time
  • Numbers 1-50
  • Numbers 1-000
  • Numbers 1-1,000

Language Proficiency and Accuracy in the Foreign Language Classroom

Language Proficiency and Accuracy in the Foreign (World Language Classroom (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comProficiency and Fluency are the natural use of language that occurs when a speaker takes part in meaningful interaction and maintains communication despite inaccuracy. They often require negotiation of meaning and address misunderstandings.

Accuracy focuses on correct use of language and structures.

Activities in the foreign language classroom tend to fall into these two categories.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 8.41.35 PMTaking the key words from these activity descriptions, we can see that Proficiency-Based Activities focus on meaningful communication, employ strategies to navigate unpredictable language, use language in context, and don’t use dictated structures.  Accuracy-Based Activities focus on small amounts of correct language used out of context, use dictated structures and don’t focus on communication.

Where does this leave us, given that accurate language is needed to communicate in context?  I believe that there is a place for both types of activities in the foreign language classroom. Traditional teaching methods have focused most attention on accuracy of language at the expense of proficiency and fluency. In the communicative language classroom instruction should provide a balanced approach that gives students opportunities to build proficiency, while at the same time tending to the accuracy of their language.

Foreign Language Comprehensible Input and Proficiency Goals

Comprehensible Input is language that a student hears or reads that has meaning.  This does not imply that the learner understands all of the words and structures, but rather that the learner is able to interpret enough of the language to make meaning out of what is being heard or read.  Typically, new vocabulary and structures are presented using comprehensible input and the learner is expected to draw on what is comprehensible to make sense or meaning out of the unfamiliar words or structures.

Foreign (World) Language Comprehensible Input and Proficiency Goals (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.comFor example, though a learner does not know how to put a verb in the past tense, he can deduce that the verb in the sentence, “I walked to school yesterday” is in the past tense because he comprehends the words “I,” “walk,” “to,” “school,” and “yesterday.”  With additional comprehensible input and rich examples the learner eventually picks up on the “ed” morpheme that puts the verb in the past tense and will begin applying it himself.  This takes some practice on the part of the teacher to make sure that the language is comprehensible to the learner and includes structures a little beyond the current proficiency level.  A solid understanding of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines and text types will help in this area.

This works well when students have a wealth of language to pull from, but what about novice learners?  In this case I rely a lot on visuals and eventually use only language that is known by students and supply the visual only for new words.  The goal is always to work toward a higher proficiency level and for students to know what the goal is.  For example, with my 3rd graders, a proficiency goal as a novice-low reaching toward novice-mid is to say what they like to do and what they do not like to do.

IMG_2711The class is conducted entirely in the target language using visuals and gestures as comprehensible input.  Once students have acquired the vocabulary and structure and can state what they like and don’t like to do they place a sticker on the proficiency goal.  They often use the visuals as a guide when speaking, but there is no reliance on the native language since there are no words.  This requires a few classes and diverse activities with the new vocabulary, but 100% target language use is possible.

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