Tag Archives: activity

39: Target Language Games with Kevin Quigley


If you listed to episode 19 with Trudy Anderson you heard her talk about using Jessica Haxhi’s acronym M.A.G.I.C. in the language classroom.  This stands for Movement, Authentic Resources, Games, Interaction and Communication. The focus on this episode is games.  I speak with Kevin Quigley, a French and Spanish teacher in Vermont, and he shares several low-prep target languages games that you can use in your classroom tomorrow (or even today).

Kevin speaks about:

  • why games, and student engagement in general, are beneficial
  • misconceptions about games
  • several effective games and activities that you use in the classroom right away
  • how often we should use a particular game 
  • the important of mixing up games

Connect with Kevin Quigley:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

36: Go-To Activities For Your Teacher Toolbox (Vol 2)


This episode is volume 2 in the Teacher Toolbox series.  In these “Go-To Activities for Your Teacher Toolbox” episodes you will hear suggestions for go-to activities and games that can be easily modified for any language or proficiency level.

Activities:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump)

I have to start by saying sorry (not sorry) that once you introduce this activity to your students they will ask to do it all the time.

This activity is all about students listening intently and reacting to what they hear.

No prep involved.  Just grab an object, like a ball, and you’re ready to go.

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

I call this activity Sauter or SaltarJump in the target language that you teach.

Pick a topic category.  Any category.  Any proficiency level.  Here are some possible topic categories:

  • colors
  • animals
  • seasons
  • time
  • family
  • days
  • months
  • adjectives
  • family
  • masculin nouns
  • feminine nouns
  • singular nouns
  • plural nouns
  • present tense
  • past tense
  • future tense
  • imperfect tense
  • details about a story
  • information about an article

Here’s how it works:

  • The entire class stands in a circle.  If there is not enough room in the classroom, maybe take a trip outside.
  • Tell students the topic they are listening for.
  • The teacher tosses the ball to any student and says a word, phrase or sentence.
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is on the chosen topic,  the 2 students next to the student who catches the ball jump.  The one who jumps first stays in.  The other sits down and is out. There are often ties. [example:category is “days” and teacher says “Monday”]
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is NOT on the topi, the 2 students next to the student who catches the ball DON’T jump.  If they jump they sit and are out. [example:category is “days” and teacher says “July”]

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

  • Continue tossing the ball to random students around the circle.
  • The same rules apply.  Keep in mind that…
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is on the topic the 2 closest students still standing to the left and right of the student who catches the ball jump.  The one who jumps first stays in.  The other sits down an is out. [example:category is “past tense” and you say “I went to the store.”]
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is NOT on the topic, the 2 closest students still standing to the left and right of the student who catches the ball DON’T jump.  If they jump they sit and are out. [example:category is “past tense” and you say “I go to the store.”]

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

  • When there are only two students remaining the ball is not tossed.
  • The teacher says a list of words, phrases or sentences that may or not be on topic.
  • The first of the two remaining students to jump when they hear the word, phrase or sentence that fits the category wins the game.

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

Once you have played this a few times and students have the hang of it you can choose students to be the one to give the prompts in the middle of the circle.  It may be the winner from the previous round.

This activity works well as a class starter, closer or as a brain break at any time.  It’s also useful for quickly reviewing vocabulary themes before diving into a discussion or follow-up activity.

No Prep Group Speaking or Writing Activity

Do you have a deck of regular playing cards?  Yes? Well, you’re all done and the activity is ready to go.

This is a no prep activity that you can pull out at any time, on any topic, for any language at any proficiency level.

No Prep Group Speaking or Writing Activity (French, Spanish)

I call this activity Special Card (La Carte Spéciale, La Tarjeta Especial).

Here’s how it works:

  • Choose one card from the deck before beginning and write it down on a piece of paper.  Don’t show it to students. Keep the card in the deck
  • Put students into groups of 3 or 4.
  • Groups will need a piece of paper or small white board if you are focusing on writing.  No need if focusing on speaking.
  • Tell students that they will get a question and will either respond orally or in writing.  If responses are spoken each group will need individual questions each round.  If it is in writing all groups can get the same question for the round.
  • I make up the prompt on the spot based on the topic.  You can do this in advance, but I like to keep it “no prep.”  It can be novice level questions with single words answers all the way to higher levels with questions about a reading or video.
  • If the response is correct, hand the group a playing card.  Their points for the round are the value of the card.

No Prep Group Speaking or Writing Activity (French, Spanish)

  • Ace is 1 point, number cards (2-10) are their face value, a Jack is 13, a Queen is 11 and a king is 12.  [The Jack, Queen & King values are arbitrary.  You can make them what you would like.]
  • Once all cards are earned, and the deck is depleted, groups add up their points. The final move is to reveal the Special Card, which is worth 25 or 30 additional points.  The group with that card earns the additional points.
  • The group with the highest points wins the round.
  • Collect cards back.  If there is time to play another round groups can continue with their points from the previous game or start fresh.
  • If you’re playing additional games, be sure to choose new special cards each time.

The topics and proficiency levels are open depending on what you are doing in your class.  Here are some prompt ideas

Novice Low-Mid:

  • What are three colors, animals, days, months, seasons, articles of clothing, activities, etc.
  • Questions about concrete vocabulary themes that require a 1-2 word spoken or written response.

Novice High:

  • Where do you …?
  • When do you …?
  • What are your opinions about…?
  • Questions about concrete vocabulary themes that require a sentence of chunked spoken or written language as a response.

Intermediate Low:

  • Describe….
  • Sentence level questions about details in a story
  • Questions about personal or story details that require a complete spoken or written sentence response created by the group.

Intermediate Mid:

  • Explain…
  • Tell me about…
  • Why…
  • What is…
  • When did
  • When will…
  • Questions on themes covered in the current unit that require 2-3 spoken or written sentences that are connected by transition words.

Intermediate High:

After groups read a passage together on their own…

  • Specific or general questions to demonstrate understanding
  • Questions on themes covered in the reading that require 3-4 spoken or written sentences that are connected by transition words and may require speaking or writing in various time-frames.

I also talk about this activity on episode 25 of the World Language Classroom Podcast.

French or Spanish Speaking Activity (Starting Point)

Your students can recognize and say the the words on various vocabulary topics.  They can do the same with adjectives and verb forms in a variety of tenses.

But, the challenge is finding opportunities for students to use these language elements in context that moves beyond simply saying them as individual words.  We need to support our students as they level up their proficiency and strive to create language beyond novice level.

That’s where this activity comes in.

Starting Point (Point de Départ / Punto de Partida) is a partner speaking activity that is quickly and easily adaptable to any proficiency level. If your students are at the novice level (words and phrases), then they can add one or two additional words.

If they are at a higher proficiency level they can create discreet or connected sentences with connecting words, adjectives, adverbs and other vocabulary to form more complex sentences. For the activities with verb forms there are question words along with each subject/verb pair to guide students in creating sentences.

Your students will be speaking non-stop in French or Spanish without even realizing it, because the object of the activity (aka game) is what they are really focused on.

You’re probably wondering how it works, so here you go…

  • This activity is done in pairs. Each player needs a pencil or pen that is a different color.
  • The goal of the activity is to score the most points by filling in the most boxes.
  • Player 1 begins by connecting any 2 dots. Before connecting the dots the player identifies the picture or prompt or says the verb forms on either side of the line.
  • Depending on the proficiency level of the class, the players can also be prompted to use the vocabulary words or adjective/verb forms to create more complex phrases and sentences.
  • If the player is not able to complete the prompt the turn passes and a line is not drawn.
  • When a player draws a line to make a complete box around a picture, prompt or subject/verb pair the player fills in the box and records a point on the top of the board.
  • Once all boxes are filled in the player with the most boxes wins.

So, your students know the vocabulary and adjective/verb forms, but  you would like them to use these language elements in context to create sentences. Problem solved with Starting Point (Point de Départ / Punto de Partida)….and no prep for the teacher at all.

 

French & Spanish Digital Verb Form Activities

I have done a paper version of this activity, but now I do them digitally using Google Slides™.  Students are actively engaged in their language learning with these interactive digital squares verb form activities.

To complete the puzzles, students begin with a subject/infinitive from the number column and locate the correct form in the letter column.  They then find the corresponding square in the grid, such as 1E, 5G or 7B, and drag a red dot to it.

Each completed slide creates an obvious pattern that can be quickly graded by the teacher. There is an answer slide included with the solutions for each slide.

This video shows how to do the activities.

These digital squares activities can be used in class or remotely for:

  • Quick review
  • Activity for students who finish other activities early
  • Do Now (individual puzzles)
  • Homework (multiple puzzles)
  • Classwork (individual, group, station)
  • Substitute lesson plans

The activities are ready to go right away. All you have to do is share with your students.

Design Communicative Activities in the Foreign Language Classroom (SlideShare)

Design Communicative Activities in the Foreign Language Classroom (SlideShare, French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com)Take a look at this SlideShare with tips and suggestion for creating effective communicative activities in the foreign language classroom.

Design Communicative Activities in the Foreign Language Classroom (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

Foreign Language Exercises and Tasks; Task-Based Activities

There are many different types of activities that we create for our foreign language students.  In the communicative language classroom there are two broad categories of activities: exercises and tasks.

Foreign Language Exercises and Tasks, Task-Bsed Activities (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

What is a task?

  • A task requires the use of the target language in order to complete a task. The goal is the completion of the task, though the expectation is that the target language is being used to complete it.

What is an exercise?

  • Bill Van Patten describes “exercises” as activities that focus on language mechanics and often use language out of context.
  • “Tasks,” in contrast, are activities that have a product, goal, objective or outcome that require using the target language to achieve it, but are not focused on mechanics.

With tasks the goal is independent of language. Research overwhelmingly shows that language used in context is most beneficial to language acquisition. Tasks are an effective way of providing communicative activities to students.

Foreign Language Exercises and Tasks, Task-Bsed Activities (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

Is the activity an exercise or a task?

Consider these aspects of activities when determining if it is an exercise or a task:

The Activity is an exercise if it…

  • focuses only correct examples of language.
  • uses language out of context.
  • focuses on producing small amounts of language.
  • doesn’t focus on meaningful communication.
  • dictates language structures and vocabulary.

The Activity is a task if it…

  • focuses on achieving communication.
  • focuses on meaningful use of language.
  • employs communication strategies.
  • does not use predictable language.
  • links language use to context.
  • does not dictate language structures.

Foreign Language Exercises and Tasks, Task-Bsed Activities (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com 

How do I design task?

  1. Choose a theme and a goal. Keep in mind particular vocabulary themes or language structures that you would like students to use and craft the activity accordingly.
  2. Explain the task and desired outcome.
  3. Pairs/groups engage in task. Teacher engages as necessary to keep task on track.
  4. Pairs/groups share out their goals with other groups or as a whole class.
  5. Teacher provides an individual extension activity.

Foreign Language Exercises and Tasks, Task-Bsed Activities (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.com

Take a look at this SlideShare that explains the difference between exercises, activities and tasks.

Also have a look at this post with lots of task-based activities for the French and Spanish classroom.

Interactive Foreign Language Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (SllideShare)

Foreign Language Cuumincative Speaking Activity with Playing Cards (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comEasily create an interactive and communicative foreign language speaking activity using playing cards.  Check out the SlideShare below to see how.

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: