What is the purpose of communication? Is it to practice language? Maybe it is to polish our verb forms and word order? Perhaps it is to use all the vocabulary that we have learned in a language? Hopefully, we can all agree that this sort of “communication” that has not have a clear goal is not the reason that we engage in language learning. The reason we communicate in any language in any form is to convey or understand a message.
When it comes to understanding or conveying a message there are three ways of looking at the communication. The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines put communication to these categories: interpersonal, interpretive and presentational. Each of these modes of communication looks at the message in unique way. A solid understanding of how a message is conveyed or understood when speaking, writing or reading is essential to using various tools needed to effectively communicate.
Presentational communication is one-way speaking or writing that does not allow for real time clarification of meaning. This means that the speaker/writer has to be sure to “fill in the gaps” and have a solid understanding of what the listener or reader knows or needs to know to interpret the message.
Conversely, interpretive communication is one-way listening or reading that also does not allow for real time clarification of meaning. When reading and listening in this context the reader/listener needs to fill in their own gaps in understanding. This may require accessing personal knowledge of the topic or doing research. The most effective tool is the use of context clues and identifying what is understood to make meaning globally.
Interpersonal communication, on the other hand, is two-way speaking that allows for clarification of the message in real time. When communicating interpersonally all speakers and listeners are involved in creating and interpreting the message and work together to assure that there is a collective understanding.
These tables below lay out the three modes of communication.
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.
The 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.
-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.
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.
This is a fun and interactive way for students to practice vocabulary meaning, recognition and spelling. I call this activity “Everyone to the Table!”
Begin with 4-5 tables with 3-4 students at each table. On each table put 5-8 pictures of vocabulary that students are learning along with a piece of paper or index card with the words for the pictures. Students can easily be involved in this part of the process by having them draw or find pictures on the internet prior to the day of the activity.. They can also write the words needed on index cards or pieces of paper. Memory/concentration cards work well in this activity as well.
For the first few rounds students should work together with their team to put the picture and word card together. They should mix up the pictures and words before beginning. Have students do this several times and the group that assembles the pairs first raises their hand and gets a point for their team. With each subsequent round add in 2 new picture/word pairs. It’s good to add in some review vocabulary as well.
Once groups understand what they are supposed to do, the class can move on to another version of the game. This time teams mix up their words and pictures, but when the teachers says “Everyone to the table!” groups rotate to a new table and pair up the words and pictures. The first group to assemble the pairs raises their hands and gets a point. Groups then mix up the pictures and words and again rotate to the next table. New picture/word pairs can be added in this round too. When 2-3 rotations are complete the team with the most points wins.
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.
- 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.