Tag Archives: foreign language

7: The Why & How of Positive Teacher-Student Relationships with Ebony Thornton


In this episode we talk about how essential positive teacher-student relationships are, particularly when we want our students to feel valued, comfortable and motivated to speak the target language.  [sign up for Talking Points]

I am joined by Ebony Thornton, a teacher in Georgia, who speaks about…

  • relationships with her own teachers and those that influenced her student-teacher relationships
  • barriers that make teacher-student relationships challenging
  • respecting distance when needed
  • how do you get to know your students
  • how effective relationships enhance the teaching and learning experience
  • the “savior” complex
  • representation in the language classroom
  • #BlackWLTeachers

Connect with Ebony Thronton

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4. What is Communicative Language Teaching?

In this episode I take on the topic of communicative language teaching (CLT).  What is it exactly and how do we teach communicatively? [sign up for Talking Points]

Topics:

  • CLT is an approach and not a method.
  • Difference between an approach and a method?
  •  Bill VanPatten’s description of  CLTR.
  • The role of input.
  • The role of output.
  • The communicative classroom:
    • student-centered
    • students create with language
    • focus is communicating messages

What does this look like in the classroom?

  • Performance
  • Assessment

What does the teacher do in the communicative language classroom?

“[It is not] because some plants will grow in a desert, [that] watering the ones in your garden is a waste of time. In fact, of course, while the desert may provide the minimum conditions for a plant to grow, watering it may help it grow faster, bigger, and stronger, that is to realize its full potential.” —Larsen-Freeman and Long, 1990

This blog has a pdf that you can download with all of these details on communicative language teaching.

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French & Spanish Digital Vocabulary Activity

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

French & Spanish Digital Vocabulary Activity

To complete the puzzles, students begin with a word from the number column and find the picture in the letter column. They then find the corresponding square in the grid, such as 1E, 5G or 7B and drag a red dot the the square.

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.

 

French and Spanish Verb Form Magic Squares (Digital, Google Slides™)

What is that you hope to find when looking for resources?  Do any of these sound familiar?

  • Digital files that I can easily share with students
  • Activities that can be used in class, remote or hybrid
  • Little to no prep
  • Self-grading or easy to grade
  • Provides students with effective practice with polishing verb form knowledge

Digital magic squares activities using Google Slides™ check all of the boxes.

The right side of each screen has 16 subject/infinitive pairs and the grid has the verb forms that correspond to each pair. Students type the number of the subject/infinitive pair below the verb form.

When all numbers are filled in students can verify their answers. The total of the numbers in each row, column, and diagonal is 34. There are 4 puzzles in this activity, an answer slide and a vocabulary reference page.

Absolutely no prep needed. Just share with students. Useful for distance, hybrid, blended or in school learning and teaching.

Digital files, Useful in-class, Remote or hybrid, Little to no prep, Self-grading, Effective practice

Get your magic squares activities now and share immediately with students.

 

French and Spanish Vocabulary Magic Squares (Digital, Google Slides™)

When French and Spanish teachers tell me what they want in resources there are a few common themes:

  • Digital files that I can easily share with students
  • Little to no prep
  • Self-grading so that students can track their progress
  • Easy to grade
  • Provides students with effective practice with vocabulary themes without translation.

Digital magic squares activities using Google Slides™ touch on all of these points. 

The right side of each screen has 16 pictures and the grid has the words that correspond to each picture. Students type the number of the picture below the word.

When all numbers are filled in students can verify their answers. The total of the numbers in each row, column, and diagonal is 34.

There are 4 puzzles in this activity, an answer slide and a vocabulary reference page.

Absolutely no prep needed. Just share with students. Useful for distance, hybrid, blended or in school learning and teaching.

Digital files, Little to no prep, Self-grading, Easy to grade, Effective practice

Get you magic squares activities now and share immediately with students.

French Digital Magic Squares Topics:

Spanish Digital Magic Squares Topics:

Digital French & Spanish Task Cards with Google Slides™

Task Cards are individual cards that offer students opportunities to engage with a particular topic in various forms.  There are different challenge or proficiency levels.  Task cards are useful because they provide opportunities for  easy differentiation.You may have used the paper versions of these in the classroom.  I created digital versions with Google Slides™.  They can easily be shared with students through platforms such as Google Classroom™.

There are 5 categories of prompts in each vocabulary task card set.  

Picture with choice of 4 words

Word with choice of 3 pictures

Fill in missing letters 

2 pictures, student writes words

Picture, student writes a sentence

There are 6 categories of prompts in the verb form task card sets.

1 Subject Pronoun, 4 Infinitives, student writes verb forms 

1 Infinitive, 4 Subject Pronouns, student writes verb forms

4 Verb Forms, student writes infinitive 

Sentence with Verb Missing, students chooses verb and writes form 

Subject Pronouns and Conjugated Verb, student completes sentence  Infinitive, student writes sentence

Digital Can Do Statements in the Language Classroom

Can Do Statements are essential to backwards design.  They are what keep us focused on what our students will be able to do with the language they are learning.

I wanted to find ways for students to use the statements actively and regularly throughout a unit.  I’ve used various paper versions, but I took on the task of finding a way to do this digitally and in a way that lets me check in on student progress at any time.

I initially started with a Google Form, but the data was only available to me, not to students once they submitted it.  I then moved on to several versions using Google Sheets.  This is the one that has worked the best.

The sheet is set up with the Can Do Statements for the unit.

As we progress through the unit, students choose their current ability to meet the objective by choosing from the drop-down menu to the right of the statement.

I have the responses set to change color for easy identification.

When students choose “with confidence” they type in an example to show that they can meet the statement objective.

When shared through Google Classroom I set the assignment to make a copy for each student and then I can check in on their progress individually.  I have been particularly impressed with the conversations about proficiency that come up.  Students take an active role in concretely understanding where they are and what they need to do to level up and meet the goal.

It took some time to figure out how to best do the drop down menu and have the cells change color, but I eventually figured it out.  Good news is that you can can copy the Google Sheet directly to your Google Drive.

Are We Speaking Our Students’ Language?

How many times have we done our best to come up with scenarios and role plays that may or may not be applicable to the everyday lives of our students?  Where are they reading, writing, speaking and communicating?  Social media is certainly one place.  I put together a template for Instagram™ photos and stories and students write their own descriptions of photos and comment on their classmates’ posts.  I even added on opportunities to “post” Instagram™ Story videos.

I can’t actually use social media platforms with my students, so I created Google Slides™ where they insert photos and videos with descriptions into a template.

This link will make a copy in your Google Drive™ of the template that I created. 

This digital activity that works well if teaching in school or remotely.

Virtual World Language Classrooms (with or without Bitmojis)

I’m sure that you have seen Bitmojis™ around the Web.  If they are new to you they are little cartoon versions of yourself, which are used on social media, in texts, or in a virtual classroom spaces. You just create an avatar that resembles you, and there are lots of options from which to choose once you are all set up.Virtual World Language (French, Spanish) Classrooms with or without BitmojisWhen we entered into distance learning teachers began creating virtual classrooms. They are shared with students as a go-to spot for resources and assignments or as a screen share when conducting synchronous lessons on platforms such as Zoom™ and Google Meet™.  Teachers then add their Bitmoji™ avatars to the virtual classroom to personalize the space.  This is a good video tutorial that walks you through creating your own Virtual or Bitmoji™ classroom.Virtual World Language (French, Spanish) Classrooms with or without BitmojisI have seen many versions of these classrooms being used by world language teachers.  It appears that there is not any particular version that is the the best way. Some options include:

  • Posters with functional junks
  • Audio or music resources library
  • Movie or video clip links
  • Book (pdf or Web link) library
  • Escape rooms
  • Posting daily agendas
  • Posting tasks and instructions
  • Choice board links
  • Do Nows or Quick Questions
  • Conversation or topic hooks and class openers

The possibilities are as endless…anything we do in our physical classrooms can happen in our virtual classroom, provided we can digitize it.

I created a Bitmoji™ classroom a few weeks back and asked my PLN friends on Twitter and in my Facebook Group for feedback.  The most common feedback was that there was too much stimuli and too much going on.  I needed to pare it down to focus on one activity or task at a time.  I started with this version.

Virtual World Language (French, Spanish) Classrooms with or without Bitmojis

I then made templates of the same room with a task-specific focus.  For examples these are classrooms I use for conversation or topic hooks and class openers.

Who is our guest today?  Students ask questions to try to figure out who the special guest behind the door is.  There are prompts posted to support the question process.  When students figure it out I have the animation set to make the door disappear revealing the guest.  This can be a celebrity, a person from school, a character in a story or book…anyone with a connection to the topic of the day to get students thinking about the topic.

Virtual World Language (French, Spanish) Classrooms with or without Bitmojis

What’s in the box?  This works just like the previous activity, but instead of a person it is an object in a box.  Again, students ask questions to try to figure out what is in the box.  There prompts posted to support the question process.  When students figure it out I have the animation set to make the box disappear revealing the object.  This can be anything with a connection to the topic of the day to get students thinking about the topic.

Virtual World Language (French, Spanish) Classrooms with or without Bitmojis

Where are we? For this opener the window is linked to Window Swap. This is Website that shows views from windows all around the world that people submit to the website.  The views change each day and there are multiple options to click through.  While this does not work as direct hook to the topic of the day, it is an engaging way to get students talking and describing what they see, who might live there, and they can also learn the names of countries and cities in the target language.

We would all love to see what you are doing with your virtual classroom.  Please share on Twitter and be sure to tag @wlclassroom.  Looking forward to seeing all the great spaces.

Digital Google Slides™ Activities to Focus on Foreign Language Verb Accuracy

This activity is an effective follow up and extension to comprehensible input activities.  Once students have seen (in writing) and heard verb forms in context the next step is to begin the process of producing language.  I like to use activities that show students various possibilities and have them choose the accurate form based on their interaction with the language forms.If you are moving away from direct instruction of verb conjugations try this out with students.  If they have had sufficient contextualized exposure to the verb forms and meanings you will likely see that students can choose the correct form based on what “sounds right.”  When this happens we know that they are progressing in their proficiency and moving toward accurate language output.

French & Spanish Digital Google Slides Activities French & Spanish Digital Google Slides Activities

Here is another way that includes the infinitive of the verb.French & Spanish Digital Google Slides ActivitiesFrench & Spanish Digital Google Slides Activities

I then take it a step further and have students write a sentence that show that they understand the meaning along with the form.  They have some question words to support the process.

French & Spanish Digital Google Slides Activities French & Spanish Digital Google Slides Activities

This activity is also useful when working with students in a PACE lesson, particularly in the co-construction and extension parts of the process.  Keep in mind that this is best used with students when they are detecting patterns with forms in an inductive (implicit) lesson, rather than deductive (explicit) lesson.

Deductive instruction is a “top-down” approach, meaning that the teacher starts with a grammar rule with specific examples, and the rule is learned through practice.

Inductive instruction is a “bottom-up” approach, meaning that the teacher provides examples of the structure in context and students make observations, detect patterns, formulate hypothesis, and draw conclusions

The inductive (implicit) approach focuses on meaning along with the forms  communicatively.  The deductive approach focused more (or maybe even only) on the forms. Brown (2007) reminds us that “While it might be appropriate to articulate a rule and then proceed to instances, most of the evidence in communicative second language teaching points to the superiority of an inductive approach to rules and generalizations.”

I have done these activities with Powerpoints with the entire class. You can take a look at some examples in the post.

I am also using digital activities more with students and now have them do this activity using Google Slides™ that can be shared directly through Google Classroom™ and students get their own copy. Ideal for distance learning, homework, in-person classes or blended, hybrid model.

Brown (2007).  Principles of Language Learning and Teaching.  Pearson Longman