Tag Archives: proficiency

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 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.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Moves Students from Novice to Intermediate

At the novice level, students are speaking with single words and lists initially, then move on to chunked phrases.  As students move up to the intermediate proficiency level they begin to create discrete sentences on their own that move beyond chunked phrases.  This tends to be the most challenging for students as they begin to create with language and are not relying on memorized phrases to chunk together.  Teachers can help scaffold this process for students by assisting them in creating sentences.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Moves Students from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comI have found that using question words with students is a simple and effective way to have students add details to their sentences that move from memorized, chunked phrases to discrete sentences that are created by the student.  The more they do this the more they will grow in confidence and begin to do it on their own when writing.

Here is a version of Memory (or concentration) with a twist. Instead of using pictures and words this version uses verb forms.  Half of the cards have a subject pronoun and an infinitive. The other cards have the correct verb form to match each subject/verb pair.  Along with the conjugated verb forms are 2 or 3 questions words as well as an affirmative or negative symbol [(+) (-)]. 

In order for the player to win the pair he or she  must say a complete sentence that includes the subject and correct verb form as well as the information from the question words and in the negative if indicated. If the player is not able to make a complete sentence he does not get the pair of cards and must turn them back over.  The winner is the player who has the most cards when all of the cards have been claimed.  The verb cards look like this:

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This activity helps move student speaking from the novice level to the intermediate level by showing them how easily and effectively they can can speak in complete, discrete sentences.

You can download resources to use with this proficiency-building activity by clicking the links below.