Tag Archives: spanish

Scaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate

I wrote a post  on conjunctions and transition words that students can use to add details to their writing and level up.  Now I’m going to show you how I scaffold the writing practice so that students can clearly see what their writing looks like at various proficiency levels from Novice Low to Intermediate Low/Mid.

The ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Presentational Writing are specific regarding the language students produce at each proficiency level.

Scaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

©ACTFL (actflt.org)

There are a lot of details in the grid, but all we need to be concerned with right now is the text type that students produce.

Scaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

©ACTFL (actflt.org)

This is the exercise that my students do so that they clearly see how they are working toward leveling up their writing.

Novice Low/Mid/High

French Example:
Scaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

English ExampleScaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

Novice Low/mid/high, Intermediate Low

French Example:Scaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

English ExampleScaffold Student Writing from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish)

Students will soon understand the expectations at each proficiency level.  When you indicate to them what the writing expectation is they will know what the text type should be.  Gone are the days of asking if they need to write in complete sentences.  Once they ask for clarification of the proficiency level that they should aim for, you’ll know they have arrived.

Level Up Students’ Writing (& Speaking)

The 3 communication modes are becoming more commonplace in our language classrooms.

  • Presentational communication is one-way speaking or writing that does not allow for real time clarification of meaning.
  • Interpretive communication is one-way listening or reading that also does not allow for real time clarification of meaning.
  • Interpersonal communication is two-way speaking that allows for clarification of the message in real time.

Let’s look specifically at Presentational Writing.  There are some characteristics that differ from the other modes.  In particular, there are opportunities to focus more on accuracy since the communication is not done in real time. More specifically, Presentational Writing is …

  • practiced, rehearsed, polished and edited
  • organized
  • improved with dictionary and spell-check tools

The ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Presentational Writing are specific regarding the language produced at each proficiency level.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

You can see the full Performance Descriptors Here.

The challenge for me has often been the jump from Novice High to Intermediate Low/Mid.  Students are typically able to begin forming their own sentences with memorized phrases and then creating on their own.  The struggle comes in constructing sentences that move beyond single clauses, and certainly connecting multiple sentences.

To support students in this process, I put together a reference grid.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

The first column is the base words that students can use to add details to their single clause sentences.  The second column, with the gradually rising arrow, contains conjunctions and connecting words that students can use to create sentences with two clauses.  The third column, with the arrow going straight up, has additional conjunctions and connecting words that students can use to connect sentences and ideas.  There are also words under the grid that students can use to write about events chronologically.  All of these words scaffold the process of leveling up language from Novice to Intermediate.

I put together a template of this for teachers to use with their students.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, SpanishLevel Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

It is a Word Doc on Google Drive.  Download it as a Word Doc or make a copy right in your Google Drive and edit from there.  Just add in the words in the target language that you teach.

You will soon see your students leveling up their writing, and they will transfer this skill to their speaking.

Take look at this blog post as well.  It focuses on an activity that I do with students that helps them to see concretely what their language looks like at different proficiency levels.

32: The Origins of CI: Krashen’s Input Hypothesis


Where does the whole concept and idea behind Comprehensible Input (CI) come from?  In this episode I walk you through Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis that is part of his theory of second language acquisition that he calls the Monitor Model.  Krashen’s Input Hypothesis is the origin of what what we are doing with Comprehensible Input today.

What Is Comprehensible Input?

  • Comprehensible input means that students should be able to understand the essence of what is being said or presented to them.
  • This does not mean, however, that teachers must use only words students understand. In fact, instruction can be incomprehensible even when students know all of the words. 
  • Students learn a new language best when they receive input that is just a bit more difficult than they can easily understand. In other words, students may understand most, but not all, words the teacher is using. (i+1)

Stephen Krashen’s Monitor Model (late 1970’s, early 1980’s):

5 individual, yet somewhat interrelated theories and comprehensible input is just one.

  • Acquisition-Learning hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis
  • Affective Filter hypothesis
  • Natural Order hypothesis
  • Monitor hypothesis

Criticism:

  • Brown (2000): Krashen’s theory of SLA is oversimplified and the claims he made are overstated.
  • McLaughlin (1987): Krashen does not provide evidence in any real sense of the term, but simply argues that certain phenomena can be viewed from the perspective of his theory.
  • Gregg (1984): bypasses counter-evidence

Support:

Lichtman and VanPatten (2021): Was Krashen right? Forty years later

Ideas have evolved and are still driving SLA research today often unacknowledged and under new terminology.

  • The Acquisition-Learning Distinction
    implicit versus explicit learning
  • The Natural Order Hypothesis
    ordered development
  • The Input Hypothesis.
    communicatively embedded input

Motivated Classroom Podcast (Liam Printer) : Episode 50
Translating second language acquisition research into motivational practice with Dr. Karen Lichtman & Dr. Bill VanPatten

Where does this leave us?

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31: Picture and Movie Talks with Sarah Moghtader


In this episode we talk about movie and picture talks in the language classroom.  This a popular and effective Comprehensible Input (CI) procedure that uses visual story-telling.  This process helps students to acquire and reenforce vocabulary and language structures in context.  Sarah Moghtader, a French in Massachusetts,  joins me to talk us through the benefits of picture and movie talks and how to do them with students in the classroom.

Sarah speaks specifically about:

  • what picture and movie talks are
  • why picture and movie talks are a useful CI approach to teaching language
  • procedure and techniques
  • what to look for in a useful story, book, or movie clip
  • where to find these resources
  • working through a story and extension activities

Links references in the discussion:

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30: Music in the Language Classroom with Allison Wienhold

In this episode we talk all about using music in the language classroom.  I’m joined by Allison Wienhold, a Spanish Teacher in Iowa, who speaks about the numerous benefits of music in our language classrooms.

Allison speaks about:

  • the value and benefits of using music in the language classroom
  • the flexibility of using music, from a few “quick wins” to diving into culture and representation
  • where can we find music to use in our classrooms
  • activities to engage with music
  • I have a song…What do I do before, during and after?

Connect with Allison Wienhold:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

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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.

29: Teaching Circumlocution Skills


As teachers, and proficient second language speakers,  we have figured out ways to communicate words that we don’t know. We can teach this skill to students early on so that they can begin doing it right away. Circumlocution is a strategy for describing or defining a concept instead of saying or writing the specific words (when we don’t know it). We can teach students how to do this and give them tools to help in the process.

In this episode I give some suggestions to teach students the art of circumlocution.  I also talk about some games that are useful for practicing this skills.

Blog Post on Circumlocution.

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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 & Spanish Digital Writing Activity: Moving Verbs

Sometimes students know the meaning of verbs. Sometimes they know the forms. But, isn’t it great when they use accurate verbs in the correct context?

Put that together with a no-prep, time saving activity for you and it’s even more than a simple win-win.

Simply share these digital activities with students and they will move through a seamless process of identify meaning and forms and then putting it all together and writing their own sentences

This no-prep-for-the-teacher activity makes sure that your students don’t just master meaning and forms. They will combine these skills and write accurate and meaningful sentences on their own.

Take a look at the French version:

and the Spanish version:

 

27: Diversifying World Language Curriculum with Ben Tinsley


In this episode we look at what world language curriculum has included and what has been left out, with a critical eye on diverse ethnicities and voices.  I’m joined by Ben Tinsley, a French teacher in Philadelphia.  He guides us through his own language learning journey as a Black student and how he did not see himself and the Afro-Black-Caribbean experience reflected in his language learning experience.

This prompted him to unapologetically center Francophone Black people in his curriculum.  This conversation will help us all provide our students with language learning experiences that authentically, and accurately, reflect the diversity of our target language cultures.

Ben speaks about…

  • his personal experience with language learning
  • what has been missing in language curriculum, particularly regarding diverse ethnicities, voices and lived experiences
  • why is it essential that we include diverse voices and ethnicities as an essential part of our curriculum, rather than one-off discussions
  • how to make sure that our students understand the full range of voices, ethnicities, and lived experiences of those in our target language cultures
  • where to find resources and how do you make them an organic part of the curriculum

Connect with Ben Tinsley:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

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