Feedback is an important and much-needed part of learning. It is important that students have a clear understanding of what the goal or end product is so that they don’t feel that they are working just to work. How many of us have heard students ask, “Why are we learning this?” or “When will I ever need this?” Students ask this when they are not motivated to learn because the goal that they are working toward is not clear and obvious. Teachers need to clearly understand what the end goal or product will be, and this needs to be shared with students at the beginning of a unit or lesson.Throughout the unit or lesson the formative assessment and feedback should always be in relation to the goal. Comments such as “good work” or “nice job” are not specific and in relation to the goal. When the goal is presented early on it is more productive to assess formatively and provide feedback toward the goal. For example, if the goal is to narrate an event in the past, feedback such as, “Your mastery of these regular verb forms will help you to speak confidently about what you did last weekend. Now turn your focus to these irregular verb forms that will help you speak or write about more events.” Information from Formative Assessment provides data during the instructional process. Without a clear goal, it is difficult to answer these formative assessment questions:
- Where am I going?
- Where am I now?
- How can I get to where I am going/need to be?
Here are some ways to keep the goal the focus of the a unit or lesson.
Students know how to play Go Fish and it great to be able to tap into this to have students practice vocabulary. This activity remains very communicative because students must use the vocabulary to play, but the goal is to collect the cards. The teacher simply needs to print out and cut up the cards and give a group of 3-4 students the pile to play. Several sets work best so that several groups can play. This is a an effective review game and a ideal opportunity for students to speak with each other in the foreign language. Go Fish! also works well as a station activity.
Download Go Fish! games here:
This is a fun and engaging way for students to practice verb forms or any type of vocabulary. I call this shipwreck (Naufrage, Naufragio, Hǎinàn-海难, Schiffbruch, Naufragium). The board has 1oo squares, you can use fewer or more depending on the level of your students.
In the example below there are subjects and infinitives in each box. Students play against an opponent and choose a box. He then says or writes the correct verb form. The example below has the student put the verb in the past tense in French. If the opponent agrees that it is correct, the player gets to color in the square with his color, then it is the opponent’s turn. If the opponent does not agree with the response the teacher is summoned to verify. If the answer is not correct the player loses that turn. When a player gets three boxes in a row of his color he gets a point, which is recorded on the bottom. Each play has a different color and employs a blocking strategy to try to prevent the opponent from getting three boxes in a row. This works well with vocabulary (students either translate or use the word in a sentence) or adjective/adverb forms as well.
You can make these activities in a WORD Document or you can download these activities that are ready to use:
This handy reference for students has verb forms on both sides. I photocopy it on card stock (two-sides) and cut it into strips so that students can put it in their books, usually in the lesson we are currently studying. My students really like having this easily accessible reference so that they don’t always have to go looking through their book for verb forms when speaking and writing. The example below is for beginning/intermediate students, but more advanced students would benefit from more advanced verb forms and conjugations.
This handy reference can be made in a WORD document by making columns or text boxes. You can also download them completed in French and Spanish here:
I always like to use classic games such as battleship in the foreign language classroom. These types of activities don’t typically require a lot of explanation because students are familiar with the how the game is played and they can get right on task practicing their language skills. You can read about how language instruction is improved with “fun and games” in a post that I wrote previously.
Here is an example of how battleships can be used to practice clothing vocabulary and colors in Spanish. Students place boats (filled in boxes) on the game board. Students play against another student and try to find and sink the boats of the opponent. There are pictures of clothing down the left side and colors across the top (this can also easily be done with with subjects and verbs). To choose a square, the player must say the article of clothing and the correct form of the color. All of the necessary vocabulary (boat names, hit, sunk, miss, examples of how to say a sentence) are on the sheet for student reference. There are two grids for each player to use, one to put his/her own “boats” on and the other to keep track of the opponent.
Download Battleship Games Here:
This is a great well to keep students in the target language while they focus on a particular vocabulary theme. The example below using clothing. Give slip of paper to each student with pictures of five articles of clothing. There are 6 six pairs total. In the example below the slips on the left are paired with slips on the right.
Students circulate in the classroom and ask each other which clothing they have (they should not look at others’ answers or show theirs). The entire activity should take place in the target language. The objective is to find the other person who has the exact match. If there are more than 12 students in the class, photocopy additional slips and students need to find their group of 3 or 4 that all match. If there is an odd number of students in the class, be sure to give a slip that matches a group.
The first group to pair up without speaking English or looking at each other’s slip wins the round. Students can then exchange slips and play a second and third time. Before playing, review the vocabulary that students will need.
These activities can be made in a WORD document by cutting and pasting images, or you can download the activities that are already made here:
This is a great interactive writing or speaking activity for students. Students throw a die three times and write a sentence based on the number sequence (or they can throw three dice at once and line them up). Each number corresponds to picture of a subject pronoun, verb and verb tense. Students write the sentence or say it out loud. This is a great way to get students writing without translating. Subjects and verbs can also be easily written on the board and numbered 1-6 along with various verb tenses as well. This is a grid that I use with students.
Update on this Post: I recently wrote a follow up to this goal setting post that focuses on setting proficiency goals using the ACTFL Proficiency Scale and the Can-Do Statements. You can read it HERE.
As teachers we all understand the importance of setting goals and having students set goals for themselves. Since the study of a foreign language (particularly for students beginning a language in middle school, high school or in college) is a new undertaking and and students generally have little or no previous experience, I find it very important to give them clear guidance as they set personal goals for learning a foreign language. Students may set goals that are clearly too difficult to reach or goals that they will reach in two days. Clear guidance from the teacher can help students to understand what attainable goals can look like in the world language classroom. Here is an example of what I ask students to do when they begin setting goals for themselves. I have them revisit each term and asses where they are in terms of reaching their goals.
- As you look forward to the year ahead in, what do you hope to accomplish? What are some areas of language or culture that you want to know more about? What can you do to make sure that you are able to accomplish these goals?
- Consider the many aspects of learning a foreign language as you create some goals for yourself this year. Here are some ideas to consider: Speaking, Pronunciation, Understanding , Writing , Familiarity with Cultures, Vocabulary, Grammar.
- Consider where your skill/confidence level in these areas is now and where you would like to be at the end of this school year. Remember this about setting SMART goals. Goals should be:
- Take some time to write down what you hope to accomplish this year and how you plan to go about it.
You can download goal setting sheets for foreign language students HERE.
This game motivates students to speak and to recall vocabulary. Any type of thematic vocabulary can be used.
The Set -Up: Lay out abut 5 or 6 index cards or slips if paper. Choose three vocabulary themes (numbers, colors, family, professions, verbs, etc.). Choose one word and write it on half of the cards. Choose another word and write it on the rest of the cards. Do the same thing for the two remaining vocabulary themes. Each card should have three words. Make sure that no two cards have the same three words.
The Activity: Hand the cards out to students and have those students go to the front of the room. Tell the rest of the students (and write on the board) all of the words that are written on the cards. The teacher chooses one of the cards in advance and it is the class’s task to figure out who has the card by asking questions of each person who is holding a card. They need to keep track of the information that they learn and make a guess when they think that they figured out the right person.
Keep it Communicative: Write digits, draw lines in color, draw (print out) pictures, etc. for the cards so that students must use their own language to play the game rather than simply reading words. Use these for the students who are asking the questions as well.
There are many variation for this activity, including more advanced questions using various tenses (the card may say “to eat-preterit” and the question would be “did you eat?”). This can also be used several times in the same class, just switch the students and choose another card.