Part of our weekly routine in Spanish I classes is to do regular free reading. This is classical Sustained Silent Reading where students select the materials they want to read and then we all sit down and read for 10 minutes. We do this 2-3 times per week in every class.
We do this because students acquire when they are exposed to language that is comprehensible and interesting. We have been working on high frequency words and familiar topics in our discussions and stories in class and I wanted to see what they could pick up on their own with no help.
A couple of weeks ago students were directed to pick a a book from our growing stacks of graded easy reader novels. After reading they were to write a short reaction or appreciation of the novel. No other instructions except the name of the novel and their thoughts about it. Here are some reactions:
I read Las Aventuras de Isabela. My reaction to this book was that I could surprisingly understand about 80% of it. It has all of the basic words we have learned. –Tyler
I read from Carl no quiere ir a Mexico. I could understand most of it. I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the story and the way the character (Carl) felt about going to Mexico. I will probably get the same book again because it is just the right level for me . –Jade
Berto y sus buenas ideas: Berto is very full of himself. Also he doesn’t care about or like school. He only cares about his friends and how many friends he has. I understood this book . –Jessica
I am reading Pobre Ana. She is a girl who has a lot of problems with her family and friends. This book is kind of easy to understand but there are some words that I don’t know yet. I can figure out most of the words by using the words around them that I already know and then I can figure them out that way. I figured out how to say “brown hair”, “school” and “poor”.–Danaka
I read some of Piratas del Caribe y el mapa secreto. My reaction to this book would be that it can be easy to read it if you know a little bit of Spanish. Some of these words you can figure out because they are so relatable to English words. I was amazed with the little I knew of Spanish but yet I was able to read a lot.–Marcos
I was pleased with their comprehension but even more so with their enthusiasm for reading–much different from the stereotype of “kids these days” that we tend to hear. This was done without worksheets, charts, conjugations or drills–mainly just talking and beginning to invent short stories with the kids. If we provide our students with enough interesting comprehensible input they will begin to pick up the language.