When choosing novels and other reading material for your world language students, look for these characteristics: Is it comprehensible? These are the factors that contribute to comprehensibility: Unique Word Count. This is the number of different words in the text. The lower the unique word count, the easier a text is to read. When students know high frequency verbs they can often read at a higher level than is traditionally supposed. Many authors are writing with high frequency verbs and unique word counts in mind. Here are some guidelines for languages with many cognates: -Early level 1: Under 100 unique [...]
(Previous post in this series: The Affective Filter Hypothesis) The next post in this series (#8/9), Other Krashen Hypotheses, is found here. Focus on the Students like a MANIAC C: The Compelling Input Hypothesis (2011) "When the input is compelling you acquire whether you are interested in improving or not." This hypothesis asserts that compelling input trumps everything else in language acquisition. It emphasizes the role of subconscious acquisition while attention is focused elsewhere. Language comes along for the ride when students are engrossed in a topic. The goal is to find material and topics that captivate students. These are [...]
To mimic Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, it's Valentine's Day. Again. Every year on February 14, 20 over-the-top lovebirds in any given high school will send grand gestures of their adoration to the objects of their affection, while the other 782 students either attempt to keep from retching or feel vaguely inadequate. Here is a way to strike back at the empire of passion. With this activity students can learn some Spanish, have fun and release their creative (and mockingly evil side). I call it "El amor apesta" and students rewrite the lyrics to the song "Eres Tú", originally sung [...]
Conducting student interviews in the target language does not have to be complicated. Interviews do not have to be long and they do not have to add a lot of new vocabulary. With practice, we can learn fascinating things about students that even their closest friends do not know--all with comprehensible language. Not dark family secrets, mind you (we never go there), but admirable aspects of their life and habits that inspire us all and invite us to know the interviewee even more. We had a wonderful example of this last Thursday. I had interviewed a quiet but cheerful girl [...]
It was chaotic. It was noisy. It was heavenly. When the students wanted to keep talking in Spanish, I threw out my lesson plan and let them talk. It gives me hope that this work is not in vain. These are the sentences that my fifth period Spanish 1 class came up with for a drawing on the board. Each student was to write five sentences for their “Repasito”, or warm-up activity. The drawing was based on a story we told in class last week. The only stipulation was that each sentence could use only words that we had used [...]
"And Then There Were None: Surviving Foreign Language Study" Here is my go-to article when someone brings up Rosetta Stone. It is a study reviewed in the Backseat Linguist blog. 150 government workers were offered Rosetta Stone. Only one (1) completed the training. In order to stick teaching must be comprehensible, interesting and repeated. All three elements must be involved. Too many of these on-line programs do not have all of these elements and the results are shameful. We live teachers do not do much better, so we have very little to brag about.