Already? The older I get the faster the year goes by, isn’t that right? Well, we’ve been busy in our class and students are making great progress in their path to proficiency. As a level one teacher I am always amazed how quickly they acquire words and phrases when I am intentional about using the target language at least 90% of the time. They also benefit enormously by the process of repetition. Students are like sponges and the more input they receive in the target language the quicker they will automatically begin to pour it out. It’s a beautiful thing to watch!
We started the year with a “chalk talk” activity to focus on what a language learner looks like and does. This was a great idea I learned from La Maestra Loca. Students had some great insights in response to the prompt: “A language learner laughs, listens, takes risks, makes mistakes, tries new things, asks questions, creates with the language, uses circumlocution, and looks for opportunities to practice.”
Students set their own language goals as we discussed proficiency levels and the path to proficiency.
In an effort to get to know each other quickly while acquiring conversation starters and small talk phrases we began practicing with partners some common getting to know questions and answers.
Students are expected to make any requests for permission to go somewhere in Spanish, so one of the first songs students learned was Señor Wooly‘s “¿Puedo ir al baño? ” It’s a ridiculous song, but students always love it and best of all they acquire common vocabulary and frequently used phrases.
By the third week of school, we began working with cognates. Students are excited to discover that there are so many words that are similar to English which they can begin to use right away in context. Rather than lecturing about our procedures or policies and because we are fortunate enough to have a set of Chromebooks in our class, we used Google Classroom and Google Forms for a Scavenger Hunt about our classroom procedures and policies.
Gestures are part of our classroom to help students associate the meaning of a phrase or vocabulary rather than relying entirely on direct translations, they associate the gesture with the meaning. Students quickly acquired phrases and new vocabulary and we played games such as, Simon dice… (Simon says…), or ojos cerrados (give gestures with eyes closed), and alrededor del mundo (around the world).
In September, we began to identify objects, letters, numbers and subject pronouns. Students practiced spelling names and telling age or birthday. We played games like, dedos, a partner competition game to identify vocabulary, Hachi Pachi, a question/answer game, and gestures to identify pronouns. During our lab days, we began using Quizlet and Quizlet.live and set up accounts for our online textbook and continued using Google Classroom to view videos or complete writing activities. Then, Hurricane Irma visited our community and we were out of school for several days.
When we returned to school students researched cultural symbols associated with the letters in their names. Then, they created posters and used them to make a short presentation entirely in Spanish, spelling their names and identifying a variety of cultural symbols.
At the end of the first unit, students completed their first modified PechaKucha They were timed for 40 seconds and spoke about basic personal facts, used numbers in context and gave some personal preferences. Although at first they were apprehensive about the activity, they rose to the challenge and were terrific. They used only pictures during their presentation to remind them about the required topics and they were able to show off their Spanish skills. I’m excited to see how much more they will be able to do at the end of the year!