Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

February 17, 2014
by leesensei
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Developing Conversation Skills: The “Follow Up Question” Game

MP900262685We work hard in my class on developing an ease at conversing. It isn’t natural for many people, including me I’ll admit, so why would we expect it to be so for our students? This semester I have a new crop of Grade 10’s, 30 students who are in my class for the first time. When I asked what it is they want to many of them wrote ‘have a regular conversation in Japanese.” My job is to have them meet that challenge. I’ve written before about extending conversation skills using ‘follow-up questions’ and this group needed a way to jump-start their ability in this area.

So I invented the ‘Follow Up Question’ game….my fancy title for essentially practicing conversations!

What You Need

  • Question Cards- a set of follow-up questions in the Target Language. I input the phrases I want into Quizlet – then print out thefollow up quest ‘large’ flashcards on coloured paper and cut them out . My initial ones are shown on the right.
  • Students – in pairs – initially of your choosing then eventually their own
  • An ’emergency sheet’ (list) with the questions/answers already matched (upside down on the desk)

Initial Round (First Day)

  • These words are not new to them so I have students match the English and TL cards – then mix them up and spend 3-4 minutes quizzing each other.
  • Have the students separate the cards again into two piles – and select the TL pile (put the English aside)
  • Student 1 begins with a simple phrase such as “I’m going shopping”
  • Student 2 pulls a card from the pile such as “When?” and Student 1 thinks of an answer that fits
  • Student 2 then pulls a second card – perhaps “Where at?” and it continues
  • Students run through the ‘stack’ of question cards then switch roles
  • They will run through this with 3 or 4 different partners – experiencing asking/answering a number of times – and be encouraged to change their ‘starting phrase’ a couple of times

Recognizing Appropriate Questions – Sometimes the follow-up question a student draws doesn’t work. For example if you are shopping at the mall then “Where to?” isn’t appropriate. Students know that if a question is not usable they are to tell their partner that. It sharpens skills and awareness around the questions – and to be honest they love it when they say “No – that one won’t work!” in the target language.

Assisting in Comprehension – Not every student will remember all of the questions initially. So we also practice helping each other understand. If the question is asked and it isn’t understood then the student asking knows that, if they understand it, they are to try to assist by giving a sample answer. For example if their partner doesn’t understand/know how to answer “Who with?” they can use “For example ‘with a friend’ ‘by yourself'” to help their partner clue in. If the both students don’t understand they can peek at the emergency sheet.

Later Round (Second Day) – I employ the same strategy, and start with a quick warmup with the cards. Then they are paired with new partners, but now use the pile of cards in English. Again we rotate through 3 or 4 partners. Students are encouraged to change up their ‘starting phrase’ at least once during the time of the activity.

Later On (Third Day etc) – Again we start with a partner and a quick warmup. Then the cards are put away (an emergency sheet is on the desk if needed). We rotate through 2 or 3 partners, switching up the starting phrase. At the end of the time students have an opportunity to record the questions on their conversation phrase sheet that they keep in their binder.

Finally –  No cards are provided at all (the questions are on a sheet the student knows how to access). Instead of the student providing the initial phrase students may start the class with a question on the screen (from me) like “Ask your partner what they are doing after school? Where? When? Why…etc!” And they are off – with great questions that allow them to dig for details. As the semester progresses we find new questions to add to our ‘follow-up’ list.

Taking the time to help them develop their questioning skills pays off when the room is alive with conversation. My job at that point is to get out the way and let them talk!

Colleen

 

 

 

February 11, 2014
by leesensei
2 Comments

Marking Using Docs…A Newbie Wades In…

MP900316779

I am trying to expand choice in homework. At times this is in what you do to show/demonstrate your learning. The other way is in ‘how’ you choose to complete the work. This semester I am experimenting with my Japanese 12 students. I should point out that my district requires parent permission for the required use of any cloud-based tool  such as Google Docs due to privacy concerns. Therefore I do not require my students to submit or use Docs in class.   So,  when I give them choice in how they complete they have the option to submit as

  • a handwritten piece – like traditional homework
  • a piece typed on their phones and emailed to me (I paste into Docs when I receive)
  • a piece typed in Word and emailed to me
  • a piece typed in Google docs (student’s choice to use)

As more students elect to send a document to me I’ve taken some time to think about how I will handle marking them on-line in Google docs.  At this point I am not using my graphics tablet to circle/handwrite comments so I have concentrated on the setup needed to respond online. I took time to look around to other members of my PLN to see how they might handle it and many of their ideas are reflected in my initial set-up for online marking.

Teacher Gmail Account: I have my own personal Gmail Account but as I will be opening and editing student work I did not want to use that for marking. So I created a “teacher” account for me. I choose a name that included my title and school “pinetreeleesensei” so that students could quickly realize who the email is from.

Importing into Docs to edit – Not Drive!: Oh the confusion. When I was in Google Docs I would upload a word document a student had submitted and then try to edit. But I couldn’t find any of my editing tools that I wanted and didn’t understand why. It turned out that I was in Google Drive and not Google Docs. So…I selected File-Open With Google Docs. As it does this it even says “Opening in Google Docs for editing” on the bottom right of the screen. If your uploaded document doesn’t allow any editing – you’re probably in Drive not Docs!

Colour Use/Key: I have used the ‘colour’ option to highlight common problems – Because I am just starting out I wanted to keep the editing simple. So for me that is colours that highlight common errors. Yellow for a grammar error, Red for vocabulary issue and Green for incomplete sentences.  I can see that this may get a bit out of hand and unwieldy so I will have to keep the categories to a minimum and what is covered by them pretty loose in definition. It also means a seperate document (perhaps) to explain what they are for.

Comments in the “Header” Section: After much searching around at how to comment, and what to use, I settled on the ‘header’ section. It allows me to put in comments that students can see right at the top of their document.

Did a Student send a JPeg?: I have some students with tablets who choose to handwrite their homework but then submit electronically. It is easy to  copy/paste into a word processing document in Google Docs. When this happens then I just type below the picture. In the future I can see me using my iPad to circle/comment using a annotating app like Notability before I send it back.

There are more things to consider as you move to marking on line. Laura Sexton (@sraspanglish) has gone even further – with a Google Form to use for feedback for all submissions. I’m following her lead to develop my own one but in the meantime – check out her post on this! A great way to provide more feedback.

Looking forward to more choice ….

Colleen

 

February 3, 2014
by leesensei
2 Comments

Considerations As You Allow “The Phone”

Outrageous Phone CallAs a language teacher I find mobile phones are a great resource as a dictionary, a unique way to do homework and, for many of my students, an alternative way to take notes. I’ve been using them in my class for a while now and their presence is actually hardly noticed – so seamlessly is it a part of what we do. In working them into my class I’ve learned some things about how to introduce them that may help you if you just starting to allow them.

“Out on The Desk”  – The first few weeks of my class always starts with the call to “take out your phones – upside down on your desk”. So stunned are most students that you are allowing this that the phone carriers all do. As we work through class I make a mental note of who has them. If I don’t see it when I initially ask them to take it out they will often get a personal reminder to do so. Gradually the action becomes a habit and having it in plain sight makes it easier to use, and not to abuse.

“Silent/Upside Down” –  In the first few weeks of class I start each class the same way by asking them to take out their phone, place them face down on their desks and set to “manner mode” (‘mute’ as it’s called in Japanese).  I warn them that sometimes we all  forget to mute it and it will ring and usually tell a story on myself of how my mother likes to text or phone me at all hours of the day. Then I talk what to do if your phone goes off – apologize, mute it, don’t check it and continue on with what you were doing.  By the way inevitably my mother does call, my phone isn’t on mute and my students hear the ring, look at me and say “your mom?” (target language of course!)

“Use It As They Do” – My phone is out, on my computer table during class. It is upside down and set to ‘mute’. I have blogged before about the usefulness of recording what happens in my classes. So I use my phone in front of them. The first few times I do it I tell them what I’m up to but eventually they don’t even notice. What am I doing? I take photos for me of my boards if I have been using them. I will often upload it (after converting it to a pdf or grey-scale photo) to my website – in front of them – for those without phones who want the visual as well.  I update my website with it – in front of them. If we’re searching for a word I’ll use the dictionary app. For my Japanese classes I also use it to show them how to look up characters using ‘hand drawn’ input.  Using it yourself is a powerful tool for you – and a great way to model it’s proper use.

“Consequences When Needed” – Okay there are still occasional slip ups. It’s not hard to notice the furtive glances or an attempt to key in a quick text. Generally I call out the offender with a “really?” and it doesn’t happen again. Students know it is a privilege to use the phone in my room – and that that privilege can be removed. It’s only ever happened once – a student who kept using their phone inappropriately. After 3 warnings they were asked to hand it over – each day at the start of class for 3 weeks. I kept a post-it on my computer desk to remind me to ask. Three weeks later, when the phone was returned, it was never misused again.

So go ahead – release the phones. If you set the ground rules, model what you want and monitor it a lot at the start they will learn to use it positively in class. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll unleash its potential benefits for you as well!

Colleen

 

January 7, 2014
by leesensei
8 Comments

“How do you say __?” Extending beyond “the vocab list”

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I’ll admit it. For every unit – a set of vocabulary. Used to ensure a basic set of words to discuss the topic.  My goal in this being that students have a common vocabulary with which to interact. But it’s the extra’s that are the key – the words that personalize the learning for the student – and expands their ability to express what they want to say.

Recent posts from Amy Lenord (@alenord) and others around”leaving the list’ behind – have challenged me to look not as much at the basic vocabulary but rather at how I deal with the requests for “What is the word for__? or “How do I use ____?”. And so a ‘shift’ for me  is happening – one that is enriching and empowering my students.

Teacher Shift – Attitude: Part of the move beyond the list does I think come when you are ‘comfortable’ with your program. Not only with ‘how’ it runs (PBL? TPRS?) but also where it is running to. It took me a while to come around to the idea of more choice. Not because I didn’t favour having a language vocabulary that is personal – but because I was still forming how the curriculum and the course would be delivered. I was so busy worrying about their ability to communicate – I forgot that this was the focus – and that it was my job to show them ‘how’ to communicate;  how to ensure their listener understands them, clarify or explain a word  or concept, adjust vocabulary as needed.  They could take it from there.

An example? My Grade 12’s regularly do a travel unit in which they ‘sell’ tours to various parts of Japan to their classmates. It can be tough to predict what vocabulary is needed in advance. This time, I asked them to add the words that they each needed that they felt were key to understanding their tour. Yes – we crowdsourced the vocabulary – the words stayed up on the board during the preparation time. Each day they spent a small amount of time (5 min) picking a word (or 2) off the board – telling their partner they didn’t understand – and playing out how to explain what the word meant.

Teacher Shift – Opportunity: Not only did my willingness to add vocabulary require a mental shift, it also required an opportunity shift. That is – I needed to provide students with the settings that allowed them to show/use the words that they needed to use.  Opportunities for personal expression – using the full range of vocabulary they have acquired had to be expanded. How did I allow them to show/use what they knew?

An example? For my first year students it has been as simple as adding a large empty box on their unit vocabulary sheet. I put a heading “Extras WE/I Want to Know:” on it. Whenever a phrase or word comes up in an incidental way in class I put it up for them and they are now recording it there.

For my more senior students it means a shift in how I ask them to show me what they understand. They can utilize any words at their disposal to complete the task at hand. Therefore it is becoming evident in the choice that I am allowing students. “Please show me that you understand the concept ___” means that students can use any vocabulary at their disposal – and are not limited to what is required. In class interaction the motto is “you can use it if you can explain it (or any other way you can share the meaning).”

The more I learn to step back, and empower my students to step up and use the language, the more that choice plays into the mix. I have learned that it is my job to coach and support – not constrict their language learning. It’s true that there are some times when students are not quite ready to take on a concept due to language ability. But if I ask my students to risk and try with a new language – why am I holding back their ability to express themselves?

I want to thank the #langchat community – especially those like Amy who regularly question, mentor and more importantly share their journey with us. It inspires teachers like me to strike off in new directions as well! More choice to come!

Colleen

January 1, 2014
by leesensei
0 comments

Language Sensei: Most Popular Posts of 2013

MP900289582Language Sensei is a forum for me to explore both teaching an MFL (modern foreign language) and work to integrate/explore technology both in my classroom and for personal development. It has been my project for the past 2 (almost) years and it is the contact into the greater PLN that I have enjoyed the most. The people who take the time to comment, Tweet and Facebook ‘like’ only serve to confirm to me that we, as teachers, are at our best when we collaborate to learn (and share with others).  So what were Language Sensei’s most ‘popular’ posts of the year?

MFL/Foreign Language Teaching:

No. 1 Conversation Circles…or “I spoke in the TL for 45 Minutes?!” – ideas/tips for conversation circles in class

Runner Ups:

Edtech/Twitter:

No. 1 Homework? A Quick Phone-Recorded Conversation Please! – using smart phones/digital recorders to demonstrate learning

Runner Ups:

I am looking forward to where Language Sensei will take me in 2014 and welcome the comments/suggestions that come from my PLN. If you want to connect more as a modern foreign language teacher why not join in on #langchat? We ‘meet’ Thursday at 8pm and information on the how and when can be found here.

Happy 2014! I’m looking forward to another great year.

Colleen

 

 

 

Two Ways To “Power” Up MFL Students’ Learning

Visual Learning – Visual Cues

 

December 3, 2013
by leesensei
0 comments

Taking the Time to Ask “How’s it going?”

Hourglass

As teachers we’re often so concerned about finishing a class in time that sometimes we forget how far we have come. This year has started a new emphasis for me on reflective learning. As I take the time reflect on my learning via my blog and interact with my PLN, I want my students to develop a self awareness of who, and where, they are as learners.

I started this year with a set of opening day questions for my returning students. The idea came courtesy of Martina Bex (@martinabex) and was a set of questions designed to find both what works for them in class -and what their challenges might be. The emailed responses were very enlightening both as an insight into how my students see themselves as learners but also what class materials supported their learning. As we came through our first half of the course (I teach on semester system -so Nov is mid-way) I thought it would be nice to check in and see how class is going – and how students are feeling about their learning.

The reflection form asks students to initially consider their success in class.  The responses show what they value – and if what I value (risk, stretching, communicating) is resonating with them. “What have you done really well?” and “What have you improved on?” brought a wide variety of answers. Many talked about overcoming initial hesitations – especially about communicating with peers – and their increasing comfort in working in the target language.

“One thing that surprised me about class” gave me a real insight into how class is going for them. I was surprised to have so many focus on the pleasant surprise of our oral challenges – be they daily interactive with their peers or the class summative assessments. One grade 12 student remarked on how ‘freakishly committed’ the class seemed to be – in preparing work and participating in class activities. A great number of students mentioned that they never thought learning a language could be ‘fun’ – imagine that?

I put a question on the sheet this year about preparing for tests – keeping in mind that ‘test’ refers to any of our summative (and some of my formative) assessments. Most of my seniors used this to reiterate how they prepare – and that it a successful strategy for them. I have worked a lot this year with my new Grade 9’s in evaluation skills. Many of them talked about ‘preparing for the evaluation we’re going to have’ as a change – that is practicing reading for a reading piece, and writing for a written evaluation. A large number commented on how they used my “power 7” idea (short bursts of concentrated study) – even now in other classes.

After the reflective piece I also wanted students to ‘project’ into the future – the second half of the course. “A challenge for me will be…” is really a chance for students to set out what is important to them going forward. A large number talked about their wish to keep doing what they are doing now (because it is working). A portion of students also talked about what hadn’t been going so well for them – and used this answer to articulate what they wanted to change or improve going forward.

Asking students ‘something they want to know more about’ – lets me see if I am hitting the right ‘notes’ with the scope of what they are being introduced to. My grade 9’s were very big on ‘more conversation’ and, as I hadn’t done it yet, it was a perfect opportunity to work with them to create a ‘phrases’ sheet that they use in peer to peer conversations and more.

I plan to revisit this type of questionnaire at the end of the course. It’s valuable to my students not only to have them realize where they have come from – but also in asking them to articulate actions going forward. It’s value to me is summed up in my favourite Grade 9 response:

“I didn’t like Japanese at first – It was hard, especially when I was trying to learn my characters.    But look at me now, I’m reading and talking with my partner and it’s great!”

Enough said.

Colleen

 

November 5, 2013
by leesensei
0 comments

Two Ways To “Power” Up MFL Students’ Learning

MP900438776This year I returned to teaching the ‘new’ Grade 9 course. They are young, keen and full of energy. Many I get have never really been in a modern language classroom taught by a language specialist.  As a teacher I love these ‘newbies’ and work hard to support them in class as they explore Japanese. But as an elective teacher I also realize that my job is dependent on turning out successful students who want to stay in my program- and doing so means that I must teach them how to be successful. What are a couple of my techniques to help ensure success for ‘new’ learners?

The “Power” to Take Risks – As MFL teachers we are good at providing opportunities in class for students to use, and get feedback, on these skills. And yet it is common for us to lament students who don’t risk or won’t interact unless they know it is correct. One way to give students more power to succeed in oral assessment is by practicing what happens if they make an error or don’t understand.  During oral interaction I often ask my students to not understand something, or make an error, on purpose. We discuss as a group what to do when this happens. Was your question not understood? Then repeat, add gestures and if that doesn’t work try giving your own answer to the question. Did they answer a question that you didn’t ask? Don’t tell them ‘wrong answer’! Respond to what they said, even add your own comments, then try your original question again. When you have them practice the errors on purpose you give them the ‘power’ to be willing to risk.

“Powerful” Study– Although I allow a lot of choice in the language elements students acquire – there is for me a ‘base’ level that I expect them to know and use. This is key in the ability to read for comprehension and communicate in written form.  One strategy we use comes from my own experience and the difficulty I had in being able to focus during study. Called “Power7’s” it asks students to set a timer for 7 minutes – and during that time to focus only on the task at hand – either ensuring they know what words/text mean or writing out the words that they are to know. At the end of 7 minutes they can go do something else. They are to repeat the process 4-5 more times in the evening (or until they know it). Early on in the course I take time prior to the first tests to give time to practice this technique in the classroom. The 7 minutes of quiet personal work done there means my students know what to do at home. My students use this technique regularly and many now use it in other courses that require vocabulary or concept knowledge. There is great “power” in giving your students tools for success.

We often assume that students are already equipped with the  tools they need to be successful in our MFL classes. But I like to take time to review and teach my students ‘how’ to be successful – and put that power in their hands… How do you create success in your room?

Colleen

September 17, 2013
by leesensei
6 Comments

Conversation Circles…or “I spoke in the TL for 45 Minutes?!”

convo2If I told a student that I expected 45-50 minutes of sustained discussion in the target language they’d laugh and say no way. But I watched it today in my Grade 12 class – as students used the pretext of answering questions about a story they read to work in their “conversation circle”. This small discussion group activity produces some of the most relaxed and engaged interaction in my WL classroom. Not only that but students offer up a personal debrief afterwards – that I use to add to their oral communication marks.

Practice the “Art” of Conversation –  Relaxed interaction is no accident. We practice the “art” of the conversation a lot in class. As my students know – it’s not the first question that you ask that is key – but rather the second and third follow-up question. Class often starts with an “ask” your partner based on some current area of study but students are expected at a minimum to use basic “who, what, when, where, why?” queries to learn more.  All students have a ‘conversation’ sheet that they can refer to with suggestions for how to ask questions. When we debrief I often get asked for more “key phrases” and we add that to the sheet as we go along.convo3

Select a Common “Piece” to Discuss – The pretext for the circle is always to discuss or review something. It can be the answers to questions about a story, as it was today, or even a review of some element of homework/classwork. The key is that there are questions/answers that can be used to get the talking started. I will give them the questions for the discussion and they have already had the opportunity to make notes on possible answers. (The key for me is “notes” and not full sentence answers). At the time of the “circle” they are given a new sheet with the questions on it and, in the lower grades, extension questions for the group. For example “What did Tarou get for his birthday” and the extended “What do you want/did you get for your birthday?” My Grade 12’s  now naturally extend the task questions without my including them.

Students Know What They Are Aiming For – We look at the post-activity rubric before the activity. I ask my students to see what the “goal” is and to select just one area – one descriptor – as their ‘personal challenge’ for the time. If there is nothing on the rubric that the student sees as applicable then they can write in their challenge. One of my students, who speaks Japanese at home, wrote “I don’t want rubricto dominate my group’s conversation”.

Set Out the Initial Groups But… I usually set the initial groups, looking for a mix of students in each – and sometimes for a group that may be supportive of a more hesitant speaker. Students are expected to sit in a circle and to work on good eye contact when they are speaking.  They know that this activity is not to be raced through. After about 30 minutes I often ask them to find a completely new group and to ‘just chat’ – using the extension questions only.

Written Debrief Before Rubric – Students are asked to really think how things went, so I don’t let them race to the rubric at the end of the activity. Rather they go the reverse side and I ask them to answer one or two key questions. Today it was “what went well?” and “what was a particular challenge?”. Then once the personal reflective piece is done the rubric can be completed. Students understand that I expect them to carefully consider all sentences on the rubric and that they are not just to circle an entire “section”. They must justify what they pick.

My goal in the conversation circle is simple: using the TL to communicate beyond standard sentences to more meaningful conversation. The level of noise in the room is my key that this is working….more to come.

Colleen

September 9, 2013
by leesensei
4 Comments

The New First Days…(“Yo Ho Ho” )

imageEach year I strive to improve the way that class begins. This year, armed with my metaphoric pirate eye patch from my summer reading (“Teach Like A Pirate“) and a renewed belief in what constitutes review – my 18th start to the year promised to be different again – and it was.

No boring reading of the outline to start? Nope – this year we opened with “The Trailer”. I must admit I am proud of the visuals and the mood it sets but wasn’t prepared for the student reaction. Whispers to a student beside when they saw an anime character they knew, laughs at the “iron chef” line and unbelievably – applause – at the end. I congratulated them on being wise enough to choose Japanese and then followed up with a brief presentation on the ‘journey’ they were on with me as their ‘guide’…They were primed!

A pipe-cleaner? Fresh from “TLAP” reading – the pipe-cleaner activity. My new Gr 9’s (no TL skills) folded into an object that represented something about them and shared with me/partners in English. My Gr 11’s (1-2 semesters in TL) did a mixture – challenging themselves to do as much as they could in the TL  with their partner.  My 29 Gr 12’s spent time in groups of 4 or 5 (they were asked to change every 5-8 minutes) and used their pipe-cleaner object as a starting point for conversation – all in the TL. Fabulous.

But what about the outline? – Ah – that is now a reflective/informative piece – an idea that I borrowed with permission from Martina Bex (@martinabex). Homework on Day 1 was to read the new improved “infographic outline“& FAQ‘s for class and then answer 4 questions regarding it. The responses to this were really informative. Students showed a real awareness of how they best learn and what their particular challenges are in class. Many commented on my willingness to allow them to use technology in class and how much they loved it’s interactive nature. I wanted to reinforce what kind of learners I need and they were all able to pull out the key requirements of a good language learner – ‘risk’ came up again and again. I responded to each of their emails – an easy cut/paste “Thank you” in the TL with an added personal PS for each.

Will they review everything from last year? Okay I will admit that we are doing some in one class – as my Gr 11 class blends students from 2 different types of pre-requisite courses. But in the other ones we are mainly (as my previous post outlines) doing a lot of talking, game playing and story reading to review the “how” of learning. The “rules of the road” reminded the Gr 11 & 12’s of their role (and mine) in the room. As one student said to me “I may not remember everything, but I know where to go to find out what I forgot”…

My new first week has helped establish a strong relationship with my students, and between them. It has also rekindled their enthusiasm for studying Japanese and participating in class. It would not have been possible without the #wltlap and #langchat PLN support that I received…Yo Ho Ho …Onward I go!

Colleen

August 27, 2013
by leesensei
0 comments

What Exactly Are They Reviewing?

Football teamThere is a lot of talk in my professional circles at this time of year about ‘review’. With the two month holiday drawing down and the Sept.3 start of classes looming the question of whether to/how much to go over is always a timely one. Last week my #langchat PLN spent time discussing it – and, true to form, my personal view of the role of review came to me in one of my quick and spontaneous 120 character tweets.review tweet

So what are my “Rules Of The Road” that need revisiting at the start of the year?

Self-Sufficiency – Your teacher is a resource, a guide and someone who can clarify and support in the classroom. Most of your real use of the language will happen outside these 4 walls. So, you are the person who must know where your resources are, how to locate what you need and, most importantly, when to go to them for support.

Supportive Sustained Interaction – You will not always understand what is being communicated to you, and someone will not always understand you. How do you make it work? What are your strategies? Do you repeat? Use gestures? How about rephrasing or supplying examples? How do you sustain a conversation – what are your follow-up questions to learn more about the topic/person?

Target Language Work – You are being asked to work in the Target Language (in my case Japanese). Your partner, or group, expects you do this, just as you expect it of them. You will not be asked to do something that you do not have the skills to do – so relax and use what you have in your head (and at your fingertips). You will improve your skills, accomplish the task, and – unbelievably – have more fun if you stay in the target language.

Incidental Chatting – If you finish something when others are busy you are to not to sit there mutely awaiting instructions. No – this is your time to practice those ‘small talk skills’. What is your partner doing after school? What did they do this morning? Do they like broccoli? How do they feel about a particular subject? If you’re stuck you can use some of  the ideas on our conversation sheet. Imagine – you can sit and talk with someone about everyday things…just like a real person might!

Welcome back to the journey…glad to have you on the road again!

Colleen

 PS If you are interested in connecting with other MFL teachers – why not join us for our weekly #langchat Thursday at 8pmEST? Topics discussed are suggested by participants and are voted on weekly. It’s the best personal Pro-D you can do from anywhere!

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