Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

October 14, 2014
by leesensei

Sentence Building with the Unit Slide Show – Easy, Fun and Effective

MP900177844I love visuals for learning. I have blogged in the past about using visual slide shows in my classes. Today – yet another fun slide show and also an extended activity. On my recent summative assessment I was still noticing errors in constructing sentences – common errors that I felt needed to be addressed again. And so we did – with the aid of the slide show. For my Year2’s it became a great review activity for both vocabulary and sentence construction.

The recipe for today’s review?

Start with – A slide show – a pdf of today’s is attached – thematic pictures of Japanese engaged in a variety of activities.  I had mine set up automatically to change every 7 seconds but if I felt that I needed more time I would do it manually.

Add in – Round 1 – just let it play as they enter….

Then –  Round 2 – I ask “What are they doing?” Group chorus response assisted by teacher

Next – Round 3 – I ask “Where are they doing this?” Group chorus response assisted by teacher

Then – Round 4 – I ask “Who are they doing this with?” Group chorus response assisted by teacher

And – Round 5 – They try to describe using all of the elements.

Finally – Round 6 – They ask their partner if they did that yesterday….

Adjust ingredients as desired! You can see that you the content, questions and desired output can change with your students’ needs.

It was a great review for my students, who also learned some new vocabulary (what do you call a sumo wrestler?) and reinforced great sentence construction. Even better – it was reinforced in a safe group environment – and no worksheet! More uses and ideas to come.





June 2, 2014
by leesensei

10 Minutes to Make – Impact – Priceless (The ease/reward of a unit slideshow)

MP900177844As Foreign Language teachers we are continually focussing on teaching in ‘context’. It is the link between the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ that really helps to deepen both the learning (and the will to learn) within our students. One of the ways that I have started to experiment with setting context is through visuals  – visuals from the target language country. It started, as many of my things do, with a one-off kind of thing – almost a fluke as it were. I was leading into seasonal activities – and wanted to incorporate both those that are popular here, and in Japan (my Target Language – TL). How was I to hook them – to set them up for what they were going to delve into? I have clip-art – lots of it – but I wanted more relevancy – more reality.

So I hit the search engine – and looked for images – images of Japanese people doing, experiencing some of the activities that I knew were going to come up from my students – and also things specific to Japan. I used ‘Google Images’ set my search to ‘free to reuse’. (I also use Creative Commons and Morguefile to find free to use images)  Then I started typing in what I was looking for “Japan – hot springs”  “Japan – snowboarding” “Japan – fireworks” and so on.

Quite quickly I had a set of 10-15 images that suited what I needed. I popped them into a ‘slideshow creator’ (I use Keynote) – no words – just images on a white background. Then I exported it as a Quicktime movie. I played around with how long the slides were shown for and found that a 3-3.5 second length was long enough to really see but short enough to move along quickly. And so my 3 minute Seasonal Activity Slideshow was made – in about 10 minutes.

I put the slideshow on ‘loop’ so that it played continuously as my students entered the room – and settled at their tables. They were intrigued by the images and it easily set the stage for our discussion. After some classwork on the vocabulary I ran it again – students were spontaneously calling out what the activities were in the target language. I ran it again – and they all told their partner if they ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ or ‘could do’ those activities.

Quick and easy to make – and a great (and easy) way to both set the stage for learning – and spark discussion. I’ll be gradually creating these for all of my classes – 10 minutes at a time!


April 1, 2014
by leesensei

Self-Created Riff on “The Story Game”

Child's Drawing of FamilyOne of the best things about the #langchat PLN is the almost ‘freakish’ timeliness of the ideas generously shared by it’s members. This happened to me a while back courtesy of “The Story Game” post from Martina Bex on her blog “The Comprehensible Classroom“. It referred to an idea originally posted on Bryan Kandel TPRS. The posts came right at the time my Yr 4’s were revisiting Daily Routine items – prior to their Murder Mystery oral activity.  It allowed me to combine one of my favourite homework options – the Sketch and Share – with partner work and oral interactive skills. The activity was done over 2 class periods  – and only for part of each period.

Here’s what I had them do.

Prior to Day 1

– Create/generate 8 pictures of what you do in your day – clip art, sketch whatever – and ensure that you can describe to someone what the pictures show

Day 1

– Meet with at least 3 other students in class. Work through their pictures with them – using them to describe what goes on in your day. My focus at this time is also linking/transitional work as they move from activity to activity.

-Then the students meet with 2 other students and just show their pictures. It is then their partners who must generate the language that matches what is going on. This is also a great way for students to expand their vocabulary – as students will not all express things the same way.

Day 2

– Partners each bring out their “My Day” 8 cards. Using those cards – in any combination – they are given 20 minutes to create a story based on the pictures. The story can be any type they wish.

-The only requirements are my usual  – that both partners participate equally in the telling and that they aren’t to dive into the dictionary (if they do – they can’t use a word(s) unless they can explain the meaning). The story has to be repeatable – as they will be telling it to 3 other pairs.

-Once the 20 minutes is up  – it’s story time. Each group meets with 3 other pairs – and tells their story as well as hear the other pairs’ tale. They are encouraged to use their transitional words and to ask questions to clarify what they don’t understand.

At the end of the activity students used one of my simple oral activity assessments – and added their own comments on how they felt about the activity before they actually did it, as well as after (“I thought it would be…” “After doing this I learned that/was surprised that…”) The students all talked about how much easier it became in round 2 and 3. Several students remarked that they began to ad-lib in more details as they retold their story or were asked about certain parts. Many also said it was a great ‘stretcher’ for their personal language as they heard other groups stories – that included different vocabulary and ways of constructing the stories themselves.

As for me I saw engaged/interested students who were focused on using a topic area to creatively tell a story. Students were using all of their skills in communicating their story – clarifying, questioning, rephrasing as needed.

I will be using the “story game” idea again with my other classes when it suits – and quite frankly it suits just about any topic area!  Thanks Martina for highlighting this post and Bryan for the original idea.








Skip to toolbar