A belated Happy New Year to any readers and huge big thank you to almost 7500 people who read my ramblings last year! It is quite humbling to see stats like that and also how far across the world it has gone. Having said that, I’m sure there are some NFL fans out there wondering quite how they ended up on a language teaching website!
A bit of a reflective one to kick off 2017. Looking back at 2016, there are some things I did for the first time that I want to keep doing. Here they are…
Core Language Sheets
My 8s,9s and 10s have a sheet glued in the middle of their book where the staples are. These sheets contain key verbs (conjugated and infinitives), time adverbs, conjunctions (not a fan of “connectives”), opinion phrases and much more. They are used regularly by the majority of students in my class. They are adaptations of ones that can be found on Rachel Hawkes’ website. I changed some vocabulary items and also gave the fonts a slight upgrade. They are great for learning homeworks such as “learn time adverbs section” or “write a sentence using each infinitive with no repetition”. It has also stopped some of the “me gusta juego” that pupils often default to.
50-50 no hands up/hands up
I’m a fan of “hands up” and “no hands up” when questioning. I am aware that some teachers will advocate a 100% no hands up approach. This was suggested as an “outstanding” technique when I was training. I’ve listed the pros and cons in the table below. Hopefully you will see why I favour a mixture of both…
|Hands up||1) You see student enthusiasum for learning.
2) You gain an idea of student competence
3) Occasionally low-confidence students will go
for it so you have a good opportunity to build their
confidence with success!
|1) Some students will never put their hands up
2) Some students will be too passive in lessons
3) The two above may become learned behaviours
|No hands up||1) Keeps everyone on their toes
2) Does not allow an “opt out”
3) Allows teacher to target questions to
underachievers, pupil premiums, G&T etc.
|1) High anxiety for some students low on confidence
2) Some students will go with “don’t know” and resist your attempts
to lead them to an answer.
3) If targeting underachievers, pupil premium etc too often, you
may miss others.
Find someone who…
My new favourite speaking/listening task. For a detailed explanation look at 2.7 on Gianfranco Conti’s blog. The example Gianfranco shares links to free time. I have used it for future tense practice “find someone who will…” or past tense “find the person who did…” It requires a little bit of preparation and printing. The hard part is making sure that the students stay completely in the TL.
Teacher-led listening (Nick Muir / Gianfranco Conti / Steve Smith)
Listening activities in textbooks can be useful. However, I object greatly when the listening text involving types of transport contains sound effects! I have started to do some of my own with varying successes.
- Sense or nonsense – Students work out if the sentence given is sense or nonsense.
- LH, RH, BH – Allocate three categories in advance, students close eyes and put hands up. This can be done with tenses, opinions, negatives etc
- Left hand = future tense
- Right hand = past tense
- Both hands = present tense
- Spot the word missed. Sentences on board, teacher reads out and students spot missing word or word added in.
- Mr Men/Real Madrid listening – used at the start of the year to help develop sound and spelling links. Students have to spell the name of the Mr Man having only heard the Spanish. Can also work with members of Real Madrid’s reserve team.
Invitation only twilights.
Finally, we get to some of my own ideas! That being said, I’m sure that it is not original. I know a number of teachers who organise twilights and invite their entire class and attain varying attendance figures. This is compounded when you are up against core subjects, intervention classes, after-school detentions and some departments with more clout. I tried a different tactic. I invited 2-3 students each time. Only one did not turn up. Ways to make it work are as follows:
- Invite the student personally a week in advance, have them note it in a planner.
- Make it really clear what they are going to get from the session.
- Bring something of a sugary nature
Having a smaller GCSE group helps, but even with a larger one you could plan it out over time.
L shapes game – conjugation and translation
Produce a grid of conjugated verbs in TL or English (8×8, 6×8, 10×5 whatever size suits you or whatever preparation time allows). Students start in opposite corners but can only move in L shapes like the knight on a chessboard. To be able to shade in the next square they need to be able to pronounce the word accurately and translate it. They keep going until they cannot move any longer. Winner is then the one with the most squares.
Traffic light book hand in.
This came from one of our newer teachers. She has three boxes in her room. Green, yellow and red. Pupils put their books in at the end of the lesson depending on how well they feel they have coped with the material covered.
- Green = I’m fine, no problems
- Yellow = I struggled a bit
- Red = I found that really tough. Help!
You can then mark in an order that deals with the greatest need first, and target your marking more effectively.
Snakes and Ladders with heavy TL use.
I tried this with a low ability group and then with a higher one. Pupils have to do a task if they land on odd numbers. If they fail they move vertically down a square. Pupils also have to do a task to ascend a ladder or stop themselves slipping down a snake.
- 1 – sentence with fui a + country
- 3 – sentence with fui + transport
- 5 – sentence with fui + people
- 7 – sentence with fue +opinion
- 9 – sentence with fueron
- Ladder ascension: sentence with fui + country, transport and people
- Snake Stopper: sentence with fui + country and 2x activities in preterite.
Save your money by doing the following:
- Get 8-10 boards photocopied for your class.
- Counters are rubbers, sharpeners, pen lids, 5 pence coins etc.