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World Languages & ESL/ELL

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The aim of this group is the creation of an active community of world languages and ESL/ELL educators sharing resources, ideas, and providing reciprocal support in a Quality Learning environment.

Managing Quality Learning in a World Language Class

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Luz Antolinez Luz Antolinez 1 year, 8 months ago.

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    This is a discussion concerning the management of learning in world language classes.


    ‚ÄúI really enjoyed your presentation yesterday afternoon. ¬†I teach lower level Spanish- Spanish 1 and 2. ¬†I am excited to try some of your ideas in my classes, although I’m having a hard time envisioning using some of the ideas in my classes because there is so much that goes into learning a language that is different than other classes. ¬†Do you have any specific ideas for me? ¬†I really liked what you had on the board yesterday as far as planning out the semester and having them work at their own pace. ¬†How could I incorporate this into my language classes when so much of the information in the class is brand new to them (verb conjugations and pronunciation, etc).
    I would really appreciate any feedback and ideas that you have.
    Thank you!‚ÄĚ
    Urbandale High School
    Urbandale, Iowa
    Thank you Jenni for your question/input above.  I always start thinking about managing a learning process with the highest level of meaning possible.  I have studied several languages in my lifetime: German, Spanish, and Chinese.  I can’t speak any of them well today.  I believe most of my problem and the problem facing most is/was meaning, relevance and context.  Either, I was learning for a test score and grade or I was practicing on my own trying to memorize verb conjugations and pronunciation, etc. out of context.  Both methods lead to very little long-term retention.
    Programs like Rosetta Stone already do a better job of teaching people a language than most classroom instruction, so there has to be a reason to come to school rather than just sitting in front of a computer.  I believe there is significant advantage to the classroom environment, if we understand how to tap into it.  I like to think of acquiring language in a classroom as a series of very, in-depth, integrated Learning Experiences LE that are sequential yet reinforcing.  I like Gantt Charts for planning the series because they are a very strong visual for both teacher and student.  Everyone can see the whole process.
    An example for the first LE would be ‚ÄúGreetings‚ÄĚ. You want to think in terms of what do they need to know for the greeting block and then the how will they learn it ‚Äď the process. ¬† I would first create a Capacity Matrix of useful phrases, verbs and vocabulary that are necessary for being able to complete the Greetings learning experience. ¬†Students would then do a self-assessment of prior knowledge. ¬†
    Then, there is the process.  What will they do to acquire this knowledge?  A flowchart of what they are to do in class each day to learn the required knowledge would require movement, speaking, music, interaction and self-reflection.  For example, students may be required to come into class and greet every student in the class and check off the names each day until they have mastered the greeting phrases, vocab and verbs.  If they do not understand something, they could access a Resource Matrix which may have the teacher on video pronouncing and explaining, the text resource, websites etc. etc. etc.  If they want an explanation from you they could request a workshop.  You then post a schedule for workshops as they immerge in case others need to attend also.  Your target would be workshops of no more than ten minutes each.  Whenever a student felt they had mastered the greeting LE unit, they come to you for both the written and oral test.  If the results are within acceptable limits of variation they could be handed the next matrix and process for the next LE or they could spend some time coaching others and having some fun.  If they did not reach a mastery level they would receive feedback on what to work on and go practice.  Willing students who have mastered a particular LE could also test students, freeing you from being a bottleneck.  Concepts, which still need more practice, may be brought forward to the next matrix for integration.  Each successive LE should require at least some of the previously learned knowledge.
    The next LE could be Understanding My Family, which would require some practice at home as well.  Students should be able to see the schedule of LE’s for the entire semester posted and should be required to keep a portfolio proving they have mastered each LE.  If they are starting to get behind schedule they will need more intensive help from everyone.  If they are ahead of schedule they can spend time helping others or move on.  For students to stay well motivated they must be able to move at their own pace.
    The key is that each LE is amazingly fun and interactive, student managed and content driven.  You will be exhausted at the end of each day by spending so much time coaching students instead of lecturing, but you will have great joy in your work.  You are immersing students in learning a language, which we all know is the best and fastest way to learn.
    That is the short explanation, of course you can expand and elaborate on each LE from there.  Students should be speaking and practicing the language immediately when they hit the door.  You may want to remove most of the desks from your room because students will rarely be in them and they will just be in the way.  Your classroom will be loud, fun, interactive and a very high level of learning.  Your goal may be to have other teachers complaining about how loud your class is.  Students should be able to complete two years of Spanish curriculum in approximately 6 months when we get out of there way.

    Profile photo of Jenni Svendsen
    Jenni Svendsen

    Wow! So much great information! Thank you so much for your help. I am excited to get started on this and will keep you updated with my progress! I will be sure to post questions as I work with this.

    Profile photo of Luz Antolinez
    Luz Antolinez

    Thank you for your response it will help you. I was wondering if any of the members of this group could share with me capacity matrices for Spanish I or II?
    I really want to start using them this school year.
    Thank you

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