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Target Language success stories!

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by KerrySmith2011, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. Hi
    Just a post to see if there is any one out there who has a success story when trying to get students to use TL spontaeously in lessons.
    I am currently researching this very topic for an MEd and I have tried a few things out such as group talk and CILL.
    I want to try and progress to the next step as what I have done so far still feels quite stilted.
    Thanks in advance
  2. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I have a couple of successes. One is with a top set Y11, small group of just 10 students who are incredibly motivated and when I start doing "live interpreting" (i.e. translating what they are saying to each other in English before the lesson starts, using language that they know) get the hint and continue by themselves in French. They love having fun with the language. On one occasion, a couple of lads decided to try and make me lose my cool by adopting a very bad English pronunciation during a speaking activity, resulting in me getting a couple of bérets out of the props box and insisting that they wore them to "help them" adopt the right accent. Which they did immediately, and proceeded in only speaking French when they wore the bérets (which lasted for the rest of the 80 minutes double lesson).
    My other success story this year is with my Y7 class. I've only taught them since January as they are an extra class I picked up as a result of a staff shortage and I've endeavoured to reinforce the principles of the Talk Project with them, which they did at the start of the year. They are using it very successfully now for routine phrases such as "Pardon Madame, j'ai une question, comment dit-on ... en français" or "j'ai oublié mon cahier" etc, but a handful of pupils have really taken to it and now enter the classroom endeavouring to speak French at all cost. The other day was beautifully sunny and those pupils (boys, interestingly) all showed off their weather phrases by pointing to the window and repeating "il y a du soleil" adding opinions etc. I was just beaming.
    If I think of both classes, I cannot really pinpoint to the precise reason why it has been so successful, as I am using the same teaching methods with all classes. I think that the first reason for success is that I have established a really positive, enthusiastic atmosphere in those classes. There is also an element of competitiveness, where pupils want to "show off" to their peers that they can do this. Finally, in each class there is a group of at least 4 or 5 students willing to speak spontaneously, thus giving momentum to it. I should also say that I explicitly said to my Y7 group when I first taught them that I would be extremely pleased and proud if they spoke French spontaneously to me (either in lesson or in the corridor) so at least for this class there is an element of wanting to please.
    I hope this helps!
  3. Are you researching secondary specifically? I have lots of examples with toddlers! :)
  4. Teafrog79

    Teafrog79 New commenter

    Today, I had one of my y10 girls saying "tais-toi" to one of the most annoying boys. He totally deserved it.
  5. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    They mimmick the phrases that I say a lot, and end up using them themselves (Bravo - gut gemacht', 'Bist du fertig?' 'Schneller, schneller', 'Ruhe, bitte').

  6. I am an unqualified teacher (still in Sixth Form actually), but am teaching my native Spanish in a local primary school with remarkable success. Rather than taking the structured memorisation of verb tables approach, I have developed my own theory as to how children learn - and it has paid dividends!
    When I first met the children we did 'Introductions' - they were given a work sheet with the vocabulary for the lesson, we quickly went through that, and then we went outrside to the playground. Most children are kinesthetic learners - and learn by doing. We played games, introduced ourselves to each other, and by the end of the lesson they were speaking as native Spanish children would speak. The problem then is not an inability to practically, and spontaneously, use the language; but a lack of vocabulary - which is easy to expand.
    Sixth months later they have completed GCSE spec., aged 9/10/11, and speak in Spanish in lessons - asking when they want to know a new word, and writing it in their 'dictionary'. This means their vocabulary has grown as a young babies does when he learns English - organically and naturally.
    Each week they have a new reading book, with the English printed beneath the Spanish, written by myself in Publisher - and then printed without pictures so they can draw their own, to reinforce what they have read. We read the book aloud as the starter for the following lesson, to practice the accent, and discuss any words they particlarly like (the current favourite is 'sorna').This has had the added benefit of improving their reading skills as well, something their English teacher is very pleased about!
    We also sing in Spanish, to improve the accent. This is a class favourite, and came about after they enjoyed learning the alphabet song.
    We also do 'culture lessons', as the children are far more enthusiastic when they are learning about the reasons why the language is the way it is; i.e. accents around the world. Other lessons we have done include maths - spanish maths is a little different, and history - they can tell you about the Spanish Civil War, Franco, the American Conquest - in Spanish as well as English.
    We have completed the GCSE writing task of 'Pretend you are a Celebrity and discuss different aspects of your life' - the footballers Messi, and Ronaldo were favourites!
    Another suggestion is the invention of a character - someone whom the children can relate to. My person is 'María'; she is a small spanish girl who is on all of their worksheets, and is used as a device to get them to use their vocabulary. She tells them a brief paragraph about the topic of discussion, and then asks them to respond.
    A final suggestion is to make your classroom time interactive - often the children know what is best for them! At the end of each lesson they help me plan the next one - this week we did 'spanish restaraunt' and next week we are doing 'having a telephone conversation' - which is actually more difficult than you might imagine, telephone etiquette can be strange! This gives oppurtunities for spontaneous language, that may just make you smile. I was told yesterday by a 10 year old, in Spanish, that I was a pretty waitress, and that he would like my telephone number along with his bill please. Whilst a little unethical, it certainly made them all giggle.
    Finally, although my methods are seen as a little unorthodox - none of the other teachers believed me that 'What's the time Mr Wolf'?' could be used as a learning device! - they work.
    The other day, after the lesson ended, I asked one of the slower members of the group to conjugate the verb 'tener' as a sort of experiment; after asking what 'conjugate' meant, she could do so in the future, conditional, past, preterite and present - for I, you, he/she/it, we, they, and you pl. - by running through sentences in her mind where they were used.
    My method is 'spontaneous now, grammar later' - and it seems that like a native speaker, grammar is picked up along the way anyway :)
  7. This is amazing! Well done!
    I have adopted the approach of 'giving them what they want to say when they want to say it' so like yourself 'grammar later'
    Thanks for the message :)

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