If you polled your students on the first day, "Why are you taking Spanish*?
*Or insert whatever language you teach.
While some of them might say things like:
- "I need it to graduate"
- "I need it for a credit"
- "It looks good for college applications to have 2 years of a foreign language"
- "I want to know what 'those people' are saying about me at Walmart'**
The other thing they would say is, "I want to speak Spanish!"
So my followup question naturally is: how many of them would say, "I want to learn all about Spanish through its grammar as if I am taking a linguistics class"?
In my experience, the best way I've found to accomplish the goal of helping them speak is through Comprehensible Input and stories!
And while I am only in Spanish 1 this year, my classes at this point in the year are just going crazy with output.
Sure they don't speak perfectly, but what Spanish 1 student does? Comparably, what 2-3 year old speaks perfectly? Heck, what adult speaks perfectly?
This morning, I didn't have the BEST plan for the day, but I had a general idea of what we needed to accomplish (which can be risky for some teachers). Nevertheless in my first block class, I went through the routine and got to the part of class where I just asked, "How are you all?"
And we proceeded to talk about their lives for 30 or so minutes. They know the rules of trying to speak in Spanish. Rarely someone slips but it's part of the game. Talk around what you want to say. Then I recast things and if something comes up enough, I might help them by writing something on the board. But it's completely teaching to their interests.
That's how we learn words for family members, food, and other things that might come up naturally.
And it's wonderful.
I've been really intrigued this year because more than any other year, my kids are rocking their "I" forms (thanks Blaine Ray materials!)
Sufficed to say today, one boy impressed me when he said, 'I am happy because my friends all know that I dance well".
He then proceeded to give a demonstration for the class.
In the same class a student said, "I am happy because [other student] wants to sing for the class".
And they both then proceeded to lead the class in "El pollo".
Another student explained how he was sad because of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. And we had a quick talk about his favorite candidates and why (in Spanish).
Another student then said, "I am happy because I watched the youtube of [other student in class]".
During this whole time I am just asking questions and trying to figure out all the amazing things going on and admiring the phenomenal language that creeps out of their mouth considering they didn't know Spanish when they started my class!
My favorite part is that I didn't force them to tell me any of this. They just wanted to share. They felt comfortable to take those leaps and make mistakes in the language because we have created an environment where the meaning is the focus.
Made for a fun Thursday.
**actual quote from one of my students one time