How to Use the Target Language 90-100% - Part Three | Best PowerPoints for Spanish | Angie Torre

How to Use the Target Language 90-100% - Part Three

     If you are serious about using the target language you will strive to use 90-100% even in level one.  And I do.  But not from DAY ONE.  I strive to provide as much authentic language, comprehensible input, repetition and language in context as possible in all levels.  But, before that can even be accomplished, classroom procedures have to be well-established and the teacher must train himself/herself, NOT the students.  The classroom has to run like a well-oiled machine.  The teacher and the students must be organized so that the teacher can actually teach.  

How to Use the Target Language Part 3. If you are serious about using the target language you will strive to use 90-100% even in level one.  And I do.  But not from DAY ONE.  I strive to provide as much authentic language, comprehensible input, repetition and language in context as possible in all levels.  But, before that can even be accomplished, classroom procedures must be well-established and the teacher has to train himself/herself, NOT the students.

     It’s amazing what one can forget in six months, 

the amount of time I thought I was retired.  I have to reteach myself not to answer questions of students who do not raise their hand, to write down which team won the daily homework competition, to do the Friday raffles and on and on it goes.  We are in week three of Spanish One and the students are just now accustomed to the routines and procedures - OK, barely.  They turn their homework into the basket upon entering, check the website for homework, and perform their classroom chores (passing out papers, etc).  If I am busy handing out papers, answering homework questions, dispersing raffle tickets, I cannot instruct. All of this was explained to them in English so that I can now speak Spanish.

     Another demon that will sabatoge your efforts to stay in the target language is a lack of organization.  Since I use Interactive Notebooks as my textbook, there is an unmanageable mountain of handouts.  


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Students were taking precious instructional time rummaging through the handout binder at the back of the room to find the papers they were missing.  (which had not been a problem with the more advanced students I am accustomed to teaching who do not lose their papers every other day.)  I began implementing a new system my colleague told me about and since then, I have had no more trouble with handout frenzy.  It has saved my life!!!  I label files from days 1-31 for the month.  My student distributers put the surplus handouts in the slot for that day. Absent and absent-minded students get the missing handouts from the appropriate slot.  Voilà!  Problem solved.  My TAs put the old handouts in the binder at the end of the month.

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    Another strategy to keep students focused so they actually hear the target language is proximity.  I rarely sit down when teaching.  I am almost always walking around, sometimes even when showing a PowerPoint.  Those nifty clickers let me stand right next to the would-be-talker who, despite himself, is acquiring language.  Fred Jones calls it, “working the crowd”.  

    Once all these strategies are routine and your procedures are established, it’s time to begin speaking the target language in earnest.  But not 100% to level one.  No, no, no.  If you do that, students will rebel.  AND it won’t be comprehensible.  I start with 50%.  Next week 60%.  Then 70%.  Before the students realize it, I am speaking almost exclusively in Spanish and, just like the contented frog in warm, hot, then boiling water they are caught unaware.  Except my froggies don’t die, they just start thinking in another language.

     Not only do second language teachers have to be organized, they must be super-prepared.  In order to stay in the target language, they must have their visuals ready so they won’t have to resort to English.  I use images to let students know what I’m saying.  Here is an illustrated story whose visuals provide meaning for language not-yet acquired: Pedir vs. Preguntar   I use this PowerPoint to provide comprehensible input for PEDIR and PREGUNTAR after teaching the stem-changing verbs.

    Here are some slide examples from my SER PowerPoint: 

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In my videos, I pop in images to provide meaning for unfamiliar words as in this snippet for the future tense: 

And these samples for the imperfect and preterite:

Videos are one of my favorite resources for providing comprehensible input.  Here is one you can use for the subjunctive.  It even has subtitles in Spanish to aid in comprehension. 

Here is one for the present progressive.

I recently added three new videos for  Spanish One to my Videos Bundle: Las salutaciones y despedidas; ¿De dónde eres?; and SER and I have not yet raised the price.  I will be adding four more: Clothes and shopping; time and classes, possessive adjectives and guitar.  When all are added, I will increase the price.  Anyone who buys before the price goes up gets those seven videos for FREE plus the already discounted price of the bundle.

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If you missed the first two blogs about how to use the target language, you can access them here: How to Use the Target Language, Part II