CHAT MATS FOR WORLD LANGUAGE: FREE PRINTABLE WORKSHEETS
What the heck are Chat Mats, also called Conversational Maps or Language Place Mats?
Chat Mats were originally started to help people connect. What a great idea! Remember being single and going into an establishment, seeing a cute somebody and realizing it would be impossible to meet him or her because, well, you just don’t walk up to people you don’t know and talk to them?
And what about retired people who live alone? How do they connect with other humans?
HERE’S A WAY:
When they go to a café and feel the need for company, they ask for a Chat Mat. They turn it to the green side, which means, “Say hello and have a chat.” If they leave the red side showing, it means, “Not today.”
Such a good idea is too good not to be used for instructional purposes. Chat Mats have now expanded into the area of education to encourage written and oral communication in a second language.
Chat Mats provide the necessary vocabulary words to help students create language in all three modes: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communication but are most often used to aid in practical conversation. Hence, the name, “CHAT mats.”
As high school teacher Super Señora says,
They need to be organized so students can quickly and easily identify what they need while speaking.
Bethanie Drew explains,
A key component of the original idea of Chat Mats is to boost target language use by teachers and students. As a result, they should have clear messages supported by clear, relevant imagery whenever possible. They are not just pretty vocabulary lists.
Here’s an example of how you could use them for interpersonal communication for your middle school students: Give students a Chat Mat with photos of places, the Spanish words for the places, the verb, “Ir,” and other verbs in the present tense. Ask them where they go and where they don’t go. For more advanced students: Kids choose a photo to talk about. Ask them a question about the picture or ask them to ask a question.
Another example: Before students participate in a debate, give them new words related to debating, like in this Chat Mat.
Here’s a great way to use them: Talk about what students did on the weekend. I love this Weekend Chat Mat by Bethanie Drew to practice the verb, “faire,” and le passé composé, and to talk about the past. It makes it so easy for French students to converse!
PRESENTATIONAL ORAL COMMUNICATION
To help students prepare for an oral presentation comparing two cultural practices, include words and expressions for making comparisons and for beginning and ending a presentation.
PRESENTATIONAL WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
When assigning an essay, hand students a Chat Mat with connecting words for transitioning from one thought to another, words and phrases for expressing their opinion, vocabulary for including evidence to support their thesis, and/or a chart to help them organize their essays.
Before assigning a reading or a homework assignment on a particular topic, give students a list of the difficult vocabulary they will encounter divided into nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
A FEW SUGGESTIONS:
- Laminate the Chat Mats for durability and reuse.
- Make a template so you can create new ones quickly.
WANT TO SEE SOME REALLY COOL CHAT MATS FOR FOREIGN LANGUAGE?
FREE RESOURCES BELOW: Free Spanish Worksheets! Free French Chat Mats!
Bethanie Drew of Aventuras Nuevas has some amazing-looking Chat Mats, so colorful and well organized. This one helps students practice the preterite tense and talk about the past. Take a look:
I love this one for Spanish Numbers: Los números de mi vida Chat Mat
Here’s an excellent one for talking about how you are doing, and it’s FREE!
Here is an example from Try This Teaching to aid in general conversation in French.
Here are some Spanish Chat Mats from high school teacher, Super Señora:
Super Señora’s Chat Mats have space for students to take notes. Here’s what she says about them:
I had been using reference sheets for years in my classroom but wanted something more student-friendly and a place for students to take notes while listening to others. I transformed my reference sheets into fewer words and more space for student reflection. These have been a huge help when we do any sort of class discussion or Socratic Seminar.
I have different activities and also different proficiency levels. I also use Chat Mats for activities such as weekend chats, so students have key vocabulary and supporting words in front of them when they are participating in class.
She transformed her REFERENCE SHEETS INTO CHAT MATS WITH FEWER WORDS.
So, how are Chat Mats better than or different than student handouts, cheat sheets, or interactive notebook activities?
- If you laminate them, you can use them again and make them super pretty with lots of eye-catching colors.
- They are organized for quick reference.
- Because SOME Chat Mats have fewer words, students can more quickly and easily access the vocabulary for conversational purposes.
THAT SAID…I use student handouts. Students put the cheat sheets in their Interactive Notebooks which serve as their own textbook and tool for quick reference. INBs also keep students accountable for their own learning.
I have never used Chat Mats but I like the concept. And some of these are downright beautiful!
The adopted textbook often has charts and vocabulary lists as well. However, it always seemed to me that they were lacking in either grammar or Spanish vocabulary; too many low-frequency words but still not enough common words; not enough (if any) clear grammar instruction.
NO TIME TO CREATE YOUR OWN VOCABULARY AND GRAMMAR HANDOUTS? USE ANGIE TORRE’S!
I spent the last 31 years creating my own student handouts for grammar and vocabulary. Why create your own? Click on the links below to access the different levels.
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DON’T GO! ONE MORE AMAZING FREE RESOURCE!
Another way to engage students is with humor and jokes. Reel your students into the lesson with these memes and attention-getters for Spanish Three. There are 108 of them! All related to Spanish Three concepts. Click on the following link: Spanish Three Memes and Attention Getters
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