Activities That Work /
C. General Classroom Activities

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley

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C. General classroom activities.
1. Appointments, pairing and telling time.
2. Competition.
3. Describe it!
4. Fable portrayal.
5. Interactive.
6. Role-playing & skits.
7. Listening and/or singing.
8. Upper level (ii, iii, etc.) activities.
9. Word review games and activities.
10. Writing.

1. Appointments, pairing and telling time.

95/10 From -> Michelle Jolley <>
Subject: An Idea that Works

Recently I griped about my large class sizes. Here is a way I manage
conversation activities so that students don't always pair up with the
same people.

I copy large clock faces, with lines extending out from each hour like
spokes on a wheel (lately I have thought that a page from a day-planner
might seem more realistic). Students circulate around the room making
"appointments" with each other. They have a basic script they must
follow, such as,

Student 1:"Are you busy at 1:00?
Student 2:"Yes, I have an appointment with _____ at 1:00." Student
1:"Are you free at 2: 00?"
Student 2:"Yes, I am free at 2:00"

Students then sign one another's clocks at the agreed upon time. No one
can make an appointment with the same person twice, so everyone has
appointments with twelve others in the class at the end of the activity.
I collect the clocks and make myself a master copy of all of the
appointments (as has been pointed out, the little darlin's sometimes
forget their stuff).

When I return the clocks, we take a few minutes practicing finding
partners. "It's 5:00!" I say. Then I time students to see how quickly
(and quietly) they can find their partners. As soon as they have, the
time changes. "It's 3:00!" and we time them again. After a few practice
runs, they are ready any day to meet and converse with their

The times for each appointment could be made more irregular to practice
more difficult times -- "3:47," for example.

Michelle Jolley


95/10 From -> Peter Goldstone <>
Subject: Re: An Idea that Works

Perhaps less complicated than the clock...quicker set up, anyhow, is
working with two circles of students, one inside the other. The outer
circle and inner circle should have the same number of students and they
face each other in pairs. One circle remains stationary, the other will
move when you cue it to do so, after each exchange. The moving circle
always rotates in the same direction. This way, by the time you have
been around the room, all of your students have practiced the exercise
with a group of different students (only half the total number but I
often work with very large groups.)

Peter Goldstone
Ecole Nationale Superieure de Sciences Appliquees et de Technologie
Lannion, FRANCE


95/10 From -> Laura <>
Subject: Re: An Idea that Works--two concentric circles

>Perhaps less complicated than the clock...quicker set up, anyhow, is working
>with two circles of students, one inside the other. The outer circle and inner
>circle should have the same number of students and they face each other in
>pairs. One circle remains stationary, the other will move when you cue it to
>do so, after each exchange. The moving circle always rotates in the same

I've done this with students complimenting each other (in an ESL and
Japanese class). When students are faced with one-to-one communication
(and standing up for that matter) I find that they were very
conversational and creative.



96/12 From-> Lilia Lipps <>
Subject: Re: Activities

I know the feeling. I'm a new teacher myself. Last November I went to
the Texas Foreign Language Conference. I found some ideas to make groups
that I have tried and know they work. Here they are:

1) Make a set of numbers from 1-30 or however number of students you
have. You can use any 3x5 index cards or similar size. I make mine by
cutting a 8 1/2 by 11" stock card into 3 pieces then in half.  They are
almost 4x4". You can laminate them and they will last longer. I stand in
the door as the students come into the classroom and I hand them out.
Then when you get ready for the group activity you tell the students,
"here is who you are going to work with today... #1 with #5, #2 with #8,
etc. The easy way to do grouping for me is if I hand out 20 numbers I
divide them in half then I make a list like this and write the numbers
on the board:


They have to find out their partner and they always have a different
partners because nobody gets to the class at the same time every day.
Some students get excited about finding out if they are going to work
with their friends or not. The students involved in sports always want
to get their favorite number. Everybody wants to be #1. It makes
grouping fun for them and gives you control of the lesson without
looking like the bad guy. The lady who gave this lecture also suggested
making two sets of numbers, alphabets, shapes, etc., in different colors
then you can make groups such as #1 red with #1 blue or so.

°Buena suerte!



96/12 From-> Lilia Lipps <>
Subject: Re: Activities

The clock.

My students love this one. I call it "Haz una cita (make an
appointment)". On a clock you draw a line on every hour and ask the
students to make a date with twelve of their classmates. I give them
five minutes. Then you explain the grammar and when you get to the
practice activity (exercises). If you have something like 10 sentences
to translate. You say " You have two minutes to translate each sentence.
When the time runs out go back to your seat and we will review the
exercise. Okay, do sentence number one with your 10 o'clock appointment".
Make sure you give all the instructions first, check for understanding on
directions, otherwise, they are gone to find their partner and don't
listen very well after that" Students always make appointments with their
friends first, so if you call on the numbers from 6-12 they will work
with students they will never choose to do.

CONFERENCE TOO. The first time things are not going to be as good as they
sound. It takes the students time to know what to do. Once they learn the game
the lesson goes very well.

°Buena suerte!



97/03 From-> Pete Jones <>
Subject: Phrases Magiques


Phrases Magiques is a small group cooperative learning activity. It is a
fun way to have students review vocabulary and some grammatical
structures from new units in the French class. You will be amazed at how
much writing your students do!! It is a fun activity for one of those
rainy day Fridays.

I posted this message a few weeks ago and have since e-mailed many of
you via attachments on how it works.

I have now created a web page where you can view and print out this

It is not an instant lesson plan - but it will show you how to create
and adapt it to your modern language class. I have included complete
instructions as well as a table illustrating what I did with my grade
nine class.

I hope that you will find this useful. I would appreciate your comments
and have included my e-mail address on the page.

The page also includes a link to my "You Be The Judge" series.

The address of Phrases Magiques is:

Best Wishes from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Pete Jones


97/03 From-> Pete Jones <>
Subject: Les Cinq Amis


Les Cinq Amis is a fun small group cooperative learning activity for the
French class.

It is very challenging for students (and equally challenging to put

I have created a web page where one of Les Cinq Amis activities can be
viewed/printed out. It deals with the theme and vocabulary of one of the
units in our grade 11 text.

It comes with complete instructions and other ideas for the teacher,
questions for the students (who work in groups of two), a student
worksheet and an answer sheet for the teacher.

I hope that you will enjoy it and be able to use it in your class.
Please let me know your reactions by sending an e-mail - the address is
set up on the web page.

The web page can be found at the following address:

Best Wishes from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Pete Jones


97/08 From-> Elma Chapman <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

Partner clocks, I think, are the face of a clock with lines from the
center to each number. Each kid gets a paper with the clock face on it
and must get someone to sign each line. Example: You ask me to sign your
line to one o'clock, so I do and then you sign my clock in the same
place. This makes you my "one o'clock partner." When the teacher says,
go to your one o'clock appointment, you and I will be partners. This way
each kid has at least 12 different partners in the course of the year
instead of always working with the same person if they get to choose.

I haven't used this method, but I use partner maps. It's the same idea:
you get an outline map of your country, put dots on it for the major
cities and a line by each city name. You sign my line by Paris; I sign
yours. Joe signs my line by Tours, I sign his. When the teacher says
"Today we're going to Tours," I know you and I can't be partners, and
I'll by working with Joe instead.

If you have an uneven number in the class it's okay for one person to
have a blank--they just partner up with whoever's partner is absent that
day or with you.

One further suggestion: Keep a blank copy for yourself for each class
and put a little slash on a line each time you use it; otherwise you
have a tendency to never get to one particular set of partners and
overuse the others.

This is not original. I think I learned it at an MFLA conference
(Michigan) several years ago and I don't now remember the presenter. But
thank you, whoever you are!

Elma Chapman


97/08 From-> Michelle Moyer <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

I wasn't the original person, but the day this topic turned up here last
week, it was also one of the first activities introduced at our staff
development workshop...and half the school is now using them. <g>

Give the kids a drawing of a clock, with blanks beside each hour for a
name to be written in. Have them make "appointments" with 12 different
class members. Make sure the kids understand that if Jason has an
appointment with Shanika at 2:00, Shanika *has to* have an appointment
with Jason at 2:00, too....(this is where some of us ran into trouble

Have them keep the clock in their notebook or folder. I hole-punched
mine so it would go in a notebook. Then, when you need partners, tell
them what "time" it is. Except for the few kids whose partner is absent
on that day, everyone can quickly get to their partner and begin work,
and it's then easy for me to get the "leftovers" settled. I introduced
this Friday with Spanish II, and have used the clock all week. Except
for Friday when they were filling in their clock, I haven't had to hear
any of the "No, you can't be his partner! I want to be his partner!
Senorita, I don't have a partner...." time-wasting that my kids are
prone to.

It works pretty well, IMO. I haven't introduced it with Spanish I yet;
I'm waiting until we learn to tell time next week. By then, they're
going to be extremely familiar with the procedure; after the workshop,
where we saw how easy it was to get into pairs with this method, nearly
everyone who does paired work uses it.

Michelle Moyer


97/08 From-> "Diane M. Colozzi" <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

>Earlier on, I heard discussion about setting up partners with clocks and
>having a 12 o'clock partner or whatever... could someone who has used this
>describe it in more detail.

I am going to try to do clock partners this year. I got the idea from
the publisher of French Rouge. Draw a round circle for the clock and
number the clock. Make lines at the side of the numbers for students to
write in names. Example: say that you want to partner them up using a
mixture of higher and lower students. You could choose the time, like
2:00. So the students would write the names on the 2 o'clock line. If
you were going to use groups of 4 then you could use 2 times 2:00 and
3:00. You have to keep a record of what the groupings are so all you
have to do is say get with your 2 o'clock partner. You may allow the
students for an hour for the partner of their choice (and you know they
will pick their friends), but you are aware of that grouping for the
activity that you have chosen.

I made four clocks on a 8x11 piece of paper. The students will be able
to tape the clock to the inside of their text. Again, this is my first
time trying it.



97/08 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

>Dianne Butler <> wrote:

>Earlier on, I heard discussion about setting up partners with clocks and
>having a 12 o'clock partner or whatever... could someone who has used this
>describe it in more detail....    Draw a round circle for the clock and number
>the clock. Make lines at the side of the numbers for students to write in names.

You could also photocopy a page from an "agenda" with the times at the
left and lines at the right, and the times from a 24-hour French clock,
so I can have a 2 p.m. appointment, but it shows as "14 h." on my sheet.

Just a chance to toss a little culture into the mix.



97/08 From->
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

This is an idea that I got from a workshop by Helena Curtain:

Make a sheet of a clock for each student. The clock is divided into
twelve sections.

Students mingle around the class and try and get a different partner for
each section of their clock. When Juan puts Maria as his two o'clock
partner, then Maria puts Juan as her two o'clock partner. After they've
mingled on their own, you may have to have students have the same
partner twice, but usually no more than that. If you have an odd number,
then the student can be a "floater" and fill in for an absent person or
choose a group of two to triple with for that activity.

I change the clocks about every five weeks or so. It's great because the
students get to work with different partners, so they like it. It's
efficient, because all you have to say is "companeros de las cinco" and
they immediately know with whom they are working. I tried it last year
for the first time and will start out the year with it this year.

Bill Heller


97/08 From-> Amanda Blanton <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

Since I have a small class of 15 students, my class will have to have
the same partner more than once. I had three students end up with no one
available at the time they had left available. One student had a 2:00,
the other a 12:00, the last one a 4:00. These times aren't exact, but
you get the idea of my problem. Is there a solution to this problem?
They enjoyed the signing up for partners so I would like to stick with
this concept. If you can think of a better or different way for smaller
classes, please email me.



97/08 From-> Patricia Jane Long <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

When we did this at a workshop with Helena Curtain she divided us first
into two groups. After a while she had us fill in the rest of the clock
with someone from the other half. There is wisdom in this one extra



97/08 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

On Fri, 29 Aug 1997 17:40:31 -0700 Amanda Blanton <>
>Since I have a small class of 15 students, my class will have to have the
>same partner more than once. I had three students end up with no one
>available at the time they had left available. One student had a 2:00, the
>other a 12:00, the last one a 4:00. These times aren't exact, but you get
>the idea of my problem. Is there a solution to this problem?

There are a couple of ways to handle this.

1) There will very likely be someone absent in class the day you call
for the 12:00 appointment. You have a ready-made stand-in. (Same for the
other two) There will probably be more days when the class is an odd
number of people than even.

2) You can set up an observer job. Have the extra person take a copy of
your seating chart (keep some on hand for this) and go around the room
listening for people talking the L2, and marking a point by their name
on the seating chart. They are at least hearing the activity, and don't
feel so left out because they are helping you.

3) Have a 3-party conversation. It happens that way a lot in real life,
so why not in our practice? It may mean doing it round-robin style, or
having them learn expressions like "How about you, Alice?"

Good luck on this. It's a worthwhile activity from setting up the clock
to using it to talk to a variety of people.



97/08 From-> DKing <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

I, too, am using the clock to assign partners for pair activities this
year....with great results so far. In order to avoid too many problems
in a small class, I had everyone start at 1:00 and find a partner, then
everyone moved on to 2:00.... then 3:00.... It worked very well.



97/08 From-> Michelle Moyer <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

If you've got "leftover" kids, pair them up with kids whose partners are
absent that day. If nobody's absent, just make one temporary group of

Even with that problem, I prefer this (or the maps--I'm going to do that
after we learn the countries/capitals, I think) -- a different kid is
left without a partner, needing to be paired up with the teacher's help,
each time. If pairing up is done spontaneously and is left up to the
kids, frequently it's the same child every time who needs a partner.

Michelle Moyer
"I used to be with it. Then they changed what 'it' was."


97/08 From-> Liz Klem <>
Subject: Re: Partners and clocks?

I haven't tried either of these ideas yet (back to school next week!)
but the companion to clocks mentioned a number of times was the map of
the country with cities and lines to sign on. Couldn't you just choose a
number of cities that went with the number in your class and then you
would only have one "spare" person for an absent partner or a threesome.
Or have I missed the point entirely on this since I haven't tried it
yet?? Guess I'll find out.

Liz Klem

2. Competition.

95/05 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Bilingual Battle & BBQ

Fellow FL teachers-

Our Foreign Language Department just completed our 1st Annual Bilingual
Battle and BBQ which pitted the 4 language clubs against one another in
outdoor games which required the use of the L2. As an additional
activity we had a BBQ for the kids. Based on preliminary reports the
kids really enjoyed the activity. If this is of interest to anyone out
there; feel free to contact me for details. It was a nice end of year

Bob Hall


97/12 From-> Julianne Baird <>
Subject: Game for TPR-S

Here's a game that helps the kids hear those lines from the stories over
and over and eventually into their brains.

1) Divide the class into teams. I usually have 3 or 4 teams, depending
on the size of the class.

2) One person from each team comes up to the table in the front of the
room. I don't have little noise makers for each team. Instead I have a
stuffed puppy dog that sits on the table (or the overhead)

3) I start by saying one of the lines from the story. I say the sentence
very s-l-o-w-l-y. When the students know how to finish the sentence,
they grab the puppy. As soon as the puppy is grabbed, I stop speaking.
The kid who grabs gets to finish the sentence. If the sentence is
communicatively correct (a native would understand the sentence) his or
her team gets a point.
4) If a student grabs the puppy and cannot finish the sentence or
finishes it so that it is not communicatively correct, the puppy is put
back on the table and another kid can grab the puppy. If the second kid
finishes the sentence correctly, then that teams ears *2* points. I had
to add this 2 point element because too many kids would grab the puppy
just so others wouldn't get a point - imagine that.

I have used this silly game with my seniors and they enjoy it. It is a
fast moving game and I usually spend only 10-15 minutes playing it.

Julie Baird

3. Describe it!

95/07 From-> Michelle Jolley <>
Subject: Re: No textbook Activities

Felicia (and others),

This is one of the most popular adjective activities I have done in
class (no textbook required). It takes some initial preparation, but
then, what doesn't? And students can help with coloring and cutting.
I started with a book called Funny Faces: Tracing Fun, published by
Scholastic. It contains different pages of face shapes, hairstyles,
eyes, noses, and other features that you combine as you trace. The
result is sort of like the caricatures you might get a a fair, with tiny
bodies and large heads with exaggerated features. I'm sure there are
other similar books available, and if you're artistic you can create
your own.

I pieced together 5 faces, then traced (but did not attach) 8 hairstyles
and 13 bodies of various sizes and types. (Of course these numbers are
completely arbitrary, but I find that too many more becomes confusing.)
I made copies of these parts, had my students help me color them (all
the same colors, so that color vocabulary could also be used), then I
made myself a copy on transparency. Now all of us have a set of body
parts and pieces that we can describe and put together.

The whole thing is reusable when we discuss clothing, verbs, and so on
and so on . . .

My students love it when I put long blonde ponytails on the big strong
football player. They are motivated to understand the language, and
anxious to use it themselves to make more wacky people.

I hope I have described the activity so you can understand it. I'd be
happy to clarify if necessary. I have no idea if graphics work in
e-mail, but I could send some snail mail if that would help. My students
really enjoy this, and it's one of the few activities they want to do
over and over, all year.

Michelle Jolley


95/09 From -> Janel Brennan <>
Subject: Activity that works

I just did this activity w/ my level II's the other day and was amazed
at how attentive the students were to eachother. Their homework
assignment (2 day assignment) was to pick a famous person, cut out a
picture of him/her and describe them (age, phys. description, what they
like, etc. any details they could give without revealing who the person
was). Then in class, each person read his/ her description and
afterwards, the rest of the class could guess who it was. If they were
correct they received a "peseta" (or whatever you chose to give as a

If the person stumped the rest of the class, they too got a reward. The
students were so attentive to each other and listened carefully to see
if they could take a guess and win a peseta.

-Janel Brennan : )


95/09 From -> Katherine Paxton <>
Subject: Re: activities that work.

Make your own picture file! Collect pictures from magazines, catalogs,
whatever. There are a raft of activities that can be done with pictures
from a picture file. One that was a lot of fun which I used in the
practicum phase of my MA, with students at the Defense Language
Institute in Monterey, CA, was to have one student choose a picture.
That student has to describe the picture to the rest of the class
(including me). We listeners have a blank sheet of paper and a set of
crayons or colored pictures. We try to draw the picture based on the
student's description. We compared our drawings first to each other and
then to the original picture. Each student gets a chance to describe a
picture (this being DLI, no major shortage of bucks there (no flames,
please), there were usually 4-6 students in the class).

--Kathy :)


95/09 From -> Peter Goldstone <>
Subject: Re: activities that work

I wonder if there are any members of this FLTEACH community who would
object to having lots of activities posted... seems unlikely.

But anyhow, here's another activity which works with describing and
recognizing pictures in a somewhat different way with a secondary
objective of tuning students in to current events in the (a) culture of
the target language.

(It should be noted that my students are post-grads in computer and
optical engineering, they are French, and their level of Spanish is
intermediate )

The instructor distributes copies of different magazines to pairs or
small groups of students (we happen to have a subscriptions to Cambio 16
and Ciencia but any magazine with human interest and/or news articles
would work) and two notecards to each group.

The groups/pairs are instructed to choose two pictures from this
magazine, one which they find attractive and one which they find
unattractive. On one card, they are to write one sentence explaining
what it is that they like about the first picture, and on the second,
what they don't like about the second. This is to be done without
mentioning specifics (hair color, car model, famous names, etc.) about
the picture. (my students might write something like: "La prensa siempre
exagera cuando escribe de nuestra politica nuclear"( The press always
overdoes it on our nuclear policy) after having chosen a picture of the
tropical paradise Mururoa)

The magazines are then closed and the cards placed on top of them (not
marking their pages). The closed magazines and cards are passed to
another group.

The second group is instructed to open the magazine, find what it
believes to be the appropriate pictures and to write a second sentence,
following up the first sentence on each card. The magazine is again
closed and passed, and a third group receives it.

The third group is asked to look at the two sentences and to try to draw
what it is that they believe must have been in the photographs (this is
done with a time limit).

The sentences and drawings are then passed to a fourth group which will
try to determine what the article (or ad) was about. This will be
explained to the whole group out loud.

The first group now gets its magazine back and all of the corresponding
bits of paper. They are now responsible for :

a) Comparing and contrasting the picture in the magazine and that drawn
by the students

b) explaining why and how the pictures (or what they depict) differ.

c) quickly reading the article to determine the basic idea of it and
explaining that in terms of what they had written and what was written
by the first group and what was guessed at by the third group.

The discussion can be moderated by the teacher who now holds the
magazine and can lead the discussion based on the real content of the

All sorts of variations on this can be worked out.

Peter Goldstone


96/05 From-> Bill Heller <>
Subject: Topic: House and Home Level I

Desperation is sometimes the mother of invention. I did this activity
with my level II kids. It was so simple, I can't believe I haven't
thought of it before.

In level III, for a long time, I've done a major project on "Mi casa
ideal" in which they have to draw detailed floor plans and label items
in Spanish.
I use a detailed rubric and everything.

Today, in Level I, I gave the kids an 11X17 piece of paper and every
pair a set of markers. I told the students in the TL that they had won
the lottery and wanted to build a new house, the house of their dreams.
I gave them 10 minutes to draw it. Then they had five minutes to tell
their partner about the house. Finally, i had the students come up in
front and talk about their houses to the class. No real rehearsal, no
writing it out, no reading (never!). They got up as moved (or cajoled by
their classmates) It was absolutely hysterical. A few of the kids asked
me for specific words ("Senor, how do you say 'Field of Dreams'") Most
of the students got up to speak. Most were able to give at least five
coherent sentences (or one really long sentence....) Some were
positively elegant! (Although one seems to speak Spanish as if it were
Haiku....) There was lots of laughter and good listening. And it was SO

It was a perfect Friday activity and the coloring was therapy. There was
some chatter in English during the drawing part, but it was minimal
because they had so little time to draw.

This time I consciously decided NOT to do a house nor to model to see
what they'd come up with. They did fine. My favorite was the house with
a big kitchen and a fountain of Michael Jordan...fortunately the water
was coming out his mouth....8-)

Try this one on one of these final Fridays. You could also do it with
extraterrestrials or cars....

Bill Heller


96/05 From-> Susan George <>
Subject: Re: Topic: House and Home Level I

what a great experience! this would be a good review for my spanish II
next fall...

another idea that i had, that i'd like to try with houses next year, is
to take my students on a field trip to the woods department and have
them tour the house that the construction class builds. this could be
the introduction to the parts of the house. i had my students design
dream houses too, but they also had to write a paragraph (6 trait
assessments!) describing the house as a sale advertisement. the students
assessed the floor plans using a rubric--very few got a perfect score,
since they graded each other. then we hung the plans in the hallway
(these replaced the family trees).three more days!!!!

susan (who has a wonderful husband who helps her catch up with grading
so he can go fishing)

Susan George


96/10 From-> Bob Hall <>
Subject: Re: Ideas for use of real estate magazines

>I picked up a handful of the free real estate magazines at the supermarket
>recently. I plan to use them in my Spanish 1 & 2 classes to describe the houses
>pictured and provide price info. Any other cool ideas to implement with this
>type of material?

As the learning and 2nd language growth continues you might be able to
set up situations that could, at the very least, provide them some
reading and writing experience. IE. You have 'x' dollars to spend on a
house. You want to be close to 'x' school. The house has to have 'x,y,z'
characteristics. Using the supplied real estate magazine find your dream
house and be prepared to write a complete description of the house which
you might have to read to the class with appropriate questions from your

OR as a possible oral exercise:

You are looking for a house with 'x,y,z' characteristics. You are
working with a realtor (your partner). Ask him/her appropriate questions
to find the house that you want.


If you have access to Spanish language newspapers (come to think of it
English language newspapers, although not as authentic, could work) you
could develop several activities using the movie, TV schedules and the
classifieds. Numbers, phone numbers, time, locations, characteristics


96/10 From->
Subject: Re: Potatoes

Speaking of potatoes, here's a fun activity for almost any level of
language: Students make a "Mr. Potato Head", and bring him in to class
in a closed paper bag. In preparation for the activity they have
described this person in writing (anyone they choose, famous, or in
school) . Treat the writing as you would any writing assignment. After
their description is corrected, they memorize it, stand in front of the
class and "describe" their guy. If the students can't guess who the
person is, let them go on a bit with a "20 questions" type activity,
although this is usually not necessary. When the potato is guessed he is
taken out of the bag with great fanfare and displayed along the chalk
railing. Some of the creations are unbelievably creative! They remain
there until they start to go bad, and then discarded. A great time is
had by all.

Miriam Slipowitz


97/02 From-> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@POLARIS.UMUC.EDU>
Subject: Re: Newspaper


>I'm not even a teacher yet, but I have an idea! Why don't you have each student
>write a paragraph describing another student without saying his or her name.
>Then when the newspaper goes out, the person who can guess all of the students
>correctly wins a prize. This will give them practice with ser/estar and adjectives.
>Just an idea!

I just used an idea like this in my ENGL 101 for non-natives, but I went
a step further (partly implicit in your exercise). In order to WRITE
about their classmate, the students had to INTERVIEW their classmates.
After they each interviewed each other, they wrote two paragraphs, one
about themselves and one about the classmate they had interviewed. This
was to give them a sense of the difference between writing from
knowledge that is internal and writing from gathered knowledge.

Next class I had the students interview a new partner. (BTW these were
day one and day two activities in college so it was a way of getting the
students to know each other.) Then I read the paragraphs, removing name
and country of origin, to see how well they identified the person, but
here's the catch. You were not to identify yourself, and you were not to
identify your own paragraph. You had to identify the person you had just
interviewed. Example: John interviews Sue and writes about her. Next day
Barbara interviews Sue. While I read about Sue, John and Sue are silent
until Barbara says "That's Sue." They LOVED it.

My goal was not only to practice writing, and Q&A, but also to develop a
classroom environment of openness and sharing, since we are going to be
sharing and critiquing each other's writing. In the language classroom,
even if not especially in HS, developing that sense of supportive
community may be key to whatever else you do.

Cindy H-G


97/07 From-> Bob Peckham <bobp@utm.EdU>
Subject: where you live

I have just finished revising the site for Weakley County Tennessee, a
small and very rural county in the northwest corner.

One of the things I ask my 211 students to do is to describe their
circumstances to a hypothetical person in another country. This is a
very real thing which they actually wind up doing eventually on the
internet. They must be able to say a lot about the university and its
geographic/demographic environment. Oddly enough, I find that students
from outside the county know more than those in the county; these,
totally shamed, go off with their tails bwtween their legs to my site.

It is dumb to send students to the library to sharpen their research
skills on something like this, so I have them let their fingers do the

We will also be using this site in our Mersury Project dealings with the
Universite d'Orleans.

I am convinced that since our 21st century language learning plans
involve dealing directly with those whose language and culture we have
targeted, we should be willing to share our environmant with our with
those who will inevitably be our learning partners.

I will be addressing this issue in a very high tech presentation at
ACTFL in November with some of my colleagues in the Mercury Project,
which, if you will remember, was announced by the French Cultural
Services representatives in Lyon last summer.



97/12 From-> Bethanie Carlson <>
Subject: Project for teaching places around town

Good afternoon, my friends!
My Spanish I classes have just completed a project in line with our
lesson theme of places and daily activities around town where they
created their own *detailed* cities. In addition to the written practice
that comes into play when labeling and preparing a written description
of their towns, students are also taking oral exams over their
creations. Their exam consists of a short, improvised description, as
well as question and answers that might be typical of a conversation
that they would have with someone who is seeking more information about
the students' hometown. Students have really enjoyed this project, have
worked hard, and it has proven to be an excellent general review of the
1st semester. I am willing to send out the assignment sheet and grading
rubric to interested teachers--email me at my new address above.

Bethanie Carlson

PS-Gracias a Nilsa Sotomayor for the original idea!!


97/12 From-> Pat Kessler <jimkess1104@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
Subject: Re: Project for teaching places around town

>I am willing to send out the
>assignment sheet and grading rubric to interested teachers--email me at

I just recently finished a similar project and would love to have a copy
of your info. What I did was have students work in small groups. They
used large sheets of butcher paper and created a fictitious town. They
had to label all the different buildings and streets. They had to write
sentences using preps. of location: the drug store is to the left of the
bank, etc. They also had to write out directions to get different
places. From the hospital, turn left on Pancho Villa Avenida, go
straight two blocks, cross the intersection and the movie theater is on
the left. Next, they had to add various forms of transportation to their
towns and label them. We studies large numbers right after this, so at
that time, the students had to write real estate ads for some of their
buildings, including the prices, the address, the directions to find it,
adjectives to describe it, etc. Now we have just started on clothing and
colors vocab. Since I still have their towns hanging up they are going
to add pictures of people cut from magazines. They will have to write
sentences describing what the people are wearing. I haven't given final
grades to these projects since they have become ongoing, but have graded
them in parts along the way.

Pat Kessler


97/12 From-> "Joshua L. Whitney" <>
Subject: Re: Project for teaching places around town

Beverly and Pat--
I like the ideas of your fact, I've done similar projects
myself...but the most doctrinaire advocate of Krashen might ask: Did the
students SPEAK Spanish to one another as they worked in their groups?
Was there a great deal of interaction in Spanish as they created their
directions from one place to another? I ask because whenever I do such a
project I've got the "voice of Krashenites"--the voice of what's
considered right and good these days running through my head telling me
what a bad job I'm doing. Do you have such a voice, and, if so, what do
you do with it? Sincerely,

Joshua L. Whitney

4. Fable portrayal.

95/10 From -> "Catherine. Bass" <>
Subject: a French activity

This is another activity that I tried this week with one of my classes
and it worked quite well.

In our previous classes we had talked about food and leisure in France,
but this activity could just as well be used after having talked about
work/jobs etc...

I used one of La Fontaine's fables: LA CIGALE ET LA FOURMI

After having read the fable to my students--with a lot of passion, and
pauses and emotion..... I asked them to get into groups of 5 and prepare
their own group reading of the same fable. They could use the fable and
turn it into a skit, or could, for instance, have 1 cigale, 1 fourmi to
act out the part of the 2 characters, and the rest of the group reading
"a l'unisson" the narrator's part, or they could sing the fable, read it
with rythm (rap tune, etc...) and so on.... however they wanted to do

I had done this previously with another Fable: le corbeau et le renard
the rap idea or tap dancing, or clapping works well with that one

they had 15 minutes to prepare this.
We got some very lyric Shakespearean productions!!!

Everybody participated and it was a lot of fun watching each group. This
took a  minute class period

During the next class, still under the OJ influence, we prepared a court

la fourmi being fed up with the never ending begging of the cigale, had
decided to take her to court, to try to get her jailed for vagrancy and
for being "un parasite de la societe"

so, the class was divided into 2 groups:
* the cigale and her lawyers, friends, character witnesses, etc..

* the fourmi and her lawyers, friends, and other witnesses

the defense team: the cigale's people decided to call friends, the Pope,
a mother whose child suffered from depression but got much better after
having heard the cigale's songs all summer; a member of the cigale's fan
club (she is a popular singer), and expert in anthropology who came
to tell how important the cigale's songs were to society, how it helped
improve relationships between people, how it allowed people to relax,
meet each other, be more romantic, etc... etc...

the prosecution: the fourmi's team had their own witnesses: other neighbors
annoyed by either the begging of the cigale or by its songs (don't like
the music style of the cigale but have to live with it all Summer); the
founding Fathers who come to talk about the necessity to work hard
etc..., Newt Gingrich who wants to make a political speech about the
dangers of supporting animals/insects like the cigale who start begging,
then they take advantage of you and rely on your benevolence and
charity, and the next step for them will be to get on social welfare
etc...; the queen of the fourmis/ants who fears that the cigale is
disrupting her subjects work and as a result, she has to suffer from it
too: productivity is down, tasks aren't accomplishes as fast as they
used to, the morale of the ants is down, etc....

I gave my students one class period to prepare for the trial. They were
told who the other team's witnesses were.

When the trial started, the prosecution started and explained what they
wanted and why. What the cigale represented and why she should be
stopped before it is too late (comparing her to a walking bomb, which
could become really dangerous to society, and violent (if she wasn't
given food, she would probably resort to stealing and then who
knows..... murder....)

The portrait of the cigale was excellent.... very compelling

Then the Defense lawyer explained their position, what they wanted, and
what kind of a "person" the cigale really was and that in fact, the
fourmis should be on trial for being so insensitive, so mean and
cynical, and jealous of the cigale.

Then, the defense started presenting their case, calling each witness to
the stand.

The prosecution team was given a chance after each testimony to question
the witness. I allowed anybody in the prosecution team to ask questions,
not only the lawyer. For each valid/good question, the group scored one
point to be added to the final grade for the group.

So far, we have only had time to get the defense witnesses on the stand,
so tomorrow we shall have the prosecution ones. Everybody in the class
has participated thus far and pays attention to what is being said by
the other team!

I don't know yet, how we will come to a verdict--we don't have a jury
maybe we will just toss a coin --a French Franc--or maybe I'll also ask
the students to write a short composition to tell me what their opinion
and verdict are.

As a follow-up exercise, I found another version of the same fable
written by Jean Anouilh. It gives a very different picture, the fourmi
is basically described as a housewife whose whole life is devoted to
chasing dust, and it kills her, whereas the cigale hires a maid...

a very interesting version

So, I will ask them to compare the 2 fables, the characters of the
fables, etc.... I haven't given much thought to this part yet, if i come
up with something fun, I'll share it in another e-mail

If anybody would need a copy of the Anouilh fable, I can send it by Fax


Catherine Bass


96/05 From-> Simone Clay <>
Subject: Re: End of the school year activities

Your students could write a simple fairy tale and then perform it, or
even videotape it.
Have fun!

Simone Clay


97/07 From-> Beverly Larson <>
Subject: Using "Authentic" Children's Books in HS French

Chers Listeurs:

I need some fresh ideas for my French IV and V classes, and I'd like
your suggestions about a project that I'm working on this summer. When I
was in France I bought a number of small children's books by Roger
Hargreaves (Hachette Jeunesse.) Maybe you have seen the "Madame" and
"Monsieur" series. Here are a few titles: Madame Catastrophe, Madame
Magie, Madame Tete-en-l'Air, Monsieur Avare, Monsieur Grand, Monsieur
Curieux. (There are about 100 books, but I have only 20 of them. They
cost about 8-10 francs, depending on the store.) The books measure about
5" X 5", with only 18 pages of text & 18 pages of (cute) illustrations.
I think that they are geared for preschoolers in France, but the grammar
is somewhat complex (plus-que- parfait, passe simple, imparfait, etc.)
Although there are some words that my students wouldn't know, I think
that they would be able to understand the stories, and they would enjoy

Here's what I'm planning to do: Once every 2 weeks or so, students will
select a book to read in class or for homework. There will be several
comprehension questions for each book (what is the conflict in the
story? how is it resolved?). There will be vocab lists that they can
refer to if necessary, plus several grammar activities. For example,
they might look for three examples of the plus-que-parfait and give the
English equivalent (I want them to be aware of the tense, with the hope
that they will use it more in their own writing.) I might also ask them
why the first x number of verbs in the story are in the imparfait. For
the passe simple, I would select verbs in the p.s. and ask them to write
them in the passe compose. For some books I might focus on adjectives
rather than on verbs. In addition to the grammar activities, I might
have them create their own personal vocab lists, and give personalized
vocab quizzes, or they could write compositions using x number of new
words. For speaking activities, they could tell their partner (or a
group of students) about the story, or they could act out the parts in
groups. They could also record the books for a pronunciation grade. As a
culminating activity (after students have read 4-5 books each?) they
will create their own books, using a similar format.

What do you think? Do you have any other suggestions??? I need to vary
the activities since I want students to read a number of books. Thanks in
advance for your help.

Bev Larson


97/07 From-> Loita Cottle <>
Subject: Re: Using "Authentic" Children's Books in HS French

Your ideas sound good to me. If your students keep journals, they might
do a brief synopsis after reading each story (good reinforcement of new
vocabulary and structures, etc.) After your students have read a few
books, you might also want them to write a little comparison/contrast
essay or "My favorite is ____ because" type of paragraph or journal
entry. I'd be interested to know how this works out after you have had a
chance to implement it during the coming year.

Loita Cottle


97/11 From-> Mary E Young <>
Subject: Re: affirm/neg words

Write (and present with pictures & props) a dialog between Cinderella
and her nasty sisters -- Cinderella is sweet and positive, and the
sisters are negative.

Too stereotypical? How about a spoiled child with an indulgent parent?
Everything the parent suggests the child responds in the negative. Or a
depressed friend who doesn't want to do anything you suggest. Or a
cranky CEO and his long-suffering aide. Or Kevin and his evil twin.

Set the tenor of the dialog, then, when you've modeled it several times,
let the kids give the negative response for the story.

Follow up with the usual comprehension checks --

Point to the person who doesn't want chicken for dinner. (They point to

(Show picture of Kevin) Does Kevin want chicken for dinner? (Yes/No)

What does Kevin want for dinner, chicken or something else? (something

I'm giving Kevin chicken. Why is he unhappy? (He doesn't want chicken.)

Tell the story with blanks for the students to fill in:

...Kevin is at the table with Kyle, his evil twin. Their mother serves
chicken. Kevin is unhappy. Because ... (he doesn't want chicken.) etc.

The more bizarre the story, the better.

My students actually pay attention for Barbie doll stories. Go figure.


On Fri, 7 Nov 1997 12:25:34 -0600 Kimberly Huegerich
<> writes:
>Aficionados listeros,

>Does anyone have good ideas to teach affirmative/negative words? I searched
>the archives and can't find anything.

>Thanks in advance.
>Kim Huegerich

5. Interactive.

95/03 From-> "Robert D. Peckham" <bobp@UTM.Edu>
Subject: activities that frequently work

It's the old standby of ordering a French meal.

Make a student the waiter (he/she has to memorize the lines. Get an
authentic menu or make one by varying the print fonts. Give each of
student a limited amount of cash and let all be aware that they will
have to pay the 15% service charge. Tell them that each will have to
order something different, and ask one question about what they are
ordering (i.e. ingredients). Tell them to try to persuade the waiter to
give them separate checks. Waiter must write down orders. During the
meal, one of the students slips a menu into a pocket or purse. After a
meal the 3 students run into a friend who asks them where they have been
(the restaurant name will be on the menu). Each student has to make a
different observation. The friend asks them what they had, and the
student with the menu takes it out and they individually rehash what
they had.

Practice analysis:

Memorization for waiter (we have to face it folks, the OPI material does
talk about learned phrases, etc.-The polite formulas, not native to
American discourse, must be memorized. ...voudriez-vous?).

Pronunciation of rather unfamiliar terms on the menu (using the French
phonic principles they know to make something understandable to the
waiter, using a realia prop). Students have no guarantee that they will
recognize something they have had before, because another student may
order it before their turn comes up.

Dictation (waiter must be a good enough listener and a fair
speller-certainly the customer must have understandable pronunciation).

Asking the waiter for 3 checks and posing a question about a particular
dish (polite command, and a content specific contextually appropriate

Retelling the tale (interactive discourse, past tenses, remembering and
recounting events, weaving new vocabulary into narrative, using a realia

If you feel that five is not a good group, pair it down to four by
reducing the number of customers.

General good point: This is is a highly structured exercise to practice
a common occurrence in a somewhat communicative vein (not an unlikely
scenario) in such a way that the results are multi-faceted and
unpredictable. The uncertainty of the outcome and the chance of messing
up at each stage of the game should indicate that this is no experience
for the faint at heart and certainly not for anyone who is not in the
Intermediate proficiency range.

TennesseeBob (If you can't stand the fire, get out of the kitchen)


96/12 From->
Subject: Dialoguing

I'm sorry: I can't remember if I shared this with you or not. Anyway, a
recent student teacher liked it and suggested I share it (again?)

Our local newspaper is kind enough to give me an occasional room set of
TV guides (inserts in the Sunday paper). I have a form "Adivina mi
pelicula" which lists questions: "A que hora toca ... En que canal ...
Que dia(s) toca ..." Through dialoguing (or, more accurately,
question/answer), a given student is able to collected a requested
number of picture titles from other students. In our case, students
choose the movie titles from an alphabetical list of movies in the back
of the guide which lists all the pertinent information along with a
brief synopsis. Students guessing will take their information to the
specified day ("Let's see: you told me the movie is on at 7:30 PM on
Wednesday night ...") Through use of the technique, I am able to get
students on their feet, movie around, speaking in Spanish to each other,
etc - almost my definition of a successful activity. As an extension
with advanced students, the titles used are then offered in (student)
Spanish to the class for guessing at the English version listed in the

I don't know if my explanation makes sense to you. I would be glad to
attempt a more detailed explanation (or answer questions) as requested.
A very happy holidays to you all and thank you so much for all I have
taken from this group over the year.

Bill Braden,
For Joe Ben's Utopia: "... where Man Is Good to His Brother Simply
Because It's More Fun." (K. Kesey)


97/03 From-> Pete Jones <>
Subject: Flip It!


Here's some information about Flip It!

An unusual name for a fun activity which will increase student-student
interaction and talk time in the Modern Languages classroom.

My wife Barbara and I learned about this one during a workshop on small
group cooperative learning strategies a few years ago.

We have created a web page which explains it. The page can be viewed and
printed out at the following address:

Be sure to type in capital F and capital I (FlipIt) in the address

Barb and I hope that you will enjoy the activity. Should you have a
picture file, you will have an instant lesson for tomorrow! We have also
shown other applications for the activity.

Please let us know your reactions when you have a moment.

Best Wishes from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Pete and Barb Jones


97/08 From-> Aurora Martinez <>
Subject: Activity rug for household vocab

At my local Super K-Mart the other day, I found a whole clearance bin of
rectangular area rugs, about 3'x4' (?) each, with an illustrated cutaway
layout of a house and yard printed on it. I think this would be a great
tool for paired or group practice of household vocabulary (put small
pictures or felt shapes of furniture & other items in the right rooms),
for adjectives and superlatives ("this room is big....this room is
smaller than that one"), for commands (one student directs another
through the rooms or to perform different household tasks, maybe using a
little figurine or felt "person"), and who knows what else? The rugs
were marked down to $5 from about $16 original price, so I thought I'd
pass along this tip to check your local K-Mart's housewares/decorating
section in case it's a markdown for ALL stores.

Aurora Martinez


97/08 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: Re: Activity rug for household vocab

Got your package and love the books, especially the one on Ballenas. In
fact I don't think I can do without having at least a dozen more copies.
How much are they and do you think hubby can get me that many more?? I
DO want to use them in the ecology unit with my students. I had even
gotten a midi with the humpback whistles on it.

Please let me know and I'll send a check. Or if you're super busy, email
me with store name and phone no.

Are you sure that you don't have something you want to send for ecology?
You do realize that everything is in a state of CONSTRUCTION. We're all
in the same boat.



97/09 From-> Whaley_Michele <>
Subject: Home unit ideas

This summer, Anchorage Russian teachers Wendy Baker, Delynne Chambers
and I worked on thematic units. ACTR (the American Council of Russian
Teachers) asked for help from all over the country for learning
scenarios which would help to progress toward the new standards.

We sent our ideas off to Jane Shuffelton, who is putting this work
together, and she re-wrote what I typed to make sense. I thought it
would be fun to send that message off to the list, so here it is!
Thanks, Jane!

Learning Scenarios: Real Estate

Mixed level classes in public high schools in Anchorage, Alaska spend
part of several class periods on a variety of activities related to the
theme of home. First, students bring in newspaper ads and describe
houses to try to persuade their classmates to buy them. Students listen
to the presentation, take notes, and then move about the classroom
trying to match their notes with the pictures of the various houses that
are displayed on a bulletin board.

As a follow-up activity, students prepare their own home plans in
Russian as a homework assignment.

They label the different parts and special features of the house Working
in groups in class, each group selects one plan to sell to the rest of
the class. Each member of the group shares the responsibility of
describing the house in Russian. As other students hear the
presentations, they fill in a chart of features they like or don't like
about each house.

Another related activity, "House Tour," has students giving tours of
celebrity's houses as if they are playing charades. They stroll about
the classroom, indicating where various parts of the imaginary house are
located. The teacher and class are paid participants in the tour, and
must react in Russian to features they see.

One more activity has students work to create a blueprint of a room or
apartment. Using a blueprint form created in dark ink by hand or with a
computer program such as HyperStudio, students label areas and draw
furnishings as they listen to the teacher or another student describe
the room.

As a final activity, "Moving Time" half the class prepares a description
of a home they would like to move into, while the other half prepares a
description of a home they would like to sell or rent. Students then
move around the classroom trying to find potential matches.

Chastlivo! Michele


97/11 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: McDonald's Activity

We are just finishing a unit on foods, ordering in a restaurant etc. and
I was looking for something that was more "real communication" ....I
found the tray liner for McDonald's. I'm sure you've all picked one up
or gotten it in the a packet from Teachers' Discovery etc. It's the one
that asks you to rate the service, food, cleanliness, accuracy of order,
whether meal was for desayuno, cena etc, etc...not only does it ask the
questions, but it provides a wide series of choices.

Here's an example: Limpieza:
Cual fue el problema? A que debemos atendernos?

banos sucios
mesas y sillas sucias
entrada/drive through sucia

Su pedida:
Cual fue el problema?

sandwich/platillo frio
pocas papas en la bolsa/caja
papas poco saladas
tamano equivocado
no habia condimentos etc.

these are from don't quote me, but the kids really enjoyed
doing this and acting out the role of the customer. It also allowed them
to use sustained conversation, somewhat spontaneously.

Irene Moon


97/11 From-> Michael Kundrat <>
Subject: quick games

Don't forget about charades! I haven't seen it mentioned, at least for
some time now. The advantage is that it has the kids thinking in whole
sentences rather than just individual vocab words, as so many of the
other games seem to do...I mean, if you set it up that way. ("The boy
gives a flower to the girl" or whatever else you can build out of
internalized vocab)

BTW, we had a fun time with "the match game" yesterday. Thanks for the

Michael Kundrat


97/11 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: Re: McDonald's Activity

We are just finishing a unit on foods, ordering in a restaurant etc. and
I was looking for something that was more "real communication" ....I
found the tray liner for McDonald's. I'm sure you've all picked one up
or gotten it in the a packet from Teachers' Discovery etc. It's the one
that asks you to rate the service, food, cleanliness, accuracy of order,
whether meal was for desayuno, cena etc, etc...not only does it ask the
questions, but it provides a wide series of choices.

.....the kids really enjoyed doing this and acting out the role of the
customer. It also allowed them to use sustained conversation, somewhat

Irene Moon

6. Role-playing & skits.

97/04 From-> "Second Language Dept." <>
Subject: Re: listening & singing

Paul Conley wrote:

>For years, I've tried to develop my students' listening skills by playing a 5-6
>minute pre-recorded cassette tape for them at the beginning of the period.
>Each day, I type up 5-item forms that the students fill out while listening to
>the tape. (First-year students fill in missing words; upper level students answer
>questions). Students listen to the tape for two weeks, then take a 10-item test
>at the end of the second week. The next week, they get a new tape and song.
>When the singing starts, I grade the students on a chart with grades that run
>from "A" - "F". The first week, students receive a good grade if they do a pretty
>good of reading the lyrics and singing. The second week, they have to make eye
>contact with me in order to get an "A" or "B". The grading chart consists of the
>students' names, plus a column for each letter grade. I put a check mark in the
>appropriate letter grade column each day, grading about 1/2 of the students each
>At the end of the grading period, I total up the letter grade column that has the
>most check marks and that represents the students' singing grade. It's worth 100

>The song that we are currently singing is Flaco Jimenez's "El gallo copeton" (off
>of his most recent c.d.). Following, is the first paragraph of the transcription, plus
>sample questions.
>"Saludos muy cordiales de Maribel para Martin, Tila, Juan, y Hugo. Todos en
>sintontia de radio romantica, con la mejor variedad y mas musica. Quedese con
>nosotros. Viene en camino Los Bukis, Lucero, Ana Gabriel, y Los Mismos."
>L1 Item: Todos en sintonia de radio romantica, ___________ la mejor variedad...
>L2 Item: Quien es la primera cantante que viene en camino?
>I hope this makes sense to you. Believe it or not, EVERYBODY sings. The average
>grade on L1 tests is "B-"; the average grade on upper level tests is "B+." It's a good
>way to have fun with part of the culture.
>Paul Conley,

Hola Paul Conley,

Thanks for the details about how you do this. I love to use songs in my
classroom. Sometimes my presentation is clumsy. I am encouraged that you
get everyone to sing. You actually type five questions for each level
EVERY DAY? A little bit of extra work, though I suppose you can reuse
them the following year. I can't wait to try your procedure in my

Here in India, I have no access to Spanish Radio, but I do have a few
good tapes and CDs: Gypsy Kings, Los Lobos, Celia Cruz, Linda Ronstadt.
Your list, from a more recent post, of favorite songs in your classroom
will be invaluable on my next shopping trip in the States. Gracias otra

Charlie, aka: "Don Carlos"

Charles Kehler
Head of Department of Second Languages
Kodaikanal International School
Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu 624 101


97/07 From-> "Wendy C. Baker" <wcbaker@Alaska.NET>
Subject: Re: Music as Beginning Lesson

Dear Madeline, I'm a bit slow answering mail, but yes, I do use music in
my Russian classes very early, possibly the first day. On the first day,
I have kids choose Russian names to use in class, if they want. Then (I
learned this from a visiting Russian teacher, Natalya Mamedova, last
year) we sing in Russian: "Is this (someone's Russian name), No, not
(whoever); repeat three wrong names, Who is it? It's (the correct
name)?" I don't know if it helps, except that it is different, and shows
them that there will be singing. Natasha was particularly talented at
inventing little songs to the melodies of well-known Russian classical
music. I'm not sure how well I'll do without her.

I also have a set of tapes done by Alla Akishina which have musical
chants which the kids love. It is more like rap!! The first is just
"hello" in Russian with different names, so easy to use right away.
Is this any help?

Wendy Baker


97/08 From-> Liz Klem <>
Subject: Re: Games/learning centers/songs/plays

Susan--I don't use music as much as some of the list members but it is
an important part of class. Key with high school students--start day one
(or two maybe) with something really fun. One year I waited a little
longer and it was sooo hard to get them into it. Insist that they sing.
It is better for them than they will ever know but it has to be
mandatory. I tell them that if I see someone not singing it is because I
know they're waiting to do their solo. jajaja. That's my interpretation!
Or if they refuse to sing along I will assign special after school
"Singing with Senora" lessons (read DT). I have been known to speak
privately with a student to tell him/her to humor/respect me and at
least mouth the words so I can't tell what's going on. Of course that is
at least something constructive. With most HS students it really isn't a
big chore if you are having fun yourself. I do love to sing and have
only a mediocre voice so I can assure them that they don't have to be
real singers. Encourage the hams in class--I always have the maracas and
hats ready for those who want them--but only if they are singing. Sing
only on days when YOU have a lot of energy. They can tell the difference
and need you as a reason to act so uncool. Every year I plan to sing a
lot and it varies from year to year but I believe it is so wonderful for
the kids and even helps form a group spirit. A cantar...


PS no matter what you do right it sometimes doesn't work. A few years
ago my best class just couldn't get it together to sing. Oh, we tried.
Now whenever they stop to see me they remind me that they were in that
"non-singing class.":-) Oh well.


97/11 From-> Debbie Fowler STJ <>
Subject: French activity

Chers listeurs:

I thought I would share an activity that I'm excited about because it
seems to be working so well. I'm using this with fourth year French
students in high school. I've always felt that I wanted to use songs
more regularly in class, and recently I've begun using them as dictees
(dictations). I write the lyrics on a transparency, present new
vocabulary, and then dictate a few lines each day (5-10). After the
dictation, I put the transparency on the overhead, and the students
check their work and we discuss the meaning. This takes about 5 minutes
per class. Then on Friday, I finish whatever is left of the dictee by
playing the song itself. The students check their work as usual and then
we sing, both this week's song and some of the others. They seem to find
this is an interesting and low-stress challenge (they love to see if
they can write each line perfectly!). I find this gives me an
opportunity to discuss all kinds of structures for recognition as well
as focus on a particular structure if I want to (the future, for
example). And interesting cultural observations arise naturally. And
it's fun! Examples of songs I've used: Patricia Kaas "Hotel Normandy",
Michel Fugain "Une belle histoire", and Raymond Levesque "Quand les
hommes vivront d'amour".

Debbie Fowler

7. Listening and/or singing.

95/04 From-> Laura <kimotol@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Skit idea

After reading everyone's ideas on class skits, I remembered something
I'm doing *right now* in my Adult Education conversational Japanese
class. The idea itself isn't as entertaining, you see. My students use a
functional textbook (_Basic Functional Japanese_, The Japan Times) that
lends itself easily to roleplaying. I usually let students work in
groups of 4 or 5. There are two or three major roles and a few minor
(waitperson, shopkeeper) roles. Students are given a sheet that
describes each scene and lists minimum elements for each scene. Example:

Scene I     The wrong number
____ make a phone call
____ it's a wrong number
____ make the call again
____ exchange proper greetings
____ arrange to meet at X restaurant.

This is usually guided, but open-ended enough for students to embellish
their language output. (Students can also use this as a 'crib sheet'
when actually doing the roleplay.)

The roleplay develops into a three or four act 'play' with the American
(or foreigner) dropping things in the restaurant, which lead to
apologies to the host, and apologies and thanks the next day, etc. etc.

I usually video tape this and save this for a class momento.



95/04 From-> David Gurney <>
Subject: Re: Tourist, Trader, Shopper, Spy

The shopping line idea is a great example of what I meant in the
response concerning "acting." The episode could be a dinner and part of
the required preparations is doing the shopping. Paying attention to the
other shoppers' comments becomes one of those naturally occurring
situations. Giving an extra spin, such as listening for hidden messages
can enliven the situation even more so. The main thing is that students
are involved actively in an interaction which gives rise to the need for
language vs the grammar section/drill giving rise to the need for
correct responses. Keep 'em going, Don!

David W. Gurney


95/04 From-> "Don W." <webbd@CCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Tourist, Trader, Shopper, Spy

>situations. Giving an extra spin, such as listening for hidden messages can
>enliven the situation even more so. The main thing is that students are involved
>actively in an interaction which gives rise to the need for language vs the
>grammar section/drill giving rise to the need for correct responses. Keep 'em
>going, Don!

Thanks, David... Would you believe that the "shopping line" scenario
actually happened to me. I was waiting at a local deli with one of my
sons when a couple of German tourists started a conversation, right
behind us. It was hard not to overhear, and afterwards I asked Garin if
he'd been able to understand any of it with his high-school German. He
said he'd picked up some, which was gratifying; not the all too common
reply, "I didn't understand anything!" I allowed as how I'd gotten some
of it, too, "except the words in capital letters," 'cuz my vocabulary is
very rusty.

The activity does need some sort of closure; I mean, our eavesdropping
shopper should be able to report back to "headquarters" and be
"debriefed" on the information gathered.

As for props, maybe a trenchcoat and cigar for the "spy." Or if no
cigar, maybe a fedora, like Patrick Stewart's when he's playing "Dixon
Hill" in the holodeck... Nothing like dressing the part to get into the

Don W.


95/08 From-> Catherine Bass  <>
Subject: fun activities

In response to several requests for ideas on how to get students to
speak only in the FL /activities that work well, here are 2 that I have
used in my French classes:

1. The alibi

split the class in 2 groups and explain that one group will be suspects
for a crime that was committed, and the other group will be the
detectives investigating the crime.

You can make up any kind of crime (a patisserie/pastry shop being robbed,
etc.) The time when the crime took place has to be fairly vague, usually
I tell the students it happened some time between 9:30pm and midnight
the previous day.

All the suspects spent the evening together, and it is up to them to
agree on what they did. When I suggest some activities, students always
end up choosing the following: we had pizza at X's place and then we
went to see a movie.

This may sound like a good alibi but little do they know!

the 2 groups are given the following assignments:

* the suspects:
the detectives are going to interrogate each of you individually in
order to find out what you did last night, so you need to agree on all
the details of your story. Try to imagine what questions they will come
up with. For instance, if you went to a restaurant, they might ask who
sat next to who, how many people were in the restaurant, did you sit
next to a window, what was your waiter's name, what color was his hair,

You will not be allowed to use notes during the interrogation and you
won't be allowed to communicate with each other. Basically, you'll be on
your own.

Once they have agreed on how they spent the evening together --which
should be done in a few seconds, they will inform the detectives of the
situation: example: we spent the evening at Peter's place, had pizza and
watched a movie.

* the detectives
each of you is going to interrogate one of the suspects. You need to
come up with a written list of questions. You may start with
general/easy questions but you also need to ask a lot of 'tricky'
questions, ask for details (i.e. if they say they spent the 3 hours at
Peter's place and ate and drank, it is likely that one of them might
have had to use the restroom, or that they know the place/room pretty
well: you could ask questions about the furniture in the room, the color
of the walls, were there any posters on the walls, etc etc.. try to come
up with questions that the suspects would not expect

both groups will be given about 15 to 20 minutes to prepare for the
interrogation, then each suspect goes with one detective and will be
asked the questions from the list. The detectives will write down the
answers given to them and make sure that their suspect can't communicate
with any other suspect in the room.

When this work is completed, the 2 groups get back together, and the
detectives compare the answers. Usually the suspects have plenty to talk
about at that time. Then a spokesman for the detectives announces what
conclusions they came up with.

So far, the suspects have always been found guilty because their answers
didn't coincide with one another's.

My students have always seemed to enjoy this activity, it makes them use
"questions" and forces them to make a lot of detailed descriptions in

If your class is really big, you can split it in 4 groups instead of 2
or 6... Some classes asked me to do it again some other time b/c they
wanted to also switch roles.

Yet, no matter how well prepared the suspects have been, they have never
been able to convince the detectives of their innocence by coming up
with an air-tight alibi!

Well... I guess this became a long enough e-mail, if anybody's
interested in another activity of the same kind... well also fun and
forcing everybody to take an active part, let me know and I'll be glad
to send you the one on the wretched problem of dogpoop in Paris.

Catherine Bass

8. Upper level (ii, iii, etc.) activities.

95/05 From->
Subject: Re: Activities for 3d and 4th...

My upper level Spanish classes love to cook. We've done tapas, tortillas
espanolas, arroz con pollo, etc. As we're cooking, we're conversing
about the food, utensils, preparation, etc.

They also enjoy writing and illustrating their own children's books.
We're K-12 so they can read the books to the kindergartners when they've
completed them.

One final suggestion: We have GeoSafari machines and blank cards. The
students like to create new cards using whatever vocabulary they choose
and illustrating however they like (drawing, stickers, cut and paste,

Teresa Wilkins


95/05 From->
Subject: Re: Activities for adv. stdts

One popular activity I've tried with advanced classes is to laminate
cartoons from "The Far Side" (ones with no words) and ask the students
to write or talk about them. Naturally they get some wild stories going

Another activity I've never tried but which sounds intriguing is to
obtain some crazy newspaper articles or just headlines - the kind in The
National Enquirer, like "Man Sees Elvis In Plate Of Mashed Potatoes" and
ask the students to translate them into the target language. Can require
some unusual vocabulary!

Kathy Marker


95/05 From-> Kathy Marker
Subject: Re: Activities for adv. stdts

I posted to FLTEACH for the first time yesterday - and realized I forgot
to sign my message. Here's another activity for 3rd or 4th year students
which I've enjoyed using: (This time I'll sign my name!)

At the beginning of the year I use this activity as an icebreaker with a
class of 3rd year students. I have three forms of a questionnaire which
each have 10 items. In the target language, they include statements
like: "Find someone who works part time in a restaurant." "Find someone
who has one dog and one cat." "Find someone whose birthday is in the
same month as yours."
There are three different sets of questions so students are faced with
answering questions they don't have on their own questionnaire.

The students must move about the room, using the target language, (of
course!) to question their classmates, filling out their sheet as they

If it is a good-sized class, I tell them not to repeat any one student's
name on their paper. Usually the vocabulary involved is easy enough for
the 2nd or 3rd day of class after a long break.

My copies are in French. I'd be glad to post them if anyone wants.
Thanks for all the good contributions to this list. I have appreciated
the discussions.

Kathy Marker


95/09 From -> Paul Lanciaux <>
Subject: A Real Activity That Works

Here's one that has worked for me in French 2,3,4 classes and one that I
have shared in a workshop that I present on creativity in FL
(oops...World Language) classes. Directions are given here in English
and you will need to translate for your target language. It is a long
term project (a week or so) and is taken from another field, but works
well in our area. I call it "L'oeufant"- you may have heard of it done
in Health or Sociology classes.

There are two parts to it - here's the first:

Each student receives a RAW egg and the accompanying directions -

"Congratulations! You are a parent!
Here's what you have to do:
1 - Each member of the class will choose a name for his/her "oeufant"
(get it French teachers??)
2- Choose the gender, male or female.
3- One of the members of the class will have TWINS!! -what luck!
4 - You will decorate your "oeufant" and give him/her eyes, hair,
clothing etc...
5 -You will have to bring your "oeufant" to class each day and
take care of it during the weekend. If you can't, you will find someone
to babysit and pay him 10 cents per hour.
6 - In addition, you will keep a journal in the target language in which
you will relate the daily events of your "oeufant". - Four or five
sentences are sufficient.
7 - In one week, I will collect your "oeufants" and your grade will be
determined on the condition of your "oeufant" AND the graded daily
journal. A whole egg returned gets and "A" for extra credit, cracked
"oeufants" get a "C" etc... The journal is graded for grammatical form.

The second sheet is a one page photocopied sheet with a section for each
day of the week. The student must turn in the journal at the end of the
week for a grade.

This project is usually tied in when we do the theme of "Parenthood" -
readings and discussions in the target language in French 3 or 4.

While educators have recently questioned the value of carrying around a
raw egg (or a sack of flour in some schools), it has been a fun activity
for the classes, provided an arena for vocabulary development and
written forms.

If you have any questions, you may contact me at

Good luck - now it's your turn to share an activity.

PS-At the end of the week, check to see that the eggs have not been hard
boiled; also, I have marked each one with my individualized stamp so
that "phony replacements" are not handed in instead!

Paul Lanciax, King Philip High School, Wrentham, MA


95/09 From -> Donald Webb <>
Subject: Re: An Activity That Works

Suzanne Cane's activity with family relationships sounds like fun... At
another level, certainly, you might try doing family relationships with
a _really_ "colorful" family. For example, you could hand out slips of
paper with a name and family relationships. You start with (in French,
but it works any which way)...

Oedipe (fils, mari, pere, frere)
Polybe (pere, mari)
Merope (mere, femme))
Laius (pere, mari)
Jocaste (mere, femme)
Ismene (fille, soeur)
Antigone (fille, soeur)
Polynice (fils, frere)
Eteocle (fils, frere)

And of course the teacher would be the "oracle" or the "Sphinx," or a
good lawyer, whatever, who conducts an investigation to determine who's
really what relation to whom, first by asking questions like "Laius,
vous etes le pere de qui?" And if he guesses wrong, then say, "Non, vous
etes le pere d'Oedipe." Follow up with "Oedipe, vous etes le fils de
qui?" Just to check. Then with Merope: "Merope, vous etes la mere de
qui?" Correct with: "Non, vous etes la mere adoptive d'Oedipe." Until
the whole Thebes 90210 has been straightened out...

If you can do that one, then perhaps you can work on Mark Twain's "I'm
My Own Grandpa."

Don W. (DWebb@UoGuelph.CA or DonWebb@CSUS.Edu)


On Wed, 20 Sep 1995, Suzanne Cane wrote:

>This is an activity for learning family words. I have used it successfully in
>FLES classes, grades 4 & 5.
>After going over the family words (mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter,
>husband, wife, and any others you want - I include king, queen, prince, and
>princess), each student draws a slip of paper from my magic box (any container
>will do). The slips of paper say: The Red King or The Blue Princess or The
>Yellow Prince etc. Then students gather in family groups, that is, the Red Family,
>the Yellow Family, etc.


95/10 From -> Jeffrey Stein <>
Subject: Re: Activity that Works

How about a variation on the fashion video-- In the past, my advanced
kids have all "been awarded the Nobel prize." Their task was to write a
thank you speech telling us why and how. I think they really enjoyed it
because they could get very creative.



97/07 From-> Irene Moon <>
Subject: Fw: 20 ideas for Level 4

Hi Listeros,
A few days ago a fellow listeros asked for some ideas for themes in
Spanish 4. What follows are some ideas I had and new ones I'm thinking
of trying this year:

1. Rigoberta Menchu & Human Rights in Guatemala (LACR) I simplified this
significantly. Have some poetry I included. Kids can write email to
Human Rights commission in Guatemala.

2. Evita (internet)...internet source and showed with PBS film; followed
up with some Isabel Allende mini studies

3. Salvador Dali (internet) will find ideas at S.D. museum site.
This year I'm going to include some Frida Kahlo.See Fl Archives also

4. Newspaper Activity. involves all kinds of cultural research, writing
see FL Archives Feb & Mar

5. Short Story called "Chac Mool" by Carlos Fuentes in conjunction with
some mini studies of Mexican Aztec culture

6. This year I'm going to resurrect "Platero y Yo" by Juan Ramon Jimenez
and have students do some power point presentations

7. Famous Hispanics would be a fun thing to do, many internet sources

8. Ecology...I'm going to do a more sophisticated thing this year with
newspaper articles and web sites in Spain, Caribbean

9. Spanish Architecture:a unit I created; see Lewie Johnson's website
it's posted there; if you want more info, email offline

10. Bullfighting (I put together a unit on this also) 11. Journal least twice a week on topics from El LIbrito de
Instrucciones para la Vida ISBN 1-55853-291-9 $5.95

12.Royal Family of Spain...nice websites for this

13. El Albanico (my kids in Level 3 love leyendas) and so this is more
sophisticated and thought I'd use it around Valentine's Day, along with
refrains about love and songs/lyrics from Mocedades like Eres Tu etc.

14. I always do several of the short stories of Imbert: they deal with
fantasy and reality themes. He's an Argentine writer.

15.Poesia: Lorca, Machado. Dario, Becquer. Octavio Paz, Pablo
Neruda...many places on the internet for their works

16. MUSIC! MUSIC! I'm definitely doing more with this year. I
attended a session at CSC by Renna and Miguel (Argentinians) 913-381-29
or 913-648-7838. They have two books of popular songs from L.A with some
super activities. Music has been taped by original artists and is
included. Price $35 single or $65 both books, tapes. I'll use throughout

17. A dictionary activity unit (from Carlex, I think)

18. Gestures, available from Teachers" Discovery Video and activities

19. Circumlocution activities interspersed through year (see FL archives)

20. Some TPR Storytelling.. new for me this year.

Irene Moon


97/08 From-> Irene Moon <>
 Subject: "Goal" Book Covers

Me again! Sorry! Since my Sp 2's are going to do these neat book covers on
Aztecs etc... I thought what can the Adv. Kids do?

Well, we put our heads together and decided to have them do a "Jig Saw"
cover......there are 2-3 pages containing sample puzzle pieces, instructions etc.
but the idea is for each of the advanced students to select/create about 7 pieces
and create a book cover using them as a design. Each piece should, in the TL
explain one of their goals for this school year and there should be at least 2
related to their goals for Spanish. The entire assignment then becomes a spin off for
communication activities and for a discussion on class goals to develop proficiency.

If you want copies, send a self addressed, stamped envelope (64 cents) &
I'll mail out any extras I have at end of week. Please do not write me.

I would also be glad for any other ideas that would spin off from either
of the book cover activities...please share with the list, too. Muchas Gracias!

Irene Moon


97/08 From-> MRS BETH DAMASCUS <>
Subject: Upper level ideas

Hola listeros!
I've completed my first full week of classes - what a trip! Actually,
it's been very nice - the kids I have this semester are like a dream
come true - and my Spanish IV class (26 students) are a PLEASURE (unlike
my class from hell last year!). Anyway, just thought I'd share a few
ideas and request that other do the same when you get so inspired!

I have a book that I picked up in Spain that has 200 and something
ADIVINANZAS (riddles). The first day of class I gave the Spanish IV
students this homework assignment: They had to read the four adivinanzas
that I has chosen from the book and figure out which vocabulary words
from the current chapter were the answers to the riddles. Then, they had
to choose two other people and two other objects from the new vocabulary
(this chapter deals with different occupations and tools of the trade)
and make up an adivinanza for each one. The next day in class, the
students read one of their riddles, and the class had to guess the
person or thing that the riddle referred to... the riddles did not have
to rhyme - I told them that they had to be somewhat creative - they
could be plays on words for example - or they could just be clues - but
not an OBVIOUS description like "I sew clothes" (seamstress). You get
the idea (I hope!) Well, I haven't READ all of their papers yet, but
some of the riddles that they came up with were fantastic! It was an
interesting way for them to use the new vocabulary, read, write, speak,
listen, etc...

Every day now I have two riddles written on the board for them to see as
they come into class. Whomever is able to identify the person, animal,
fruit, etc. first gets a peso (my participation/preparation point
system). Today they were FIGHTING to see the board because I happened to
be standing in their way while doing the usual take attendance, etc
beginning of the class routine. I don't know how long I'll be able to
keep this up because some of the vocabulary in the riddles is just
beyond what they can handle, but I've found this to be GREAT for
teaching some new words, reinforcing/reviewing old vocabulary and
structures, and creating an automatic need to "focus" at the beginning
of class. Any thoughts anyone? Oh, today after their vocabulary quiz, I
asked them an extra credit question - I read out loud one of the riddles
that had been on the board on Tuesday or Wednesday - most of them got it
right (the answer was elephant - spelling was another story there!), but
one little darling was clearly not paying attention because she wrote
MONKEY down as the answer! Well, can't win 'em all.

Another idea - the Spanish IV students have to find a newspaper article
that deals with a current event in a Spanish speaking country.
All I asked them to do was look for one, cut it out and bring it to
class on Tuesday. My original thought a few weeks ago was to have them
find one article a week, summarize it in Spanish and react to it. .. but
with so many students in this class, I need to rethink the idea because
there's no way I'd be able to keep up with the papers. Now I'm not sure
what directions I'll take.... HELP!

Well, it's late and I'm pooped... have a great weekend... but I really
WOULD appreciate responses to my pleas for HELP and feedback on the
above! Muchas gracias!



97/08 From-> Aurora Martinez <>
Subject: Re: Upper level ideas

I too am teaching Spanish IV this year, and after our first week of
classes, am interested in sharing ideas with others like you. Spanish IV
is Spanish Civilization this year for our students, and because our
decrepit textbook only covers up to about 960, I have planned weekly
(Friday) current events days. I've asked the students to find, summarize
very briefly, and bring in articles related to Hispanic society. In
class, they'll pair up and trade articles, then skim-read each other's
articles to find the general point, which their partner can confirm or
not (maybe 5 minutes for this). After this, each student will present
her own article's main points to the rest of the class. There are only 8
in my Spanish IV class, so we'll have time to get into discussion,
opinion-giving, and vocabulary focus. From your posting, it sounds like
you and I plan to conduct our current events days similarly.

I'd like to bring more usage of Spanish into these current events days,
so I plan to assign them about once a month to find a Spanish-language
article on the Internet (from EL PAIS and various online Latin American
newspapers). These they will summarize briefly in Spanish and we'll do
the same routine as for the English-language articles. I've subscribed
to a monthly Spanish newsmagazine for students, called AHORA, and it
contains short articles about cultural aspects and various comprehension
and enrichment activities. This I keep available in my classroom, and
I'll assign articles out of it as well.

These are some of my ideas. I enjoyed reading yours...and I look forward
to hearing more on this topic from you! Buena suerte.

Aurora Martinez


97/09 From-> "Jean C. Williams" <>
Subject: Re: Opening exercise/zip-zap?

>anybody know a (little more innovative way to start a
>third year (German) class by telling about the summer? It is a very small class
>and since I had to change the curriculum to fit two of the IB students in this
>class, I am somewhat at a loss on how to start this year without going directly
>to the "serious" stuff.

I thought of two other activities that my students loved. One was a
Farewell (Goodbye to summer) cocktail party. As a Spanish teacher I
served sangria without wine and tapas. The students walked around and
talked to each other asking questions about the summer. It went very
well. We did this on the Friday of the first week. It gave me time to
mentally prepare the students. It could have been on the first day but
many of the students were about to have me for the first time and would
not have been prepared for me, class expectations, etc.

The other activity was a written activity and can take place on any day
during the first week. I like it on the second day. The students were
assigned students to interview. They ask questions and report to the
class either orally or in the form of a newspaper. Both work well. I
love the newspaper because the students have the opportunity to talk,
listen, read, and write. They enjoy reading what others have written. If
a scanner is available, photos can be implemented in the newspaper. The
students can be interviewed can serve as proofers-making sure what is
written is accurate. The others find out about the summers through the
newspaper. It is important that there is a quick turnaround time from
interview to print. If you can have it done in a day or two. It is well
worth it.

Jean Carolyn


97/09 From-> "Jean C. Williams" <>
Subject: Re: Opening exercise/zip-zap?

>I am somewhat at a loss on how to start this year
>without going directly to the "serious" stuff. Several of these kids
>were in Germany on an exchange this summer. So....??? Any fun ideas?

Activity I is fun at various times of the year but works well on the
second day of class and if copying/printing is easily accessible works
well with periods that are split with lunch or the second half of block

Super detective is an activity that requires reading, writing, and
questioning skills. It is an advanced people search activity. I usually
use it by having the students write something about themselves that know
one else might know. For example I have placed the following sentence
about myself, "I was stabbed in the eyelid during a fencing match." The
activity would work great with summer experiences.

The students would write one (or more) thing(s) about their summer
experiences. They must write something of which no one else is aware or
knows. All the sentences, submissions are typed or written on a sheet a
paper with a line next to it to place the name. The students would then
read the sentences and try to find the person who wrote it. Usually it
leads to other interesting discussions. These other discussions can be
briefly discussed then, later with the whole group, etc.

Don't forget to include yourself in the search. It gives you additional
opportunities to find out things about the students and to answer
questions. The number of required sentences will depend on the size of
the class.

Activity II is also fun and is not as kinesthetic as the first activity.
However, it is a tactual activity.

A bag or bags of M&Ms are passed among the students. The students are
told to get as many as they want (you can stipulate using one hand).
They are told that they cannot eat them yet. Once they get the M&Ms, I
always asked them to count them and tell me how many. I write the
numbers down. I sometimes ask questions using numbers with them or
comparative questions.

Regardless, after you have a count. You tell them to give you a sentence
about their summer for every M&M they have taken. They will groan and
then dive right in. If they have taken a lot, like 68, they can give
sentences in intervals, giving others a chance to talk. Yes, I have had
a student take that many. I even had a student who took 96. That was a
fun time because we were giving sentences using the subjunctive mood.
The student with 68 had the pleasure of telling the students 68 things
about Matute, her life, works, etc. It was a great review for the
students. Especially since no one could repeat sentences.

Jean Carolyn


97/10 From-> Beth Damascus <>
Subject: "world of work" activities - long

Hola listeros!
Just thought I'd share with you some of the things I've done with my
Spanish IV students these past couple weeks in relation to the
vocabulary in our text (Arcos y Alamedas - Chpt. 9-11) - which has to do
with occupations and the world of work.

We worked through the vocabulary exercises and readings from the text
and ancillary materials. Then I had my students do the following:

1. Make up an interview dialog between an employer and prospective
applicant.... this was memorized and presented in class the next day.

2. Create and type up an original want ad for a job. They had to include
various things to incorporate the vocabulary from the chapter such as :
at least three skills, at least two personal qualities, requirements
such as age, experience, education, etc.
After correcting the ads, they had to retype them. I then shrunk and
compiled them on one sheet to look like the want ad page of a newspaper.

3. Each student had to choose an ad from the "newspaper" that we
created. The position for which they had to write a letter of
application had to be different from the one for which they created an
ad. Prior to assigning this, I gave them a sample "carta comercial" with
the words for the different parts of the letter such as "solicitante"
"recipiente" "saludo" "despedida", etc. They had also worked in groups
to create a "carta de solicitud" using vocabulary from the chapter.
(This also served as an additional practice exercise - the type where
there's a word bank ). Anyway, their letter had to be formal and typed.

4. The next night's assignment was to create an original list of 15
(mostly interrogative) questions that they would ask at an interview -
they were to be the employer. The questions were based on the want ad
that the individual student had created herself.

5. TODAY in class I collected the questions. Then I called the students
up two at a time - the interviewer was allowed to read the questions. I
had the students DRESS UP as if they were going to a real interview.
(GREAT experience for them since they are seniors!) They didn't know
which "job" they would be interviewing for, so it really forced them to
listen and "think on their feet". Now, they DID have all the "want ads"
to read through from the other day, so they were encouraged to read ALL
the ads in order to prepare for their part as the job applicant. I had
some wonderful questions and many of them gave very well-thought-out
answers. (Of course there were a few who floundered, but the majority
were poised and did a good job of "faking" their abilities!). Oh, I also
gave them an article to read (Thanks Ashley!) which has hints for what
NOT to do at an interview. Tomorrow we will need to finish the
interviews. I had the rest of the class working in groups on a project.
Originally I wanted to have the interviews in front of the entire class,
but since I have 26 students, I figured listening to 26 interviews would
be a BIT much to sit through! This is working out quite well because I'm
able to interject if need be - only happened a few times when students
were just plain stuck. I also liked this because I was able to match up
natives with non-natives - almost every student was able to speak with a
native at least once.

Finally, this interview served at the "speaking" portion of the chapter
test. (I grade by using the straight point system, so it really doesn't
matter what I call this, but the students sometimes put in a little more
effort when they're told that it's "part of the test "!)

Hope this is helpful to some of you. If you have any questions, email me
at :


General classroom activities, Parts 9 & 10.

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