Oral Participation in the Foreign Language Classroom
 

FLTEACH FAQ
Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
 
in Six Parts
1. The Shy (Reticent) Learner in the Foreign Language Class
2. Promoting the Use of the Target Language
3. Grading Oral Performance
4. Rewards and Motivation
5. Oral Testing, Administering Tests, Grading
6. Miscellaneous and Names of Contributors
 

Part #1.The Shy (Reticent) Learner in the FL Class

A. FL class needs oral participation.
B. Problem of non-participation limiting learning.
C. Teachers should have several ways to measure learning and participation.
D. What is shyness and how can it be modified for the better?
E. Some ways of coping with shyness; additional benefits.
 

A. FL class needs oral participation.
 

Foreign Language teachers have a legitimate reason to require spoken participation in class.
 
95/02 From--> Mark Ed West <MEWEST@utkvx.utk.edu>

On the one hand oral work is required and on the other we can't measure
all that a student may be doing mentally. I don't think we regard
shyness as a learning disability and I think it might be reasonable to
expect students to come out of their shells to some extent. Still, how
do you get at what they are thinking which they may not have the
fortitude to express even informally to a classmate? This will keep me
up nights, you know. I had better read some responses to this.

Mark

======================
 

Kimberly Secrist and Laura Kimoto offered many of us a potential source of insight into the mind of those students who are reticent about participating orally in the foreign language class. To wit: many FL teachers  often tend to be shy outside their classroom assignment. That might be in oneís church, taking university classes and so on. Careful
observation of shy students or conversations with colleagues might give us some ideas about how to approach this problem in students. Laura reminds: "We as teachers just need to have a variety of ways to measure learning and participation." That would seem to mean teachers need to have at their disposal a variety of ways in which students can be challenged to make their various marks.
======================
 
Bill Heller probably does in his classroom exactly what these teachers suggest, but in this 1995 letter he attempts to address the problem and express a down to earth view about how teachers must, at least in Billís world, regard the challenge of the shy or uncooperative learner:
95/02 From--> Bill Heller   <BuckBuck11@aol.com>

1. Shy is one thing. Apathetic is another. As a teacher, I can and have
made accommodation for shy students. But, sorry, folks, my kids take a
State Regent's Exam in June which is 24% speaking. I don't read minds. I
don't have time to ask each individual student in a class of 24 if they
understand each concept that I teach.

There are many ways to elicit responses from all students and not only
those whom one writer characterized as "verbally aggressive".  Students
who are prepared for class have nothing to worry about. Those who
haven't prepared, beware! It's accountability, folks. Plain and simple.

2. In the mean and nasty working world, for which I am constantly told
that I must prepare my charges, the boss, supervisor, department chair,
head honcho is not always going to interpret their silence as an
expression of shyness as opposed to an expression of apathy. The
so-called "shy" person is going to get run over in the working world,
not a pleasant experience. The great thing about language class is that
students can get opportunities to develop public speaking, communication
skills, problem solving, and self-confidence by participating in the
many activities unique to the second language classroom. We teach far,
far more than language.

Once again, I am not interested in what is comfortable. I am interested
in outcomes.  Measurable, visible, demonstrable outcomes. We do kids a
service by giving them a nudge to move outside themselves. No excuses
accepted, folks. The working world expects no less from us. No whining.
No hand-wringing. No victims. No excuses.

3. My classroom is a fun place to be for those who are prepared and
participate. It is an uncomfortable place for slackards. That's how I
want it. Every day I offer a banquet table of language learning
opportunities. The fact that some starve is their own choice.

4. I tell the reluctant students to make sure they raise their hands on
the questions for which they know the answer. Then I won't be forced to
have to call on them when they may _not_ know the answer. It works for
some.

5. I'm through making apologies for what I do and what I teach. I teach
a survival skill for the global society. Period. If a student works with
me, I'll move heaven and earth to help that student achieve to his or
her potential. Right now, one of my best students is learning-disabled
"resource room" kid. He works his butt off for my class and he has a
smile of confidence on his face when he gives an answer in class. He's
got nearly a 90 average. Sorry, friends, I don't have enough time to
deal with "losers"  who choose their fate. It sounds harsh, but this is
reality. Those who buy-in reap the rewards of their accomplishments - a
genuine self esteem rooted in real achievement. Those who don't, reap
the consequence - ignorance. And they'll pay the price for their
ignorance sooner or later.

Bill Heller

======================
 

But this letter recalls a criticism of foreign language teaching at the college level as well as the high school:
95/02 From--> Ania Lian <ania@cltr.uq.oz.au>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

> Sorry, I don't have enough time to deal with "losers"  who choose their
> fate.

There are ways and ways, as there "losers" and "losers", depending on
who defines and who makes them.

>It sounds harsh, but this is reality. Those who buy-in reap the rewards of
>their accomplishments - a genuine self esteem rooted in real achievement.
>Those who don't, reap the consequence - ignorance. And they'll pay the
>price for their ignorance sooner or later.

I have heard this before. Most University language Depts claim that
people use to learn French before all this "care about the needs" came
about. And sure they did. Out of 600 students enrolled in Sydney
University in the 1960s, they managed to reduce them to 60 in the second
year (90% attrition rate!!), to 20 in the third year and 5 for the
honours course.

Ania Lian

======================
 

In agreeing with Bill Hellerís ideas Angela Ellis has a pointed challenge for reticent students and a reminder for teachers:
From:    Angela Ellis <ELLISA@TEN-NASH.TEN.K12.TN.US>
Subject: Re: Rewarding participation

Shy students? Yes, e-mail and other methods do help. BUT - in real life,
one has to get over being shy and actually pluck up courage to approach
strangers in a foreign culture to get one's needs met. I view part of my
job as getting shy students, including the left-brainers who won't say
anything unless it's perfect, to "get over it" and become risk-takers. I
think we have gone overboard in our efforts to meet everybody's needs.
There has to be a common-sense middle ground.

Angela

======================
 

So you see there are differing opinions as to the significance of oral participation and the ways in which it is (if necessary) cozened from the reluctant student, but none of the respondents cast oral participation aside as superfluous or unnecessary. All feel it has an important place.
95/02 From--> laura kimoto      <kimotol@uhunix.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Re: Rewarding participation

We've been having a very interesting discussion on rewarding
participation, but I think what Kimberly Secrist said really hit home
for me...

>I ought to add one more thing to my comments: I have always been, and
>probably will always be, extremely shy in class. Take it for what it's worth....

As a teacher, I can sit up in front of class and conduct class very
aggressively, but I too had discovered that as a student I was very shy
and I still am very shy (when I took a graduate 'refresher' course last
fall). The only way I could muster up the courage to speak up in class
was if my classmates encouraged me (i.e., no competition) or if I knew
the 'right' answer.

But, I could 'ace' that class thanks to e-mail, which enabled me to
contribute freely to out-of-class discussions. True, it's not only the
verbally aggressive students who are learning; we as teachers just need
to have a variety of ways to measure learning and participation.

laura kimoto
 


B. Problem of non-participation limiting learning (and grades).
 

The grading of oral participation can be arranged in such an open manner that no student can possibly have any doubt that working with the system is going to help the FL grade. The good results of proper preparation will be obvious. See Bill Hellerís method of documenting class participation in Oral Participation (OP), Part #3, Grading & Assessment. Larry Lubiner feels he has a positive answer for all teachers grappling with the problem of reticent participants: TPR!
95/02 From--> "Larry Lubiner (MID)" <lubiner@madonna.coedu.usf.edu>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

To all of you who have been tackling this question of participation, I
have three letters for you: TPR! Total Physical Response, as delineated
by (Asher, Ramiro-Garcia, et al) works! I have had the shyest of
students come out of their shells, to my amazement, with a willingness
to participate in my classes.

It solves so many "problems" in the foreign language classroom, as well
as motivates my students to want to participate. For those of you who
are from the 20% old school of thought, why place 1/5, 1/4 or 1/1,000 of
any grade on "participation", when participation can be defined as many
factors of classroom work. Raising one's hand and answering our
questions correctly is *not* the be-all and end-all of FL or any
learning process!

Larry Lubiner

======================

95/02 From--> Madeline Ehrman   <LME%NFATCBN1.BITNET>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

The question of how to evaluate the oral proficiency of the student who
is inhibited by performing in front of a group isn't easy, as this
thread has been indicating.

In most situations, the larger the group, the more its members tend to
feel inhibited and even unable to think when the tension level is high.
Large-group language classes are likely to suffer from this phenomenon.
(On the other hand,)I've seen a class of thirty very successfully taught
by setting up a task that can be done by small groups of five or six
simultaneously. The teacher then walks around and provides help to the
groups. (Or different groups could have different tasks, which might
provide some more immediate experience to process in the large group
after the tasks are complete.) Most people can be brought to participate
in small groups. If their membership is somewhat stable from task to
task, a sense of group membership is likely to reduce even more
inhibitions. In the meantime, because the teacher isn't at the center
and responsible for directing all the activity, s/he can also use the
consultation with groups to listen in on what the students are doing in
the language.

As it happens, I saw this technique used by an ESL teacher who is expert
in Counseling Learning, which is based on the importance of learner's
emotional security, both as a learner and as a member of a learning
group. But I see no reason why a similar technique couldn't work for a
teacher who is not trained in Counseling Learning-Community Language
Learning.

     Madeline Ehrman
Foreign Service Institute

======================

95/01 From--> Mark Knowles <knowles@darkwing.uoregon.edu>
Subject: Re: Rewarding participation

In a recent statement about participation, Kimberley Secrist said:

>Students must be challenged in all areas of their lives if they are going to
>grow. The best teachers I ever had challenged me, but were also there to
>help. They pushed me further than I thought I could go, they made me think.

Many other sentiments have been expressed of this type in favor of
taking account of participation in classrooms. I have very little
objection to the use of this intuitive and impressionistic style of
action research, although I would like to signal some interesting
observations that I heard from Kathy Bailey this summer about some
actual research she did. In one classroom she had hung microphones from
the ceiling in two or different places. This allowed her to record what
was going on while activities were being practiced, and so forth. Having
transcribed the recorded data, she discovered that one student was
especially productive in classroom activities. When she asked the
teacher to comment on this student's participation, the teacher said
that the student was completely passive and didn't know what to do with
him or her.

What was going on? It was discovered that the student was vigorously
repeating things to him/herself, working by him/herself, and learning a
great deal, no doubt. But the student was shy. The teacher never had
observed that this was going on. It required this experiment to discover
it by accident.

Are we going to reward the unshy students who participate maybe two or
three times a day and punish the hard workers who are shy?

Mark Knowles

======================

97/10 From--> "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@PEN.K12.VA.US>
Subject: Re: Participation Points

I am reminded of a story. Almost 20 years ago I had a bright student in
Spanish 2 or 3 who was absent a great deal, always bringing in notes
that said she had a headache, was tired, wasn't feeling well, etc. She
was in the Work Experience program as well. Toward the end of the year
we received a note from the head of that program, asking us to be
especially kind to the girl, since she had lost something like 5 or 6
jobs during the year, due to absence.

My answer to that was that we had all failed to do our job with that
student, because we hadn't taught her that one's employer may feel sorry
that you don't feel well, etc., but that doesn't get his/her donuts
sold, or whatever, upon which his/her livelihood depends. I talked to
the girl and pointed out that absence means lost opportunity -- her
answer was "But I always took a note from my mother!"

I just saw her the other day -- she's washing dishes at Roy Rogers.

Who's more responsible -- the mother for constantly writing notes, us
for constantly accepting them, or her for taking advantage of them?

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta
 


C. Teachers should have several ways to measure learning and participation.
 

95/02 From--> Ania Lian <ania@cltr.uq.oz.au>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

A variety of tasks to accomplish could be a way. Oral work can take
different forms as well as other kinds of tasks can be designed to allow
all students to select those that they feel the most comfortable with
and in this way they will feel satisfaction that they could accomplish
something in a foreign language which did not require from them to do
something that they do not handle well.

Another way to help is to design tasks in such a way that they require
cooperation of students together in a longer run than just a 5 minute
dialogue in the classroom. This could achieve several things:

(a) stimulate cooperation between different types of students with all of
them gaining respect to each other while finding out that they all can
learn from one another.

(b) help in raising awarenesses to things in a FL that would be missed
otherwise or learnt later

(c) help in confirmation of old information already almost learnt

(d) extend active and purpose directed commitment to a FL beyond classroom

(e) .... and many others...

One of the examples of a strategy of teaching as such is macrosimulation
like type of learning/teaching about which there is quite a large deal
in literature. If interested I can post some articles on the matter
personally.

Ania Lian

======================

97/03 From--> Stephanie Campbell <scampbell@eee.org>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

>>There is a native speaker in our school who is teaching Spanish 2 and 3,
>>and the students constantly complain to me that they don't understand a
>>word that he says.<<

The problem may be that this teacher (or any other teacher, native or
non-native), besides possibly expecting the students to start producing
right away, is not presenting the language in enough of a context-rich
environment. To me this means props, pictures, and acting. In addition
to using TPR, I like to start out with a box of apples of various
colors, tomatoes of 3 sizes and chilis of various colors and sizes, and
introduce one new concept at a time. (E.g.: "Esta es una manzana. ?De
que color es la manzana? Es roja. Senalen mas rojo en la clase." Then
pull out another object and ask "si" or "no" questions: "?Es una
manzana? No. ?Es rojo? Si. Este es un tomate." Then introduce an apple
that isn't red (it's green, or whatever). Each new object has something
in common with what they've been exposed to, but adds a new element.
Like something green -- but it's a chile. Then another green chile --
but this one's really big. Then a chile that's red. Etc. etc.
Everything's visual/tactile, presented in increments, and the students
can respond simply with "si" or "no" and short answers until they're
ready to say more.

One day during the second week, I line up the three tomatoes (large beef
tomato, regular tomato and small "roma" tomato) and announce: "Esta es
una familia." The two-year saga called _Cuentos de Ensalada_ starts
right there.

Stephanie Campbell
 
======================

97/03 From--> Stan Oberg        Soberg@aol.com
Subject: Re: speaking grades

Peggy Boyles wrote:
<<<<<Whether a student participates in oral work during class is many
>times more of an indication of that student's self-esteem and self-confidence
>than it is of his or her ability to speak the target language.>>>>>

I agree with Peggy, but there are many exceptions. I have a hard time
with oral participation grades, and I'll use one student as an example
why.

In a second-year French class I currently have a student who does not
seem to be shy, nor is she lacking in self-confidence. To the contrary,
she participates in pair and group work very well, and always responds
exceptionally well when I call on her. Her oral work in these
circumstances is tops. However, she is very reserved; she NEVER
volunteers an answer, she is very soft-spoken, and she prefers to stay
in the background. Do I penalize this outstanding student simply because
she chooses not to volunteer, especially when her oral work is
exceptional? I have a problem with that.

Stan Oberg
 


D. What is shyness and how can it be modified for the better?
 

97/03 From--> "Gary Schubert, Jr." <schubert@franklin.se-iowa.net>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

I think that my Spanish II class is an example of the frustrated
language students "shutting down" because of too much immersion. My
mentor during my first year of teaching, a Cuban woman, swore by the
fact that if I only spoke Spanish, the students would "accept it" and
"learn" that Spanish was the language of communication. However, my
first hour Sp II class has really seemed to resent me for the amount of
Spanish that I use in class. Ever since about the middle of the second
month of school, some have had the attitude of "I don't understand you,
and I don't want to, so the heck with it. . ." Needless to say, this
doesn't do much for the communicative atmosphere or "affective filter"
of the classroom. Right now we're an awfully grammatical part of Spanish
for Mastery I, and I find myself using more and more English. To combat
this, I'm considering a Helena Curtain idea of a language sign, L1 one
side, L2 on the other, that I'd hang up prominently as a reminder when
it's appropriate to speak Spanish or English. For a while I was sold on
the idea that the fl teacher should ONLY speak L2, but, now, I don't
think it's worth frustrating and cutting myself off from frustrated
students.

Gary

======================

97/03 From--> Gale Mackey <Cuentista@aol.com>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

I agree wholeheartedly, student rapport comes first. If you donít have
that then you can not do your job. Speaking l2 only in the classroom I
believe is one of the reasons for such a high attrition rates among most
second language programs. It is inviting disaster to use language over
and over that the students have not already internalized. You are just
asking them to "check out" of your class.

I find it a nice compromise using Blaine Rays Story telling method. The
kids rarely have to listen to any words to which they have not been
already systematically exposed. So they always have a fairly good Idea
of what I am saying. I give directions in English ( in Spansh one and
two.) and other housekeeping details are in L1 also. We also translate
every word that is being inputted before assuming that the students
"have it". I no longer make assumptions about whether the kids know the
words I am using or not. I know that before we tell a story, the kids
are going to know every word in the story.

Gale Mackey

======================

97/03 From--> "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@pop.erols.com>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

There's Which Language, and then there's What you Say, and How.

The art is to speak utterly simple Spanish (or whatever), at a slightly
slower but natural speed, and clearly, with as natural a tone,
intonation, and manner as possible, though maybe just a bit more
expressive than normal, to help convey context and therefore meaning (No
sarcasm, irony, or deadpan).You have to work very hard at helping the
students get the feeling that they are understanding regular ordinary
speech, while in fact, you are working very hard to control the
vocabulary and structure. You may do more repeating, not with the Repeat
after Me tone of voice, but as if it was what you really wanted to say!

Similarly when they answer, you listen with as rapt attention as if they
were saying the wittiest and brightest thing imaginable. You pick up the
(additional) art of correcting by repeating correctly just as if that
was exactly the only way you could respond. Meanwhile you have never
lost the bright, engaged expression that shows that this is an important
and interesting conversation, not a correction.

I wish I could tell you I'm excellent at doing this, but I'm not. I have
seen it, however, at the Foreign Service Institute, where the
instructors make an art of making students fell comfortable, while
challenging them incrementally. It is a true art and it takes practice
to perfect, but I'm sure we all have the basics; all teachers (classroom
performers) are really actors at heart -- admit it!

Cindy H-G

======================

97/03 From--> William P Childers <wpc2@columbia.edu>
Subject: Fear of speaking and classroom humor

It seems to me that L1 is always there, we are bound to use it a bit at
first, and even in intermediate classes we might fall back on it once in
a while, but there seems to be agreement that it is preferable to find
ways of making students feel more comfortable with L2. So far, I think,
these have fallen into two categories: control of teacher-generated
input (slow down, speak clearly, keep vocabulary fairly simple); and
reduction of anxiety (having students give presentations without the
entire class listening, allowing them to have a prompter, or even simply
making sure they are adequately prepared by adding steps between initial
assignment and class presentation). I would like to add a suggestion
which partially overlaps with anxiety reduction, but which I would say
has really to do with the positive flip-side of that, the creation of
contextual clues and an environment conducive to communication.

I refer to the use of humor. I feel I am taking a risk in making this
suggestion, I k n o w I am taking a risk every time I use it in the
classroom, but I feel strongly that it is a resource we cannot afford to
do without. There is a danger that it can blow up in your face and
produce the opposite effect, increased stress: students might feel you
are making fun of them.

That is not hard to avoid: in every class I have taught (which I admit
is only a dozen), I have had students who were what one might call the
"class clown" type, who enjoyed the attention it brought them to have a
kind of bantering interaction with me; and other students who were
confident enough in my goodwill to good-naturedly engage, in a slightly
more subdued tone, in joking exchanges. When this works, the result is a
feeling that we are there to enjoy the language, that making mistakes is
part of the game, and it is "all in good fun." Usually the humor is very
silly, I ask absurd questions, nothing that they would find amusing in
English, but they laugh and it loosens them up.

The important point seems to me to be this: the element of surprise in
humor gives a little affective jolt which reinforces the element of
surprise in understanding a foreign language. They seem to feel: "Oh, I
understood that!" and they laugh more at there own pleasure in having
"gotten the joke" than at my sense of humor, which is very bad.
Occasionally I joke with students about their mistakes, but this is
admittedly a dangerous game which must be played with caution. An
example from last semester which I remember: a male student was supposed
to be role-playing with a female student, pretending he had just met
her, asking her questions like where do you live and so on. For
dormitory he said "dormitorio," which in Spanish means bedroom, and I
pointed this out, with a hint of ironic emphasis (doubly dangerous,
since I was not only teasing him about his mistake, but touching on a
taboo subject). His comeback was to ask her "What color is your
bedroom?" (De que color es tu dormitorio?)

The whole class laughed, no one took it ill, and the result was a
memorable moment. This example allows me to point to the another
advantage of using humor: when t h e y make jokes, it means they are
trying to be inventive with the language, and that is a big step to get
them to take.

This works for me, and for some of my students it works extraordinarily
well. I guess I could say it has become a basic component of my
"method." I have never myself seen any theoretical discussion of it, if
anyone knows of any I would love to see it. I would also appreciate
response, whether critical or supportive, anecdotal or theoretical.

William P Childers

======================

97/03 From--> Irene Moon <irenem@imperium.net>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking

2 years ago I had a very bright, but difficult student in level 2. It
took about 9 weeks to figure out how to work with him successfully. He
was so negative, challenged me, or tried to from time to time. By the
end of the year, I had become quite fond of him and as we were wrapping
things up and kids felt a bit more comfortable to share feelings about
the class, he said "Sra. we'd have felt happier about this class if you
hadn't started out speaking Spanish all the time!"

I was in SHOCK! I thanked him for sharing that and later explored it a
bit more with him. He said he and others had initially felt very
frustrated, fearful and later even a bit angry because we started
speaking Spanish immediately and all the time.

There are 2 key points I want to make:

1) Even tho I am Dept. CHr. and we have an agreed policy to use Spanish
only/ as much as possible...not all my teachers were doing this.
Naturally, the kids get scared and uncomfortable.I think we forget that
our kids come from a number of other teachers and their exposure,
practice and readiness to speak varies greatly!

I also know that when we adopted our new texts, we had someone come in
and teach a Sp and a FR lesson using the new format. I was petrified
(after 34 yrs. experience) that I was not understanding all the Fr
lesson. WE must put ourselves in the students' seats on occasion.

2) I did some reading on this "phenomena" and discovered that in the MLA
Journal a study was reported on college freshmen in a FL class who also
experienced high anxiety.

I think we need to remember that everyone's lives, inc. our students',
are full of stress.

Now, what have I done besides getting some background and tuning in to
the problem? Well....

1) At the beginning of the year I've slowed down, used some English, but
explained that each day we'd use more and our goal is to always speak
Spanish. Generally after the first week we're rollin'...the kids know me
better and get adjusted to hearing/ being expected to speak Spanish.
(You know I found out that even those who were better at speaking
Spanish, still had pronunciation errors. So, even though some may be
more accustomed to speaking, they had not had any corrections offered
and spoke with an iambic pentameter and many gringo renditions,
especially of vowels.)

2. When we did skits, conversational simulations (in restaurants,
airport, Dr's office etc.) I set a deadline for a rough draft that was
several days in advance of presentation. The draft gives them
confidence, gives me a chance to work one on one to build confidence
and more importantly: gives them time for monitored practice in class
several days prior to the presentation. I have found in the past that
what gets "left out" of these oral activities is the ORAL PRACTICE. They
spend time collaborating, composing, prop gathering and the oral gets
the short shrift. This method seems to build success and that builds
more success the next time. It's lots of work for you. Checking drafts,
checking edited draft, listening to and enforcing practice sessions.

3) Third, I'll have 1 or 2 presentations done for the whole class; the
rest come up to the desk and sit down in student desks and present to me
while rest of class is working on an assignment. It seems to reduce fear
and often gives me an opportunity to clarify, ask an extension question,
give a clue, prompt etc. I like it, so do kids.

4) Often times, if we do oral presentations for the entire class, I have
each student select a prompter who has the student's "script" and can
offer a suggestion if he/she gets stuck. This works well in the advanced
classes, too. CONVERSATION/LANGUAGE is a SOCIAL ACTIVITY,
hence it seems almost normal for people to help each other.

5)Frequently I call 2 pairs up to the desk and one pair does their
presentation while the other listens; sometimes I ask comprehension
questions of the 2nd pairÖ but at least they also get the listening
practice. Sometimes I interview, rotating the questions among the kids
and I do allow them to help each other, in spanish, of course.

Perhaps one or 2 of these ideas may help. Don't forget, they may also be
"testing" you. :-)

Irene Moon

======================

97/04 From--> Patricia Seaver     SEAVER@uno.cc.geneseo.edu
Subject: Re: Communicative activities for reluctant communicators?

Have you tried the book Creative Communicative Activities for the
Spanish Class? My only copy is at school and I'm at home, but I believe
the publisher is National Textbook Company and one of the authors is
Linda Skaife. It has a lot of information-gap activities for pair and
small-group work. Perhaps that type of activity would help the shy
student since they would be speaking to a partner or in a small group
and only report to the entire class at the end of the activity. The book
itself consists of black-line masters that you can duplicate and there
is a variety of proficiency levels from (almost) absolute beginner to
intermediate (I've used some of them in college classes). If you can't
find it, e-mail me off list and I'll send you the ISBN, etc. when I'm at
the office.

Patricia Seaver

======================

97/04 From--> Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject: Re: language anxiety

If I were going to give a beginning teacher any advice on how to
approach the question of pronunciation, I would suggest that he/she
focus attention (in Spanish) on clearly defined vowel sounds, and forget
the over-emphasis on trying to get the kid to trill an "R". That causes
more anxiety than most anything else in my experience. I have seen kids
go into facial contortions which make them look like they are going
through some physical torture, and when it finally comes out, they
nearly bite their tongues off, or perhaps produce a shower of saliva. I
have been in a class as an observer and seen a teacher spend a half hour
or more doing little pronunciation drills on the "R" and both the
teacher and the kids are frustrated and worn to a frazzle by the time
that it is done.

Very little seems to be achieved which contributes to communication.
Those who are really interested will pick it up as time goes by and
mimic the teacher's model. The others just don't really care to "pass"
for native, and this insistence which virtually rises to the level of
fetish on the part of the teacher often produces a very negative
attitude in the learner. In my mind, there are 37 and 2/3 other things
to do which are more important and a better use of class time, and this
excruciating repetition seems to trivialize the FL learning experience.
The less motivated student finds his disinterest being confirmed.

Reasonably correct (phonemic) vowels do make a difference in
communication, and seem to be within the reach of all students.

Richard Lee

======================

97/04 From--> "Alysse Suzanne Rasmussen " <RASMUSA1@mail.firn.edu>
Subject: Re: language anxiety

A trick to teach "r" & "rr" :-)

"r" (spanish) ... is exactly the same at the "tt" in the English word "-
butter" :-) Since most kids can say that, they relax

Then I try and get them to say "rudder" and tell them the "dd" is the
same too, all they have to do is try and make the English sound at
the beginning ... it's harder (we DONT do it in English :( but they
aren't as freaked :-)

Later, when we're practicing with "rr", I tell them it's just like
"butter ... but you gotta stutter :-) butt-tter :-) They laugh and relax
and then I just keep saying it right until they start coming close :-)

When they get it wrong, I don't make too big a deal about it (other than
repeating ... generally without comment :-). when they get it right, I
praise up the wazoo :-)

Alysse
Instructor, LSCC
Florida

======================

95/02 From--> Judith Bode <BODEJ@ADMIN.GMCC.AB.CA>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

Greetings, all! I'm new to this list. I'm a Webfoot who teaches German
at a small Canadian community college with an even smaller languages
section. We are part of the university transfer program, and as such,
students _must_ have a language other than English to obtain their BA.
I've been following with great interest several of the threads, and I
guess it's time to get my webs wet....

1. I appreciate Bill Heller's stance with respect to expectations in the
class- room. Over the years it seems that students require ever more
hand-holding and spoon-feeding. Although it may sound harsh, I feel that
the students don't realize that going to college is, on some level,
little different from going to work. The government (student loans
office, better known as the tax- payers), one's parents, one's employer
from one's summer job are all paying for the student to be at school. On
the student's part, one must show up to work every day, listen to the
"boss", do the work required, give it one's best shot, figure out how to
ask for help, attempt to integrate the information.

2. The notion of accountability seems to be lacking lately. Bill is
right; "we teach far, far more than language." We are teaching skills
for life, for living. Willingness to raise one's hand and try--simply
try--bespeaks a great deal about a person. I, too, will go the distance
for the student who is genuinely trying. And I'm equally certain there
are students out there who think I'm the bag of the century because I
appear to be unwilling to help them. And why won't I? 4 out of 60
assignments handed in, perhaps? Sporadic attendance? Skipping quizzes?
Refusal to participate, even when called upon?

3. So how do I go about getting students to talk, generate questions,
participate? I have developed a "wake-up" time which occurs at the
beginning of nearly every class and is set up to be partner work. This
is not graded, per se, because I consider it part of the work we do in
class. Nevertheless, since teachers have long ears, I know who is
participating. "Ve haf vays of maykink you talk!"

4. The session, which last 15-20 minutes, utilizes both the vocab unit
and the grammatical structures we are learning. For example, with
weather words, I will say in either English or German: Ask your
neighbour how the weather is today/ what will it be like tomorrow/ how's
the weather in (i.e.) Paris in the spring or Hawaii in December or Chile
in June/ what was the weather like yesterday, last week, last fall/ what
can one do in Edmonton in the summer, winter/ is it raining now/ did it
snow last night, etc. I can combine the vocab with most any grammatical
unit (past, present, future, dependent clauses...). In listening to
their oral work, I can quickly identify the muddy bits and use the
target question as a springboard for a quick explanation. The students
actually like this part of the hour, because they think they aren't
working, that they are chatting. I, however, think they _are_ working,
_are_ using German, _are_ communicating--which was the whole idea in the
first place.

5. I also require that my students prepare an oral presentation during
2nd semester. They may select any topic they wish, as long as it's not
indecent or vilifying. They must speak in German for 5 minutes without
reading the text of their presentation (an outline is permitted). The
presentation is graded for length, creativity/effort, vocabulary
register, grammatical integrity, comprehensibility, style/expression,
and pronunciation. It's worth 10% of their total mark.

6. Students typically work extremely hard on their presentations,
utilize me as a resource for tidying up grammar snakepits. Shy people
manage very well, because they can show slides or use the opaque
projector and thus feel that they are "hiding" in the dark, knowing that
students' attention is on the screen, not on them. Yes, students are
terrified at first of getting up in front of the class, but each one
invariably says, I wish I'd done that sooner; that was fun--hard, but
fun.

Here endeth the lesson; I promise in the future to be less long-winded!

Judith Bode
 


E. Some ways of coping with shyness; additional benefits.
 

96/03 From->MJ Tykoski <mtykoski@tenet.edu>
Subject: Re: participation grades

Shy students usually end up getting their participation points through
team games. Everyone on the winning team gets a point. Another way is a
game called Pancho Carrancho (see Ramiro Garcia's book on TPR). If
students don't get in the penalty basket (only 2 or three students don't
get it) then they also get a point. another way I give puntos is if I
need some old clothes for an activity we are doing, I tell students if
they bring in an article of clothing I need to me before school and
describe it to me they will get a punto. This provides one on one
situation that they shy students can do and not be in front of the
class.

I feel participation is a very important part of learning a foreign
language. In my high school classes in Michigan participation was 50 %.
In my university classes it was 25%. I think 50 is too high, but 25 is
low enough, but still can impact a students grade.

MJ Tykoski

======================

95/02 From--> David <DCHRISTI@VM1.NoDak.EDU>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

I don't know if y'all will believe this, but I am a terribly shy person,
and if it weren't for the fact that I had the experience of acting in
high school, I doubt I would have made it through some of the situations
I've been in that have rewarded extroverted behavior (the Marine Corps,
teaching, and being a camp counselor to mention only a few). I don't
think we should classify shyness as a learning disability because that
sets up a whole new class we don't need to deal with, "victims."

So, how do we help the shy student? A method that worked for me, and one
I use with various classes or individual students is what I calling
"Learning through Acting." Have the student identify a character that is
the opposite of themselves, preferably one they create themselves. Have
them make this new person as real as possible...include faults, bad
habits, etc. (I've used this as a homework assignment in various
classes...) Then, when they have their new persona, have them write a
short essay on why they made this person like they did. Finally, (works
best if you can talk one-on-one for even a few minutes), tell them that
part of their assignment for the rest of the semester is to be that
person in class. Note that sometimes you need to help the student modify
their persona, but if done correctly, this goes fairly easily.

This exercise gives the student an aspect of control on their learning
environment, and it gives them a way to feel safe, especially if they
think everyone is doing it. (Works best when everyone does, but still is
effective if there are only a few...) Have them do their homework,
classwork, exams, etc., in their target persona. In a way, this exercise
is putting a spin on immersion techniques.

(I have used this with 5th and 6th graders on up to adults in college.
It takes some experimentation and trial and error, but can be effective
if all the players are willing to believe for a little while.)

It also can help self-esteem. At the end of the term, you can easily
show the student what they have accomplished. And then tell them that it
was done by the student and not the persona they created.

David

======================

95/02 From--> Judith Bode <BODEJ@ADMIN.GMCC.AB.CA>
Subject: Re: Participation grades for shy persons

So how do I go about getting students to talk, generate questions,
participate? I have developed a "wake-up" time which occurs at the
beginning of nearly every class and is set up to be partner work. This
is not graded, per se, because I consider it part of the work we do in
class. Nevertheless, since teachers have long ears, I know who is
participating.

The session, which lasts 15-20 minutes, utilizes both the vocab unit and
the grammatical structures we are learning. For example, with weather
words, I will say in either English or German: Ask your neighbour how
the weather is today/ what will it be like tomorrow/ how's the weather
in (i.e.) Paris in the spring or Hawaii in December or Chile in June/
what was the weather like yesterday, last week, last fall/ what can one
do in Edmonton in the summer, winter/ is it raining now/ did it snow
last night, etc. I can combine the vocab with most any grammatical unit
(past, present, future, dependent clauses...). In listening to their
oral work, I can quickly identify the muddy bits and use the target
question as a springboard for a quick explanation. The students actually
like this part of the hour, because they think they aren't working, that
they are chatting. I, however, think they _are_ working, _are_ using
German, _are_ communicating--which was the whole idea in the first
place.

I also require that my students prepare an oral presentation during 2nd
semester. They may select any topic they wish, as long as it's not
indecent or vilifying. They must speak in German for 5 minutes without
reading the text of their presentation (an outline is permitted). The
presentation is graded for length, creativity/effort, vocabulary
register, grammatical integrity, comprehensibility, style/expression,
and pronunciation. It's worth 10% of their total mark.

Students typically work extremely hard on their presentations, utilize
me as a resource for tidying up grammar snakepits. Shy people manage
very well, because they can show slides or use the opaque projector and
thus feel that they are "hiding" in the dark, knowing that students'
attention is on the screen, not on them. Yes, students are terrified at
first of getting up in front of the class, but each one invariably says,
I wish I'd done that sooner; that was fun--hard, but fun.

Judith Bode

======================

95/08 From--> Jean Bodle <rynfjpb@northstar.k12.ak.us>
Subject: Re: Motivation and participation

One technique I've used that encourages kids to speak is to have them
make paper puppets, and then have the puppets "speak" for them. The
puppets are made of folded construction paper and take about 1 1/2 hours
to make for most students. The completed puppets look similar to Muppet
characters. These puppets can be used in very beginning classes. Somehow
it's easier for the puppets to talk, rather than the kids. This has the
added advantage that students who may not shine as much academically can
show their artistic talent. Kids have created cowboys, frogs, "sexy"
women, sleazy men with cigarettes, boys with dreadlocks, old ladies,
little girls, Martians . . . .

Jean Bodle

======================

97/03 From--> LEONARD MARSH <marsh@maple.lemoyne.edu>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking

Here's something you might want to try. Your text almost certainly has
stimulus/question- response activities. While the students are working
on these in pairs or groups, circulate and tell one person in each group
to prepare a question he or she will ask another person in the class
when all books are closed. Then, when group work is finished, ask those
persons to ask their questions but you choose the student they ask. The
student they ask is on the other side of the room: "Paula, haga su
pregunta a Carlitos." Carlitos will let Paula know if he can't hear her.
Next, Carlitos asks his question to someone far from him, and so goes
the chain. Hope it works for you.

Leonard Marsh

======================

97/03 From--> Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking and classroom humor

The teacher's personality can be a very big factor in the students'
success. If they feel comfortable in the relationship between themselves
and the teacher the stress level goes way down and they can concentrate
on learning so much better. There are all kinds of clues, such as
exaggerated body language, voice modulation, etc. which can be little
psychological "rewards" for performance which build motivation and keep
the kids "plugged in" during class, particularly with oral work.

Once the students can perceive the teacher as a helper and a leader
rather than a "threat" ("If I don't get this right my life will come
crashing down around my shoulders because he's going to ruin my grade
average and I won't get into Harvard, etc. etc.") they can work together
as a team. This ability to build a sense of confidence and trust is
something that I believe we all need to be able to do with our classes,
especially in a FL class because self-expression is such a personal
activity.

Richard Lee

======================

97/03 From--> Timothy Mason <mason@cie.fr>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

We can always find good reasons for doing what we want to do, and one of
the things that we want to do with the children that we find in our
classes is to interact with them as full human beings, and to be
ourselves. We can't do that in the FL.

This is one of the major frustrations of the language teacher. We
continually chafe against it. We look, and we find, good pedagogical
reasons - good psychological reasons - good child-centred reasons - for
speaking the NL.

I suspect that all of this is baloney. Our learners need input. How many
hours a week do they have the opportunity to hear the FL? What
percentage of this time are you going to waste by using the NL? For good
pedagogical reasons, of course.

I do not think they reject the teacher because s/he speaks Spanish. They
reject her if they are left floundering about with no clues as to what
is going on. Give them the clues, the cues, the context, the gestures.
If the grammar is too complicated to explain in the TL, don't explain it
- it's probably too complicated for them to take on board anyway.
Actually, I suspect that if you think the grammar is complicated, you've
probably got hold of the wrong end of the stick. What is difficult is
thinking linguistically, and you don't get there through explanation.

Teaching may be an art, but it is also a profession ; we have to think
about what we are doing, and we have to be able to justify it to
ourselves and to the learners. That means analysing what you want to do,
and only then allowing yourself to go with that flow. The teacher is an
ascetic.

Timothy Mason

======================

97/03 From--> Irene Moon <irenem@imperium.net>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking

Please permit me to share a "learning" I acquired while in the hospital
recently.

I'll call it "What I Learned about Fear and Compassion." First, some
observations about "fear." Whether it's fear of not getting well, fear
of the unknown, fear of dying, or fear of pain...it is difficult to
verbalize, even as an adult....much less as an adolescent. I shared my
concerns, fears with my husband, my pastor and my principal....people I
knew cared about me. I did not share with the nursing staff whose job it
was to take care of me. Isn't that interesting?

In some respects, that's like teaching. We have so little time to really
establish relationships with our students. It's been my experience over
my lifetime career that kids don't tell you they're afraid.. of doing a
skit, speaking in class, how they're going to perform in the cross
country meet that day after school. And it's foolish for us to say that
our lesson plan incorporates time for anecdotal observations. We have an
academic agenda in mind.

I have even told my students that if they have a concern, a problem, a
bad day .. they should let me know. Based upon my hospital stay, that's
unrealistic. Most kids don't verbalize their fears and even though we
love our kids, we don't share the special bond with them that perhaps a
coach would, a bond that opens such communication.

However, this was the worst or perhaps the best "teacher" for me about
what compassion really is. The medicine dried my mouth so badly that ice
water or a teaspoon of ice was nothing less than precious. There were
those aides/nurses that I had to ask for water (forget ice!) and then
there were those who as soon as they walked into the room, fixed me a
cool glass of water.. without my asking. I was SO VERY GRATEFUL. There
were those who gave me the water in a styrofoam cup and let it dribble
down my chin. But there were those who put a straw in the cup and made
it so much easier to drink. Having to ask is not comfortable, but
Kindness offered freely...

Have I come back a teacher who better understands the role of fear and
compassion in life and in my classroom...I hope so! Regardless of our
curriculum, our carefully designed and executed lesson plans and
learning activities...kids do have fears, pressures and it should be one
of our prime goals to attend to those conditions that optimize learning/
proficiency at the same time nurturing the student. I don't believe
there is just ONE way: to speak the TL all the time, to ease into it
etc... Teaching is both an art and a science. Rapport, appropriately
attained precedes learning that is enjoyable, continuous and long term.

Irene Moon

======================

97/03 From--> Stephanie Campbell <scampbell@eee.org>
Subject: Re: Fear of speaking: Too much L2?

Gale Mackey wrote:  "...student rapport comes first."

I agree; and this can come from students feeling successful in that
class -- feeling that they *can* understand this language and that the
teacher is on their side, setting them up for success and not for
failure.

I give directions in English ( in Spanish one and two.) and other
housekeeping details are in L1.

Actually, I have learned from my mentors that is better to try to do
this in the target language. First of all, instructions that are
frequently repeated lend themselves to being demonstrated and reinforced
in the target language. Secondly, if this part is not done in the TL,
then students will learn that the L2 is simply the subject to be talked
*about* and it is not really a mode of communication.

We also translate every word that is
>being inputted before assuming that the students "have it"....I know that
>before we tell a story, the kids are going to know every word in the story.

I try to keep such pre-reading vocab lists as short (and visually
presented, rather than translated) as possible, and try to get across
the meaning of new vocabulary within the context of the story itself.
Sometimes telling stories that the students are already familiar with is
very helpful in this regard. For example, I have some simplified play
versions (i.e. scripts) of familiar fairy tales in Spanish (Hansel y
Gretel, Arrugapieles, etc.) which are very successful in Spanish 2 for
introducing new vocabulary (bruja, bosque, jaula, hueso, etc.).

Stephanie Campbell

======================

97/04 From--> Timothy Mason <mason@cie.fr>
Subject: Re: Communicative activities for reluctant communicators?

Michele's post comes as a reminder of the double-bind that the
profession has got itself into. On the one hand, we have the
communicative ideal, with Krashen, TPR and the needs-centred curriculum,
while one the other, we have the in-school practice, founded on the
text-book, the teacher, and on - whichever way you look at it - a
grammar-driven programme. So while we all pay lip-service to the goal of
communicative language-teaching, what we actually find ourselves driven
to do in the class-room is light-years away from the purists' model. No
wonder Michele feels burned out.

It's never easy to give advice to a colleague who is having a hard time
achieving her goals, particularly when she's working in a tough
environment, and we're not. Michele, would it help to forget the
grammar, forget the re-teaching that might need to be done, and
concentrate on the communication? Set up activities which give them the
opportunity to use what they know, but don't worry if they perform well
below the limits which you feel you can expect - if they are not used to
using the language, it is entirely predictable that they should perform
badly.

Keep going with the group and pair-work - even if they do fall back on
the mother-tongue. Pace the activities fast. If you feel it helps, build
in rewards for using the L2, and sanctions for not doing so - and hand
control of this over to the children themselves. Work on their
interests, rather than on what text-book writers believe young people of
their age should be interested in. Each member of the class may have
something to contribute.

It may be that everything fails. This happens. I can remember one or two
classes in my school-teaching days that went nowhere - or at least so I
believed. There just are those occasions when the chemistry doesn't take
- and it's not really anyone's fault. You hate it when it happens - any
good teacher hates it - but both you and they survive. And sometimes,
surprisingly, you discover that they actually felt that they learned
quite a lot that year. We are often far more sensitive about what we
believe to be our errors than are the pupils.

Timothy Mason

======================

97/04 From--> Janel Brennan <jbrennan@erols.com>
Subject: Re: Communicative activities for reluctant communicators?

This 4th quarter I handed out a sheet to all students with a space for
the date, a column for Spanish and a column for English. I wanted to do
this so that they could monitor their own use of Spanish and English in
the classroom. I pass it out at the beginning of class and collect it at
the end. They are to place a slash in the column. So far it's been
working or has at least made students a little more "conscientious"
about how much Spanish they are using. So far it is working although I
know that a method like this will lose it's steam after awhile. (that's
why I saved it until the last quarter!) I do know that students are
making more of an effort to use Spanish in class. Even my native
speakers see this as an opportunity for them to shine so instead of
being passive they are actively keeping track of their puntos. I told
them that the real goal is to have more slashes on the Spanish side than
the English and I make one for myself for each class. I also talked to
other Spanish teachers and other teachers in the school that speak
Spanish and offered the students 10 extra credit points if they sustain
a 5 minute conversation w/ an approved teacher and have that teacher
sign their paper as proof.

Of course they can cheat on this and just put slashes everywhere but you
know which of the students have been participating "en español". I
told them that I will definitely take these papers into account when I
give them their oral participation grade for the quarter which is 20% of
their grade!

Janel Brennan

======================

97/04 From--> Mary Irion   <irionmar@midohio.net>
Subject: Re: Communicative activities for reluctant communicators

There is an activity like musical chairs that my students love, and even
the most shy students want to participate.

Make a circle with chairs. The number of chairs used should be ONE less
than the number of people playing the game. My class size is too large
to arrange the desks in a circle, so what I do is give each student
(minus one) a post-it note and they put the post-it notes on the floor
beneath their feet. We can still make a circle this way and save lots of
room.

The student who does not have a chair (or post-it spot on the floor)
must enter the middle of the circle. That student must ask the entire
group a question that starts with "QuiÈn". For example if you are
practicing present tense, "QuiÈn tiene dos hermanos?". Students who are
in chairs must listen carefully to the student who is speaking and if
they do have two brothers (or whatever the speaker makes up), then they
must move to another chair.

If a student does not move when they were supposed to and another
student catches them (and they do!!!), then that person must go into the
center of the circle and ask the next "who" question. You can vary this
activity to whatever you are working on. It is amazing how creative the
students can be when playing this, especially if they are trying to
target a specific friend in class that they want to move and thus get
stuck in the middle to ask the next "who" question. One word of caution,
if you have very competitive classes like I do - tell them to be careful
and not push anyone!!!:)

Mary Irion
 
======================

97/03 From--> Peggy Boyles     pboyles@ionet.net
Subject: speaking grades

Whether a student participates in oral work during class is many times
more of an indication of that student's self-esteem and self-confidence
than it is of his or her ability to speak the target language. Because
of that belief, I tried to record my "speaking grades" only when
students were working in pairs or small groups when they weren't talking
in front of many of their peers. The ideal situation was when I could
anonymously monitor paired work when in the language lab.

Also, R. Donato's TALK Scores offer a good rubric for small group work.
Students are given points in the following categories: T= Is the student
TALKING? Is he TRYING to communicate? A= ACCURATE. Is the student
performing at an ACCEPTABLE level of ACCURACY? L= LISTENING. Is the
student on task? Does the student LISTEN and interact to her partner of
partners? K=KIND. Is the student KIND and cooperative? Or does the
student KILL the activity by his lack of cooperation? Students are given
a plus worth two points for excellent; a check for 1 point, and a minus
for 0 points in each category. Then 7-8 points convert into A, 5-6
points convert into B, 3-4 convert into C, 1-2 points convert in D; and
0 points converts into an F.

Peggy Boyles
 

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