Oral Participation in the Foreign Language Classroom

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
in Six Parts   [Menu]

Part #6. Miscellaneous and Names of Contributors

95/01 From-->   "Robert D. Peckham" <bobp@UTM.Edu>
Subject:        Re: Humblest Apologies!

Bill: You have no need for apologies. You are right!! HS kids need to
know that what they do (essentially for a teacher) will count in the
grade. My reference to students' attitudes was essentially to college
students. I do feel, however, that it may not be necessary to grade
every day. It's the old pop quiz mentality; students can understand that
on any given day, but at least X times per semester, there will be an
assessment of their performance. I am also convinced that we must begin
to train students to work toward long-range goals. For this reason, the
notion of minimal exit proficiencies and performances seems to be a good
idea. It would certainly add another kind of pressure...ur, uh,
incentive to work.

In my own periodic assessments, I take note of growth in appropriateness
of vocabulary and grammar, text type, interactive discourse structures,
verbal strategies (beginnings of circumlocution, etc.), clarity of
pronunciation, appropriateness of rhythm and intonation patterns. I am
looking for growth as well as performance.

A particular danger I see in some oral grading strategies is the simple
fact that beyond simple regurgitation of phrases which may have been
assigned, the better students get, the more mistakes they make [the more
risks they take in expanding text type]. If we as teachers will
acknowledge this in our grading, then I believe we can arrive at
evaluation methods which will combat the student apathy you pointed out
and allow for a sensitivity to developmental patterns. I must say, I
have had difficulty persuading college teachers that beyond the Novice
High stage, students will make more and more mistakes during periods of
discourse growth.

I would like to ask a question of all FLTEACHERS. In the old days, when
I was a HS teacher and in the beginning of my college teaching career,
oral assessment was facilitated somewhat at the lower levels by
conversations or dialogs, which were memorized. Considering that it is a
characteristic of students passing successfully through the novice
stages to say "learned phrases [ACTFL Guidelines]", why are there very
few books with dialogs appropriate for memorization? I can feel the
emotions of the cognitive and communication-based learning people
stirring already.

Good on ya, Bill!



95/02 From-->   Kathy Colvin <kcolvin@ehs.eduhsd.k12.ca.us>
Subject:        Re: Rewarding participation

 I tried the idea of calling on people who fell into certain categories
delineated by the teacher. It's great! The kids respond well, it gives
us a chance to laugh at funny categories, get everyone involved, teach a
few new words, change the pace. Have also shared the idea with others in
my department who thought they would try it.

Kathy Colvin

97/03 From-->   Patricia Seaver     SEAVER@uno.cc.geneseo.edu
Subject:        Re: listening comprehension

I've always felt that "listening" to a dialogue with books open was not
a listening task, but a reading task with some background static going on.
I concur with Bill Heller who wrote that listening activities (and
reading activities, I would add) need pre-listening (or pre-reading)
activities-- activities that set the stage. If there is a title, ask
students what they think the content will be based on the title; same if
there are pictures or charts. A simple yes/no, agree/disagree, matching
based on background knowledge that the students bring to the
task--advance organizers and script activators--will "activate"
students' background knowledge. Many textbooks are now building in such
pre-listening/reading and post-listening/ reading activities.

Patricia Seaver


97/04 From-->   Patricia Seaver           SEAVER@uno.cc.geneseo.edu
Subject:        Teaching literature and teaching conversation

About a week ago, Reyna posted a question about the pros and cons of
teaching literature versus conversational Spanish. Please note that my
subject heading is "teaching literature *and* teaching conversation". Do
they have to be opposed? Can literature be used as the content for
conversation? We do not teach literature in our intermediate level 201 &
202 courses. These courses are a review of the structures taught in
101-102 plus perhaps a couple of new structures, lots of conversation,
lots of reading materials. Some of the reading materials are
non-literary (articles from magazines, etc.) and some are literary
(short stories, a few poems, nothing long), but they are not taught as
literature--they are used to develop reading proficiency and to
introduce new vocabulary and as a basis for conversation and for writing

I am not a literature specialist (I *love* linguistics! For that matter,
I love Spanish and Spanish American literature, but I *hate* literary
criticism!) However, a few years ago I attended a session at AATSP (or
maybe the Cincinnati Romance Symposium) in which Virginia Vigil
presented her method of teaching Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo (I *love*
that novel!) in Spanish 102. Now, before the anti-literature people get
upset, let me hasten to explain that she was using it as the basis for
many communicative activities, journal writing, grammar, etc. She was
not doing literary criticism, but rather "who, what, when, where, how"
and only moved into "why" near the end of the course.

So, I say, if your colleagues want literature at the 201-202 level, use
the literature (carefully selected) as the content for communicative
tasks, both oral and written. Literature, after all, is *authentic*

Patricia Seaver


97/04 From-->   Lorraine Nolan <nolanl@nald.ca>
Subject:        Re: Teaching literature and teaching conversation

 I agree with Pat. I teach both English and French as second languages
to Adults, and not only do I get them to read literature in the foreign
language, I ask them to bring in some of their favourite texts and ask
them to try to translate them into the L2. This works wonderfully for
anything from Newspaper articles to Romance novels. It also assist in
helping the student work in a forum within which they are comfortable.

It is a good way to teach them the differences in grammar within the
languages as well. So many people know their L1 grammar instinctively
and they have difficulty with L2 grammar because they do not know the
corresponding relations with their L1. This way, they get to learn a bit
of 'formal' definitions of the L1 without really thinking about it, and
then associate and differentiate the L2.

I am a firm believer in using EVERYTHING that I can think of, or anyone
else can think of for that matter, to help them and keep it interesting.
Even if it means translating Danielle Steele in class, or taking them
out to the grocery store with a list that they must compile and then
write me a directional review in their L2, or going out as a group to
see a movie and then doing a Siskel and Ebert when we are in class
again, or even arranging for a dinner out at a pizza joint with a
waitress who refuses to speak their L1, only conversing in their L2 and
having the menu in the L2, to ... well whatever interests they have.
We have even gone on a 3k. hike because three of the class members liked
walking, and the others were up to trying it. And we did it all in
French with our dictionaries in our rucksacks! Instead of asking what is
that, they would look in their dictionaries and then make a sentence out
of it. As an example. If they wanted to know what a boulder was in
French, they would look it up, and then make a sentence about it, and
everyone else had to figure out what they were talking about. Then we
wrote stories about it. It ended up being very fun. In our dynamic
condition called life, all forms of language is used, so why not make
the learning process dynamic as well?

Lorraine Nolan


97/04 From-->   "Helen V. Jones" <hjones@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject:        Re: Teaching literature and teaching conversation

>About a week ago, Reyna posted a question about the pros and cons of teaching
>literature versus conversational Spanish. Please note that my subject heading is
>"teaching literature *and* teaching conversation". Do they have to be opposed?
>Can literature be used as the content for conversation? ...

May I piggy-back on this idea with something we have been doing in my
Spanish III high school classes for the last two weeks. I got my college
lit. anthology out and photocopied the Primer Tratado del Lazarillo de
Tormes. I gave the kids a historical background for the book, explained
it as the beginning of the picaresque genre, etc. then we proceeded to
read it in class. I gave them some questions for homework to be sure
they were comprehending. And of course we discussed it all along, during
the reading part of the project.

At the end of the reading phase I asked them to write a letter from
Lazarillo to his mother telling her how things were going with his
master, the blind man.

Then I broke them into eight small groups. The first chapter roughly
divides itself into eight episodes. I asked them to discuss in their
groups the best way to transform the narrative into a dialogued screen
play. For instance, the first group had to study the information
provided in the initial section (biographical background info about
Lazaro) and transform through dialogue all the narrated information. I
learned how to do this kind of thing at an excellent NEH Institute at U
Va in 1987 titled Literature in Performance.

I am thrilled with what the students have produced so far. They have
taken a literary selection and turned it into believable and humorous
conversation. We now plan to videotape the production with costumes,
etc. I doubt if these kids will ever forget who el picaro is in

Helen Jones

Contributors to the Oral Participation discussion:

Sharon Austin
Jean-Jacques d'Aquin
Janice Adams
Jeff Amdur
Pete Brooks
Judith Bode
Madeline Bishop
Margaret Beauvois
Jean Bodle
Marilyn Barrueta
Fritz Brune
Janet Bowler
Robert Brito
Richard Boswell
Claudette Bartle
Janel Brennan
Anne-Marie Brown
Rebecca Block
George Beyer
Susan Carpenter
David Christian
Kristine Conlon
Carmen Chavez
Kathy Colvin
Paul Conley
Robert Carey
Stephanie Campbell
William Childers
Michele Crefeld
Edward Dumanis
Jenny Donelson
Deby Doloff
Oliver Dunn
Steve Damascus
Joyce Dittrich
Janice Dirmeitis
Constance Eno
Linda Elliot-Nelson
Madeline Ehrman
Debby Ely
Bonnie Eng
Kay Freire
Ilona Fox
Maria Fanelli
Debbie Fowler
Cindy Gerstl
Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez
Bob Hall
Bill Heller
Kimberly Huegerich
Jane Hankins
Marilyn Hannan
Mary Irion
Diana Iskreva
Jonathan Jones
Cynthia Johnson
Meryl Jacobson
Helen Jones
Don Joslin
Mark Knowles
Heidi Kinsley
Laura Kimoto
lusa Kostiukevick
Sharon Kazmierski
Leslie Kornreich
Carmen Kumm
Norma LaVoie
Debbie Lahav
K. LeComte
David LaBrie
Barbara Law
Larry Lubiner
Ania Lian Lynn Nuthals
Dale Lichtblau
Richard Lee
Ron Mueller
Josy McGinn
Sonja Moore
Timothy Mason
James May Andrea Merrifield
Beverly Maass
Valerie Marshall
J. Vincent H. Morrissette
Sharon McClurg
Laura MacCready
Leonard Marsh
Irene Moon
Gale Mackey
Michael Morris
Ann Mcaden
Mike Miller
Paul LaReau
Cherice Montgomery
Alicia Newton-Hamill
Lorraine Nolan
Marilyn Nathanson
Craig Nickisch
Audrey Nelson
Stan Oberg
Michelle Osberg
Robert Ponterio
Robert Peckham
Gini Pohlman
Erwin Petri
Eliseo Pico
Brad Pearl
Katherine Paxton
Alysse Rasmussen
Jessica Roberts
Lauren Rosen
Denise Rainis
Kimberly Secrist
Emily Serafa-Manschot
Katie Sprang
Francine Shirvani
Carla Sudbeck
Cynthia Sinsap
Shar Soto
Ritsu Shimizu
Gary Schubert
Susan Smith
Laerte Silva
Patricia Seaver
Shawna Thue
Mj Tykoski
Ida Tennant
Deanna Taylor
Sharon Vaipae
Connie Vargas
Karen Van Howe
Mark West
Mike Watson
June White
Amy White
Michele Whaley
Anne Lessick Xiao
Mary Young


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