Yesterday marked the end of the second week with kids. It was much better than the first week. I seem to have the admins off my back; they are being very cooperative and supportive (as is their job). My isolation is a boon and despite restrictions on parking, I am still pretty close to my car good news for my knee.
One thing I did was find material in Spanish my first year kids could comprehend. Keep in mind they are a mixed group, with some having already had quite a bit of Spanish class work but little to no proficiency numbers, colors, that’s about it. So I have to be wary of accepting a few signs of comprehension as a signal everyone understands. On top of that, I have 3 Chinese students just arrived on an exchange and they do not understand much English. I do use a lot of English in my classes and I hope to make clear as the year wears on why I do that. The idea of going 90% TL is attractive but it has its limitations, too. A lot depends on how you define your goals for the class.
As I instituted some elements of the class, I found the students to be very receptive. The classes are 22, 21, & 21. This coming Monday, I am organizing the seats into pods of 4 so they can face two blank walls, one for the Spanish and one for the Latin. I’ve prepared the Latins by reading the story out loud to them as they follow along either by listening only or by reading along in the book. Then I retell the story in Latin as they take notes (most take them verbatim, which is fine for now this is Latin II so they are barely out of the Novice-Low stage). Then we did story boards and my next step is to retell the stories from the story boards. While they are not ready yet for oral output, I am going to violate principles of some SLA theorists and have them write out the story in a retell from the story boards. I’ll do this for each story, trying to do a story a day to keep pace with the dynamo teaching the other second year class (some of my twos will have her next year for year III, so they have to be ready).
The Spanish students will hear a lot and I will eventually get volunteers to draw what I talk about. My hope is to integrate the small group of classmates in the first story into a Jorge Curioso story, having the little kids interact with Curious George and the other characters in the Curious George story. Having written out the vocabulary of the first story little kids in pre-school I find we have a good deal of first year Sp vocab. I’ll put vocab cards on the wall (same for Latin but using the Check Words List from the first textbook and now the second) in the TL. Everyone will take notes in their notebooks which they can then use on tests.
In Sp, in addition to the stories, I am using Pam Katz’ idea of the countries grid, where each country we select (all Sp-spkng countries and selected countries from around the world) has certain characteristics (how they say hello, good-bye, their plato tipico, their major newspaper, their language, etc. [for the Sp-spking countries, I had them research what other language is spoken in those countries I could tell that the Native American girl was pleased that so many were Native American languages and found out she is really “into” her own tongue: O’odham Akimel]) As we go along, I’ll point out some of the benefits of this. One thing I want to do is to make students aware of the huge Native American element in Latin-American societies, relate to our own, esp. here in AZ., which will lead them to a greater awareness of the issues in Latin-American society they were unaware that the people selling them trinkets along the beach in Rocky Point were Native Americans speaking languages other than Spanish and often not speaking Sp well at all.
As we pick up the pace of conversation in the Sp classroom, we will illustrate the stories. We will use the Conversation Profile which we got oriented on this week and gradually fill in what we can talk with each other about. Again, output may not be called for at this Novice-Low stage, but it fits some needs other than acquisition.
All in all, I’m pleased with all my classes (3) and look forward to getting into classroom conversation about stories rather quickly.