As a Foreign Language teacher, I am always looking for ways to promote speaking and listening comprehension in my class. ACTFL recommends to use the language at least 90% of the instruction time, and that is what I do. It takes effort on both ends: the teacher must speak in a way that is understandable by students (using cognates and structures already learned), and the students must do their best to try to comprehend that cognate, to try to remember that vocabulary word/grammatical structure.
It is, undoubtedly, a win-win scenario, but it could get frustrating for our weakest students.
So let’s motivate them with fun, creative, dynamic exercises! A game?! Yes! Engaging, all about them, and fun, fun, fun.
And this is what I did with my 8th graders last Friday. Last day before our Winter Break, and it was a Friday afternoon, tough. What a better thing to do on a day like that than to play a board game… in French?
Students spent the entire class period playing and speaking the language. The rules were very clear: speak one word in English and you miss a round. So they all made very sure that they would only speak in the target language. It became a competition (you know how much they love competitions!), so each winner from each team would have to play a final round with the winners from all the other teams. Whomever won would be the ultimate winner and would get an award (chocolate and candy for that matter).
– Your worst nightmare.
– A funny story.
– Your most horrible defect.
– The favorite day in your life.
– A lucky day.
– Your best friend.
– Your favorite singer.
– The book that you have hated the most.
And the list can go on and on and on. And it can be adapted to different levels and, even, to multiple thematic units!
All I know is that my students were fully engaged, happy, and enjoying the class. Also, what I really know is that by the end of that day, Friday afternoon, exhausted, tired, and ready for a break, I was a proud French teacher, my students were proud French students, and we all went home with a big smile after a great day of French class. Kudos to my 8th graders. I am so proud of them. Bravo!