Though it has been a change to see Spanish being spoken as the native language, another change has been Teaching English as a foreign language. The 11 year olds are energetic and look to me to properly pronounce words and read aloud segments from their book in order to give them an "authentic experience," which allows for me to contribute more to the classroom environment. I have been able to learn language teaching strategies that I can apply to my Spanish classroom, such as a Picture Dictation. Miguel put me in charge of drawing a picture then describing to the students, in English, what was present in my picture so they would draw what I had on my paper. This activity is a good listening comprehension activity, since the students need to listen and focus on the vocabulary in order to replicate what I had. I drew a simple beach scene with clouds and birds in the sky, the ocean below with waves and swimmers, and people on the beach and a volleyball net. As simple as my image appeared to be, I realized the immense amount of detail that I needed to use to describe my picture to the class, such as "There are 4 birds in the sky- 1 on the left, 1 between the first and the second cloud, and 2 on the right." This exercise allowed for the students to use different vocabulary in addition to implementing directional vocab as I described the location- what a task! Overall, the students did well with the task and I will keep this exercise in mind as a useful strategy. The only surprise I got with many of the pictures were animals in the water- which as it turns out, the students thought of Whales when I said Waves...so we had a beach with 5 whales in the ocean. It was a good opportunity for me to figure out how to correct the students, though the cooperating teacher guided the correction, and the students wound up using their native language to ask me if I mentioned "ballenas" (whales). Though I believe in using the target language for instruction, opportunities such as these show me the students' reliance on their native language for clarifications and I see this as appropriate in order to aid in the students' comprehension. This classroom environment has allowed for me to expose the students to the target language more and I serve as a model for them with pronunciation and vocabulary so they can build on their knowledge of the English language. It allows for me to interact with the students as well as compare the strategies to those that I use when teaching a foreign language, only with relation to Spanish rather than English though I use this classroom as a model.
Friday, April 8, 2011
English in Spain
While I benefit from being in Spanish classes in order to maintain my use of the language and observe interactions in the language, it is a change from Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language, as it is instead the native language. The students focus a lot on morphology and syntax, both which I can't quite remember learning quite in depth in middle/high school. Each session that I spend at Maristas, the students begin the class with either vocabulary or syntax in their Language and Literature classes. It is interesting to observe the variety of structures between the different levels since I am in 3ESO classes and 1 Bachillerato, and the sentence structures are more complex in the higher level classes (1 Bachillerato). I try to follow along with the students as I observe how they break down the components of the sentence both on the board and on the paper. One interesting difference that I have noted is that the students use two pens- both for their work and for exams. The structures of exams have specifically interested me, since the students are given several sentences and they are to copy them down and break them down with another color, rather than each receive an exam as I am accustomed to seeing in the US. They are also graded very rigorously, since obvious errors result in zero credit for the sentence though each sentence is only worth 2 points to begin with (out of 20, but grades are on a scale of 0-10 with a 5 as a passing score). Though I am not knowledgeable enough of the material to grade them myself, I have glanced over the exams before they were passed back in order to understand the content of the exam and how they were graded.