Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tip: Use Stories

We recorded a webex training session on our QTalk Conversation Pack DLS for Smart Board, and one of the components, the QTalk® Story Practice, is also available as a card-base activity we call "Story Cards." (If you are interested you can check them out at our website.)

Anyone can use this technique, just make up a story, or pick a story you think your students will enjoy.

Draw a series of "cartoon" scenes to illustrate the story, or take a series of snapshots with your camera. It can be very simple. Maybe a few sentences about a pet, or a child, or a neighbor doing something or going somewhere. Around holiday time there are ways to make a story that ties in with the holiday celebrations of the target language. Food always seems to be a popular topic, especially if your class period is just before lunch!

So, you have these scenes, and you may need to teach vocabulary the class is not already familiar with: Just point to the character or object in the scene, repeat the word or phrase, and have the class repeat several times.

Now - have fun! You can narrate the story, pointing at each scene as you describe the action. You can ask students to recap the story in their own words (target language only). You can ask them to tell the story using different tenses or different persons. After the storytelling, you can lead question and answer, or ask the students to pose questions to one another or take turns asking the class questions. You can divide students into groups and ask them to stage dialogues based on the story.

The great thing about stories is that you can use the same ones over and over during the year. As the students master more vocabulary and sentence patterns, their confidence and creativity will grow. And best of all - the communication is interactive and meaningful.

Please share: How are you using stories in your classroom? Which topics seem to work best?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

World language classes vary greatly in the proficiency objectives, standards and milestones that guide the teacher's lesson plan and teaching methods. We believe that speaking a new language in complete, meaningful sentences, and in a context of interaction with real people, stimulates the language learning capacity in a way that no other activity can do. If we are right, then how can we offer help to teachers who want to try this method? We offer a complete line of curriculum to support the QTalk method of language instruction, but we always say it is the teacher, and not the books or the teaching tools or the technology, that makes the difference in a classroom setting. We'll be posting teaching tips and we hope you will share yours as well, If you happen to be using Maurice Hazan's QTalk method, or his earlier version called the Symtalk method, then you probably have discovered many tips of your own, and we hope you will share them by commenting on this blog or starting your own and letting us know about it. If you are using a different teaching method but have some ideas to help other world language instructors, we hope you'll share and let us know about your blog, book or curriculum. The world is changing so quickly, we need to support one another in the important work we all our doing - giving the gift of a new language to our students, by helping them discover their inborn capacity to think and speak not only in the specific language we happen to be teaching them right now, but also to help them realize they can indeed learn to think and speak in any language they want to learn, for the rest of their lives.