Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why use Real Language right away? Part One : It will motivate your students to learn more.


Since Denise and I have been using the conversational model in our classrooms, we have seen a dramatic change in our students—especially in terms of their confidence and motivation.  This change has spurred them on to reach new levels of language competency, and it has increased overall student success.

We decided to take a step back and ask ourselves why these changes have occurred.  For this post, (the first in a series of three) we will focus on the question of motivation.  How has the Real Language right away program made our students more confident and eager to learn?  Here are a few reasons:

Students practice the language in a low-stress atmosphere.
Students practice with a partner, and they become increasingly comfortable using the language.  Everything they need to have a meaningful exchange is provided for them—compelling graphics, English translations, and a dialogue.  Students learn better when they are having fun and feel relaxed.

After much practice, students feel ownership of the language.
The situations are often funny and easily modified.  Once students are comfortable with the basic structures and expressions, they naturally begin to create and piece together what they want to say.  It doesn’t take long before we see them adding bits of language to their everyday speaking-- it's beautiful to see them spontaneously use new expressions and vocabulary!

Expectations are clear and reasonable; evaluations are focused.
The oral and written evaluations provided in the curriculum give the students a sense of satisfaction.  In Level I, the written evaluations focus on vocabulary recognition.  If the student can match up the image to the word, they have succeeded.  For a young elementary school student, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing an A+ on his or her paper—and nearly all of our students do.  We believe that the progression of the evaluations in our program mirror the process of learning a language, starting with recognition and moving on to production, in both oral and written forms.

It has been a joy to see the students grow in their language learning.  The positive reinforcement they receive builds in them a sense of accomplishment.  As their confidence develops, they increasingly believe that they are capable of learning the language and want to learn more!

Here's a little evidence of confidence and motivation with my 6th graders :

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