Thursday, August 23, 2012

Need a lesson for the first day of school?

We hope that you had a refreshing summer and that the beginning of the school year finds you energized and inspired to teach!  To that end, we thought we would share with you a free sample lesson from REAL FRENCH tout de suite Level II and REAL SPANISH ahora mismo Level II.  It would be a great activity for kicking off the school year and getting your students to speak right away!

Here are links to the PDFs that will allow you to do the activities :

French : Partner Conversation, Student Activity Book, Teacher's Guide.

Spanish : Partner Conversation, Student Activity Book, Teacher's Guide.

You may print them out and make copies for your students.  Remember, you should be able to do this entire lesson in the target language!

Here are some instructions :

Start with the Partner Conversation.  Model it for your students until they are very comfortable with the pronunciation.  Then, let them practice with their partner.  You can mill around the room and listen to different groups, aiding with pronunciation.  After a little while, have them switch partners.  You may want to have everyone stand up in two lines, facing one another, and then the students can cycle through and practice with many different partners.  Once students are comfortable, you may choose a pair to perform the conversation for the class.  If you need an idea for rewarding participation, please check out our post on boletos / billets.

Then move on to the activities in the Student Activity Book.  You will see that after the conversation there is a little written activity where students identify the months of the year.  Have the students complete it, and correct the activity together.  You might want to have a little impromptu discussion (in Spanish or French, of course!) of which month of the year each student prefers and why.  Next, you can move on to the second activity, where students ask each other the questions from the conversation.  Once they have had their discussion, you may want to ask the questions to individuals in the class to get to know them a little better.  You may also have the students practice asking you the questions (if you are shy about revealing your age, feel free to fib!).  The third activity is an oral presentation.  Give your students time to fill it out, and let them know that they will be responsible for memorizing and presenting it in a future class.  Give them some time to prepare and memorize it during class.

Finally, once the students feel very comfortable with the vocabulary and structures in the conversation, you can use the mixer from the Teacher's Guide.  Photocopy the mixer, and make sure you have enough copies to give one card to each student.  Cut them out, and distribute a card to each student.  Encourage the students mill around the room and talk to as many people as possible, asking and answering the questions from the conversation, taking on the identity of the person on their card.  Ring a bell, and have them switch cards with someone and repeat the activity.  Have them take a seat, and ask the questions again, finding out the name, age, and birthday month of the student's "persona."

During the next class, you may have the students practice the conversation and do the mixer once again.  You will also want to have them present their oral presentations, and you can use the simple rubric in the Teacher's Guide.

We hope that many of you will find this a useful sample lesson; we think you will enjoy seeing your students communicating so effectively in Spanish or French!  Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions, and if you would like to receive future emails of this sort, you can sign up for our regular email list in the box at the top of our blog.

Have a great start to the school year!
- Elizabeth and Denise

Friday, August 17, 2012

Les billets / los boletos: your back-to-school gift!

Denise and I are gearing up for another school year, and to celebrate, we thought we would share a very useful tool with you-- billets or boletos are extra credit tickets that work wonders in our classrooms to keep students motivated and speaking in the target language.

The system is simple.  We print off many pages of billets at the beginning of each marking period and cut them out.  Whenever a student answers a question correctly, performs a dialogue in front of the class, or shows particular enthusiasm for learning a new language, we give him a billet.  It is also a great reward for winning a game, practicing a conversation especially well, or singing a song with enthusiasm.  We are extremely generous with our billets, and we find that students will do just about anything to earn one.  Once the student earns his billet, he writes his name on the back right away and stores it in an envelope in his folder.  (Also, to keep students from counterfeiting, we print the billets on the color printer or on colored paper.  Another trick is to photocopy them and stamp them with a rubber stamp.)

Students are responsible to keep track of the billets they earn, and at the end of the marking period, they turn them in.  Each billet is worth one fifth of a point, so they need five billets to earn one extra credit point on their grade.

This is an especially nice system because we also implement a strict "Liste d'anglais" system.  If a student is caught speaking English, his name goes on a list and he loses a point off his grade.  The generosity with which we distribute billets provides grace when we take points away, and students always know they have a chance to earn their points back if they accidentally speak English.

For those of you looking to increase your students' use of the target language or wanting to find a fresh way to motivate your students, please give this system a try!  The billets and boletos we have provided you reinforce the language in Conversation 1g of Real French tout de suite Level II or Real Spanish ahora mismo Level II.

If you would like a free copy of our French "billets," click here to download the file.

If you would like a free copy of our Spanish "boletos," click here to download the file.