**Update** - 6/7/16 - Elena López has developed more resources to go with the story below. Click here to see them.
In my new position as Academic Coordinator, one of my roles is curriculum coordination for grades 7-12. Our middle school students get Spanish A for a quarter and/or French A for a quarter. If they do well in those courses, they take Spanish 1 or French 1 in eighth grade. If they don't do that well, students take Spanish B for a quarter and/or French B for a quarter. In my opinion, the goal of the Spanish/French A and B quarter classes should be to give the students lots of comprehensible input and see how enjoyable Spanish/French class can be when there is communication happening.
The current curriculum consists of a variety of traditional "units": greetings, commands, the alphabet, numbers, days of the week/months/date, colors, school supplies and some other similar units. In my opinion, these units are not very communication focused, nor are they very interesting and/or engaging to students. Also, it is difficult to maintain that goal of 90% in the Target Language. Most of these topics can be integrated/embedded into the curriculum in a more meaningful, engaging way. So, I am working with the two middle school Spanish teachers with the goal of using more TPRS and CI to improve instruction and language acquisition. Both of these teachers are very open to the idea, but wanted to see it in action, so I am teaching their classes and doing a mini-unit in each class so that they can see TPRS/CI in action.
These are the reasons I am hoping that we move more towards TPRS/CI in our department:
- TPRS/CI is much more engaging to students.
- Differentiation is much easier and almost automatic with TPRS/CI, particularly with the use of technology, such as Textivate, which has such a wide range of activities.
- TPRS/CI is more communicative. Instead of learning the alphabet and how the language works, students are focusing on chunks of useful language and actually learning about the sound so of different letters in a more meaningful way.
- TPRS/CI allows the teacher and the students to stay 90% in the TL.
- Depending on the story, culture can be much easier to include in the curriculum. It is not an "add on," but rather part of the lesson.
- Grammar is not a focus, but students are acquiring/learning lots of it... without even realizing it.
- There is such a variety of activities that can be done with a story, including: listening and identify the picture, listening drawing, retelling with drawing, acting out the story, Kahoot, Textivate (put in order, gap fill-ins, etc.), question and answer, creating alternative endings, etc.
My real test will be with the Spanish B students starting today. I will be teaching them for 5-6 days and using a story that I created using the music video for the song "Chau" by No te va gustar. The slideshow below and this unit packet explain what the goals are, what the unit looks like, and what the evaluación at the end of the 5-6 days is. The last page of the unit packet has my plan for each day that I am teaching this mini-unit.
I thought this story would be a good transition story to TPRS/CI because it still includes some of the traditional vocabulary that is taught in the school supplies unit, but hopefully students will acquire the vocabulary and structures in a much more meaningful, engaging, and interesting way. There is also room for a cultural comparison, as students will see an authentic resource: a music video from the Uruguayan rock band No te va gustar.
(If you want to use this slideshow and adapt it or embed it, here is the link to make a copy)