*Reflection, 5 years later…I left the classroom three years ago, and I have attended many, many conferences and workshops since then. I’ve read a lot of research, books, and blogs, and I think that I can say honestly that I have considered all of it. I am confident that output doesn’t lead to language acquisition, so when I said in the original post (below) that this activity helped my students to be able to produce the targeted expressions…well…I don’t think that it did. I can’t deny the observable improvement in my students’ ability to participate in conversations with basic greetings. I think that the greatest value in this activity was the printed script at the top of the page, so each time that students produced dialogue (output), they also received input (from reading the script). I don’t think that this is a “bad” activity–too often, TCI teachers hate on any output activity, knowing what the research says about language acquisition–but I know that there are more effective uses of class time. That being said, I like to dedicate 5 minutes of each class to output. Why? Consider it a brain break. The students get up and moving and interacting with each other. It resets their brains so that they can focus on the next input activity that I have for them–something that really WILL lead to language acquisition. A short opportunity each day to practice (yes, practice) output in a no-stress environment (1:1 conversations happening simultaneously around the room) boosts kids’ confidence. There are a lot of ways to do this with the focus still on input (Blind Retells, Running Dictations, etc.), and I would encourage you to consider how you can maintain an element of input in any output activity you choose to use. In this case, make sure you include the script on the form and explain to students that the most valuable part of this activity is that they will read and re-read it: input that leads to language acquisition!
As I have been preparing my maternity plans for next quarter, I’ve been trying to identify and fill the ‘holes’ that I have left my students with this semester. For Spanish 1A, the biggest hole that I left was basic greetings (what’s your name, how are you, how old are you, where are you from, etc.). My students are all very capable of identifying those questions and responses in stories, but few were proficient when it comes to producing them…kindof an important skill, ya? So I busted out my old communicative Greetings Activities and did one each day for the last week in a concentrated effort to fill the hole.
For the first activity, I typed my students’ first names at the top of each box. Then, students formed two lines, facing each other. I called out one of the rows, and each of the students in that row initiated the scripted conversation at the top of the sheet with the student immediately in front of him or her. The students followed the conversation, filling in their own information, and recorded how their partner was feeling in the space beneath his/her name. When I see that most students are to the writing stage, I dinged my bedazzled teacher bell and the student at the end of one of the lines looped back to the end of his or her line, and everyone shifted down one student. We repeated the process until the students were facing their original partner. In the past, I’ve done the same activity as a ‘Find Someone Who’, and students tried to get a ‘BINGO’ by speaking with all of the students in one row. After the activity, we discussed how everyone in the class was feeling, and why so many people were tired/sad/whatever they were feeling.
The next day, we added the question “¿Cuántos años tienes?” into the mix, and we did a basic ‘Find Someone Who’, where students had to record the name, emotional state, and age of each of the classmates with whom they spoke.
Nothin’ fancy here, just something that worked for me! 🙂