I just updated my first day of school plans. I’ve been reading a lot of different blogs and archives from various listservs about what people do, and there are many teachers out there that do what I used to do: use only Spanish and a lot of gestures to tell a story or talk about myself. (Most of) my students would leave the class feeling encouraged that they could understand what was going on and most of what I was saying, even though they didn’t know any Spanish. I used to think there was great value in this and that it would start the year off on the right foot.
Well, then I realized that my students could leave class with that same feeling AND actually learn some Spanish–what a concept!! With the PQA (Personalized Questions and Answers) that we do, students leave not only knowing EXACTLY what was said (not just the general idea), but able to read and understand it and, for many students, say it. They can interpret “His name is Bob. He is a boy. He likes the color blue.” It’s very basic language, and normal people don’t talk like that, but they are the building blocks that we need to get to authentic communication. Even the first day of school can be used to work toward language acquisition!! My returning students also learn new structures that allow them to review things from last year (for example, they know how to say “goes” and different places, so we might learn “went”). Keep moving forward!, as the Robinsons would say.
What do you do on the first day of school to begin or further your students’ language acquisition?