Let’s Give ’em Something to TALK About (Structures to support student learning and teacher sanity, part 5)

One of the greatest struggles with each incoming AP group is to get them to TALK… out loud… and in Spanish.  I’ve previously written about a couple of strategies to help, and today I’d like to share two more that I’ve used already this year.  Both tools are versatile enough to be used in pre-AP classes as well.

The first:  Kristy Placido’s Circumlocution Game.  This game is a student favorite, and she has expansion packs available as well.  We use it frequently when we have a few minutes to fill, but also use it as a standalone activity to help develop their confidence and fluidity.

The second is the TALK protocol.  I learned about it from my #langchat colleague Natalia deLaat, and you can find her materials here.  Essentially, it’s a student-driven conversation with some scaffolding to support them.  Natalia’s materials include an assessment piece.  Though I’ve used it that way, I generally use it as time for students to talk and for me to be a fly on the wall.  This is especially true in the upper level classes where a teacher’s presence–even though I’m not grading them–can be intimidating.

When we are setting up the activity, I walk them through the TALK acronym on Natalia’s materials.  Then we look at the topic for the day and I have them prepare questions and topics that they could include.  For lower level students this is a few minutes; for upper level students this is longer or even overnight for homework.  Then I divide them into groups of about 4-6 students and we spread out to chat.  Here are a couple of examples of prompts used in class:

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The SOY YO is for a level 1 or level 2 class, while the LIBRO slide is part of the AP summer reading followup (more on that to come).

One of the things I appreciate about most about using the TALK protocol is that it is highly engaging, but low preparation.  I will often use it in all my classes on the same day to streamline planning and set up, and it always generates positive feedback from students.  They comment on how they are able to maintain a TL conversation and how good that feels. I love seeing them be successful and gaining confidence to use the skills we have been developing.


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