I was really inspired by Kara’s last post about giving students a task during listening activities. This is one area in my classroom where I need to get students more actively involved. My classes always begin with a short video clip to grab the students’ attention with new and exciting music, language, and culture.  I love having upper level language learners use the TL to describe what they see or hear in a video and talk about how this is similiar or different to their own culture. The question I think many of us have is… What can novice-level learners DO?

The majority of the classes that I teach are level 1. I usually do some research at the start of each school year to remind myself about the “silent period” that new language learners start in. I believe it’s unreasonable to expect most novice low learners to produce in the TL based on what they have seen or heard. They simply don’t have the writing or speaking skills yet. This dosen’t mean they didn’t understand anything though – there is just a disconnect in what they understood and how they can show what they understood. They could tell me in English, but this breaks the flow of TL and can sometimes be a crutch.

I’m going to use this form for my novice learners at the start of the year so that there is less pressure on them to produce the language on their own. Instead, they can show their listening skills by circling the correct words based on what they saw/heard.

listening form

Step 1.) Watch video.

Step 2.) Students circle the words that correctly describe what they saw/heard.

Step 3.) Watch video again.

Step 4.) Share their opinions with a partner.

Step 5.) I’ll ask a few questions about the video for “Yes” or “No” responses for the boxes. (example: Was this video about the family? What about sports? Was it funny? Was it interesting?)

I want my novice level students to see that they don’t have to feel “lost” during a TL lesson. They can stay in that comfortable silent period and still learn by reading and recognizing new words on this paper and hearning how to say them when I ask the questions. I plan on making more advanced versions of this same form as students learn new vocabulary. My questions will also become more advanced over time. Like TPRS, I’ll start with YES/NO questions, then THIS or THAT, then I should be able to ask “What was the video about?”, “Describe it for me”, and “WHO did you see in the video?”

I find that I tend to revert to English in level 1 when I can’t think of a way to stay in the TL and still be comprehensible and get students involved. This form should help me stay in the TL, keep it at their level (+1), and give them the input they really need!

See this activity used with Christmas commercials: Watch Holiday Commercials

*If you like the Novice listening/interpretation form (Spanish) and would like to use the same one that is in today’s post, you can find it here…