Teachers unaccustomed to speaking the target language in class are often a bit lost when it comes to providing input. Instead, the more familiar rule-based lectures and paired speaking activities of PPP (present, practice, produce), target culture projects, and perhaps target language movies all become quite alluring, seducing teachers back to the pedagogy of yore. Here’s a way to conceptualize class in a clearer way that maximizes input:
- Talk about something
- Read something
Now, from the student perspective, this would be “listen & read,” but the “talk” portion of class is very much led by the teacher, especially in beginning years, so it’s easier to think of this in terms of what you, the teacher, must do. Don’t get fooled by anyone thinking this is the kind of “teacher-centered” lesson that’s frowned upon. The content is student-centered, it’s just that students can’t express themselves fully in the target language. They don’t have to, and this is expected. They need input. Case closed. The “read” portion could be any reading activity, either independent, led by you, in pairs, groups, or all of the above…
This could last anywhere from 5-20 minutes. It doesn’t matter how long your classes are, either, because after 15-20 minutes there’s a good chance your students need, or at least would benefit from, a brain break *by* that time. Do one.
As for the talk itself, well, that could be as simple as a daily date/weather routine, and maybe a quick question/check in (e.g. “how ayah?”). If this is your level of comfort speaking the target language, stop there, and focus on reading. Here are some of my favorite “talks” you could do, but be sure to check out descriptions and a host more in this post on getting texts.
- Date/weather Talk
- Personalized Questions & Answers (PQA)
- Weekend Talk
- Picture Talk
- Movie Talk
- Simple Survey
- Class Team
- Personal Story
- Funky Venn
We’ve been having students read independently each day from 3-5 minutes, then something as a whole class, and/or in pairs/group. Reading is a clear task, usually instruction-free, and focused. That is, it’s hard to speak when you’re reading, and it’s obvious when someone is who shouldn’t be.
For anything that involves students copying into their notebooks (e.g. known as Write & Discuss, or Type & Talk), this is also an opportunity to read the written/projected text being created. Here are my favorite “reads.” Check out descriptions as well as others in this post on input-based strategies and activities.
- Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)
- Read & Discuss/Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)
- Read & Translate
- Read & Draw
- K-F-D Quiz
- Silent Volleyball Reading