Why I Love Teaching Early Language Learners

Do you have a favorite grade to teach? I'm sure you do. It is natural to have a preference for a certain age or grade. Most of my colleagues have preferred the more advanced language learners ~ lucky for me because that means I don't have any competition for my favorite ~ the early language learners! Whether they are in Kindergarten or 12th grade, I just love the beginners. Here is why:

Making lessons comprehensible
1. I teach entirely in the target language and I love the challenge to make my lessons comprehensible. Choosing the words they'll be more likely to understand, using photos, images, and props, creating simplified stories, building on previously learned vocabulary and grammar ... I get such a feeling of success when they get it!

Risk Taking
2. Often, at the beginning of the school year, the students seem uncomfortable. Kind of like I feel when I visit another country for the first time. A bit unsure of how everything works, what I should do, what I should say. Just totally out of my comfort zone. I love to watch that wall come down as the students get more comfortable and I love to see my students start to take risks.

A Peek Outside of your Country
3. I once had a college professor tell a story about how she had a student ask "Why do I need to learn another language if I'm never going to leave Ohio?" She responded "That's exactly why!" In class I "take" my students to other countries through stories, photos, cooking projects, virtual field trips ... These lessons may be the only chance they'll ever have to "visit" somewhere other than their own country.

Going from 0 to Speaking
4. And then there is that moment when your students connect A and B and they put together words to form a sentence on their own ~ maybe the sentence isn't complete, or maybe there is a mistake, but WOW!! ... They did it! They've gone from 0 to speaking the language!

What is your favorite level or grade to teach? Leave a comment below :)

World Language Class Name Tags Craftivity

I like giving my students Spanish or French names for Spanish/French class. To me it says "In this class things are different." It is like taking on a new exotic identity and entering a new world. We speak only in the target language and we have names from the target language.

To help me remember names I usually use some sort of name tags. This year I had an idea for something a little different ... Shrinky Dink name tags!

This is a nice activity for the students to get familiar with their language class names and a unique way to display them.

So here is what I did...

1. Print out your student's names using a fat font. I used Cafe Rojo from kevinandamanda.com. You'll want to make the names big because they'll shrink quite a bit when you bake them. My font size was 135 and my example used here (David) measures about 7 inches long and 1 1/2 inches high.

2. You'll need Shrinky dink film. I used the clear kind found here.  With the clear film you will need to use permanent markers to color on the film. If you buy the frosted kind with the rough side, you can use colored pencils. Find the frosted kind here
OR ... try out this super inexpensive method using recycled materials in place of buying the film. {I've never tried this method but it looks cool!}

3. Give each student their printed name and a piece of Shrinky dink film a bit larger than their printed name. The students will trace and color their names. It helps if you tape down the paper name and then also tape down the film so neither move while the students color. 
If you have more than one student with the same name, have the student add their last initial somewhere within the drawing.
4. When they are finished coloring, hole punch and you are set to bake the names using the Shrinky dink directions {or the BabyFirst directions if you are using the super inexpensive method.}

The name will shrink and become thicker. My example measures about 3 1/4 inches long.

5. If your students wear an ID on a lanyard, have them add their Shrinky dink names to the lanyard. They can even have it hang on the back of their ID and turn their IDs around during language class.
Or add string to create an around the neck name badge. 

I hope your students enjoy the name craftivity. Comment below once you've tried it out to let me know how they liked it!