How to Make Input Comprehensible for Early Language Learners

How to make Input Comprehensible for Early Language Learners

We know we need to teach in the target language and use comprehensible input --- language at the level of our students so they understand most of what we say ... just enough so they can understand the message, but adding new words and structures to push them to expand their knowledge.

So how do we do that with our early language learners?

1. Use songs. Songs can be repeated daily and reinforce vocabulary and sentence structure. Write your own, or purchase from others

2. Play vocabulary learning games. Let the students have a silent period where they are just listening to the new language being repeated over and over, and then move on to games where the kids need to speak. Find some game ideas here.

3. Use visuals - photos, images, videos, puppets, the actual item you are talking about. Are your students learning the vocabulary for school objects? Use a real book, pen, pencil, notebook ... Hold up your visuals while you are speaking to help students understand.

4. Read or tell stories ... But they need to be linguistically appropriate. Remember that your students should understand what is going on. Make up silly stories - I like to use a puppet and be silly. Maybe the puppet has packed his backpack for the first day of school and the students and I tell the puppet what he will need. But of course when we open up the backpack it is filled with unnecessary things like a camera, a chocolate bar ... Empty out that backpack and have the students help you refill it with what the puppet needs for school.
Is writing linguistically appropriate stories not your forte? I can help!

Whatever we choose to use as the content of our lesson, we should:

  • Paraphrase - remember to make sure the message is understood. Use familiar structures and build on them.
  • Slow down our speech
  • Use our tone of voice to aid in getting the message across - in my silly puppet lesson I will use a tone of voice that says "Are you crazy?" when I pull the absurd things out of the backpack.
  • Use gestures
  • Use yes/no questioning to check for comprehension - I will ask in the target language "Is there a pencil in the backpack?"
  • Repeat, repeat, REPEAT!!! Re-read, re-watch, re-listen, re-tell over and over and over and over again. With each repeat, try pausing and allowing the students to finish your sentences or do the retelling of the story. As we add an item to the backpack, one at a time, I will say in the target language, "Now Mr. Puppet has a pencil in his backpack." "Now Mr. Puppet has a pencil and a book in his backpack." "Now Mr. Puppet has a ______ (pause and allow the class to say it) and a _____, and a _____ in his backpack."
What strategies do you use to help your students understand the language you use in the classroom? Comment below!

Quick & Easy Day of the Dead Sugar Candy Skulls

October! Can you smell the sugar in the air? Let's make candy skulls to celebrate the day of the Dead!

I love this recipe because the candy prep time is minimal and they do not need to be baked. I've been able to mix up during class time and still have the students make these during class periods as short as 20 minutes!

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp cream or milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 - 1/2 tsp mint extract

Mix all of the ingredients together. Make sure your butter is at room temperature and it will mix together with a minute or two of mixing. It will have the consistency of cookie dough.

You will also need:
paper towels
various types of sprinkles
Dixie cups (optional)
baby wipes

1. Pass out a paper towel to each student. Pour a small amount of sprinkles on each paper towel. If you don't have a lot of class time, you can pre-prep your sprinkles by pouring them into Dixie cups and then have student helpers pass out the paper towels and pre-filled Dixie cups.

2. Demonstrate how to form a skull. First you will roll your dough into a ball. Then gently squeeze the bottom part to form the jaw of the skull.

3. Pass out a small amount of "dough" to each student. I like to use a cookie scoop so my hands stay out of the dough and everyone gets the same amount.

4. Let the fun begin! The students will form the skull, decorate, and eat!
While they are making their candy, pass out a baby wipe to each student for easy clean up.

So ... once I had a group of students come to me after PE. I don't know what they were doing in PE, but their hands were filthy and their skulls ended up black ... and they still ate them!!! Ewwwwww!!! Don't be me. Have the students wash their hands before coming to your class.
#BlackSkullsAreNot Cool

Concours Journée Mondiale Des Enseignants

A sale and a contest!

To celebrate World Teacher day, the 16 French teacher authors listed on the image above have some treats for you! Find products with prices reduced from 20-50%. To find the items at 50% off, search for this hashtag: #GATONSNOSENSEIGNANTS
The sale will be held on October 5.

We are also running a contest!

Win a Scotch laminator, $40 in school supplies, or one of 3 $15 TpT gift cards! Winners will be chosen on October 8. Enter the contest here.