Engaging young language learners - Island Teacher

Engaging young language learners

As I've mentioned before, I'm currently teaching at a private school where I teach quite a wide range of classes including several elementary Spanish classes. Even though I did spend my first 2 years out of college teaching elementary school Spanish, I spent the next 7 years teaching high school Spanish. I definitely considered older students to be more in my "comfort" zone if that makes sense?? At my current school I do a bit of switching back and forth between grade levels and now that I am also mom to a 1st grader, I've really enjoyed getting to work with these younger language learners again. In my opinion, one of the cool things about teaching a second language is the ability to use similar ideas across grade levels especially in the beginning levels of language learning. Singing, movement, role playing, basic reading books in the target language, culture crafts, etc. could all fit with a 2nd grade class, as well as a 9th grade class!

One of my elementary classes is particularly "active" this year. They keep me racking my brain for new ideas to keep their attention. I only have them for 30 minutes a week, so time is crucial and I don't like to waste a second. One thing that they enjoy is when Señorita Abejita (a bee puppet) makes her appearances in class. Sometimes Señorita Abejita helps give a lesson by teaching vocabulary. Other times she helps me in monitoring behavior by watching for who is being a good listener and on task. 

A couple of weeks ago she introduced las gafas mágicas to the students. These glasses were actually leftover party favors from my daughter's birthday party last year. I have several pairs and I allow students to wear them during role plays. Once a student puts on the glasses, they become a new character (who, of course, only speaks in Spanish) and they act out a basic dialogue with a partner. You would think the glasses were made of gold! Students will participate and listen attentively during instruction for the opportunity to wear the gafas. We'll see how long it takes for the novelty to wear off, but, for now, I will continue to enjoy the effect of these magic glasses. :) 

While I don't see this working for my high school students to quite the same extent, I am going to run with the character idea by bringing in some props or other costume accessories for them to use during role plays or conversation readings. I'm thinking it might add a fun twist to our speaking exercises! 

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