If I were a betting woman, I would place money on speaking (student speaking- the “s” word) being the greatest challenge that world language teachers face. So many teachers shy away from having students speak in the target language because they simply don’t know how to approach it. Some teachers feel that just by telling their students to speak in the target language, they are doing enough. What is missing from this picture is a HUGE ingredient to language acquisition: scaffolding.

If this is you, or if you are simply looking for more ways to get your students speaking, you are in luck! I have compiled some resources for you to help get you started.

First, I would recommend starting each class with an interpersonal activity to set the tone. In my classes, we open with La Bienvenida (from the Creative Language Class), and then we move into La Charla, where I give my students stacks of conversation starters in Spanish.  While they do this, set them up for growth by giving them a way to provide feedback to one another. I read a fairly good book last summer titled Improving Foreign Language Speaking through Formative Assessments by Harry Grover Tuttle and Alan Tuttle , and in it they recommend having your students tally questions and responses to help them formatively assess each other. I did this avidly the year before last, dropped it last year, and saw a significant decline in my students’ interpersonal skills. This is the document that I created to use for this purpose next year. It could be used with presentational speaking, also.

As for resources, I would be sure to check out Amy Lenord’s blog. She is the queen of interpersonal activities. If you are a problem/project/inquiry- based learning person, be sure to hop on over to Laura Sexton’s PBL in the TL to find ways to keep students in the target language while they are collaborating.

Here are a few more helpful articles and posts that will give you some great ideas:

“Daily Formative Assessments in Second Language Acquisition” published in Educator’s Voice, also by Harry Grover Tuttle 

The Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers (CASLT) “Formative Speaking Assessment Tasks”

#Langchat archives on interpersonal speaking 

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