Folium: Racing Around the Spanish Speaking World via Spanish For You.net
Racing Around the Spanish Speaking World is an informative article which shows Spanish teachers a good exercise for learning Spanish. The exercise is good because the students are highly engaged in the activity and gain knowledge of Spanish geography and vocabulary. Moreover, they enjoy it.
Ms. Annett is clearly an experienced Spanish teacher who knows how to teach. She is particularly aware of how to teach Spanish to elementary and middle school students. However, I also believe that her methodology can even work with high school students.
Ms. Annett’s website is filled with lessons and activities for young students. A lot of the info is focused on home-schooling, but these activities can also be used in a public school setting. There is an abundance of lesson plans, worksheets, audio lessons, and activities that most students will enjoy.
Ms. Annett is aware of something I learned by experience as a teacher. This is the fact that simply using a text, a blackboard, rote memory instruction just does not work for all students. Yes, it does work for the one-third of students that are highly driven and college-bound. They are so driven that they can even survive a bad teacher by religiously studying the textbook. The other students, about two-thirds, will not benefit from traditional instruction. This is particularly true of today’s kids.
I have used these activities used by Ms. Annett. She also has some ideas that I intend to try out this year. A good teacher needs to have a variety of activities for the students. Naturally, there has to be some instruction from the text. But the text must be supplemented with interesting worksheets, activities – especially those that have kids move around a bit, audio lesson, and even some software is most beneficial.
One of my most productive activities is to have a contest at the back of the room. It can be vocabulary, flash cards, geography, even a review. Kids love the opportunity to get out of their desks and stand with their friends at the back of the room. This activity always goes well, and I post the name of the winner of the contest on the blackboard. The winner feels pride in seeing his/her name on the board, students congratulate him, and fellow students are motivated to win the next contest.
Regarding the above contest, I must point out that getting out of their desks is a major component of this exercise. Research shows that young students perform better if they are allowed some mobility in the classroom. I have found this to be quite true. The students are enlivened, they are attentive throughout this exercise, and they absorb knowledge.
I have also found music to be essential to learning a foreign language. I play a song for the first five minutes of each class and provide the lyrics. At first, only a few volunteer to sing, but gradually, almost all the students are singing every morning. Within three weeks most students have the lyrics memorized and have learned a lot of Spanish as well.
Now, some traditional teachers will claim that my methodology is flawed and that is will only result in pandemonium in the classroom. That is not true. Good rules are part of the contest and those who break the rules (e.g. talking out of turn) have to sit down. The contest goes well and rules are enforced. Observers would be surprised to see how disappointed students are that are removed from the contest for not following the guidelines.
It is the same with electronic devices. They are a magnificent asset to the class. Websites provide a wealth of knowledge and frequently my students uncover information which make me a better teacher. Again, there are rules. No one is allowed to text or make phone calls. If it happens, which is infrequent, they lose the electronic device for a few days.
In short, this was a fine article by Ms. Annett. Since she uses a lot of activities I have been using over the years, it reinforces my conviction that these activities are educational and beneficial. I also learned a lot of new ideas from the Ms. Annett’s website that I will be making use of this school year.