How we teach Spanish at Talk&Go
In Talk&Go we believe that it is better to use only the target language since immersion is probably the best way to learn a foreign language.
However, sometimes students who start learning Spanish from scracth have difficulty understanding this language. Is it possible to overcome this obstacle without translating into their mother tongue?
We try to avoid translations since it allows students to think in their own language rather than the target language. Students are aware of this disadvantage of translating into their language so they like it better when we use only Spanish in our classes.
Nowadays, we have different tools that allow us to use only the target language.
Step by step
We should start from the very beginning, using words that for sure students know.
How about ‘hola’? From the greeting we can move on to the next stage: ‘¿Cómo estás? Or ‘Me llamo …’.
The learning/teaching should be a logical and progressive process. There is no need to
rush. Our goal is to ensure that our students learn and acquire both the grammar and vocabulary we teach them.
Some students see repletion as a boring activity, some even feel stupid after saying the same thing several times. That’s why it is important to carry on this kind of performance in a funny and interesting way.
Go over what you have already taught your students, you can introduce new elements in the sentence to make them go a step further if you feel they are getting bored. Keep doing this until the students have absolutely nailed it!
Props provide students with a link to the real world outside their books. Use individual props to excite the students’ interest. Turn classroom objects into props, or integrate “real” props, such as bus and train timetables, into your lessons, where relevant. Spanish lessons become more true-to-life with these types of props.
You can also ask your students to bring their own props!
Other techniques that we use in class are both images and gestures.
If you want to teach the meaning of a word, is there anything better than showing an image of it? For instance, when I want to teach the word ‘perro’ I always use a picture of my dog, since images that cause an impact or that students can relate to something/someone are better than general images.
Regarding gestures, some of them are universal, so it is easy to use them to teach actions: llamar, abrazar, saltar,… So all students will easily understand what you are trying to teach them.
Making mistakes is an important part in the learning process. The teacher must provide with challenging material, but at the same time it must be manageable for the students. Whenever the student makes mistakes, remember to correct in a positive way.
Here you have some correction tools that we find very helpful:
Self -correction: try to encourage students to correct their mistakes
Peer-correction: this might seem appropriate when a student can’t correct the mistake by themselves.
Last resort: give the solution. Only if the students can’t correct the mistake themselves.
Don’t forget to praise students’ work! They learn much faster when given positive feedback since they feel motivated.