All We Do Is Listen

Yesterday in my French Two class a student who just joined the class this year kept getting out a book and reading. I spoke with her during a Turn and Talk. (Having then turn and talk is a great way to give ourselves a chance to have private talks with kids.)

She said, I get bored cause all we do is listen. I told her that listening is the foundation of language acquisition so we worked all year last year on building our listening stamina. I asked her if she wanted to take notes in English or Spanish during the listening portions. I told her that that could help her focus.

She seemed resistant to that idea. I told her my goal was to help her build her listening stamina and that soon we would be starting our SSR reading program. I was planning to start next week but I think I’ll push it up to start today.

In French Two I have been eagerly piloting content-based instruction. We have been learning about the geography of France. I’m kinda pushing these kids because I wouldn’t really recommend doing this kind of Instruction until third and fourth year. In this class it’s still technically first year since our middle school program awards one year of high school credit for two years of seat time. I’m playing around with the mix of CALP activities (to build Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency) and BICS activities (to build Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills). Ideally second year would just still focus on BICS but I’m eager to pilot strategies to build CALP so I’m kinda pushing my kids.

I’m wondering if we need a BICS break. I think today I’ll do a one word image with them and then use it in a story. We can intersperse the geography unit in shorter doses.

It would probably be best to take breaks from the academic language anyway because the brain learns best with processing time between exposures. And the brain craves novelty as Carol Gaab has always said. Though the GLAD Strategies have a good deal of novelty built in, switching gears to more creative, character-driven, narrative work would add another layer of novelty.

I have never done these GLAD Strategies in world language, only in my high-ELL Social Studies classes at my previous school. So playing with the mix, especially with this second-year class of eighth graders, is key.

And helping the four new students learn to value attending to the input is also key. It makes me realize how much training went into the first-year class last year. They built a good deal of listening and reading stamina over the year and also came to see its value as they watched their writing and comprehension skills soar.

2 thoughts on “All We Do Is Listen

  1. jabuhl

    Your post got me thinking about a couple of my students who seem to have a hard time staying focused. Do you think it would feel like I am punishing them by having them write what we’re talking about in English? Do you think I could say, “Hey, because you aren’t staying engaged, I’m going to help you by assigning this. I feel like it would be super valuable for some, but not sure if it should be a suggestion or requirement.


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