502, 522, 638, 737, 706, 557,616, 587…these are word counts of a 20-minute writing activity from level 1 students. It should be noted that all the writings have errors in them. Are these errors a reflection of poor teaching or lazy students? ABSOLUTELY NOT! These students are able to show that they have developed language skills through mostly implicit instruction where they were focused on the meaning of the messages and not the formS of the messages. At this level, perfect and error free writing should only exist with the absence of the pressure of TIME when students can edit their writing.
As the year goes on, I look to develop more and more MicroFluency in the minds of my students. I know this is accomplished when I see their TL free writes. Developing real fluency in the context of a school year is not realistic but MicroFluency based on high frequency language is. It is my hope that the large amounts of comprehensible immersion and input result in communicative competence based on what was provided. What has been provided is hours of listening, reading, and the negotiation of meaning with 14-16 year old students in Spanish.
In my recent examples, I am impressed with the quantity of language produced by students. If students are able to interact via writing with this much language, the next year course will see even better gains of communicative competence. These writing samples are based on the prior 172 days of class.
In some years, I teach vocabulary and grammatical features through the Oktapodi animation clip. This year, I used it as part of an assessment component. Students received 40 minutes of class discussion via MovieTalk strategies before being asked to write about the new story.
While telling this story I was cautious to “stay in bounds” with the language that is considered high frequency in our course. There were only a few words or phrases that were new. The MovieTalk discussion also incorporated more than one tense and this is evident in the writings.