…ACTFL therefore recommends that language educators and their students use the target language as exclusively as possible (90% plus) at all levels of instruction during instructional time and, when feasible, beyond the classroom. –
1. ACTFL’s Use of the Target Language in the Classroom (90% plus at all levels of instruction during instructional time), was approved by the board of directors on Saturday, May 22, 2010.
2. Blaine Ray had written “the class must be conducted at least 90 percent of the time in the target language. Students must by some means be prevented from speaking another language except in specified circumstances in which they ask for permission” in Fluency Through TPR Storytelling, p 20, by the 4th ed., Nov 2004.
My classroom approach
I used to do so much to try and stay in Spanish with my students. It was always a struggle…one of my strategies was to flip a sign in class that said “SE HABLA ESPANOL.” The sign meant Spanish only and no English. That sign became kind of a punishment for the students and they often would complain about it.
YIKES…I was making the very thing I was promoting something negative.
How can I fulfill this recommendation of 90% Target Language usage in a positive way that would inspire acquisition?
This year I started using Classroom Jobs. You download all the details about JOBS on this site if you are interested. I wanted to follow up on one the most important jobs I use everyday. In the photo you can see a “megaphone” and 3 balls along with score sheets. Not in the photo would be 1-2 cell phones/stopwatches (my students use their cell phones to time).
The TIMER has revolutionized my teaching and goal of 90% in Spanish!
The megaphone was purchased at a Marshalls ($12) of all places and is used by the student that is the ENGLISH POLICE. This student sounds the siren or uses the microphone when students are off track and using English in class. I often look for the bossy and competitive types for this job.
The “nerf” type of balls are for throwing at the teacher. They go to the ENGLISH ABUSERS. They keep the teacher in the TL. If I can’t answer the questions in 15 seconds or less they get to throw a ball at me. Many students want this job…select English abusers wisely
The score sheets as you can see are just tally marks. For every 8 minutes of TL usage the class gets a point. First class to 50 points or 400 minutes of Spanish use wins a “FIESTA.” At 8 minutes the students cheer as if they are at a sporting event as I mark the point. In this system staying in the TL becomes a fun game not a punishment or unlikeable.
This is also a great way to create a system of classroom management. Some days, classes are off track or may misbehave, when this happens I may tell the TIMER to reset to ZERO. This creates an environment where students support or manage each other rather than me handling discipline all the time.
The reality is…I probably will never reach 90% with Novice learners during a 180 day school year. That would mean 162 days of straight Spanish with no English. I care about students acquiring but I care about those students more. Checking in with then about LIFE is equally important. However, I do think I am some where near 75% in the TL…higher than I has ever been able to do.