Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ACTFL and 90% TL Goal

Last week at our World Languages Department meeting, we had a discussion on the percentage of time we teach in the target language. I challenged my department to ask one of their students to tally the time spent in English and the time spent in the TL for a class period.  I took this challenge during my Spanish 2 class period today and asked for a volunteer to track my use of English.  Let me first say that knowing a student is clicking the stop watch as soon as you speak English is a great incentive to stay in the TL.  It's possible that the results may have been slightly higher due to that motivation, but I didn't feel like I was conducting class any differently than usual.  The results: she timed me for 64.5 minutes: 2.5 minutes in English and 62 minutes in Spanish = 96%.  She handed her time stats to me at the end of class and I noticed that she even included time intervals of 10 seconds; no mercy! I'm sure the percents vary from day to day, but my goal is the 90% mark or higher.  

If you are a member of ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages), you may have read the article in the October 2012 issue of The Language Educator, written by Douglass Crouse, regarding "ACTFL's recommendation that communication in the target language comprises at least 90% of instructional time."  The article provides several educator's perspectives on how they accomplish this goal and a list of resources to learn more and connect with colleagues about teaching in the target language and language acquisition.  (You may even notice a familiar face in the article.)

If you are not a member of ACTFL, you can access this article on the below link in which they make several sample articles available to non-members.
October 2012 - The Language Educator - Going for 90% Plus: How to Stay in the Target Language.

In one part of the article, Crouse states that the 90% goal needs to be accomplished through Comprehensible Input.  I found this to be true in my teaching.  Several years ago I was feeling good about the fact that the 2nd semester started in January and I didn't speak any English to my Spanish 1 students until the end of April or beginning of May.  Looking back, I now realize that I was missing a key element - Comprehensible Input.  It wasn't beneficial to the students if I was speaking the TL if the students weren't comprehending it.  After a great deal of reading about different strategies and methods on Comprehensible Input and attending several workshops and conferences on TPRS, I have a better understanding on how to accomplish this in my classroom.   My goal of speaking in the TL through Comprehensible Input is one of my top priorities this year. 

Someone once wrote, "there are two times that students are not learning the language: 1-when you are are not speaking in the TL, and 2-when they don't understand what you are saying in the TL.  

Several nights ago I saw the following tweet with the #spanishteachers hashtag that reminded me how frustrated students are when we don't make the language comprehensible.  I'm posting his tweet on my blog to remind me that the type of teacher the student is referring to in the tweet is what I need to guard against if I sincerely want my students to understand what I'm saying and enjoy acquiring the language.


   This semester I have two Spanish 1 classes, one Spanish 2 class, and 1 Spanish 4 class.  Tomorrow I'll have a student keep track of the TL in the level 1 class.  I know I should check that on a regular basis to keep myself accountable with ACTFL's recommendation.

No comments:

Post a Comment