How To Get Students Speaking The Target Language

Bryn Bonino
6 min readJan 8, 2019

Traditional education in a World Languages class makes it difficult for students to gain confidence and proficiency in speaking. Anyone who has ever been in a traditional class, or taught one, knows this.

When I tell people that I worked as a Spanish teacher, I can’t tell you how many adults have told me that they studied Spanish for years and still can speak it. Yet, gaining proficiency is the top priority of my Spanish 1 students.

So, what can be done?

In this post I’ll address a few strategies that can be used in a World Languages class to get students talking.

Narrating A Set Of Images

A lot of textbooks come with images that come with each unit to prompt students to use the target vocabulary in spoken conversation. When I used the Holt textbook Exprésate, I got images that look like this.

Once a unit, students needed to develop dialogue to narrate the images for the corresponding unit. They then needed to call a Google Voice number and speak their dialogue as a recorded message.

If this was the first time that they were calling, they needed to state their name and period first. I would save their name in my contacts, so when they called back successive times, if they forgot to say their name, I would have it saved.

Google Voice also allowed me to text them back their grade. This saved me a lot of paper, and made the project easy to manage.

If you want to integrate more tech, you can have students use Vocaroo to record. The recording will give them a sharable link, which you can collect in a Google Form. To grade the assignment, you can use the Google Sheets add-ons Flubaroo or Autocrat. (If you need help setting those up, refer to their respective sites.)

Conversations In The Community

You may teach in an area where your students have access to people who are highly proficient in the target language. When I taught Spanish in Dallas, Texas, there were Spanish speakers everywhere. So, as homework, my students had to speak with these people using their target vocabulary.

Bryn Bonino

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