After the long summer, it’s likely that our students haven’t had the opportunity to listen to or practice the target language. This four corners game is perfect for the first weeks of school because it serves as a means to rekindle your students’ acquired language skills. The four corners game is a simple game played in a room with four corners. One person stands in the center of the room while the others choose one of the corners to stand in.
The person in the center closes their eyes and counts to a certain number, then calls out one of the corners. Anyone in the called corner is out of the game. The game continues until only one person is left or until players tire of playing. It’s a fun and interactive game that involves movement! I like to change the rule of the game a little but not asking anyone to leave the game.
This time the players in the corner with the called number become “it” and help the original caller in the next round. The original caller can join the group, and one of the newly chosen “its” becomes the new caller for the four corners game. Repeat the process with the new caller counting and calling out a number. This way, all players get to be involved without being eliminated. Additionally, if you have a new student in the language, this can be an approachable method to help them integrate into your class.
Let me save you some time so that you don’t have to create the game from scratch. Click on the picture below to download 12 slides and blank templates to use for this game the next time you see your students!
As language educators, we have a great chance to influence our students’ learning experiences. Our classrooms shouldn’t just be places for teaching; they should be welcoming and encouraging environments that promote teamwork, language growth, and a sense of belonging. This are some tips that might help:
Mindful Classroom Arrangement and Organization: Maintaining a clutter-free and well-organized classroom is crucial for promoting student engagement and collaboration. Minimize distractions and ensure that your students are familiar with the space and know where things are located in the classroom.
Take Advantage of the Power of Visual Support: Visual aids are powerful tools for language development. Through visually appealing displays, we provide our students with accessible language resources that reinforce their learning and support them staying in the target language. You can also empower your students by involving them in the creation and use of these displays! Some ideas for visuals are question words, useful phrases, chants, calendar and more.
Use Visuals to Mark Routines and Moments: Visual aids, such as schedules and routines, play a vital role. For some students, using visuals to support the routines and moments in class gives them a sense of comfort, knowing what will happen next. These tools help them understand the structure of the class, set clear expectations, and reduce anxiety, leading to a more comfortable language learning experience. For example, a specific image or visual can be used for a brain break, and steps to follow, such as writing your name, coloring, cutting out, and more, can be provided in the target language.
Include Diversity in Themes and Books: Our classroom libraries should mirror the diverse cultural backgrounds represented in our student body and beyond! By thoughtfully curating a collection of books that showcase various cultures and perspectives, we help our students forge meaningful connections and develop a stronger sense of identity. If books at the level of your students are hard to find, make sure that you represent your students in the visuals of your classroom. As language teachers, we should not limit ourselves to incorporating topics just from the target language but also from the cultures of our students.
Celebrate Other Languages: Consider labeling classroom items and areas in both the target language and asking your students to help you label things in their home language. Remember that we are in a world language classroom, and this is a way to honor our students’ identities and cultures.
Leave Space to Display Students’ Work: Set aside some blank spaces in the classroom to showcase students’ work. Their creations are far more meaningful and impactful than posters purchased online! By displaying their work, you will not only foster a sense of pride and accomplishment among your students but also create an inspiring and dynamic learning environment.
By incorporating these practical tips we can create dynamic and inclusive language learning environments that empower our students to thrive and succeed in their language journey. Together, we can shape a future where language education fosters understanding, cultural appreciation, and a lifelong love for learning.
Over the past few years, I’ve been working to create more inclusive and considerate expectations for my students, ensuring that everyone’s needs are respected. Additionally, I’ve been mindful not to impose any ableist or overly controlling standards that could negatively impact their well-being. An excellent post by the Neurodivergent Teacher on Facebook provides concrete examples of this. The idea is to keep the expectations simple and avoid language such as “keep your eyes on the teacher” or “sit criss-cross applesauce.” Additionally, I have purposely moved away from using the word “reglas” since it might sound like something imposed. Instead, I use “expectativas,” which is similar and easier for my students to understand.
As a teacher who only interacts with my students once or twice a week, I need to keep things simple. These are our classroom expectations:
To foster a positive and proactive learning environment, I use the Responsive Classroom approach to engage in open discussions about each expectation, encouraging students to share real-life scenarios that illustrate the importance of these guidelines. To reinforce understanding, we model each expectation through role-playing, followed by further discussions. All of this happens in the common language, supported by visuals in the target language. Each expectation is also accompanied by TPR. After introducing each expectation and talking about it in the common language, we transition to and support each of them in the target language. I see the use of the common language to talk about expectations and agreements at the beginning of the year as an investment in classroom community.
Respecto and bondad are words that are significant and need specific examples, so we discuss them and give different examples of how they should look in our class. Additionally, español is included there, but as a teacher of novice learners, I understand that my students won’t have the language to communicate some of their needs most of the time, so we have a signal to mark when we need to use English in class. We simply show a letter “T” for time in the other language, and sometimes students in my first through 3rd-grade class accompany me with the phrase ¿Puedo hablar inglés? This is just to mark a space for the other language in our class.
Furthermore, I believe in the power of classroom agreements made by students and teachers in their respective classes. I take pictures of these agreements and incorporate them into the slides I use for my classes too! By doing so, I emphasize that these agreements apply equally in my class, fostering continuity and reinforcing a sense of community. And since my time with my students is limited, this saves me some time.
Throughout our time together, I keep the expectations displayed on the board, ensuring they remain visible and accessible to students. This way, we can refer back to them whenever necessary, promoting accountability and maintaining a positive learning environment.
Here are some helpful suggestions to reinforce expectations in the target language:
Keep them short and simple.
Frame them in a positive way.
Accompany each of them with a visual.
Use TPR to represent each of them.
Make sure there is a manageable number that your students can remember.
Building a strong classroom community is based on clear expectations and agreements. This fosters collaboration, respect, and values each student’s voice. Taking the time to work on classroom expectations and agreements at the beginning of the year is an investment. It brings many benefits and helps the class throughout the entire year!
The Andean weather bear, also known as the osito de anteojos del clima, is no ordinary bear. It brings a delightful twist to my classes, where my students can engage in interactive learning by dressing up the bear to match the weather of the day or reflect the changing seasons.
In my kindergarten and first-grade classes, we have incorporated the osito de anteojos into our routine. Every class, we look through the window to observe and discuss the weather conditions for the day. The bear acts as a visual representation of the seasonal changes we experience. Through this activity, we not only explore the weather in our local region but also delve into the concept of seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres. For example, I pull out a map and share with my students that while it is summer in the United States, it is winter in Argentina.
Beyond our classroom walls, the osito de anteojos encourages broader discussions with students of other grades. We engage in a fun guessing game where we estimate the temperatures in different countries, leading to conversations about varying climates and corresponding seasonal attire. As we dress the osito de anteojos to match these far locations, we describe in the target language what the bear is wearing. This simple tool has become a way to give input and start simple conversations in a natural way, and it helps the class flow.
This summer, I am thrilled to be participating in different professional development opportunities for world language educators, where I will be one of the presenters. These sessions are organized by two renowned organizations, Klett WL and the World Language Teacher Summit, and will focus on aspects of world language teaching.
One of my presentations, titled “A Back-to-School Checklist for Elementary Teachers,” will be hosted by Klett World Languages, a leading educational publisher. I have the honor of presenting alongside Valentina Correa, also known as Profe Valentina. This session aims to provide elementary teachers with a comprehensive checklist to help them effectively kickstart the new school year. We will cover various essential elements, including classroom setup, curriculum planning, and instructional strategies. Participants will learn how to create a student-centered environment that fosters language acquisition and engagement. We will discuss the importance of creating a welcoming classroom atmosphere, organizing materials and resources, and establishing routines and procedures. This presentation will equip teachers with practical tools and strategies to ensure a successful start to the academic year.
In my second presentation, titled “Empowering Early Language Learners Through Engaging Topics and Activities,” I will be collaborating with The World Language Teacher Summit. This session will focus on enriching the language learning experience for young students by incorporating engaging topics and activities into the curriculum. By selecting topics that resonate with young learners, teachers can create meaningful connections and facilitate language acquisition. I will also demonstrate a range of engaging activities suitable for different age groups. Participants will leave with a repertoire of creative ideas and resources to engage and empower their early language learners.
The conference will take place from July 17th to 21st. Each presentation will be free for 48 hours. However, if you are unable to attend during that week, don’t worry! You have the option to upgrade to the All-Access Pass, which provides unlimited access to the entire event and exclusive bonuses. If you register for the free conference using my link and later decide to purchase the All-Access Pass, I will receive a portion of your purchase.
Furthermore, I will be presenting at the upcoming MaFLA (Massachusetts Foreign Language Association) conference in the fall. The session I will be leading is titled “Beyond Vocabulary Lists: Meaningful Topics for Early Language Learners.” This presentation will delve into aiding language acquisition beyond traditional vocabulary lists. I will discuss the importance of incorporating meaningful and relevant topics into the curriculum to engage early language learners. During the session, I will showcase practical strategies and activities that promote vocabulary acquisition through authentic and engaging experiences. I am looking forward to the conference and the opportunity to connect with educators who share the same passion for being language educators.
I hope you can join in my in any of these conference or in all of them!
¡Hola! I am Carolina, a Colombian elementary Spanish teacher based in Boston, MA. Fun for Spanish Teachers is the result of my passion for teaching Spanish to children and my desire to inspire collaboration and creativity in a vibrant teaching and learning community. It’s the perfect stop if you are looking for songs, games, teaching tips, stories, and fun for your classes.
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