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   Looking for Guidance in Teaching Vocabulary in a Proficiency-Based Classroom
 From: Thomas Sanders
 To: Language Educators
 Posted: 09-27-2017 19:56

I hope that cross-posting this from the teacher development SIG is permitted - although that community is more active, it is much smaller. Hopefully the larger group of educators here will have insight into my situation.

I'm a fourth-year Spanish teacher (among other things) at a middle school and due to many factors, including a change in textbooks at the high school and professional development, I am looking to change the way I teach Spanish to my students. From what I've found in blogs, on the ACTFL website, and heard from my mentor, a proficiency-based model seems to be the way to go.

While I've found a lot of information about changes to the general method of instruction and assessment, one issue that concerns me is the best way to introduce vocabulary and make sure that students have the proper tools (vocabulary-wise) to deal with the new activities and assessments we will be doing.

Our set-up is fairly basic: I see the 6th through 8th-grade students three times a week for approximately 40 minutes each time. We do have 1:1 Chromebooks in the middle school, which is both a blessing and a curse. Right now, many students are tempted to use Google Translate to simply get an assignment done. A transition to a proficiency-based model, where simply translating something isn't particularly helpful (improvised, non-rehearsed dialogue for example) will help to release them from this temptation.

I feel that I have enough ideas for units that my overall curriculum will not be lacking, but I am concerned about leaving my students without sufficient vocabulary when we begin to make the transition to proficiency-assessment. I know that several of my students (and likely more) will surprise me with their abilities once they're confident, but they do need to have a solid base from which to work. Are flash cards the way to go? Do I make sure they have a foundation of vocabulary and go from there?

Thanks for your advice

(I have posted this on other forums, and the other response I have gotten is to make a word wall or create a vocabulary list for students. Both seem like good ideas, but will they be sufficient on their own to create a foundation of vocabulary for each unit we cover?)

Thomas Sanders

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