Thank you to everyone who participated and submitted questions. As a reminder, Toni Theisen has created a wikispace in the ACTFL community that can be accessed at:
This wikispace contains information relating to the 3 webinars.
What is the T.A.L.K.
For more information, a complete explanation of the T.A.L.K.
rubric and be found in The Teacher’s Handbook, Shrum and Glisan, Fourth Edition
in the Appendix on page 502.
I’ll give an overview here. Students are assessed in four areas:
T – talking in the target language, trying to communicate,
the talk is relevant to the task
A – there is an acceptable level of accuracy, particularly
with regard to the objective of the lesson
L – the student is listening to his/her partner and is on
K – the student is kind and cooperative, he does not kill
the task, he works with his partner/group
Create a chart that has a column for each letter across the
top and the names of each student on the vertical column. During pair or group work, circulate and monitor individual
students for each aspect in a random fashion, but try to assess every student
on each aspect at least twice over a set period of time. Teachers should try to
assess each student over a two-week period.
Mark plus (+) if the work is excellent, a check (√) if the
work is good to fair and a minus (-) if
work is needed.
For each round of TALK, a student can earn 8 points.
Teachers would transfer that score to the grade book on a sliding scale.
Students earning 7 or 8 points would have an A, 5 or 6 points a B, 3 or 4
points a C, 1 or 2 points a D and 0 points an F.
Are there alternatives
to the TALK strategy for teachers who change classrooms?
The TALK rubric is basically just one sheet of paper and so it is easy
to manage in all classrooms.
How do you keep
students engaged in the target language when the teacher is working with one
group? When they do interpersonal tasks, how do I keep them in the
I would encourage teachers to establish a routine for allowing
the teacher and the students to use English. One that has worked for me is to
teach students to ask for permission to use English. The teacher must also ask
for permission. Of course, the teacher seldom gives permission and surprisingly, the students also seldom give permission.
The other suggestion is the one that was given during the
webinar. Monitor the amount of time that you give students to complete a task.
Always give less time that you believe is needed. Invest in a timer and set it
for a certain number of seconds. The timer will keep the teacher from being
distracted by individual questions from one group, will create a sense of
urgency for finishing the work. It’s an ideal situation if the timer goes off
and the students ask for more time to work on the task.
Are you supporting
the idea of inventing new words in the target language?
No, but I would encourage students to use circumlocution and
would actively practice that skill. Even novice level students can be asked to
define words in the target language – “hot” can be expressed as “not cold”.
How do you avoid mistakes when speaking the target language if they have to improvise the
dialogue without writing or preparing the conversation?
avoid mistakes, but you are replicating a more realistic situation by allowing
them to communicate as they would in a real-life situation. Students who have
the opportunity to engage in conversation with native speakers will never have
rehearsal time. The only true “mistake” is when the message is lost. If we
create a community where errors are tolerated as part of the learning process,
we will develop students who are more likely to take risks to advance their own
skills. Take note of errors and plan an appropriate and focused lesson to
address the ones that occur keeping the emphasis on the structures that
students have studied or are currently learning.
I don’t think that students in the
novice level will be able to use a long sentence such “The girl is cold but the
dog wants to go outside?” How is this activity for novice learners, is it
novice level covers a range of performance and students at the novice high
level are actually performing at the intermediate low level part of the time.
Think about the typical level 1 curriculum. Students will learn how to say,
“The girl is cold.” They will also learn to say “The dog wants to walk. “ By
giving students simple words and asking students to combine memorized phrases
or sentences, you are challenging student to begin the process of creating with
language. You do have to be careful to choose words that will not force
students to use structures that they may not have learned.
Go Animate? A computer program?
is a free tool available at http://goanimate.com/.
It allows students to animate the role-plays that they have practiced in class and may be an excellent extension of an in class activity.
How do I use interpersonal tasks
in assessment, when all my colleagues are doing fill in and memorizing
This is a
very challenging situation. Hopefully, your school or district will have a
written curriculum that is based on functional goals, what students should be
able to do with the language at each level. If not, try to get your colleagues
to agree on the top 10 for each level. That will allow you to focus on those
goals in meaningful ways. My favorite “challenge” question is “How will
students use the language on the streets of (Paris)?” Then, suggest designing
performance assessments that mimic what students will really do with the
language. Ultimately, teachers are responsible for making sure that their
students learn to use the language in realistic ways. You have to be willing to
be a change agent in your school in order to do what is best for your students.
So in high school, the highest
proficiency level is usually intermediate? Is AP expecting students to reach
the advanced level?
school students who have the typical 4 or 5-year sequence will normally reach
only the intermediate mid level of performance. A student who is a solid
intermediate mid with some evidence of intermediate high/pre-advanced can get a
3 or 4 on the AP exam. The best and brightest and those who have experiences
outside of school may achieve pre-advanced and are likely to get a 5. The
important thing to remember about the AP exams is that they are performance
based; they are designed to determine what students can do with the language.
Marty also provided an answer to this question during the webinar. If someone
from AP has a more definitive answer, please respond to this posting.
How can we enhance communication
among good students, academically speaking, but who are shy?
my experience that students who are good academically want to get good grades
in the class. Therefore, it’s important that the grading system in your
classroom encourage speaking. In my classroom, a student who refused to
participate in class, who did not engage in interpersonal pair and group work
activities, who would not volunteer would only be able to earn a B because my
points were structured to make that happen. That seemed to give me the leverage
that I needed to encourage students to become involved. Often, that process
started with the students earning speaking points before and after school.
Usually that would break the barrier and the student found it easier to
participate in class. I would also make contact with a shy student during an
oral activity saying that I would be calling on him next. Finally, be sure to
create an environment in your classroom for risk taking. Peer pressure can
both help and hinder the learning process.
How can I combine these strategies
with the book series we have to use?
This is a
great question. It doesn’t matter what book you use. The textbook is just a tool. What matters is that you
know what your language goals are for the unit that you are teaching. The
textbook may focus on the grammar structures and lists of vocabulary, but you
can see that the functional language skill is “able to describe”. Create a variety of tasks that require
students to describe in situations that replicate what they may do in
real-life. They may have to discuss what they will wear for a specific event,
describe the new dog that they just got, describe their best friend or their
ideal career. Also many textbooks today have an assessment component that is
often overlooked. It’s usually called alternative assessment or performance
assessment. Often, these assessments are performance based and can be used in
place of the more typical quizzes and tests provided by the textbook.
Other than this webinar what other
resources can we use to promote interpersonal communication?
suggest that you watch some of the videos create by ACTFL. There are two series
Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Workshop and Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 –
A Library of Classroom Practices. They can be found at http://www.learner.org/resources/series201.html
The first collection contains a video called Person to Person which offers
additional suggestions for interpersonal communication, but many of the
workshops and classroom videos highlight interpersonal activities. The
classroom video “Hearing Authentic Voices” shows how one teacher prepares her
students for interviews with native speakers.
In the same classroom - how do you
deal with students that have dramatic skill level differences?
normal to have different skill levels in any one classroom. If you consider
reading levels in English, there is a wide variety in any given grade. I think
the answer is to set clear daily goals and tell the students what the goal is
for the day. For example, if the daily goal is narration in the past, tell
students that they must be able to say what they did in the past and post that
goal in the room. Then, design the activities to support that goal. Students might listen to or view a
video listing what happened in the past. As they report, the teacher writes the
statements correctly so that students can see the correct form. Students would work with the teacher to co-construct the grammar rule. They might read
a text and isolate the activities that occurred. They might engage in a
think-pair-share activity, answering questions about what they did last night,
last summer, etc. Before exiting the class, each student might be asked to
write down two things they did last weekend. This learning check allows the
teacher to see who has met the goal and who will need additional help during the
next class. The focus on the goal allows the weaker student to identify what is
truly important. Without the emphasis on specific goals, class can seem like a string
of activities to the weaker student.