Feb 7 | #EarlyLang

Input and Output: What is the Effective Balance?
from February 7, 2018

On February 7, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly #EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed how to provide input that engages students, how and when to transition to output, and how to support introverted learners so they feel confident in their output.

Q1: What types of activities do you employ to provide rich input for your students?? 

Participants agreed that authentic resources are a must. These can include Facebook posts, memes, Instagram photos, or tweets.  Some specifically mentioned were @zoomadrid, @profeklein, and Unsplash (https://t.co/577eayZhQO). Other suggestions included short videos, repetitive books, games, songs, flashcards, and picture books. Finally, any spontaneous conversation about the weather, something new in the students’ lives, or anything else that comes up is authentic input and useful for student learning as well as creating those all-important connections with students.

Q2:  What strategies actively engage learners with input (attention, responses, etc.)?

Many participants said that they use movement and Total Physical Response (TPR) to engage students. Physical responses could include a simple thumbs up/thumbs down to signal understanding, Four Corners activities, using manipulatives, or acting out oral language. @rrrrrrrrrrrrosa suggested drawing, picture matches, and checklists and warned that students can get tired of drawing all the time. Videos can be helpful, but are occasionally above the proficiency levels of students. @MundodePepita said, “ I use them more as Q & A opportunities, stopping & asking tons of ?s, rather than them listening for comprehension for the whole thing.” Finally, the use of cognates can be beneficial for older students.

Q3: When and how do we transition from input to output with early learners? 

Participants agreed that it depends on the student and their level of readiness to speak or write in the TL.  Other comments included:

@MaryLotusCn, “output comes when it comes, I’ve heard the cup of water metaphor b4 and liked it, input is what you keep pouring into the glass and output is the overflow.”

@ mgriffinemc, “Start small with output expectations: Si/no questions, complete the sentence using flashcards. Ss can say word represented by flashcards or not. Even pointing to right card demonstrates comprehension.”

@SECottrell, “Also expecting is not the same as demanding. This is different from my older learners, sometimes. I rarely require output in #earlylang but quickly expect SOME will start to spontaneously offer answers.”

@MundodePepita, “I’m on a mini whiteboard kick right now; it is taming some of my wild beasts who cannot sit still w/o getting in everyone else’s face. And they love using them.”

The consensus is to allow students the time they need and provide the tools so they can interact when they choose to do so.

Q4: How can authentic and learner input be used to inspire more output?

Many participants recommended a topic that is interesting to students so they are motivated to give opinions or talk about their own experiences with the topic. The key is to choose resources and visuals that match the students’ ability to express themselves and to anticipate and frontload the language they may need prior to the activity.  Another important component is a safe classroom environment in which the teacher provides guidance and is careful not to over correct students so that they shut down.  Finally, when using videos or other resources, look for ones to really dig into, that provide for deeper conversation.

Q5: How do you engage and support introverted learners when asking for output?

Output does not have to be spoken. Participants suggested other means of showing comprehension, such as a thumbs up or smile. Ideas for communicating included writing responses, talking to a partner, or talking to “stuffies,” @MundodePepita said that many students find this comforting and they get the courage to actively participate. @Flipgrid is a tech tool that allows students to record short videos, the teacher can keep[ these private, or open to the whole class.  Finally teachers need to pay attention and see what activities and topics draw their introverted students into participation.

Reflaction (reflection + action)

Reflactions were limited this month. @WescottSpanish said that she wants to collect authentic resources for topics covered so there is a lot to choose from. @rrrrrrrrrrrrosa wanted to find ways to give input to students in preparation for Marzo de Musica, a music competition for Spanish classes.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Jenny Delfini, (@JL_Delf)‏ for leading the chat and to our co-moderator, M Cristina Rdz-Villa, (@MaCristinaRV) for helping guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.The next chat is February 21, 2018 at 8 pm EST.  Hope to see you there.

Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1

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