November 13, 2019 | #EarlyLang

Interpersonal Communication in the #Earlylang Classroom
from November 13, 2019

On November 13, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed the facets of Interpersonal Communication along with the uses of scaffolding and scripted interactions in developing proficiency. They also suggested how to assess and track progress as students move through their education.

Q1: How do you define interpersonal communication, and does it look distinct at the #earlylang level?

Definitions varied but came down to the exchange of ideas between people, it could be verbal or non-verbal and may or may not occur in real time. Interpersonal communication tends to be social and so slightly less formal. For younger learners, it could be memorized chunks of language that they manipulate to have a conversation. Young learners also need to navigate the social aspects of conversation–listening to the other speaker, turns appropriately, not interrupting, etc.

Q2: How do #earlylang learners show progress as they move through their elementary experience?

As with L1 acquisition, learners show greater complexity in their use of language as they acquire the L2. They may begin with simple yes/no questions and progress to open ended questions. Students also move from simple, everyday topics to the more complex. Their utterances also become more varied and detailed and include emotion. As students acquire language, they begin to show reactions in response to others, too. It can be a slow process, especially for those students who do not have a daily class. However, with each successful interaction, students gain confidence and are willing to continue experimenting with the TL.

Q3:How can we best scaffold emerging interpersonal communication with #earlylang students?

Begin by setting a safe environment for students to practice with new language structures. In the early stages, it is important to allow for simple forms of communication, like gestures. It is also important to provide a great deal of CI, focus on context and repetition of language useful for what students want to communicate, and provide many opportunities to interact in the TL. A final idea is to provide cues to help start conversations and remove the cues over time as students gain in confidence and proficiency.

Q4:How can we effectively assess interpersonal communication in the #earlylang class?

Assessment can be done in a variety of ways, both formally and informally. A formal assessment might involve a short question and answer based on structures studied in class or through the use of Can-Do statements. An informal assessment could be a brief conversation in the hall, tracking utterances over time, or a chart where students self-assess. It is important for students to feel success and assessing their communication over time shows that they are making progress.


Q5: What role (if any)do scripted interactions play in developing interpersonal proficiency?

@reallanguage, “I am all about this! If you don’t give them something to work with, how can they practice? It’s important for the teacher to move Ss away from the scripted conversation but memorized chunks of language are a necessary beginning.”

@MaCristinaRV, “Scripted interactions help #earlylang learners build grammatical foundations as they repeat and practice language structures.”

@SenorKohl, “Seeing the scripted words and hearing the pronunciation, helps model appropriate pronunciation and speech patterns in the TL.”

@windycitysenorita, “I think this, too, can help support their personal development with interpersonal etiquette(as we mentioned earlier)by modeling interactions.”

@SECottrell, “I think scripted conversations help the memorize part of memorized words and phrases – the key in novice proficiency, interpersonal or otherwise.”


Reflaction (Reflection+Action) How will you help your #earlylang learners improve their interpersonal interactions after this chat? .

Several participants shared their ideas. One mentioned including more spontaneous communication opportunities to help prepare students for role plays and interview type assessments. Another mentioned reviewing the ideas mentioned during the chat as a means to encourage students to experiment with the TL.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Valerie Shull (@windycitysenorita) , and our co-moderator, Mundo de Pepita(@MundodePepita), for helping to guide the conversation.

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EMC School

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