As I find myself moving more and more into teaching solely based on proficiency with comprehensible input, I feel that many teachers are intimidated to begin the switch. Many feel that they have to completely get rid of their textbook- then, where do you begin?! Plus it seems that some proficiency teachers create their own units that would not align with a traditional textbook. It becomes difficult to even edit those for your own class. Many teachers have so many preps that it seems overwhelming. Many teachers work with traditional grammar and vocabulary teachers and do not want to completely rock the boat especially when they are starting! Also, if you fill your days with a lot of worksheets or conjugation- where do you go from there? How do you prepare students for proficiency assessments?
I wanted to write a series for you, so you can start to dip your toe into the proficiency waters. When you have started, I guarantee that you will progress further. It will become easier to incorporate into your program then you can think about moving away from your program if you would like- or not! Many times, I think teachers feel that it must be all or nothing. That was never my personality, and I wanted to help you along your way.
First, I found it easier to incorporate interpretive reading or listening into already existing vocabulary quizzes. I would search for a video clip or a reading, and I would create an interpretive assessment based on it. (Here are two examples of a reading assessment that I created. I also have a template to use to listen to commercials for Novice High.) Since there is already a section for key words, you can add your vocabulary there. I have also asked students to find five or six vocabulary words that they know from the article. (I make sure that there are at least seven or more vocabulary.) I have also added a section such as “describe your own bedroom in Spanish and compare it to the one in the article.” I realize that is not strictly interpretive, but I am ok with that. You do not have to include every single item from the IPA list if you are not there yet. Try adding a few elements from the list.
Once I had decided on what my assessment would be, it allowed me to plan a bit easier. Many blogs list activities for interpretive reading and listening like Creative Language Class, Amy Lenord, OFLA tech binder, and Laura Sexton. Even though my interpretive assessments use solely authentic resources, I do not only use authentic resources in class. In addition to the blogs above that I reference, if I am preparing my students for an interpretive reading activity, I will:
- Give them a practice with the same types of questions.
- Use comprehensible readings to increase their understanding of the vocabulary and increase fluency such as these noticias.
- Use reading guides.
- Have time for Free Voluntary Reading with my classroom library.
- Have students complete a webquest style activity on a website in the TL.
- Play a game such as my review game with interpretive questions on the text.
If I am preparing students for a listening assessment, I will:
- Use songs!
- Use a program such as Zaption to watch videos (except now Zaption has been bought, so I will be switching platforms.)
- Complete these two of my favorite listening activities.
- Use the proficiency exercises from the University of Texas with an accompanying “pop quiz.” (Except I tell my students that it is coming!)
I also created a Pinterest board with more interpretive activities to help you. I do not complete only these activities to the exclusion of speaking and writing that week, but I feel that once I establish my focus for the week, it becomes easier to incorporate more proficiency activities into my planning. In the comments, add some of your favorite reading or listening proficiency activities that help prepare students! One of my biggest worries was what I would actually do in class once I moved to more proficiency based assessments. Take some time this week to think of a unit that you teach where you could add an interpretive quiz and find a good authentic resource to save. Then you can start wading in the proficiency pool!