Posted in Speaking

My revamped tertulia for Spanish V/VI

tertulia 2018-2019

As I noted last year, I used tertulia with mixed success during my Spanish V class.  While I enjoyed that students could find a topic that interested them, it ended up being too presentation-y and not enough of a conversation.  I think one of the problems was that most groups preferred to do videos, and then students couldn’t participate that easily because they didn’t know enough about the topic.  Also, the group presenting worried too much about the presentation/slideshow that they were doing and not enough about the questions.  The questions ended up being more comprehension questions and didn’t necessarily spur conversation.  Interestingly enough, one of the best conversations that the students had revolved around music and their likes and dislikes.

I decided last year to have students find an article to bring in to share.  I decided to expand this to including a video too.  Since we are reading Vidas Impactantes, students can find a current event related to one of the people highlighted in the chapter or from the country.  For example, I said that after reading about Roberto Clemente, some ideas could include: Puerto Rico, baseball or discrimination.  I also decided that this year, I would model how I wanted students to prepare by preparing for the first one myself.  I decided to choose this video about hurricane homes that two entrepreneurs developed in Puerto Rico.  We can start out by discussing if students like them or not, and what they think they should include.  We could also talk about what they would bring to these homes to escape a hurricane.  Also, students can explain where they think these homes would be needed.

This is the current description for this year.  I will continue to reflect on how this process is going.  I think that these tertulias can really encourage some great conversation.  Have you tried tertulias?  How do you make them work in your class?

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8 thoughts on “My revamped tertulia for Spanish V/VI

  1. I continue to be amazed by your work. I wonder if you could share how you keep discussion going and how you assess conversation pieces. I have used chart that all students in a conversation circle of no more than 5 can see at the same time. There is a box for each student’s name. As they talk I mark and they see iit while talking. I mark ? (Student asked a question), R ( Student answered a questions), + ( conversation continued, student moved the conversation forward) . This is all I have been able to manage since conversation can be so fast. I have usually had a mixture of native and non-native speakers at the upper levels. I circulate among the groups at about 5 minute intervals helping the conversation by adding questions or comments, if necessary. I love the ideas of tertulias, especially with upper levels.

    1. Hi! So today, I did a practice round with two of my classes. With one class, I explained the proficiency expectations in the beginning and with the other at the end of the tertulia. The class where I explained it before had a better conversation overall even though they aren’t my chattier class. Going over the expectations has helped.
      For the upper levels especially early on, I focus on writing down all of the verbs and transition words that they use during speaking. This allows me to see the variety that they are using. I don’t write them down more than once, so at the end, if I see only a list of a few verbs, I know that they need to work on their use of vocabulary. Also, writing down the verbs as they say them allows me to tell if they are typically speaking in the present tense or if they are mixing other tenses in as well. This helps me assess their accuracy. Finally, I make a tally mark in a column if they pause for a long time. If they have a fair amount of those, then they will be in a different proficiency level for fluency.
      After I assess them, I normally have a reflection form for them to fill out. This allows me some time to add notes to my reflections as the conversation may have moved quickly. Does this help answer some of your questions?

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