We are in our HANGING OUT unit and my students are still learning how to give information about their plans. I’m really pushing them to try to give more details because that is one difference between novice and intermediate speakers. One of our goals is to describe WHERE a place or event is located. They can say in the language “the party is at my house” but if I don’t know where their house is then that is no help to me.
This is how my students learn how to describe WHERE something is located.
1.) I like students to hear it before they see it. I find their pronunciation is so much better that way. They know the goal for the day, but I don’t give them any notes or visuals to start. I say the words “CLOSE” or “FAR” and show them what it means with my hands. Then I grab a student and tell them in the TL, “Paco is close to me (NO ME GUSTA)” and then send him to the far corner of the room. “Now Paco is far away from me (THIS IS MUCH BETTER).” I really emphasize the key words so they stand out to my students.
2.) Then I have them get active.I’ll tell them, “Show me with your hands…Close, Far, To the right, Far, close. Most can recognize 6-7 really quickly. They show me the same hand motions that I modeled for them. I do a speed version at the end and my classes always laugh because it looks like an odd choreographed dance when everyone does it so quickly!
3.) Next, each student finds a partner and stands up. I tell them 1 person does not move. The other personal has to listen to me and go where I tell them to go. (I do this is the TL and they figure it out.) I say something like “Put yourself on the right side of your partner” and they start to move. They all check out the other groups to make sure they are doing it right. “Now get very close to your partner.” This is awkward and really funny! “Stand far away from the door” and so on. The key to success is to only do this a minute or two with each person. It is fun, they get to move around, and they have each other to help them.
4.) Time to practice! This year I’m going to let them play Kara’s “Right, Left, Center” game in small groups. It lets them practice speaking some without the pressure.
5.) After the game I will give them a notes paper like this and let them try to remember what each word means.
6.) Now that they have “notes” we’ll talk. I can ask them “Where is (student’s name)?” or “Where is the computer?” I don’t care if they answer me or write it on a whiteboard. I love this because there are so different correct answers. This is my time to remind them about that pesky little word “DE.”
7.) Finally, I check to see what they can do. I put this on the overhead with 2 short questions in the TL. “Where are the telephones?” and “Where is the dog “Cosmo”? The grammar is not perfect but most can answer questions in Spanish with a description that makes sense. I can help eliminate errors the next day.
8.) They next day, I usually get them standing up and in 3 long lines across the room. I tell them they have to move where I say at the same time. (I’m clapping really SLOW to keep them together.) I’ll tell them… “to the right, to the right, forward, back, to the left, to the left, back to the right.” Then (here is where it gets crazy) I put on the instrumentals to The cupid shuffle or The cha-cha slide and let them dance to the music while I sing what they are supposed to do. I would record myself for you all but it would be too embarrassing! If they want to keep dancing, I make them say the directions while they dance. It is hilarious.
9.) Next, I have a little map of a hand drawn city with houses in it. Each house has a number. Kids draw a number to see which house is theirs and they have to record a video with three clues about where their house is located. After we have recorded the videos, I choose 5 or six and play them in class. Each student has the same map in front of them and they have to try to correctly guess where these people live.
10.) For a quick oral assessment, I will ask students in the TL “Where do you live?” and they have to explain it. I’ll continue to ask “Where is that?” and when I truly have a good idea where there house is they have earned their stamp for the day.
I’m sure these ideas aren’t new to you veteran teachers out there but hopefully you can take an idea or two from this list and have some fun the next time you teach a “Where is it?” lesson. Oh, and please let me know if you try the cupid shuffle in class!