How can a living language exist in a classroom? Here is some practical advice for modern language teachers:
Use the target language during classes
It is good to exhibit your students to the target language as often as possible. You may have to say a few words in local language during your classes, but most of the time it is not really necessary. By immersing your students in the target language, you help them to approach the language more independently, increase their confidence and enrich their vocabulary.
Students like to hear about the “natives” of the target language, hence the interest of asking your colleagues to participate by inviting them into your classroom. If they know this language a little but have difficulty speaking it, your students will help them to improve.
If they speak it very well, they will make them aware of the importance of language skills in communication. Encourage your students and colleagues to express themselves without too much concern about their mistakes and emphasize the importance of communication.
Language assistants can provide great support to teachers, in particular for teachers who do not speak the target language fluently. Their contribution represents a pedagogical resource rooted in reality and promotes the quality of listening among students.
The exchanges between assistants and professors introduce a certain spontaneity during the courses. You can also invite a person who is fluent in the language – a friend or a colleague, for example – of your class.
Whenever language is used in practical situations, the role of language in communication is reinforced. Also, use the means you have to use the language naturally, for example when you give instructions, advice or welcome your students.
Encourage students to adopt a pragmatic attitude
Students need to engage in exercises that interest them in an atmosphere conducive to participation and success. The more they are interested in what they are doing, the more they make progress.
Competitions and quizzes are an important motivating factor. By rewarding them when they succeed in communicating, you offer them constant opportunities to improve.
The least practical exercise, combinations of images and words for example, or even the search for hidden words, can be transformed into competitions: race against the clock, the first to finish, competitions between classes, etc.
Never forget that grammar is the starting point for all language skills
Grammar is an element of language just as fundamental as communication. One can not exist without the other. It is necessary to maintain a balance between them to teach a language properly and to ensure that students learn with pleasure while making progress.
Grammar is the basis of all language skills. Knowledge of grammar allows students to speak better, write correctly, and gain more confidence. It is also an opportunity to check the grammar points that need to be re-expanded or revised.
Do your learners have a distinct way of retaining certain grammar rules? Adopt games, activities and video clips to illustrate the grammar rules you teach students.
Learning a language is cumulative and must be pursued outside the classroom
The more you learn and the more you practice a language, the more you can speak it fluently. In many areas, skills are assimilated through repetition and training. This is particularly the case for the acquisition of a language.
In order to reinforce classroom learning, we must continually review grammar, revise vocabulary and work on pronunciation. Recreational activities such as singing, replacing missing words, or using memory to associate words and images are all useful exercises.
During the practical exercises, systematically repeat what you say so that the students can listen to the pronunciation repeatedly.
To the extent that learning a language proceeds by accumulation, it must continue outside the classroom. One of the ways you have is vocabulary tests with revisions to do at home. Give your students exercises at home to retain what they have learned during classes. Many students like to teach their parents what they have learned.
Bring language and culture into the classroom
Focusing on cultural differences as well as linguistic favors the learning of a language. This arouses student interest and encourages them to take an active part in their learning. Do not just teach them the language but learn to know the countries where it is practiced.
Suggest that your students watch TV shows or movies in the language of interest. Ask them what they already know about the culture of the countries where they speak the language they are learning and what they would like to know.
By introducing the language and culture of these countries into the classroom, you will motivate your students all the more. Organize an exchange program by email so that your students get to know their correspondents abroad. Their experience by asking them questions in writing and trying to understand their answers will give them additional reasons to improve.
Language clubs are informal places where students can practice speaking and understanding, do homework, or discuss the culture associated with target language countries.