There are some areas in my teaching that I feel I could improve upon. I am envious of those teachers who use such great, authentic resources in class. Also, I am in awe of classes I see that are 100% in the target language. These are areas that I know I can do better, and am always working on in my own class.
However, there are some areas that I ROCK! I think my colleagues would agree that one of my strengths is using actions in the classroom. If you have never used this technique before here are some tips I use:
–Keep it simple: I feel that actions work best in my classes with verbs and adjectives. Sometimes nouns work really well, but there are those nouns( like house, park, and computer) that are much simpler to use pictures for instead.
–Get the kids involved: Some teachers like to create a set action to represent a word for each class, but I like to get their ideas. Almost always, their ideas are way better than what I was thinking. For example, yesterday my students learned the word “alegre”, which is the Spanish word for happy. One class came up with a clapping motion. Their thinking was that it reminded them of Pharrell William’s song “Happy”. Other classes came up with versions of smiling, but no two classes had the same action. They are all so creative!
–Don’t be afraid to look stupid: I can safely say that I was definitely not one of the cool kids in school, and I for sure am not a cool adult. When I was told in high school that my shoes “look tight” I replied, “Actually they are kinda roomy”. That being said, I am not afraid to embarrass myself in front of my students. I will do any action they suggest, including the running man and duck face, because I know that it all helps them remember what I’m teaching. The dumber I look, the more comfortable all of my students feel in participating. If you look like you are having fun, they will too.
-Repeat, repeat, repeat: The purpose behind using actions to represent words is to help those kinesthetic learners, who are sometimes left out of traditional learning, to find techniques to learn new ideas. If I have a set of ten words to teach in a day, I will introduce the first word, ask for options for actions, have the class vote, and have everyone do the action. Then, I move onto the next word, repeat the process, and review the prior action. I keep doing that until I feel that I have gone over the same words OVER and OVER and OVER again. Even when I think we have practiced a word enough, it sometimes isn’t enough for everyone. So keep on repeating!
Not only are actions a fun way to learn new vocabulary, but it helps get the students moving and keeps the class in the target language. When using actions, there really is little need to speak English. Thus, it is a win-win situation!