Thursday, June 5, 2014

Teachers can make classroom immersion easy and fun

With group language classes at the beginning level, classroom management is everything. Here are these students - whatever age - and they are asked to make funny noises and listen to a teacher say things that sound like nonsense. Laughter, teasing, embarrassment, or just fear of looking and sounding stupid, can lead to student behavior that distracts the other students who are trying to pay attention and learn something.

Next, you, the teacher, are in disciplinarian mode, instead of fun, engaging dialogue and interactive mode. Now no one wants to talk, and the quiet classroom is under control but the students aren't learning to speak and understand the language.

What happens next? Often, teachers feel they must switch to English (or the students' first language) to explain  or translate. The immersion concept goes out the window, at least for now.

So how do we get to immersion with beginning students, especially when a group of students vary widely in their level of interest in language learning?

Introducing QTalk Blocks

Maurice Hazan has been mulling over this topic for decades. The magnetic Q-Cards are based on introducing each vocabulary word with a visual scaffold that would be inuitively and instantly comprehensible, then move to series of Q-Cards to make sentences, then games to stimulate recall and self-expression, then Story Cards and scenes to develop more complex narration skills, etc.
Keeping immersion fun for beginning students is a challenge. The QTalk Method provides support for the immersion classroom, so that teachers can engage every student, following a proven method that relies on how the brain actually encodes and recalls meaningful experiences of speaking and listening.

The QTalk digital components and Student Books (both online and printed versions) follow the words - to sentences - to stories/situations sequence, leaving the grammar explanations aside, and saving writing and reading as a next step to follow oral mastery (just as we do in our first language). As a result of the dramatic early successes, hundreds of schools with thousands of students are able to showcase their level one language classes where teachers remain immersed and students remain engaged. Parents are amazed when their children come home from school excited to share what they are learning in Spanish, French, Chinese, Arabic, English/ESL, and other language classes. The word of mouth is helping to spread the news, even while QTalk Publishing's marketing and advertising budget is well below the level of household word Rosetta Stone.

Okay, so what if the teacher is already using a major publisher textbook or some aligned immersion methods to QTalk such as Symtalk (Maurice Hazan's earlier method) or TPRS, and wants to use the QTalk Method and create new lessons, or expand the vocabulary beyond what is in the QTalk Student Book? For example, if you are using "Realidades" or "Avancemos" in your classroom, can you use the QTalk Method to introduce new vocabulary?
That's where QTalk Blocks is aiming to fill a gap.

What are the situations you struggle with, when working to maintain an immersion classroom environment with beginner students? How have you been able to overcome the obstacles? We'd love to hear your experiences and will continue to share ideas to assist.

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