Spontaneous Speaking in the Target Language

What does an IACS student sound like?

When people ask me to tell them more about our program, I encourage them to go to a workshop, visit a class room and listen to one of our students. Here is a chance to listen in to someone at the very beginning of her language acquisition journey.

Here is the context: I was headed to the ACTFL convention in San Antonio and at the last minute thought it would be helpful to have some audio. So, this student was around and I asked her if she had a few minutes to talk; neither of us had planned to do it. She is in 6th grade and has been in Spanish class for less than 3 months. Take a few minutes to watch this. What do you notice? What do you hear?

Did you watch it? Don’t cheat and read this without watching it! I want to know what you hear first.

A few things I noticed: 1. She is more nervous about the camera than the fact that I’m talking to her in Spanish. (I might be able to tell this because I know her) 2. She doesn’t break down, give up, or resort to English even when she is talking about something that is less familiar/unpracticed. She does pause and there is silence, but I’d say that’s acceptable for a Novice student in her third month. 3. She is listing and using words to communicate which is appropriate for a Novice level speaker (I’m not hearing sentences! But, that is not a Novice descriptor or goal).

This is the type of conversation that gets me excited about our program! She can’t conjugate verbs or tell you whether her adjectives agree, but she can understand and respond in a spontaneous conversation with a person accustomed to dealing with language learners (Novice Guidelines). She doesn’t know a lot ABOUT Spanish. But, she is USING it.

What do you notice?

Do you want to hear a second year student next?

6 thoughts on “Spontaneous Speaking in the Target Language

  1. OH MY GOD THIS IS AWESOME!!! In WHAT other kind of WL classroom can we find this level of understanding, communication and comfort with L2 after THREE MONTHS?!!! Thank you for your blog and especially this video Ashely!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashley, I really appreciate your posts that have included videos of students over time. (There was the other post that had 6 videos for a 6th grader and then her first 7th grade video.) These are really helpful in planning with a staff member new to OWL and talking about where we want the students to be at the end of the year.

      In the past I have had the students do some recordings of themselves on school i-pods. I ended up just assessing them from the i-pods, but after that I had no long term record of the videos because a) there was nothing to keep others from deleting videos b) the i-pods started to run out of memory.

      Do you have a system in which all students videos are kept for them to use as a tool for reflection and a way to demonstrate their growth? If so, how have you streamlined it so that students are doing the work of uploading AND privacy concerns are addressed?

      Again, many thanks.


      • Hello! Thank you for your comments. We use iPods and then students upload to their personal YouTube accounts (they have them here because we use google tools, but it would be easy to create if your school didn’t use google already). They have to click “unlisted” before they publish (not private and not public). Unlisted means that people can not find/see the video unless the specific link has been shared with them. Students keep their links on a google doc as a “Table of Contents” of their videos. So, students can look back at their videos and I can, but no one else has access to them. For the purpose of my blog, I did get some parent permission to publicly post these videos, in case you were curious. Let me know if I can clarify more pieces of that process. I hope to post more videos soon.


  2. She’s definitely not afraid to speak in L2 and uses what she knows to answer everything you ask her. Wow! This is GREAT!!!! Amazing work, Ashley! šŸ™‚


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