First Week of Spanish Class, French Class:
How to Teach Using Immersion
In my last post, I talked about why it’s so important to create an immersion atmosphere in your class and many of you asked me:
- How do you do that?
- How do you go over rules?
- How do you keep the students from speaking English?
In this post about teaching using immersion techniques, I’ll be sharing the nitty gritty of how to teach the first day of class while immersing your students in the target language.
The First Day of Spanish Class: Part 1
(I’m going to use Spanish in my examples, but you can apply these tips to any language) :
Write your name on the board and introduce yourself. Then teach the students how to introduce themselves. Get them up and moving around, asking each other’s names and answering.
Rules and Policies:
After you’ve done all that, hand out grading policies or other written rules (in English because the parents may be reading them and you want to make sure that all of this is completely clear). In the target language, ask them to read the rules silently. Model reading it to show them what to do. Ask if there are any questions (write a question mark on the board and point to the rules). I would allow them to ask questions in English for this one part, but honestly, most students don’t have any questions.
Model how to ask to go to the bathroom (cross your legs and act like you have to go, then write the question on the board and have them write it in their notebooks). Repeat how to say this and have them practice. You may want to use a signal (in sign language, it’s tucking your thumb between your index and second finger and closing your fist).
Any time you hold it up, they have to say, “I have to go to the bathroom.” Randomly hold up your hand at certain points during class (and cross your legs because they’ll think this is funny). Do this each day until they have mastered the expression.
Also, good to do this for “How do you say . . .? (model it with a puzzled expression on your face). Save that for day 2.
Target Language Use:
Next, model that the class will be speaking only the target language in class. Do this by saying (whenever I refer to speaking in this post, I mean in the target language), “Only Spanish in class” and “No English”.
Go out to the hallway and pretend to speak loudly to a friend in English. Say things that your students would say to make it funny. Ex. (said in an exaggerated voice for maximum humor) “I LOVE how you decorated your locker! Those photos of _____ (insert popular teen celebrity here) are so _______ (insert whatever word they would use for awesome)! Then as you walk through the doorway to your class, immediately switch to all Spanish.
Ex. Hi Suzy! How are you? I love your outfit today . . .”. Do this again and pretend you’re a guy, “Hey bro, what’s up?” and then a similar greeting, but in Spanish. “Hola Paco. Hombre, ¿qué te pasa?”.
This makes your expectations very clear. A lot of people ask me, “How do you explain the rules in your class if you’re speaking all in the target language?”
Any important rules, I add to my English handout. Honestly, I don’t go over any other rules because I’d rather spend this time teaching them Spanish. At this point, students should know how to act and behave in class. If a situation comes up, then I’ll address it (still in the target language) with modeling.
- For my upper level classes, I love to pass out a list of everything that we’ll be learning for the year (in the target language) and have them take turns reading each line out loud. As soon as they’re done, I write the number of minutes that they’ll be in class on the board and say, “We only have this many minutes to learn all this, so let’s go!”
Hope all of this information was helpful to you. Check out the next part in this series to delve deeper into my first week of Spanish class lesson plans and how I teach using immersion. Happy Teaching!