Activities for foreign language acquisition

Visit this blog for a range of activities to support language acquisition.

http://frenchteachernet.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/50-writing-activities-for-mfl-classroom.html or see summary below. Thanks Steve.

Below is a list of common writing activities in the target language which can be carried out in a classroom or in some cases online. Most of these would be done within a sequence of activities, often following oral activities to improve comprehension, embed vocabulary or syntactic rules, and improve accuracy of speech and writing.

Much writing will be done at home so as to maximise classroom time for listening and oral activity. Writing should nearly always be in the target language, although there will be times when using English makes more sense e.g. when taking notes on a harder spoken or written passage. The teacher will always need to adapt to the needs of the particular class.

  • Copywriting from a book or the board to establish simple spellings
  • Writing down words spelled out orally
  • Writing down answers to oral questions
  • Writing down answers to written questions
  • Filling gaps (with options given or not given)
  • Writing down corrected answers to false statements given orally
  • Writing down corrected answers to false statements written down
  • Writing down the correct one of two or more alternative statements provided orally
  • Writing short phrase statements or just true/false on a mini whiteboard
  • Taking notes to an audio or spoken source
  • Completing an information grid based on a written source
  • Completing an information grid or transcription based on a spoken source
  • Writing sentences or a narrative based on a picture or picture sequence
  • Writing sentences from short notes (e.g. diary entries)
  • Completing a sentence or text with the correct form of a given verb or adjective
  • Transposing sentences or text from one person to another
  • Putting jumbled words into a correct sentence
  • Summarising from an English text
  • Summarising from a target language text
  • Writing down solutions to anagrams (either written ones or ones provided orally)
  • Dictation: transcribing words, phrases, sentences or passages from audio or read by teacher
  • Paired dictation e.g. running dictation”
  • Writing a traditional discursive essay
  • Translating into the target language from a written source
  • Translating into the target language from an oral source
  • Writing a passage from a template
  • Writing lists e.g. shopping lists, desert island game, strip bingo game
  • Word association – teacher gives a word, pupil writes first word to come into head
  • Antonyms – teacher gives a word, pupil writes down opposite meaning
  • Writing short accounts from a given word list. Every word must appear in the account
  • Completing sentence starters from an oral source
  • Completing sentence starters from a written source
  • Starting sentence ends from an oral or written source
  • Noting synonyms or antonyms in a written passage
  • Writing poems or music lyrics
  • Writing definitions of words
  • Completing a crossword or acrostic
  • Making up original sentences to show a grammatical structure
  • Completing a vocabulary list e.g. finding words in a target language text
  • Writing for a purpose e.g letter, news article, job application, obituary, diary
  • Transforming a text message into full sentences (or the reverse)
  • Underlining errors in a transcribed text and inserting the correct word or phrase
  • Writing social network messages to a foreign speaker
  • Writing words as part of a game (e.g. baccalauréat – find a word in each category beginning with a given letter)
  • Writing sentences for a game of “consequences”
  • Writing on the board or with a partner e.g. “Hangman”
  • Code breaking games
  • Writing “never-ending sentences”
  • Writing nonsense or silly sentences

Supporting language acquisition through Literacy

These are a few ideas for teaching learners who are learning English and have to read for meaning.

Before reading a book give the children the words needed to understand the important parts of the text. Where appropriate allow the child to revert back to prior language via internet machine translators to access their prior learning.  Give them the time needed to answer allowing them to process in their mind.

Their process could include reading it in English, reverting back to previous language understanding what is meant in prior language and then finding the words to explain this in their first language and then back into English.  All this can take time so try not to get too impatient as they practice. Think about when you try to translate in a language you know, what process do you go through?

By allowing this to happen it develops the pupils minds and they have a clear understanding of what the written word is conveying.  In turn this allows the child to develop a secure understanding of the text and characters.

When the child falters allow them to read a sentence and then encourage them to read it again this time more fluently to help them practice and develop their fluency. Keep a regular check on each child’s comprehension to ensure they are fully understanding the new words. Where possible put them into context so that when the child next sees the same letter formation they feel confident at reading it aloud.

Then ask each child in a the group to read part of the story.  Question them to ensure understanding and also check their fluency but importantly make it a secure environment where they can try out new sound sensations.

When questioning develop their sentence level via a game e.g. put their hand in a  bag and pull out a word related to the new text they are reading.

  1. Ask them to find a word e.g. beach
  2. Read out the word
  3. Then ask them to create a sentence e.g. I went to the beach
  4. and finally extend it by asking them what they did e.g. I went to the beach and swam in the water.
  5. Review and repeat the sentence to ensure concrete understanding.
  6. Above all make it enjoyable.