Photo by Jay Ee 

Our job as educators is to take something that seems complicated and make it easy for students to comprehend and to apply.  That for me at least is the definition of scaffolding.  Nevertheless we usually complicate ourselves, we over think the curriculum, we dwell on the time, we want to be efficient and effective.  We believe that the more we cover in less time, the best our students will get.  But guess what?  That is not the way.  After teaching for over 32 years, after being in many places with my teaching I can say now that, especially in a second language classroom all you need to do is to slow down.  Remember that in our classes the curriculum is not the list of topics you have in front of you, the curriculum in a World Language class is the language you teach! (Thank you Ben Slavic).  So, as long as you are using the language you teach, YOU ARE COVERING THE CURRICULUM.

Textbook companies and testing services want us to believe that we must cover a list of topics in order to advance our students.  That’s absolutely not true.  Just think about someone who decides to live in a country where they have to learn a new language.  Do they need to focus on learning the days of the week and family members during their first months in the new country?  ¡Por favor!

Anyways!  What is the secret?  There’s no magic formula, but scaffolding is the way to go in anything you do in the WL classroom. Here is how I scaffold the Simulated Conversation section for the AP Spanish Language students, but this is something you can very well do with any level of language.

This is an example of a conversation we would practice with in my classroom:

Steps to follow:

1- Students read the introduction.

2- Students read the outline with only their directions during the conversation (blue cells).

3- Tell them that you will start the conversation and that they will have 20 seconds to respond to each question but that they will not say anything.  Their job is to answer mentally each question.  

4- Ask every question and complete the conversation.

5- Now tell your students that you will repeat the questions but this time you will take volunteers to respond orally.  Choose 5 volunteers and indicate what line will each one of them be responsible for.

6- Complete conversation with volunteers.

7- Make comments to each volunteer intervention for immediate feedback.  Be patient, kind and understandable that they might make mistakes or not time themselves properly.

8- To finish, tell your students that they will respond to each question through the chat if teaching remotely.  If teaching in the classroom they can write their answers in a piece of paper.  Take a look at their answers and scan and read outloud (without saying their names) the ones you consider are the best answers.

9- Repeat with other conversation samples.

10. Start taking out steps of this scaffolding process until they can do the activity autonomously. 

You can find more AP Spanish Simulated Conversation practice examples HERE.  

If you want samples with student´s answers and teacher feedback for each answer click HERE.  

Hope this is useful.  As always kind comments and questions are welcome.


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