Staying in the Target Language

I’m not sure what to call this.  It’s a little bit process, a little bit of a game, a little bit (okay, maybe a lot) classroom management.  I learned it from my friend and extraordinary CI teacher, Lauren Watson, and to be fair, this is what her process has become in my room.  I’m sure I’ve modified it from her original, and so you can make modifications, too, as you use it and find out what works and what doesn’t in your classroom.  I know now from using it for the last 2-3 years that it is something that students look forward to.  It works like this.

Somewhere on part of a whiteboard in the room, you set up a chart that has a column for each class period that you teach (so part of the brilliance of this is that you can use it for any level that you teach as long as you, the teacher, keep things on level for the class at hand). The horizontal lines indicate three important jobs for this process and a way to document points earned. The effect of the process/game is to encourage students to use positive peer pressure to stay in L2.  This by no means relieves us, the teachers, from having compelling content to work with or from making sure that everything said and read is comprehensible to everyone in the classroom.

The “other goal” which students will be excited about is earning 100 points as a class so that they can have a “Fun Friday.” Fun Friday means doing something fun with L2 (playing games of various sorts) and bringing food if the class wants. You should never let this become “do whatever we want to” but doing something fun and different with L2. Teacher can give choices for them to choose from. If food is brought, it must be with common understanding that you are bringing food to share and not just something for yourself to eat.

Here is a document with the chart laid out and basic descriptions of the rules and process.

The process requires three student jobs.  I usually change the students who hold these jobs every month or every week.  Let students decide.

Iudex–the judge who determines within the first minute after the bell rings whether all cell phones are put away into bookbags.  If so, this earns 1 point.

Horologiarius/a–Time keeper.  This student may have phone out to keep time of uninterrupted time in L2.  For every 12 minutes, class earns 1 point. At the end of class, minutes over a factor of 12 can be banked and added to another day.  E.g. 39 minutes = 36 (3 points) + 3 banked toward the next day. When anyone says anything in L1, time is stopped. If there are more than 12 minutes, points can be earned and then the clock starts again at 0. Minutes under 12 earn nothing.

Auditor–the listener.  This student’s job requires paper and pencil where she/he puts a hash mark for every rejoined used correctly in the process of class.  Rejoinder list should be on walls for reference. Auditor’s job includes both listening for and determining if correctly used. For every 20 rejoinders used correctly, 2 points are earned.  Can only earn in factors of 20, but anything over a factor of 20 can be banked for another day. E.g. 48 = 4 points (2 sets of 20) and 8 points banked for another day.

I have found that the chart on the whiteboard (rather permanently) keeps class interest high, and they begin to see each other’s class score.  “How did 3rd period get 48 points yesterday?”  Any class that raises the bar like that effects all the other classes.  I am often surprised by which classes seem to make the most out of this, and they are most often NOT the class that at first glance seems the “best” or “strongest” class.  The positive peer pressure is real.  If a class has a student who is being something of a “jerk” this process will call him/her to account as one stray word of English and it resets everyone for that day at zero.  They simply won’t allow “jerkiness” to do that to them for very long.

Bob Patrick