FULL DISCLOSURE...this is not my idea. I have no idea where it came from, but it's amazing.
I've never met a language teacher who didn't hope for more student use of the Target Language (TL) in class on a regular basis. There are a number of ways that we can increase their use, but this one is a gem, especially in the lower levels. I love using the candle for the upper levels, which the novice kids do love, however, giving our kids, who have such basic knowledge of the language multiple chances to "screw-up" is great.
Imagine a day where your administrator comes in and your SPANISH 1 students frantically shout "¡¡NO HABLAMOS INGLÉS AQUÍ!!" No joke. That happened.
Start each class with the word inglés on the board. I love to meet them at the door, have them enter with the contraseña and then I walk to the board, grab a marker, greet them all, and I then dramatically write inglés. Establishing routines is super important with our novices, so it goes in the same place each day.
Each time you hear a student speak English, erase one of the letters. I don't know why but I always start with the S. Totally doesn't matter. Just like the candle, I don't make a big deal out of it. I usually even wait a bit, unless the room is crazy with la patata caliente, centers, speed dating or something equally as wild.
At the end of the period, award them points for every letter that they have maintained. So, if a class still has I-N-G left, they get three points. If they have the whole word, six points. Some days they will have NO points, some days they will have all. Gush with pride on those days. On the days with no points, remind them of the shortened day coming, the video they are going to watch, etc, and how much easier that will be.
Post each class' points, and create a fun competition between them, with the promise of a piñata one day, a movie + popcorn, or some other fun reward. They will eat it up!
Also, I'm really big on giving credit where credit is due, so if you know who came up with this awesome idea, tell me in the comments so I can edit that genius in.
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