Teach interpretation

Teach interpretation

August 01, 2019

With the first few interpretive tasks, especially at the novice level, its critical to explicitly teach interpretation.  It's one of those things that is easily forgotten or assumed that they know.  However, tons of explicit instruction and reinforcement of what interpretation means is really important.  At the upper levels, this isn't far from our students' understanding, but in your 90%-novice level-can-hardly-say-hola class, this is crucial to confidence building as well.

This is where your 10 percent (or even a little more on your first few interpretive tasks -- it's ok -- we won't tell!) is important:  

Explicitly explain the level to which your students should understand.  Understanding 60-70% on their first few interpretive tasks is really good!  

Walk students through the task.  Keep the gradual release of responsibility at the forefront here.  Don't be afraid to complete two or three tasks with the kids before having them do one on their own. Yes, really, do it with them, finding and giving answers.  After the first one, you can give them a minute to process and answer before giving answers, but multiples will be needed for your kids to understand how to complete the interpretive task.

When you do release responsibility to your students, talk them through the first task that they complete - both in small groups and on their own - by asking guiding questions.  Don't give the answers.  Try something like this:

"Bueno, busco los cognados...cognados..." show your "tracking finger" as you walk through the text.  Using an audio or video source?  Say "cognado!" when you hear the first one and make a big deal about writing it down. 

"Las palabras del vocabulario..." say the first word and demonstrate that you are scanning the document. Continue just like that for a few more additional words.  Reluctant learners need to see the process and be reminded of it.

After that point, they will feel so much more confident completing the interpretive task, and how much they should or shouldn't understand.

Now, get on it! Your unit is FULL of tasks that are great for the language learning hat trick: content, language and culture all wrapped into one!

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