I am retired after 30 years of teaching MS and HS Spanish (and English). At the beginning of my 11th year, I underwent a "conversion" experience. The presenter mentioned using visual images, colors, symbols to teach abstract concepts. My brain clicked on, and my first teaching system was born. The Spanish Verb Wall. I presented it for my school district (approximately 50 world language teachers)--and NO ONE "got it." I continued using the idea, modifying, improving, incorporating more concepts. Nearly 10 years later, I tried again and presented at our state conference. The reaction completely changed. I have presented my materials all over the US.
I call my technique "Building Artificial Realities." Here is an example: The International Forum. The class is divided into groups. Each group receives the flag of its nation. I use the England, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Russia, Japan--because I want countries that have languages very similar to the name of the country. With this set-up, I teach them the verb "to be" and the subject pronouns. There is no preliminary explanation about verbs, about listing the forms, about the pronouns--NADA. In the context of being from different countries--the Artificial Reality--I begin to share information and ask questions. This is the flag of Spain. He is from Spain. Point to another boy. Is HE from Spain? No. Is he from Italy? Yes. I am going to post some free PPTs about these techniques.
In the ancient days of the 20th Century, 1986, I received the "Spanish Teacher of the Year" award from the Texas Foreign Language Association. In 2001 I was awarded the "Honorary Life Member" award also from TFLA.
Upon graduating in 1965 from Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, TX) with a major in Spanish, I taught Spanish in Pomona, CA, for two years. During that time, it dawned on me that the rote recitation of verb conjugations--the way that I had been taught--was definitely not communication. In fact, rote recitation can cause a serious condition called LLBDS--Language Learner Brain Damage Syndrome. Having met a wonderful family from Argentina who invited me for an unlimited visit, I lived almost a year in Buenos Aires--where I actually learned to speak the language. When I returned to the US, I went back to TX and finished my MA (also TCU) in 1974.
Due to my language ability, my husband and I adopted an 18-month-old boy in San Jose, Costa Rica in 1973. Three years later, we learned that he had two older siblings that were in another orphanage that we did not know about. So in 1976, we returned and adopted his two brothers, ages 7, and 11. While at the orphanage we met a 9-year-old girl, but we had reached the limit of our allowed visas. (Limit is 2 per family, but since the two boys were siblings, we were allowed to bring them both on the 2nd visa.) We did not forget the girl we had met, and when in 1978 the status of visa availability was "no wait time" for anyone with legal documents, we returned to San Jose to adopt our daughter. BUT before her visa could be processed through regular "channels" the visa status of all the Central American countries was "given" to the Cubans who had left Cuba in huge numbers when Castro basically told them--leave if you want. We had to leave her in San Jose after we had adopted her. The US Senator from TX, John Tower, submitted a special bill on our behalf, and she was granted a "political refugee" visa, allowing her to come to her new home in just 6 months. A friend of mine and I got involved in an adoptive parent group, and we found homes for 106 children from the orphanages. We often accompanied the parents to help with language and culture. Our lawyer in CR then told us that the government had decided that we were "selling" the children as servants or "organ donors" and advised us not to return to CR. (Our own children were amazed that we had been accused of such evil things.) I tell you all of this to explain that I experienced having 3 non-English speakers in my home--and I used my budding language-teaching skills with them.
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