Check Your English at the Door
1) What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using English
in the classroom?
Advantages
Disadvantages

Students do not get lost in class

Learners need a significant
amount of comprehensible
input in order to develop
language skills

Students and teachers are less
likely to become discouraged
or frustrated

Students have fewer
opportunities to experience
success in using the target
language

It saves time

Although class time is limited
and using the target language
to give instructions takes more
time at first, opportunities to
reinforce commonly used
phrases are lost when English is
used

It is easier to explain grammar
in English

Students need exposure to the
ebb and flow, the rhythm and
cadence, and the
pronunciation of the target
language, not just its structure

It is more comfortable for
students

Using mostly English does not
push students to leave their
comfort zone and attempt
speaking the target language

Students do not have to work
so hard to pay attention

Students have to focus more
intently in order to understand

Teachers who are not
confident of their skills in the
target language can still teach

Class time may be the only
exposure that students get to
the target language and the
use of English prevents the
teacher from modeling the
target language for students
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie
Carlson, Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦
[email protected]
Check Your English at the Door
2) Why do some teachers choose to use English in the world language
classroom?

It seems easier to do so

Teachers may find it quicker to explain things in English (at least in
the short-term)

Teachers may fear that students will not understand if they use the
target language

Teachers may get frustrated with students who do not understand

Teachers may get tired of policing themselves and the students

Teachers may not know how to make language comprehensible for
students

Students may initially be resistant to the use of the target language
3) Why do some students choose to use English in the world language
classroom?

It takes less effort to do so

Students may find it quicker to communicate things in English (at
least in the short-term)

Students may fear making mistakes or worry that others will not
understand them if they use the target language

Students may feel uncomfortable when surrounded by the target
language and may use English to attempt to regain a sense of
control over their circumstances

Students may not know how to communicate what they want to
say

Students may initially be resistant to the use of the target language
4) How does one teach students to "check their English at the door?"

Create a safe predictable environment that supports TL use

Set clear expectations; be firm, fair, and consistent in enforcing
them; provide students with the tools needed for success; model it
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie
Carlson, Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦
[email protected]
Check Your English at the Door
1) Establish Expectations
o What?
Who do you expect to speak in the target language? When? For what
purposes? How will they know that these are the expectations?
o How?

Make your classroom a "cultural island"—display cultural artifacts

Label the classroom in the target language (including supplies)

Teach behavioral expectations (a.k.a. rules) in the target language—
don't give the impression that "important" things only happen in English

Put all instructions on the board and on worksheets in the target
language

Force yourself to speak only in the target language when you are in
the classroom

Try not to translate—use pictures, objects, gestures, or skits whenever
possible

When students speak to you in English, respond to them in the target
language

When students answer questions in English, give the words or phrases
back to them (or write it in the board) in the target language

When colleagues come into your room, encourage them to
communicate with you in the target language (or in their target
languages)!
o Why?

Comprehensible input is critical to language development!

It is likely that you are students' only source of input in the target
language. If they don't experience it in your presence, they may not
experience it at all!

Class will be more interesting, relevant, and meaningful to students if it
helps them to make progress toward their goal of being able to
understand and to SPEAK in the target language!
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie Carlson,
Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦ [email protected]
Check Your English at the Door
2) Implement a System
o What?
How will you support students in using the target language consistently?
How will you provide positive reinforcement for the use of the target
language? How will you discourage the use of English?
o How?

Make sure that students experience daily success with the language

Establish predictable routines and procedures

Surround students with a constant stream of language

Communicate with simple chunks of language—giving instructions one
step at a time

Make what you say concrete with visuals, props, body language,
and vocal expression and model everything

Teach "just in time" functional chunks of language

Post key phrases in the target language to which students can refer
when necessary and introduce a new one each day

Insist that if you or students must use English, you do so only when a sign
is posted that says English is spoken, or when touching an American
flag, or while standing in a particular spot in the room (by the door
works well since that is where non-target language speaking visitors are
likely to enter) that has been designated as the "American Embassy."

Establish incentive systems—fake Euros, peanuts in a shell, point
systems, raffle tickets, etc. Students receive a certain number at the
beginning of the week or month. When you hear a student using
English, they must forfeit one of their Euros/peanuts/points/tickets, etc.
At the end of a designated period of time, students can trade in the
Euros for prizes, can eat the peanuts, can trade points in for a free
homework assignment, or can put their tickets into a raffle.

Allow students to speak to you in the target language outside of class
for a reward of some kind (candy, homework coupons, points, stickers)

Immerse yourself in the target language (go to immersion weekends,
listen to music, read, and watch movies in the target language)
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie Carlson,
Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦ [email protected]
Check Your English at the Door
o Why?

Experiencing daily success with the language will lower students'
"affective filters" (Krashen) and will motivate them to take the risks
necessary to develop skill in speaking a foreign language

Having consistent routines, procedures, and systems in place helps to
create a safe, predictable environment that supports language use
and strengthens the sense that the target language is simply a part of
the environment rather than something artificial that the teacher is
imposing or constantly policing

Immersing yourself in the target language is likely to strengthen your
comfort level with the language and models for students that the
process of learning a language is a lifelong process
3) Teach Cognates
o What?

What is a cognate?

What will you do to help students recognize cognates and use them to
derive meaning from the things they read and hear?
o How?

Help students understand that cognates occur between English and
many other languages

Show students that just as vocabulary varies from region to region
within the United States and from country to country with respect to
the English language (contrast common vocabulary used in the U.S.
with vocabulary for those same words that is used in England—bobby
v. policeman, lift v. elevator, torch v. flashlight, w.c. v. restroom), it is
likely to vary from region to region and country to country within the
target language (for example, la fresa = strawberry in many Spanishspeaking countries, but la frutilla is the word for strawberry in Argentina)

Teach students common prefixes, suffixes, and their correspondences
to English. Ask students to play with prefixes, suffixes, and the spellings
of words mentally, on paper, and as a class

Allow students to use their knowledge of cognates to decipher the
meaning of authentic materials in the target language
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie Carlson,
Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦ [email protected]
Check Your English at the Door
o Why?

Cognates can provide a rich, immediate, and extensive supply of
language that beginning students can draw on in order to boost their
comprehension of and ability to communicate in the target language

Cognates help to make language more comprehensible, thus
reducing students' anxiety
4) Teach Circumlocution
o What?

What does it mean to circumlocute? What will you do to build
circumlocution skills in your students?
o How?

Model word play to teach the meaning of circumlocution

Teach sentence starters that will help students to circumlocute

Use activities such as Describe & Draw, games (Mysterious Musical
Show & Tell, Silly Situations, Taboo, $25,000 Pyramid, 39 on a Match, or
Who Am I?), ice breakers, paired activities, and wordless stories to help
students practice and refine their circumlocution skills

Provide students with multiple opportunities throughout the year to
develop increased confidence in their ability to use limited amounts of
language to circumlocute and be understood

When students get stuck, talk them through the process of breaking
sentences down into smaller chunks or simplifying the content of the
sentence before they try to say it in the target language
o Why?

Circumlocution allows students to literally talk around obstacles they
encounter in communication (concepts that are specific to the culture
of the U.S. and that do not exist in the target language, grammatical
structures with which they may be unfamiliar, or words they don't
know)

The more students can say without getting stuck, the more confident
and willing they will be to try to use the target language to
communicate
TE 407 ♦ 2005 ♦ Compiled by Cherice Montgomery from ideas by Dellawanna Bard, Tim Boorda, Bethanie Carlson,
Helena Curtain, Carol Ann Dahlberg, Martha Wade, and Sing, Dance, Laugh & Eat Quiche ♦ [email protected]
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1) What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using