la luz

No, this is not a post about a song by Juanes.

“La luz” is an integral part of my classes, and I don’t think I’ve ever officially described it. It looks like this:

photo

It’s nothing more than a cheap battery closet light that turns on when pressed.  It hangs in my classroom, and I use it from time to time.   The rule is simple.  When the light is on, no English is permitted – only Spanish.  Speaking English when the light is glowing results in a loss of participation points and a good scolding from the teacher.

When the light is off, we still use the target language almost exclusively, but a slip into English is not penalized.  The light gives us a visible sign to know that we’ve entered a new dimension in which such a slip is a sin.

I know other teachers who raise flags, flip a poster or a use a different gimmick to identify a No-English period.  Awesome.  There are many ways to do it.

Keys to success with your No-English device:

1. Make a spectacle of it: Be silly. Pretend the device has magical powers.  I often start by saying, “Respeta la luz.  La luz te ve.  La luz sabe todo.”  (Respect the light.  The light sees you.  The light knows everything.)  Make a big deal out of No-English time.

2. Respect it yourself: Model perfect obedience to the device.  If the light is on and I am speaking and I need to drop in a quick definition in English, I run over and turn it off.  I quickly define the word and then turn on the light again.  If you start disregarding the device, it loses its power.

3. Be consistent with the penalty/reward: I use classdojo.com to keep track of participation points.  I quickly subtract a point when English is used.  I also like the idea of a reward for nobody using English.  Whatever system you use, be consistent.

4. Do not put students in difficult situations: Use it for retells or talking about the weekend.  Students should be well-prepared to complete the task.  It might be scary at first, but using the device should actually build confidence.  Wow, I can avoid English altogether.  Start with simple tasks and then do more and more.

5. Do not use it every minute of every class of every day: My class always happens in Spanish.  I am doing most of the talking (providing input).  I use the Target Language at or above 90% and students do as well, even when the light is off.  Pressing the light means that now we must all be at 100%.  If you try to institute a 100% TL rule for every minute, it will probably break down and your system will be lost.  Find a gimmick to designate certain times as No-English.  I often comment to my students when they begin to panic about the light, “Relax.  This is only slightly different than what we always do.

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This entry was posted in Classroom activities, Communicative Activities, Speaking. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to la luz

  1. Pingback: Target Language Lights! | Junior High CI with Profe Tauchman

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