Thursday, 6 November 2014

Why classroom language routines are so important

Two marvellous things happened today that made me beam. The first happened in my year 7 German class which has featured on this blog. As I have blogged before, we have done lots of work on our register routine, which we religiously do each lesson. I ask, 'wer möchte die Namensliste machen/Teampunkte zählen/Zeit stoppen' and pupils ask if they can: 'darf ich die Namensliste machen/die Teampunkte zählen/die Zeit stoppen?'. We have built on this routine by me now asking 'wer hat ...gemacht/gezählt/gestoppt?' To which they answer, 'ich habe ... gemacht/gezählt/gestoppt' . This is impressive enough; they are using the perfect tense in the first half term of year 7 after all; however, it doesn't stop there. After we finished the register routine, somebody called out: gemacht! That's independent use and manipulation of classroom language to spontaneously communicate for a real purpose. Isn't that what we are trying to teach them to do?

The second thing happened in my year 7 French class. This class is super enthusiastic and love learning French. They have learnt how to say 'je n'ai pas de ...', which someone said to me when they realised they had forgotten their pen. This was great because they know we only speak French and in order to communicate with me the pupil knew he would have to also speak French. However, the best was yet to come when someone else in the same situation used one of our classroom phrases: 'est-ce que je peux avoir ...' to ask for a pen. (we normally use this to ask for points etc) . Yet another reason for taking the time to build up effective classroom routines in the target language. Its not a waste of valuable lesson time, but rather a vital tool to enable learners to experience language learning in as authentic an environment as possible, allbeit in a classroom!

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