What to do with native speakers in Spanish class?

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by porque_pig, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Aug 16, 2011

    Hi folks! I'm about to start my first year as a middle school Spanish teacher. We recently had an open house event where I had the opportunity to meet the parents of my students. Most of the parents were really excited about the new school year, but one parent was obviously concerned.

    This parent came up to me and asked me, "Are you a native speaker?" I told her no. She seemed annoyed and responded, "I'm really unhappy with the Spanish program here. Other parents and I want our [Spanish-speaking] children to have more of a challenge in their classes, and when they get to high school, they just aren't prepared for the challenge." She repeated herself for a few minutes about her displeasure with the program. I was somewhat stunned, but I invited her to make an appointment with me if she has any specific suggestions about ways to differentiate instruction in the Spanish class.

    While this parent was rather rude throughout the conversation, she does have a point--her child deserves to learn something in class. Does anyone have any suggestions about how to address the language learning needs of native speakers in the middle school classroom? I definitely don't want them to be bored out of their minds, but I want to find a way to challenge them without giving them busy work while the rest of the class works on something else. I plan on focusing on accent marks and writing, but does anyone else have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 16, 2011

    I'm in over my head here, but here's my take on it:

    The fact that someone has grown up speaking a language does NOT imply that he or she speaks it correctly--- look at all the native English speaking adults in the US who destroy our beautiful language.

    Every year, we have American born kids who fail English and native speakers who fail Spanish and French. Knowing the vocabulary is only one tiny little part of the process.

    If she has issues with the Spanish program or the staff, invite her to take it up with your administration.

    But as to what you can do-- do grammar and history and culture and pronounciation and literature. I bet you a dollar that every one of those kids has a lot to learn from you.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Aug 16, 2011

    I think the biggest challenge for native speakers will be reading and writing in their native language.

    I do actually see the point the parent was making. At my school, they hire outside the country so native English speakers can teach (we teach academic content in English). In any case, I think you can still do a great job with those native speakers by focusing on reading and writing, and really going above and beyond what the others (who might just be trying to acquire some vocabulary and conversational skills) are doing (maybe small groups?).
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Aug 17, 2011

    I used to be great friends with our middle school Spanish teachers. One was a native speaker. From their perspective, many of the native speakers had forgotten the basics and were lazy with their formal speaking and writing (as many native English speakers are).

    You can definitely push them more into writing and using the appropriate formal grammar. You could also provide reading materials (maybe reading a Spanish newspaper or picture book on the same vocabulary).
     
  6. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    Aug 17, 2011

    I found that many native speakers had never learned correct spelling and that many lacked reading skills.

    Could you find some articles for the students read that have to do with a similar topic as the rest of the students (an article about schools in Ecuador while others simply learn vocabulary about school?) They could pull out the school supply vocabulary, study the words as a spelling list and answer a few comprehension questions and then everyone can quiz at the same time.
     
  7. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    Aug 17, 2011

    Many schools around me have a Spanish for Native Speakers class where they had different lessons - learning more formal language and focusing on grammar/reading/writing skills like you would see in ELA classes.
     
  8. actriz45

    actriz45 New Member

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    Jul 17, 2014

    I have been struggling with this dilemma too. I don't want the Native speakers to be bored.(I have received that complaint from them.) BUT the majority of the class are non-native speakers who need to practice speaking basic language structures. My students want to learn how to speak Spanish. If I spend too much time on grammar, writing and accents, I will lose the enthusiasm of the non-native speakers and bore the heck out of the natives. Have to find a healthy balance. So, this year, during the period of class while the non-natives are practicing, "Buenas tardes" etc. and after ascertaining that my native speakers have mastered whatever structure we are practicing, I am going to have them do short internet researches about current events and various holidays in Spanish speaking countries. Then we will have presentations every week from them. As we get into more advanced structures, the native speakers will participate in those conversation practices. Every one does grammar and writing practice.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2014

    Actriz...this is a three year old thread...you'll get more replies if you start a new thread.
     
  10. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Jul 17, 2014

    I honestly think it's unreasonable to expect a high school Spanish class to simultaneously cater to those who know no Spanish and to native Spanish speakers. They should be two different classes.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2014

    Most definitely.

    I'm the department chair for my school's foreign language department. We have a very high population of Spanish-speaking students, so I fight this issue every single year. I don't understand why the counselors don't get it!

    Even if you've got heritage speakers who don't speak it correctly or don't read and/or write it (which is actually very common), they are not appropriately placed in a Spanish "for gringos" class. It's like being a high-school aged native speaker of English entering a preschool class to learn your colors and numbers!! Can you even imagine?!

    My suggestion is to go to your district and fight for the addition of a heritage speakers class, or kick the native speakers out of the class. It's not fair to the native speakers who want to further their knowledge of Spanish to kick them out, but it's not fair to place them in a completely inappropriate class either. Frankly it's not fair to the non-native speakers either when they have to sit next to a native speaker in class. Imagine how self-conscious and maybe even stupid they might feel.
     
  12. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jul 17, 2014

    At my school the native speakers are STRONGLY encouraged to choose a different foreign language. The goal is for them to learn something new, not shoot for an easy A. This philosophy is applied to all the languages that we offer, even online courses.

    That being said, it is very rare for a native speaker to go into an entry level Spanish class and not learn something. In fact, most of our native speakers do poorly in Spanish I because they only have conversational Spanish.

    It is just as wrong to assume a child brought up in a Spanish-speaking home will ace Spanish in school as it is to assume that one brought up in an English-speaking home will ace English.

    That being said, if this is a mandatory course that all students must take in middle school, you do need to differentiate for the more advanced students. Not sure why the teacher being a native speaker would make a difference.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jul 17, 2014

    A Spanish-speaking student taking a Spanish 1 class designed for non-native speakers is not at all the same thing as an English-speaking student taking a grade-level English course. It's more like a secondary-level English-speaking student taking a preschool class taught in English. Sure, the kid might learn a thing or two, but nearly all the content is going to be far, far, far below where he needs to be at, even if his English skills are poor.

    In my district, we have Spanish classes designed for non-native speakers, as well as separate Spanish classes for heritage speakers. The classes for Spanish-speakers are designed to address common native-speaker issues, with the lower-level courses meant to be for Spanish-speakers who are not fully (or not at all) literate in Spanish. The two courses are completely different. The problem for us teachers is that they both have "Spanish" in the course title, so the people who do the scheduling don't seem to fully understand the very major differences.
     
  14. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Jul 17, 2014

    In our district, we have 2 different classes: Spanish for Spanish speakers and Spanish for all others who take the class. All students who list Spanish as their home language take the Spanish Speakers class. It is a more challenging class with the goal of helping these students become literate in Spanish.
     
  15. greendream

    greendream Cohort

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    Jul 18, 2014

    That makes so much sense that it would never happen at my district. :D
     

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