Saturday, November 19, 2016

Activities for Integration Classes

During my Mittagsschlaf this afternoon I dreamt the idea for this blog post. It won't become as famous as that other work of art which came from a dream ("Kubla Khan"), but Coleridge had the benefit of opium to boost his creativity.


I know it looks like I'm sleeping,
but I'm actually lesson planning.
I've been teaching German for quite a few years now, and along the way I have come up with ideas for short review activities and learned of other activities from my language-teaching colleagues. I thought I'd share a few of them in case any of my readers are also teaching Integrationskurse or are taking a course from a teacher who is open to suggestions. These activities also work well for language classes with younger students.

I'm going to focus on warm-up and cool-down activities for starting and ending class. I tell my students that warming up with a language is just as important as warming up for a sport. Start with something that is very do-able though it might hurt a little (stretching) but will spare you serious pain later. In a language class it is important to get the new language in your head and on your tongue in the first few moments. Use what you learned yesterday in today's warm up for practice and reinforcement.

These activities are also good for winding down at the end of a tough class (especially when the emphasis has been on intricate grammar).


Fragekarten

This is by far my favorite activity. It can take as little as five minutes or as much as 30 - the teacher and students decide how long to keep going.

On regular sized index cards, write conversation questions your students should be able to answer. I have done this as early as Day 2 of class, by which we have already learned and practiced basic intro questions:
  Wie heißt du?  Wie geht's?  Wo wohnst du?  Woher kommst du?

Every day I add new questions, and the stack of Fragekarten keeps growing throughout the course. It takes no time at all to come up with more than 100 questions - just look at the topics and grammar points your books cover. 

When we do modal verbs, I use the Fragekarten with modal verbs:
  Was musst du heute Abend machen?  Welche Sprache (außer Deutsch) möchtest du lernen?
  Was dürfen wir in der Schule nicht machen?

When we review present perfect (das Perfekt), I use those questions:
  Was hast du gestern Abend gemacht?  Was hast du heute früh getrunken?
  Was haben wir gestern gelernt?

When we're in the middle of adjective endings, I encourage them to use adjectives when answering these questions:
  Was hast du neulich gekauft?  Beschreibe die Person neben dir.  Was findest du schön?

That's the only teacher preparation - just write questions on cards to create the Fragekarten, preferably with a marker and large print so they're easy to read.

At the start of class, each student gets one Fragekarte. Everyone stands up. The teacher starts by calling on a student and asking the question on her (the teacher's) card. The student answers the question with help or correction from the teacher as needed. Then the student calls on another student (but not one standing directly next to him) and asks the question on his card. After the second student has answered the question successfully with help if needed, the first student may sit down.

There's a reason for everything. Why does everyone stand? Because the it's easy to see who has not yet answered a question. The students don't call on those who are seated. Why can a student not call on his neighbor? Because the neighbor can easily peek at the card and read the question himself rather than relying on his listening skills. This also leads to students calling on a different classmate every day rather than always the same friend sitting next to him. Why does the asker of the question stay standing until the person he asked has answered? Because he is more likely to listen to the answer while he's standing (and he might have to repeat the question).

Skills practiced:
  listening, reading, pronunciation

Benefits:
  • If students trickle in late, this activity gets everyone else started on time, and as the late ones arrive, the teacher can just hand them a card.
  • If the teacher finds herself with 5-10 extra minutes at the end of class, which is not enough time to start a new activity, this is a great way to end on a positive note. 

Nenne 3 Dinge

I often do this activity right before or after the Fragekarten, and the students also respond well to this one. Teacher prep is again minimal: Write a list of vocabulary topics (Essen, Getränke, Schulsachen). I have 40 topics on my original sheet, but the possibilities are endless. My list looks like this:
  1. Nenne 3 Getränke.
  2. Nenne 3 Sachen in deiner Schultasche.
  3. Nenne 3 berühmte Deutsche.
  4. Nenne 3 deutsche Bundesländer.
This activity then has several variations.
  1. The teacher calls on students one by one and gives each a different question/topic.
  2. The students have notebooks and pens ready, and the teacher reads the question to everyone. Each student writes down answers, and after a minute the teacher calls for responses.
  3. Partnerarbeit - everyone gets the questions, but students work with a partner to come up with answers.
Don't forget the articles when appropriate! ("DAS Bier", not just "Bier")

Skills practiced:
   articles/genders of nouns, vocabulary, pronunciation, genders

Benefits:
  • Appropriate for all levels and mixed classes! Level A1 come up with the basics, but level B2 can push themselves further.
  • Flexible in time - can take 4 minutes or 10.
  • If the teacher has to take care of something else - attendance, etc. - a student can take over the teacher's role.
  • Topics can be added with each chapter.


Fünf Finger

This more advanced activity works very well for reviewing past tense or the subjunctive mood (Konjunktiv), but could also be adapted for other grammar points.

Everyone holds up one hand, fingers and thumb extended. This is the party game "I have never...", and the goal is to be the last person with one or more fingers still up.

Practicing Perfekt:
  The teacher starts with a sentence: "Ich habe nie ein rotes Auto gehabt."
  Anyone who has ever had a red car puts one finger down.
  The teacher gives another example: "Ich bin noch nie nach Frankfurt gefahren."
  Anyone who has driven to Frankfurt puts a finger down.

  Then the students give sentences about things they have never done.
  "Ich bin noch nie in die USA geflogen."
  The American teacher puts a finger down...  😊

Sentences for Konjunktiv:
  "Ich würde nie AfD wählen."    "Ich würde nie Bier trinken."  
  "Ich würde unsere Lehrerin nie anlügen."

Sentences for A1 level practicing haben and Akkusativ:
  "Ich habe einen Hund."     (Everyone who doesn't have a dog puts a finger down.)
  "Ich habe zwei Söhne."      (Everyone who doesn't have two sons puts a finger down.)

Sentences for A2 level practicing adjective endings:
  "Ich habe einen blauen Pulli an."
  "Ich habe heute eine schwarze Katze gesehen."

This activity is more challenging because the students have to come up with sentences on their own.

Skills practiced:
   speaking, listening, pronunciation, creative thinking

Benefits:
  • This works best with smaller groups; large classes can form two or three groups.
  • Flexible with time and works well for the last 5-10 minutes of class.

For those of you teaching language classes, which activities work well for you and our students during warm up and cool down?

For those of you who are taking or have taken classes langauge classes, what have been your favorite activities?

If the activity explanation is too long for a comment, send it in an email and I'll publish another post with guest suggestions (giving credit of course!).



4 comments:

  1. Some of the favorite activities I've experienced as a student in the German class have included the following (though they're not necessarily warm-up activities):

    -Form a circle and have students throw a kush ball around. When you receive it, you have to say something about that day's theme. For example, "I'm sowieso and I like to play tennis."

    -There's a game where two teams have a student stand with her back to the white board. The teacher writes a word and the team has to try to get the player to guess that word without using it.

    -To teach adjectives and vocabulary, bring in some items and set up a "flea market." A student needs to lead a classmate around the items and say things like, "Look at the brown clock" to describe what's on the table.

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    Replies
    1. These are great ideas! We just started adjective endings today, so I may use the Flohmarkt idea in a few days.

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    2. I really liked the two teachers who used these activities; I know that one of them is actually trained as a professional teacher. I'm not sure about the other, but she sure knew what she was doing. She had us get up and move around a decent amount, and play games where we moved a lot too, which is especially helpful for the kinesthetic learners (and good for the rest of us who were tired after work). Oh, and she also brought in pamphlets and various boxes from Deutsche Post and told us how that worked. As part of our activities and speech practice, we held up the boxes and talked about what we would send to people. She was great!

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    3. One thing I really liked lately is that my teacher had us watch a Kutzfilm without words (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVLoc6FrLi0). Then, we had to write a story of what we just saw alone or in pairs, using ten words that are new to us and the verb tenses / sentence structures we were just learning.

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