If you are a language teacher who has decided to incorporate Extempore into your classroom, congratulations! You are about to embark on a journey that is going to save you time and energy while also engaging your students in more speaking exercises than ever before in your classroom. You will find that your students are able to speak more fluently and proficiently as you build speaking skills into all of the instructional units within your curriculum. We’re here to help you get started. Follow along with this guide to fully integrate Extempore into your classroom.
Think Differently About Student Speaking Skills
When it comes to oral skills in a language class, sometimes it can feel like the system is against you as a teacher. You only have so many minutes with each class in a day and a list of priorities a mile long. Times that by 125 students spread across 5 class periods and it can seem literally impossible to make it through everything.
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In general, it can be extremely time-consuming and difficult to teach speaking skills within a language class. It’s easy to push a task like getting each student to have a conversation to the bottom of the list of priorities when you also have reading, writing, and listening skills to conquer. You can get through all of those more quickly than figuring out how to get each student to speak in class.
Conquering a task like getting 25 students to speak a language that is foreign to them with confidence in a classroom takes a little creative problem-solving. You need to think outside of the box and be comfortable trying things that your peers maybe haven’t tried yet.
Extempore is an adjustment that your students may slide into even more easily than you. A lot of classes ban students from using their smartphones, but you could allow them to use their beloved devices specifically for your classroom. Students tend to get excited about new technology and any reason at all to use their phones. They will also feel some pressure taken off knowing they won’t be called out to speak in front of the entire classroom.
Review Your Curriculum
You’ll want to take a deep dive into your current units and see where you could fit additional oral skills exercises. Do you have units where you don’t have any speaking focus at all? Tackle those first, with Extempore you should be able to incorporate oral skills into each instructional unit. Once you have an idea of where you can build speaking skills into units that have none, you’ll want to look at revamping the units where you do have a speaking focus. Extempore is going to allow you to handle speaking skills as an entire classroom instead of potentially embarrassing in-class individual prompts or time-consuming face-to-face exams.
Within each unit, you’ll want to think of prompts that could be used to get your students speaking aloud. You should focus on prompts that will make them think and respond in as conversational a way as possible, not just one-word call and responses.
As with any big change in your class structure, you’ll need to figure out where you can make some changes in order to fit Extempore into your curriculum. The good news is that using the app is actually going to save you a ton of time vs most manual speech assessment practices. So, ideally, you should end up with more time to dedicate to getting your students speaking the language. Extempore will not only give you more time back but also allows your students to speak more confidently and eventually will raise the amount of time they are able to fluently speak the language at one time.
Determine Your Speaking Goals
Now that you will have the ability to build speaking skills into all of your instructional units, what do you really want your students to be able to accomplish when it comes to speaking the language? Do you want them to be able to describe things, narrate events, have full conversations? The possibilities are endless when you have the ability to get students speaking more regularly, more confidently, and more spontaneously.
Take a shot at these goals without your curriculum in front of you first. Sit down and make a dream wish list of things you’d love to see your students accomplish within the timeframe of your course. Let your imagination run wild and don’t limit or hold back any of your ideas.
Design Activities According to Your Curriculum That Will Help Students Reach Your Specific Goals
Now it’s time to sit down with your updated curriculum and your specific speaking goals side-by-side to build out Extempore-specific speaking activities. Get creative with these activities!
Here are a few ideas to start:
- Picture Description: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that should be true regardless of the language of the description! You can put a picture into Extempore, decide how long your students will have to examine it, then have them describe what was happening in the picture in story form. You could even decide if you’d like them to describe things in current, future, or past tense so they would practice verb conjugation.
- Student Conversation: Divide your classroom into pairs and create a prompt that will allow each pair to have and record a conversation between themselves. You could have them describe a visit to a restaurant, holiday plans, a vacation, anything that is related to your current classroom unit. A good tip here is to think about pairing more proficient students with students that may be struggling a bit.
- School Tour: Create a prompt where you are a new exchange student that speaks the target language and you need to know where the most important things are within the school. Have your students provide a virtual tour of the school, pointing out anything they deem as necessary for a new student to know.
For additional ideas, you can check out our ebook, Extempore Activities: The World Languages Classroom. You can also engage your students in coming up with creative ideas as this can help raise their level of excitement and get their buy-in in advance of the actual activities.