UPDATE: Students in PK-4 have been experiencing a 100% immersive classroom environment in Spanish class. We begin each day with a song, followed by knocking on the “door” (read: ground) to see if Pato is ready to visit them. I ask them where he is (¿Dónde está?) and they point to my small backpack (mochila). When they have a lot of physical energy, we do action commands (corre/run, salta/jump, marcha/march, baila/dance, etc.).
The reminder of class tends to be presentational-conversational, meaning that I am presenting a lesson and constantly asking questions in Spanish, but students are also responding in English or with body language (e.g., thumbs up or down). This is called the “silent period” in language acquisition; learners are absorbing, absorbing, absorbing. They are absorbing the cadence and rhythm of the language, and they are intuiting, comprehending, and internalizing contextualized language and new vocabulary. I gesture, I change the intonation of my voice, I use props, I turn on and off the lights (we have a ‘class game’ where I ask a student to turn off the lights, they respond and everyone else pretends to fall asleep–buenas noches/good night!); I do pretty much everything I can think of, but I do not pressure students to produce language at this stage in the game. If they want to, fantastic; but if not, that is perfectly natural (think of a baby learning his/her native tongue– you don’t force them to speak day #2 out of the womb!
Anyway, PK-4 students were exceptionally in the zone this morning, and so our general conversation with Pato turned into a gripping story about a gato/cat who wanted to eat Pato (a duck). The cat did not want pizza, strawberry or chocolate ice cream, or a banana; however, it considered cat food and four fish. Ultimately, the cat chased after Pato (who put a tissue over his head, pretending to be a fantasma/ghost), but a student suggested that I use the three stuffed animal dogs I bring to class to bark and scare away the cat. Thankfully, this scared away the cat. Phew!
The suggestion was–ironically–very similar to a Cuban tale about the importance of learning another language (in the story, a mouse barks to scare away a cat). Gracias and have a great day!
VIRTUAL STUDENTS are strongly encouraged to get as much linguistic input as possible– watch cartoons in the target language, listen to the radio in Spanish (even if you don’t understand!), just listen-listen-listen! Your child’s brain is doing a ton of work, even if they can’t verbalize or articulate it quite yet.