teach spanish to children

This article is by Laura Anaya de Zuchovicki, author and founder of Conversa Books. A Mexican native, she has been teaching Spanish to elementary and middle-school students for over 10 years. As an expert in TPRS, she speaks to the exciting new technique of embedded readings.

As a foreign language teacher, my priority has always been to provide my students with the ability to speak fluently. This is the reason why I’m always on the lookout for different methods that help achieve my objective. This summer while attending one of multiple foreign language teachers’ conferences, I came across a relatively new technique called “embedded readings.” This method not only allows for developing fluency in the target language but it gives the student an opportunity to improve his/her literacy skills. In my opinion, this technique is one of the best ways to work with a multilevel class, which we often, for many reasons, end up having to teach.

The author of this technique is Laurie Clarc who has been a foreign language teacher for a long time. She, along with a Russian teacher Michelle Whaley, have worked numerous hours developing this technique to simplify it and make it available to as many foreign language teachers as possible. You can visit their website at Embedded Readings to find out more about their theories.

This technique relies on the theory that foreign language students have selective hearing based on understanding and recognition of the language they are learning. This way when you develop an “embedded reading” your lower level students will only understand the basic phrases of the reading while your advanced students will understand most of it.

An embedded reading is a series of three or more readings of increasing level of difficulty using the same basic idea. Let me give you an example:

1. The first reading is at a basic level, easy for any student to understand. It is a summary or an outline:

Cinderella wanted to go to the ball.

She needed a dress and shoes.

Her fairy godmother gave them to her.

Cinderella went to the ball and rocked the house.

2. Each succeeding level adds sentences with additional information and/or details:

Cinderella wanted to go to the ball.

She wanted to meet the Prince.

She needed a dress and shoes,

but she couldn’t get any. Luckily,

Her fairy godmother gave them to her

So that she could go to the ball.

Cinderella went to the ball and rocked the house.

Every girl should have a fairy godmother!

3. The final version is the most challenging. However each and every version of the reading contains the basic reading and each subsequent level within it. This scaffolding of the story builds success!

Cinderella wanted to go to the ball.

She wanted to meet the Prince.

But you see, there was a problem.

She needed a dress and shoes,

but she couldn’t get any.

Poor Cinderella had no money for

clothes so she could not buy a dress or shoes!

Luckily, she found out that she had a fairy godmother!

Her fairy godmother

knew that Cinderella had no money for a dress and shoes,

so she gave them to her

so that she could go to the ball.

Cinderella went to the ball and rocked the house.

A Hollywood agent was there and

offered her a spot on Dancing with the Stars.

Every girl should have a fairy godmother!

Of course, this technique goes hand-in-hand with the TPRS (Total Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method. If you are not familiar with this teaching technique, you can learn more about integrating TRPS into your class at Conversa Books. Teachers who use TPRS will find they can use the stories created in class by students, which makes everything very comprehensible through repetition and personalization. This technique will help you create interesting repetitions while using differentiation and at the same time work on student literacy skills. Another advantage is that embedded readings will give you an opportunity to use technology in the classroom while simplifying lesson planning. If you are a teacher that does not create stories in your classes you can use comics, song lyrics, poetry, news articles, or legends. The possibilities are unlimited with embedded readings!

I hope you find this article intriguing enough to visit the Embedded Readings website to learn how this extraordinary technique can help your foreign language class!

You may also be interested in this post: Spanish Curriculum – Conversa Books


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