I do not speak Spanish. At least, I do not speak it well. I have been blessed with incredible students, some of whom came into my classroom only speaking Spanish. Teaching intermediate, I was instantly at odds with trying to teach my Spanish-only students English and trying to teach them intermediate content to prepare them for junior high. I was deeply saddened with the thought that these students would most certainly be at a disadvantage until language set in for them, and how incredibly unfair that is. How could I help accelerate this process? What tools could I use to support these students in their language journey?
I began with translating all of my notes. However, how can this support students who did not read proficiently in their language? The Google Translate extension was added to their Chromebooks, but again, this would support them if they read in their first language. Text to speech? That helps, but does this help the student make connections between the two languages? I made Google Slides with images with the word for it in Spanish and English. But what about that important factor of seeing how the mouth moves to make certain sounds?
That’s when it hit me: Dora the Explorer. A show that teaches English-speakers words in Spanish through a cartoon that not only has a storyline, but images, repetition, and a great enough following to create movies and spin-off shows. I combined my presentations with the use of Screencastify. Screencastify has the ability of recording not only on your screen, but with the use of your camera. It has the option of creating a video of what’s on your screen and your camera recording also being present. The video provided from your camera isn’t large, but it’s large enough for students to see how your mouth moves for the annunciation of each word. When I began, I channeled my best Dora the Explorer character. Repetition, enunciation, and timing were crucial. Thinking of primary books, my script was very repetitive so the students could catch on to phrases and questions. The presentations were categorized (ie: animals, colors, family members) and the Screencastify videos were made available on a separate Google Classroom with additional supports for English-learners.
This idea is still in its infancy, but I think this could even be helpful with primary students learning sight words for additional practice and exposure at home. You could even kick it up a notch and read texts, and have students follow along!
6th Grade Teacher