Seeing is remembering in the foreign language classroom. Students retain and use new words in the target language when they are paired with pictures on a word wall.
A word wall is a designated wall-space in a classroom that has the alphabet posted on it. Its purpose in all types of classrooms is to post words so that students can read and refer to them.
A foreign language, or target language, word wall is designed differently.
Designing The Target Language Word Wall
- Post the target language alphabet on a bulletin board with plenty of space between letters.
- Write or print out target language words on separate note-cards.
- Paste or draw a picture of the word on the back of the card.
- As the teacher presents a word, he or she tacks the word beneath its first letter of the posted alphabet.
- Post the picture side of the cards on the wall when the students know the words well.
- Vocabulary: el perro (Spanish for the dog) written on one side, and a picture of a dog put on the other side.
- Verb (infinitive): correr (to run in Spanish) on one side and a picture of a person or legs running on the back.
- Verb conjugation: corren (they run in Spanish) on one side and a picture of a few people running on the back.
- Phrase: ¿Puedotomaragua? (Can I drink some water?) on one side and a picture of a water fountain or a person at a water fountain on the other side.
Practicing Target Language Vocabulary Using The Word Wall
Much oral practice and tactile activities can be done with the word-picture cards. These range from basic recognition and recall to grammar-based activities using verb conjugations and adjective agreement.
Using Recognition And Recall Activities
With the words posted the teacher asks for volunteers to answer and follow requests in the target language:
- What letter does Perro begin with? ¿Con quéletraempiezaperro?
- Takedowncorrer. Quitacorrer
- The teacher does a charade of the word and asks the student to take it off of the wall.
- Take the animals off. Saca los animals.
- Group the big, or small, or flying, or farm, or jungle, animals together. Agrupalosanimalesque .
The same activities are done with the pictures posted so that students need to recall the words.
Using Verb Conjugation Activities
With the words posted on the wall, the teacher asks:
- What is the infinitive of run? ¿Cuáles el infinitivo de corre?
- What does you run mean? Quésignificayourun?
Students can eventually be asked to describe a word with detail.
- What is the dog like? ¿Cómoeselperro?
- What does the dog do? ¿Quéhaceelperro?
- Doesitrun? ¿Corre?
Using The Word Wall As A Word Bank
The word wall is the ultimate word bank that students can use for in-class writings, or even for quizzes and tests. For ultimate recall of the words, verbs, and phrases the picture sides of the cards can be posted.
Words can be posted for students to write a description, paragraph, or story using them.
Pictures only can be posted for the same writing assignments requiring the students to recall or even spell and use the words correctly.
The word wall presents vocabulary, verbs, and phrases so that students see the words placed in order within the target language alphabet.
Pictures, symbols, or diagrams are used on the back side of the vocabulary, verb, or phrase cards to give visual support to students as they recall and use the words.
The foreign language word wall can be used in multiple ways such as practicing new vocabulary, providing a word or picture bank for more complex speaking and writing assignments, or offering visual cues.
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