Teaching Alphabet & Numbers Traditionally
In my experience, the alphabet is taught by
- giving students a handout with the full TL alphabet, possibly allowing students to code the pronunciation in a way that makes sense to them
- teaching students a song for the TL alphabet
- requiring students to memorize the alphabet in order
- having students practice the alphabet through spelling words with the TL alphabet
- having students practice recognition of the alphabet by writing words you spell to them
- quizzing students on reciting the alphabet and spelling
and numbers are taught by
- giving students a handout with the numbers in chronological order 0 to a decided end number
- practicing by counting in the TL, bingo, identifying the numbers in the TL
- practicing by stating ages in the TL
- practicing by stating dates in the TL
- possibly practicing prices
Teaching Alphabet & Numbers in Real Life Contexts
If you consider the methods above, very few of them are communicative or mimic how letters and numbers come up in real world situations. Maybe we should consider when and how to introduce that information, but because they are bits of knowledge used every day we should find ways to integrate them in every unit we teach. How can we fold them into every lesson? Consider these ideas:
- Introduce the alphabet to your students then teach them how to spell their names and ask each other how to spell their names in TL
- Use the alphabet and numbers together to exchange email addresses or mailing addresses (they don't have to be real)
- Use the TL alphabet to introduce cognates to students and draw their attention to spelling differences in the TL
- Use the TL alphabet to introduce TL culture first and last names and have students spell them in a communicative scenario.
- Use numbers to 31 for asking for and stating birth dates of self, friends and immediate family.
- Use numbers to state birthdays and ages of celebrities students like.
- Use numbers to teach stating/asking for age lexically (no need for full numbers lesson here)
- Use numbers in the thousands to teach how students can express their graduating class (Class of 2016, etc.)
- Use numbers to 31 and thousands to teach the date
- Use simple numbers in classroom commands to tell students to form groups of 2, 3, etc.
- Use TL alphabet to exchange names of family members and use spelling for clarification. Students can fill in a family tree with their partner's family information.
- Use simple numbers to have students report on how many of each relation they have.
- Use compound numbers to ask and respond with family members' ages.
- Use larger numbers to report the birth and death years of family members (see attached resource).
- Use numbers to ask how many minutes, hours or days students do certain activities. This is a good way to work in frequency words like normally, usually, daily, generally, and frequently.
- Teach students lexically how to share how long they have been doing a certain activity (playing piano, etc.)
Weather, Time Lesson
- Use numbers to have students ask each other and report the temperature in the TL
- Use numbers to have students tell time, but also discuss increments of time for activities, length of time until or left in a situation
- Use numbers and time to explain when events begin and end (great prep for past tense later!)
- Use numbers and time to have students make movie plans using an app like Fandango or authentic resource of movie showtimes at a target cultural theater
Sports Unit / Lesson
- Have students report game scores (professional, college or your campus) in Spanish
- Have students share their jersey numbers in TL numbers
- Teach students lexically how to share how long they have been playing a sport
House / Neighborhood Unit
- Have students explain how many of each furnishing they have in their rooms/houses
- Have students explain how many minutes they live away from school and other places in the neighborhood / city
- Teach students lexically how to express how many years they have lived somewhere or when they moved into your city
- Use the alphabet and spelling as as source for comprehensible input and spell new words to students orally first, then write them
Past Tense Unit
- Use numbers to state the years important life events occurred
- Use numbers to state at what ages things happened in students' lives
- Use numbers to explain for how long things happened in the past
Using Authentic Resources
- Have students read and report stats and figures using TL numbers from a TL infographic
- Have students discuss prices, times, amounts and other number related facts from an authentic resource
These are just some of the suggestions I came up with, and some of these suggestions are things we have done for years, legacy practices, but it is important to keep using the TL alphabet and numbers communicative. How can we get our students to interact with each other using these concepts? How can we keep the language whole and integrate numbers and alphabet as part of larger messages? How do we avoid making alpha/numbers just word level practice? And more importantly, how to we promote their everyday importance if we don't include them in every day practice in our lessons?
Lots to consider about little bitty concepts, right?
Happy Coaching, friends!