April 1

In English? No, in Spanish.

At the same time as cracking down on students using L1 in the class, I’m allowing more (controlled) Spanish.  It’s something which again came out of my peer observation of the low-level class we are preparing for their English university entrance exam.  Perhaps now  is a good time to say that it’s a written exam based on a text with comprehension questions, a Use of English section and a composition (no listening/speaking skills).


“Comprehension”.  What does it mean to “comprehend” something?  In the exam it means the ability to understand the text and paraphrase it to answer three comprehension questions.

I’ve noticed, across levels, that students very often comprehend both written and listening texts, but may not have the language necessary to explain them in English.  As such, I’ve started giving my students the option of using English or Spanish and I think there are three good reasons for using Spanish in these cases:

  • It’s quicker if you just want to check students have understood
  • It motivates students who don’t have the linguistic ability to respond in English
  • It helps weaker students who may not have understood in English (though obviously we shouldn’t over-use this method, as otherwise weaker students may rely on the translation)


Posted April 1, 2012 by Teresa Bestwick in category My thoughts

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