Angie Torre-Sherbondy guest blogs #HowIBoomalang

Jade Rivera's street art, Barranco, Lima, Peru

#HowIBoomalang is a series of interviews and guest posts with educators, sharing how and why they implement Boomalang conversations.

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With structured conversation at the lower levels and more open-ended at the higher levels, students can benefit more in 15 minutes of one-on-one than three hours in the classroom.

I just discovered the best world language classroom tool...

One of my biggest frustrations as a second-language teacher is that, with a 1 to 35 teacher-student ratio in most classes, students don’t get enough one-on-one practice and attention.

But what if they could?

Can you imagine how much confidence, comprehension and speaking proficiency would increase if students could talk to native speakers one-on-one?

Well, they CAN!

How refreshing to find a service that connects students (and teachers) to native French and Spanish young professionals and students around the world. I recently used this service to talk to a French speaker. I smiled the entire time. So much fun.

So, why aren’t ALL schools using this service? I hear the trends:

  • Throw away your textbook!

  • Go deskless!

  • Go paperless!

  • Ditch the grammar!

What about a trend where world language departments actually spend money on services that make our students motivated and proficient in the target language?

How I would use Boomalang:

1) For AP Spanish: For homework, have students talk to five or six speakers, each from a different Spanish-speaking country. AP students need to be exposed to many different accents because every year the speakers of the listening portion of the exam are from different countries and no one can predict which country that will be. Even native speakers who speak to Spanish speakers of other nationalities can struggle to understand the message.

For more tips on teaching AP Spanish, Click HERE.

2) For Spanish One and Two: Give students specific questions to ask the speaker based on the topic you are studying in class and require students to write the answers.

For example, after studying, “ser” and the adjectives:

  • ¿Cómo es tu familia?

  • ¿Cómo eres de personalidad? (Because it’s obvious how they are physically)

  • ¿Tienes hermanos? ¿Cómo son ellos?

  • ¿Eres generoso/a o tacaño/a?

  • ¿Eres trabajador/a o perezoso/a?

  • ¿Eres callado/a o hablador/a?

  • ¿Cómo soy yo? Descríbeme.

Have students write a list of words they learned during the conversation and require that they use the words in complete sentences.

3) For Spanish Three and AP: Have students choose an American holiday or culture to explain to the speaker. Then, have them ask the speaker to describe a similar cultural celebration in his or her country. Give them the vocabulary for comparison in advance:

  • Por un lado; On the one hand

  • Por otro lado; On the other hand

  • En comparación con; in comparison with

  • Si se compara…con; If one compares…with

  • Es cada vez más; It’s more and more

  • Es cada vez menos; It’s less and less

  • Mientras que X; While X

  • Se parece a; It is similar to

  • No se parece en nada a; Is not at all like

  • Mejor /peor que; better/worse than

  • Aunque; Although / even though

  • A la inversa; conversely

  • De manera diferente; differently

  • Sin embargo; However

  • En contraste; In contrast

  • Por el contrario; In contrast

  • A pesar de (que); In spite of

  • Al contrario; on the contrary

  • Tanto X como Y; X as well as Y

  • X al igual que Y; X as well as Y

  • Aún así; Even so

  • No obstante; Nevertheless / however

  • Se diferencia en (que); It differs in that…

  • Parecido; similar

4) Spanish Three Option: Escribe una comparación entre una costumbre cultural norteamericana y una de otro país de habla española. Habla de las semejanzas y las diferencias.

5) Spanish Four and AP Option: Haz una presentación oral de dos minutos comparando las dos costumbres culturales. Debes incluir una introducción, un desarrollo y una conclusión.

This assignment prepares students for one of the most challenging sections of the AP Spanish and Culture Exam, “La presentación oral.”

These are only a few ways to maximize the conversation time; there are many other tasks you could assign. With structured conversation at the lower levels and more open-ended at the higher levels, students can benefit more in 15 minutes of one-on-one than three hours in the classroom.

If you can bring Boomalang to your students, I’m confident that the benefits will be visible immediately.

For more tips on how to get your students speaking in the target language, click HERE.

Angie taught world language for 31 years and has created a variety of resources for Spanish and French. A top seller on "Teachers Pay Teachers," she’s spent the past 11 years helping teachers save time, avoid burn-out, and bring their students to proficiency in the target language through the use of her proven resources.