Mar Clavijo

Copywriter. Spanish Native Certified Tutor. TEFL Certified. 10 years Tutoring Adults experience. Musician, Podcaster and Content Creator. Self-taught English, Japanese and Russian learner.

10 Ways Students Can Stay in Contact with their Target Language

Sep 28, 2022 | 0 comments

Para leer en español, haz click aquí.

Are your students only coming in contact with their target language while they’re in the classroom with you?

Now, more than ever, there are fun, engaging activities students can do at home to keep in touch with the new language they’re learning.

In this post you’ll find the top 10 activities I recommend my students do to continue learning outside of lessons.

List of Outside-the-Classroom Activities

Here’s a list of activities I have personally used and recommend to my students to keep in touch with the target language.

They are listed from easiest to most challenging.

Listening

1. Watching movies or series

To help students:

  • Identify similar sounds to those of the native language.
  • Get familiarized with the new sounds.
  • Get used to the sound pattern (e.g. English sounds like a kangaroo, while Spanish sounds like a machine gun – thank you, Mikel Morris!).
  • To notice how the target language is used in context through the situations that arise, the interactions between characters and the gestures they make (verbal language). It has much more impact to see someone using their index finger to say, “Don’t!”

 

2. Listen to music or podcasts

This one is very similar to the previous activity. It’s only a little more demanding due to the lack of visual aids.

Yet it’s excellent to:

  • Get students used to connected speech, that is spoken language in a continuous sequence, as in normal conversation,
  • Get them to notice by ear when the words begin or end within a phrase.

 

Reading

3. Reading the lyrics of their favorite songs

Following the lyrics of a song while listening to it will help them to:

  • Establish the relationship between what you see and what you hear.
  • Get familiarized with the spelling of each word.
  • Thus have more clarity of how they’re written.

 

4. Read magazines, newspapers, stories or articles about topics of their interest

When reading, students:

  • Are exposed to more words, phrases and grammatical structures that enrich their learning.
  • Expand the way of expressing themselves by incorporating the previous ones.

 

Pronunciation

5. Singing the lyrics of their favorite songs

This is a fun activity for them to:

  • Do tongue training.
  • Do mouth muscles training.
  • Practice pronunciation aloud.

15 years later and I just can’t get enough of this activity!

 

6. Reading aloud

Thanks to this practice:

  • Both pronunciation and fluency can improve dramatically.
  • Best of all, students can do it alone.

In my case, it allowed me to develop the confidence I needed to talk to other people without feeling embarrassed.

 

Writing

7. Writing the shopping list in the target language

This activity gets the students to:

  • Work on their memory.
  • Use the vocabulary in context.
  • Put their spelling skills to the test.

 

8. Writing a journal

It can also be to write down their personal thoughts about something in particular.

  • It’s very powerful because it requires putting ideas in order to articulate a phrase that expresses what they mean.
  • Students make use of the different grammatical structures they have learned by reading or listening.

 

Speaking

9. Talking to oneself in front of the mirror

From my personal experience I think it’s key to work on getting used to ourselves speaking in a language other than the native one.
  • It allows students to feel comfortable using the target language.
  • It’s another activity students can do by themselves before feeling ready to talk to people.

10. Getting a penpal

When learning a language this means:

  • A friend to exchange language and culture with.
  • Today it’s possible (even for free) thanks to the internet and social networks.
  • Students’ ears are exposed to more people with whom they can communicate in the target language.
  • It’s a chance to use everything they learn with you in class.

 

Last but not least…

All the above activities are aimed at cushioning the resistance of the native language.

This is something we all experience when acquiring a new language, especially when we are at a beginner stage.

Keep in mind that these activities do not have to be graded.

They’re rather are extra-curricular, to give students an extra push, so they keep in touch with the target language even outside the classroom!

 

Free Speaking Assignments to share with your students

 

 

See more posts by Mar here.

What are your thoughts on these free resources? Did you find them helpful? Let us know in the comments bellow! Your feedback is welcome.

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