How to Improve both performance and proficiency: Advice from an expert

Today’s featured activity for helping our students develop their Spanish speaking skills comes from Jamie, the brilliant teacher behind Specialty Spanish! In this guest post, she shares how to use guided conversations in Spanish class to help develop both performance and proficiency. I have learned so much from Jamie through the years and am honored to consider her both a friend and colleague. I am thrilled she has agreed to share her wisdom with you here on my blog! So, without further ado, I will turn this blog over to her!

Meet Jamie!

Meet Jamie!

Jamie has over two decades of experience teaching Spanish to students of all levels, including AP and the UConn Early College Experience course. She’s a UConn grad with both her BS and MA, and she is passionate about helping Spanish teachers find balance between their professional and personal lives.

When she’s not in the classroom, she’s enjoying family life as a wife, mom, sister, and daughter, or pursuing one of her many hobbies, including reading, running, photography, and Taekwondo!

Guided Conversations for Performance and Proficiency

On my blog at Specialty Spanish, I’ve talked about several ways to stay focused on your curriculum, themes and grammar points (Performance) while also working towards building our students’ proficiency. Another way to do this is to use Guided Conversations for Performance and Proficiency.


What Is A Guided Conversation?

A guided conversation is a great way to work on both performance and proficiency because the teacher creates a scaffolded framework for students to converse. Interpersonal speaking is at once both the most practical skill for our students outside of the classroom and the most challenging!

A guided conversation sets up a topic for students, so they have an idea about what they will talk about before the conversation begins.

It also has a framework in which the teacher tells or guides students how to keep the conversation going. These hints are general, so students still need to be creative with language.


Show Me What A Guided Conversation Looks Like

Image with an example of a guided conversation.

How Does It Work?

So why does using Guided Conversations for Proficiency and Performance Work? There are lots of reasons!

  • You can start early. This activity can be adapted to Spanish 1 students, and culminate in one of the open-ended sections of the AP Spanish Exam!
  • You, as the teacher, get to design them! Start by designing conversations that are about your current unit of study. You can make suggestions that might lead them to use other vocabulary or grammar they’ve learned in the past. Recycling past learning is a GREAT way to help students build proficiency!
  • Students can use the SAME conversation guides over and over! Change their partners. Change their roles, Change the time during the unit (like midway and at the end). You will never have the exact same conversation twice!
  • As your students develop more skill and confidence, make the conversations broader or a bit less tied to the exact unit or theme they’re studying now.

Other Reasons To Love Guided Conversations

I have a lot of things I love about these kinds of activities!

  • You can spend a whole class (or multiple classes) using the same guided conversations. For one prep period, you can get a lot of class time planned for!
  • These make a GREAT lesson plan when you are being observed. Students talking in the TL and all actively engaged!
  • You can use them as an assessment!
  • You can use them as Test Prep for Seal of Biliteracy Tests and the AP Spanish Exam
  • If you don’t have time to make them, you can grab some “Done For You” conversations in my TpT Store.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so excited to try these guided conversations out, and so grateful to Jamie for sharing her wisdom with us today! Make sure to check out all of her posts back over on her blog!

Have you tried guided conversations with your students? Leave a comment and let us know how they went!

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