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Teach Small Chunks of Language with Circling

Do you know how to circle? You can teach small chunks of language very effectively with this simple method. Circling is a great way to help students achieve proficiency with short phrases in daily activities while remaining 100 percent in the target language. Circling consists of establishing a statement by asking a question and then repeating the statement, then asking a “yes” question about the statement and repeating the answer, then asking an “either/or” question and repeating the answer, and finally, asking a “no” question and repeating the answer. For example:

Teacher: “Juan, ¿cuántos niños hay en la clase?”   (establishing a statement with a question)

Student: “Hay quince niños en la clase.”   (statement)

Teacher: “Muy bien. Hay quince niños en la clase.”   (repeating the statement)

Teacher: “Emilia, ¿hay quince niños en la clase?”   (“yes” question)

Student: “Sí, hay quince niños en la clase.”

Teacher: “Muy bien. Hay quince niños en la clase.”   (repeating the answer)

Teacher: “Ricardo, ¿hay cinco niños en la clase o hay quince niños en la clase?”   (“either/or” question)

Student: “Hay quince niños en la clase.”

Teacher: “Muy bien. Hay quince niños en la clase.”   (repeating the answer)

Teacher: “Ana, ¿hay veinte niños en la clase?”   (“no” question)

Student: “No, no hay veinte niños en la clase, hay quince niños en la clase.”

Teacher: “Muy bien. No hay veinte niños en la clase, hay quince niños en la clase.”

To make circling effective, you will have to model for your students how you want them to answer each question. You can do this by simply answering the questions for the students and then having them repeat. Once the routine is established, circling can be used with almost any phrase from an activity or lesson. Circling also takes some practice to get the sequence and rhythm down. Practice with a colleague or a friend before you circle with your students.

Of course, because circling is not how one would normally converse, you’ll want to use it in moderation. As mentioned, circling can be effective for students in achieving proficiency and building confidence with short phrases and vocabulary. In the Sonrisas lessons, we use circling mainly in the calendar activities and lesson activities. You want to make sure that you employ circling appropriately in class. For example, you wouldn’t want to interrupt the flow of a story with circling, nor would you want to do circling with every little phrase that comes up in the lesson. We suggest that maybe one circling activity per lesson is appropriate. You can repeat the same circling activity for several lessons until students are proficient with the language you are targeting.

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