In my French 2 and Spanish 1 class, weekend chat was hands-down my secret weapon! It’s my favorite low prep, beginner-friendly comprehensible input technique. This post will show you all my proficiency-oriented instruction routines and tricks incorporating weekend chat activities into Spanish and French class. Let’s dive in!
What is a weekend chat?
Well, a weekend chat is an excellent comprehensible input technique that falls under the umbrella of proficiency-oriented instruction. It works best when you make a routine out of asking your students every Monday what they did that weekend. Slowly but surely, you will ask for more sophisticated responses from your students. At first, simple yes/no responses, maybe even just checking for understanding and demonstrating comprehension. Then, when they are ready, they will start using the responses in context, naturally, like a conversation.
And hey! Isn’t that the goal?
Why is weekend chat so effective?
Dude, my #1 reason for loving this simple speaking and listening activity for Spanish and French class was its natural context. But there are a bunch of great reasons to start using weekend chats. Here are my faves in order:
Reasons to Use Weekend Chat:
- Context! You’re using meaningful language, communicating with students about real stuff that happened
- Personalization. You’re getting to know them and their activities, families, everything!
- What better conversation practice is there? How often do friends and family, and colleagues ask each other: what did you do yesterday? What did you do this weekend? So. dang. Useful.
- Classmates learn about each other.
- Routine! Get ready to replace 1 out of 5 warmups with this outrageously easy, virtually zero prep and comprehensible input-rich activity. Don’t worry, I also have ways to keep it from getting stale.
- Past tense practice for French and Spanish. There’s no parallel for this one. Weekend chat is hands down the best practice I have ever found for introducing past tense structures, both regular and irregular.
Weekend Chat = The Best Past Tense Practice Around
My level 1 French class was casually mentioning “Je suis restée…j’ai fait…j’ai vu’’ with zero issues after just a few months of weekend chats. They didn’t even have to try or learn the ins and out of complex rules of être/avoir past tense formations in the je or tu formations simply because they had seen and used them so many times in context. This is the beauty of teaching with comprehensible input. They are used to using language to communicate ideas in context. So they focus on the message instead of the form. Research shows that this is the ideal way to acquire language. For more information on the research behind comprehensible input, check out this post.
How to use Weekend Chat in Level 1 or 2 French Class
Let’s take a look at an example. In my French class, it was “qu’est-ce que tu as fait ce weekend?”
The responses were things like, I played sports. I stayed home. I hung out with friends. I played video games. I read a book. I watched Netflix.
And you might be thinking to yourself, I teach a level one or level two class. I don’t know about that level of past tense exposure. That seems like it might be a little bit above them. I taught level one and level two as well. And here’s how you make this work. This is the whole principle of proficiency.
Treat your Past Tense Structures Like Vocabulary
Treat it like vocabulary. Treat it like a whole giant phrase. Present it as, “hey, this whole phrase means I stayed home”. Je suis resté chez moi.
Put an extra E on it, if you identify as female.
And I’m not testing them for spelling or accuracy. You give students a few of those phrases, and I would give them maybe five max to start. Remember, this is week 2 of French 1. Let’s not overwhelm.
Add Personalization to Your Weekend Chat Lessons
And then the students who wanted to expand would ask for the phrases they needed. Examples: I went hunting, or I played a video game, and you write it out for them.
And that’s actually a really good learning experience for the whole class. You might be writing it on a Google Doc, while everybody on your Zoom Room is looking, whatever it might be for you. Anywhere that your students can all see it.
Weekend Chat Tiered Questioning Strategies
And then the next thing that I want to make sure that you’re aware of is this option is that you can start with, like yes or no options. You can have students check it off on a list, or say yes or no for things that they did things that they didn’t.
I love scavenger hunts for this. I learned this from Allison and Mis Clases Locas. I think it’s a really great idea. I actually took it from a paper version and put it all around my classroom because I didn’t want to make copies of it anymore. (Great way to save prep and paper! Any excuse to avoid the copy machine.)
Avoid Making Extra Copies & Other Low Prep Solutions
It’s really good to be a routine because the more you do it, the less work it really requires. First, I handed out one solid list for students around the beginning of the year. It was about 10 to 15 phrases and what they all meant in English. And then I had them do a human scavenger hunt where they had to go sign other people’s. They had to get five at least for them to get a check for the activity.
Interpersonal & Interpretive Weekend Chat Spanish Class Activities
They had to only sign things that they did that weekend for a few different people. So that’s the human scavenger hunt part of it.
And then the next part is they kept that as their vocabulary list. And the next time the next week, instead of making them a new thing, or a new copies on the copier to you know, erase some work for me.
And to make it last for multiple class periods I wrote them on the whiteboard and had them do the scavenger hunt on the whiteboard! I would keep the phrases up the whole day and then just erase them underneath it for each new class period.
Interactive and Movement Oriented Spanish Class Activities
So I wrote each phrase, like I stayed home, I did this, I played video games, I listened to music. I was with my brothers, I was with my sisters, that kind of thing. And they wrote their names underneath it for each thing that they did that weekend.
While moving around the classroom, they were interacting with each other. I asked them to ask each other which songs they were listening to, what YouTube channels, they’re watching, and get a few follow-up questions. This gives them the chance to practice the tu form and get to know their classmates!
Another activity idea: I printed them and stuck them around the room. And then they had to go walk to the things that were true or false about them. Once at that area, I would give them a prompt to talk to the people who had something in common with them that weekend. If they played a video game, they had to figure out in French which game the others around them were playing. Etc.
Ways to Turn Weekend Chats into Writing Prompts
And then things that they liked or disliked doing. There’s so many different ways you can do it. Then it finally became a journal prompt that they would do every Monday morning, they would open up their books. And that would be the warm-up: they could pull out their notes, and they would just write it down. And then it was part of the became a routine. Looking for more writing prompts? Check out more ideas for French class here
Your New Favorite Monday Warmup Routine
The best part too is that you can personalize it as you go along. So students will do more and more stuff. Like when the fair was happening in my area, they would want to say like, Well, how do you say I went to the fair? And as specialized things went on, like oh, a bunch of them went to a concert or they had a band performance. And we would all talk about how to write that how to say that and practice with each other.
From Routine to Assessment
And I also slowly started to take away more resources each week and then eventually made it a quiz. All of the things you do in class should translate directly into your quizzes. Your assessments should look exactly like class! Naturally, if you’re actively cultivating a weekend chat routine, reward the skills your students know by giving them an assessment where they can proudly show you how much past tense, hobbies, and family and friend vocabulary they can now use in both presentational and interpersonal situations.
Spanish Interpretive & Presentational Quiz Example
It can be as simple as typing out 3 lines in a google doc, and asking at the top of the page in French or Spanish “What did you do this weekend?” ask students to respond with 3 phrases in French or Spanish, and grade them on how well a native speaker would be able to understand the answer.
You can also do an interpretive quiz. Give students a few different personalities like a musician, an artist, a social butterfly, a loner, a gamer, and an athlete. Ask them to match up the weekend activities that make the most sense.
A Powerful Proficiency-Oriented Instruction Routine
Try weekend chat. It will help you to get to know your students better and it also becomes a great weekly routine. As you invest more in it each week, it becomes less and less work while your students grow in their language abilities and proficiency. It’s one of those things that with very little work has an astounding payoff.
In My French Class
Want to see an example? Check out this post French Classroom Decor Ideas for Proficiency Oriented Instruction to see the scavenger hunts in action.
More Free Tools for Teaching with Comprehensible Input
All right. And if you are interested in more activities like this, and you like this whole style of approaching proficiency, then I have something that’s really going to help you out. It’s a free 20 page ebook of my best ideas and strategies for how to make proficiency doable in your classroom. Not by putting more work on your plate or trying to replace the things that you’re already doing.
Let’s instead replace some old routines with proficiency routines and use practical teacher friendly tactics! And I also give you in there, what is my favorite part of it, which is the roadmap to proficiency, the nine steps that you need to take in order. Because sequence is everything. If you want to jump more into proficiency, and you’re not really sure where to start, and you’re not trying to spend your whole life at school.
Have you ever wished the transition to proficiency were easier to do? Grab the FREE toolkit here to learn the framework for updating your practice to comprehensible input – without all the overwhelm – and prepare for the challenges ahead.
Blog Posts for Proficiency-Oriented Instruction
I’m so glad you’re here! If this post helped you, you may also like these:
- The Research Behind Comprehensible Input
- Comprehensible Input Techniques | Writing Comprehensible Stories for Students
- 3 Student Engagement Strategies for CI World Language Teachers
- What is Universal Grammar? Linguistics for Teachers Series #2
- Can Do Statements and ACFTL Tools for World Language Teachers
Free Conference for World Language Teachers
If you’re ready to jump in and get started with proficiency and teaching with comprehensible input, I have another resource to help you on your journey below:
Sign Up for the Next Practical & Comprehensible Free Virtual Conference! Every year, I gather together the best and brightest in the field of world language to share with you how to switch to proficiency through comprehensible input. All with practical ideas that you can use tomorrow. It’s a FREE virtual conference – join the waitlist and find out more about the speakers here.
I cannot wait to hear more about how you use these activities in your classroom. Do not forget to share with me in the comments below. Which ones are you already doing and which ones are you going to try? Thanks for learning about weekend chat with me!
Rooting for you,