A while back, the wonderful and talented Amy Lenord shared her interpersonal blitz powerpoints and ideas. I am so grateful that she shared this information, because I think it’s one of the best ways to practice informal interpersonal speaking. Interpersonal speaking is probably the most useful of the modes for real life usage, but I think it’s also the hardest to master (at least for Romance languages). It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to make each sentence perfect rather than just getting words out there and communicating. Although I agree that input is vital for language acquisition, practice is also necessary for production. Many of my students are intimidated and won’t speak Spanish unless I give them a bit of a push. So, the interpersonal blitz activity is that push. It’s perfect for speaking practice on typical topics – hobbies, favorites, significant others, family members. I also love that the activity can be used/modified for any level of speaker by giving just enough guidance to narrow things down, but more proficient speakers tend to naturally elaborate more.
So here’s how I use it:
- I project Amy’s pre-made slideshow on the projector.
- Depending on the speaker levels, I give prep time. For my novices, I like to give them 1 minute of prep after posting the topic where they can write questions and potential answers on a sheet of scratch paper. That way, even if they’re not pushing into intermediate where they can ask questions, they can still have something to talk about without spending the whole time thinking of what they’re going to say. Intermediates don’t really need the prep time; they’re proficient enough in asking basic questions (with the help of my word wall) that they can be spontaneous.
- Give students time to talk. I keep it around 1 minute for novices, 1:30-2 for intermediates (depending on that particular class’s strength).
- We normally only do about 10 rounds (20ish minutes) – any more and they start to shut down.
- A modification I sometimes make is to do it speed-date style where some of the students rotate, so everyone can talk to a different partner each time.
My favorite part, though, is watching my students have fun AND use Spanish in the classroom. We did this with my Spanish 3s the other day and it made me so happy to see my students laughing and joking in the language. The slideshow is also great filler for a lesson that ends up being too short, or a no-prep activity on a day where you’re pressed for planning time. As we start to wrap up the year, we often end up with not enough time to do a full unit but too much time before prepping for final assessments, and this activity fills that gap nicely.