Our goal as language teachers (be it a world language classroom or a Spanish immersion classroom) is to expand our student’s vocabulary in a meaningful way. This often seems like an intimidating task because there is just so much vocabulary and so little time.
A great way to build student’s vocabulary is by having visual word walls in your Spanish classroom. This will look different depending on the level and your teaching dynamics but they great for the following reasons:
1. The students can use them as a reference point. If you have a verb word wall or a seasonal Valentine’s Day word wall in Spanish you will often catch your students looking at them during speaking, writing and listening activities.
2. If you aren’t using it as an explicit part of your teaching but rather a “decoration” piece… students will gravitate towards them and learn new words on their own.
3. Visual word walls are great to use for a variety of quick activities in your Spanish or dual language classroom; like writing centers, write the room, use 10 of the words in a story, use as many words as possible in a story, include words during a partner speaking activity, etc.
4. A great way to stay in the target language. For example; if a student says ‘Cómo se dice ‘heart’ en español?‘ you (the teacher) can point at the visual word wall or even better; train your students to point instead of speaking in English.
Another wonderful thing about visual word walls as they work fabulously in any level of a language classroom. They can be just as helpful to high school students as they can to kindergarten and first graders. As a language teacher, you want to make sure that your students feel comfortable and not overwhelmed. Visual words walls in Spanish give your students the visual they need to make a connection and the word in Spanish for them to use in their language activities in class.
You can put visual word wall wherever you want in your classroom. I’ve used them in pocket charts (both small and large), on the back of my classroom door, on closet doors, bulletin boards and under the whiteboard to name a few places. Where you put it will obviously depend on how to you plan to use it, your classroom set up and if it is part of your instruction or more of a decoration or being used as a poster or informational piece. I’ve also had more than one up at the same time. For example; you might keep Spanish cognates or Spanish verbs word wall up all year; where as a Valentine’s Day one you will only keep up for a few weeks.
What are some other ways that you can think you use visual word wall in your Spanish language or immersion classroom? I’d love to hear your thoughts.