Monday, August 30, 2010

Amigo Search: A Spanish Get to Know You Grid

This year we had several changes take place in our Spanish program. We went from having two Spanish teachers to one and we have quite a few students who are new to our school, which for the most part means that they are taking Spanish for this first time. As a result of these changes, I decided to take a new spin on how I assessed language skills. Instead of the traditional paper and pencil pre-test, I used a grid that required students to search for their classmates’ signatures, much like is used with most get-to- know you grids. The objective was to get as many classmates to sign your grid. While this activity was meant to get students to interact with each other it also served as an informal assessment of previous skills or knowledge of the Spanish language and its cultures. I was able to achieve this by including statements that required a response. Here are some of the items I included in the grid:

1. Has a big familia.
2. Can count up to 20 in Spanish.
3. Can name 3 frutas.
4. Rides el autobus to get to school.
5. Can name 3 Spanish speaking countries (besides Mexico).
6. Can say their birth month in Spanish.
7. Can sing a song in Spanish.

My students enjoyed this activity very much. They loved getting the chance to show off how much they remembered or knew in Spanish. This activity was also able to keep their attention for the allotted time. I even allowed them to ask me to sign their grid once they had obtained most of their signatures. During these instances, they learned some quick facts about me.

I highly recommend this activity for all levels. Since my students are beginning learners and due to our mixed ability grouping, I needed to make my grid bilingual. However, this activity could be adapted by including only phrases in the target language for more advanced learners.

Finally, I want to give credit to the sources that inspired this activity. While the actual grid is something that I have been using over the years, the handout used for this specific activity was modified from a template provided by Some of the statements were also inspired by a posting written by Deborah Blaz in the FLTEACH Listserv, where she described situations that focused on how students interacted with the target language in their homes or communities. In my activity, I included statements that required students to recall vocabulary items. To a certain extent, I blended Blaz’s concept of language interaction with assessment in mind.

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