What Results Am I Getting? Beginner Speedwrites week 7 (Spring 2015)

I have a split class right now– Spanish 1 and 2.  We are doing our third assessment now after our third story.  These are what my beginners did today. They have five minutes to describe themselves.  (The other topic we sometimes do is, describe a picture that is projected on the overhead.) They do this from memory– no notes or dictionaries etc.   The idea is, write as much as you can asquickly as you can, so we see acquisition– what’s “wired in”– as opposed to what the conscious, rule-focused mind can do.

These kids have had 6.5 weeks of unsheltered, comprehensible input stories.  Narration: past tenses.  Dialogue and PQA: present tense.  They knew zero Spanish when they started.  On the sheets, the larger number is wordcount and the smaller (1, 2 or 3) is their grammar mark.

First, Minali’s. There is some verb tense confusion but otherwise solid.

Next, Manvir. She’s got some problems with remembering son and es and I am wondering if this comes from the unsheltered input. She also doesn’t yet have gusta/gustan. High wordcount though!

Here is Marya’s work.   What’s interesting here is that saludables made it into this speedwrite.  She has it in the plural because that is how we see it in the story. So she has acquired meaning but she hasn’t got the grammar rule of adj agreement/placement yet.  Still, this is rock-solid writing.

Next,  Roshini.  Note tense confusion.  But also interesting: she used yo tener fue a London.  It’s wrong but she knows that something like fu- means go (past tense). I think this is rule overgeneralisation.  This kid BTW has missed one entire week of class.

This is Eric’s.  He was put into Spanish 2 weeks after course started, and has a writing output challenge (he has an I.E.P.). Only this week has he been starting to speak whole sentences aloud. I mercy-passed him with a 2/3 for grammar.

Finally, here is Manisha’s. Again, she has not yet acquired gusta/gustan but otherwise this is impeccable beginner writing. She missed the first 6 days of class so this to me is doubly impressive.

Anyway, neat, hey?  These guys are sure doing better than my kids used to do under “communicative” or grammar-focused teaching.  Would be cool to see others’ results and I’ll post more as we progress.


  1. Thanks for sharing these! I agree; those are great results for only being seven weeks in. My fellow grammar grinder and yapper colleagues’ students wouldn’t be able to write half of that after two semesters and they would still make just as many mistakes. And there would definitely not be anything in the past tense, since you know, kids can’t do that until their second year.

  2. Would you share how your room is decorated? Do you have lists of adjectives and verbs on your walls that the students may refer to? I know my walls are overcrowded and want to get ideas for what I should do next year.

    1. My room right now has three Spanish things on the walls:

      A) question words ¿qué? ¿cómo? ¿cuanto/a? ¿dónde? ¿quién? and ¿por qué?, all with English equivalents

      B) a colours poster labeled “Los Colores.” There is a red blob labeled rojo (in red felt), a yellow blob labeled amarillo (inyellow felt) etc. no English.

      C) my PQA high-frequency verbs chart. This has question and answer verbs, with Eng equivalents. The list is ¿eres…? — soy… , ¿tienes…? — tengo… etc. There are also a few in the past tense.

      Basically, I think less is more. Too much junk and the kids get lost. What they really know = what is in their heads. Also, I teach English and Social Justice, so I need wall space for other stuff. I’ll do a blog entry on the room with pics soon.

      1. Thank you. I know you are right about less being more. I think if I can figure out how to do deep and narrow that will be much easier for me. I am looking forward to seeing some examples of the vPQA slides to help me with this next year. Thanks!

      2. Ya Blaine and Ben are right: narrow and deep are where it is at.

        I don’t use vPQA because for me that is what stories are for, but not everyone likes (or can manage the kids into focusing on) stories so vPQA prolly is a great tool for some folks.

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