If I had to single out one thing that I added to my classroom this year that made the biggest difference, I would have to say: word walls. My classroom currently has three, and I’m looking to expand to five or six soon.
Right now, the three word walls in my classroom are:
1.) the Most Frequently Used Verbs Word Wall.
This is a must for story listening, TPRS, story retelling, story reenactments—almost any activity that supposed to keep class in the target language. I teach with a laser pointer in my hand at all times (I buy them in bulk at the local Dollar Tree), and whenever I use a verb from the list, I point to it. An English equivalent is listed directly on the verb, and typically verbs appear in 3rd person singular and plural forms only. This list also occupies the prime spot in the middle of the back wall, clearly visible to all. This instantly establishes meaning—no guessing, prompting, or hinting needed. The practice also engages the senses—students can hear and see the verbs. It also become a bit of cheat sheet for me too. If I’m searching for a verb to use but draw a blank in the moment, I can check the board. The current version of my Word Wall is available here. It’s in Word document form so you can customize it to your particular program or specifications.
2.) The Question Words Word Wall:
This was my first Word Wall, which I made before really knowing anything about Comprehensible Input. It has gone through many revisions over the years, and does not include every question word possible, just words that I use most frequently. Most communicative language teachers have made one of these walls at some point, and if you don’t have one already, you are free to look at mine here—and again feel free to customize it.
3.) Conjunctions and Miscellaneous Words Word Wall: These words are easy to explain. These are those little words (mostly adverbs and conjunctions) that are extremely common and useful, but take time to acquire. With these words posted in a visible spot, I can start use them from day one. I did rearrange this wall multiple times throughout the year until I hit on something that worked for my students. This word wall is huge and available here. I actually don’t have all these words posted right now, but I have some on hand in case they need to be added to the wall. Again, feel free to customize this list at will.
If you have never used a word wall, I would suggest you try it. It’s a great resource for quickly establishing meaning. If you have attempted to use a word wall, and it didn’t work out, I would suggest giving it another try. Start small—I think if you’re word wall is too large upfront (before you are used to using one), it could be rather intimidating for the teacher. Start with a few important words and slowly add in some more as you get comfortable with it.
Recently, a student suggested a Preposition Word Wall—which is great idea! I guess that will be a summer project. I’ll follow up when the Preposition Wall is completed.