Valuing Interpersonal Speaking in the Grade

Immediate Feedback

If we want students to fully engage in speaking the target language, we need to show them that we really value interpersonal speaking in the grade. My solution is to make interpersonal speaking 30% of the total grade. Although for novice. Then we have to offer multiple opportunities for performance in the grade. For students in the novice and intermediate low range I track two things in the grade:

  • Quantity of Production of the Target Language
  • Demonstrating that they understand during interactive comprehension activities (comprehensible input)

I track this daily because I expect each and every one of my students to speak to a partner at least 3 times per class period. In reality, they usually speak much more than that. In order for this to work we need high accountability and high support. This article is about the high accountability part. I enter the interpersonal speaking grade every Friday after school. This gives students immediate feedback in the form a grade. Every day, I announce in the target language how many points they have earned - very quickly. If a student is low on point, she and I know to pay more attention. Over the course of the semester they will have 10-15 weeks of interpersonal speaking grades.

Sample point sheet on an old school piece of paper

Quota System

I use a quota system that encourages students to go above and beyond. The quota is 15 points per week, earned by speaking to the whole class or a partner in the target language. This works for me because I take my clipboard with me everywhere. After the first month of marking points on the seating chart, it becomes autonomous. However, nothing prevents students from earning 30 points in the interpersonal speaking grade.

When Students Speak English

In high school, we have to plan for the situation when a student speaking English. There has to be high accountability and high support. I make a big deal of being very disappointed and upset that the student is losing out on the learning. Also the class troubleshoots how to avoid this in the future. The class votes on the consequence for speaking English in the beginning of the year.  I share what other classes are doing, but let them decide. Classes who have difficulty staying in the target language will on their own raise the consequence. They choose particularly high consequences up to losing 10 points for every English offense. 

Student Suggestions

  • Put the reaction words on the classroom wall

  • Play target language music during transition time

  • More Smiling when we Speak the target language

  • Make up points by coming to tutorial and having a conversation with the teacher or native speaker students

Possible Technology Tracking

The students and I have experimented with technological solutions to track interpersonal speaking. Most of the solutions just require too many clicks compared to my piece of paper. We have had success with only two apps.

Class Dojo

ChartKeeper for the Ipad


Rethinking the Grade

Some of you may be thinking that I am actually tracking behavior and practice, two toxic grading practices. I am very interested in hearing how others tackle this challenge. I am also very open to trying a new way of grading. This way have been very successful in both motivating my students to speak French and Spanish as well as improving their spontaneous speaking. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Shout out to Laura Terrell and her ACTFL 2017 presentation, for getting us to rethink the grading.