LEARNING STRATEGY: Use Selective Attention
STANDARDS: Communication 1.1,1.2, Cultures 2.2, Connections 3.2

SEARCH FOR THE PAST: READING SHORT STORIES

Language:Any language. Example in Arabic. Examples in Spanish, French, and Italian.

Proficiency Level: All levels

Brief description of the activity: Students in pairs read a short story in the target language and identify all of the verbs that refer to past tense. As they read, they will fill out a worksheet divided into past tense categories. (The grammatical categories will depend on the language. See below for the categories for Spanish, French, and Italian.)

Objectives:

  1. Students will become acquainted with a short story in the target language.
  2. Students will develop the skill of isolating one grammatical feature when reading used in an authentic context
  3. Students will be able to focus on specific information to help them read (or listen).

Language focus:Reading, Grammar (past tense)

Materials:a short story of two or three pages in length

Procedures:

  1. Introduce the content
    Tell students that they are going to read a short story in the target language and identify all of the verbs that refer to past tense. As they read, they will fill out a worksheet divided into past tense categories.
  2. Introduce and model the learning strategy
    On an overhead projector show a short magazine article in the target language and tell the students that you want to focus on singular and plural nouns in the article. Make a chart on the blackboard with the headings 'Singular' and 'Plural.' Write the singular nouns under 'Singular' and the plural nouns are 'Plural.' Explain to your students how, by reviewing the chart, you will improve your understanding of the formation and use of nouns.

    Explain that using Use Selective Attention means identifying key words in a large quantity of information. It can also refer to paying attention to parts of words, such as the endings that show if a noun is singular or plural.
  3. Practice
    Divide the students into pairs. Give each pair an authentic passage in the target language and ask them to highlight or underline all of the past tense verbs. Then have them fill out the verb chart with the past tenses in the target language as the categories. When they finish, ask them to reflect on what they learned about the formation and use of verbs from this activity.

Expansion

  1. Have learners talk about their last vacation using the past tense.
  2. Do the same activity with a focus on a different grammar feature or a semantic feature such as colors.
  3. Sample student worksheets with indicative past tense categories in Spanish, French, German, and Italian

    Verbos en el pasado en espa˝ol
    PretÚrito imperfectoPretÚritoPretÚrito perfectoPretÚrito pluscuamperfectoPretÚrito anterior
         
    Les temps du passÚ en franšais
    PassÚ SimplePassÚ ComposÚImparfaitPlus-Que-Parfait
        
    Verbi Italiani nel Passato
    ImperfettoPassato prossimoPassato prossimoPassato prossimoTrapassato remoto
         

Teacher Resources (to help teacher enhance activity):



Adapted from an activity submitted by Maritza Vakas, Arlington Public Schools.