TEFL Tips: Cut out Spanish from your class

I’m not a massive fan of points, star charts and stickers to control my students behaviour and use of L1 in class, but there is one little trick that I’ve started to use recently which is a perfect way to eliminate excess Spanish.
Stop Spanish!
Photo by alrojo09
It’s funny how I spent a year busting my arse doing a DELTA to try to become a better teacher and increase the amount of English spoken in class, when all I needed to do was draw ten lines up in the top right hand corner of my board. I knew of this technique for cutting out L1 in class, but a little reminder after an observation a month ago has really helped increase the amount of English spoken in my classes. It’s really simple.
Here are the steps.
·        Tell your students you want an English only class.
·        Watch them squirm.
·        Draw ten lines up in the top corner of the board (right or left, whichever works best for you).
·        Then say “If you say Spanish, I will take off a line,” and rub out a line.
·        “If you say more Spanish, I will take off another line,” and rub out another line.
·        “After 5 lines then it’s double homework.”
·        Listen to the moaning and smile.
·        “If they all disappear then, lines.”
·        One student normally says “¿Que significa ‘lines’?”
·        Hold out your hand as if writing a line and repeat the word ‘line’ several times while moving your hand from left to right, all while smiling, of course.
·        Start the lesson.
·        Be extremely strict at first.
·        Make sure you give the double homework and don’t back down.
·        Ocassionally put lines back up if they’ve spoken a lot of English.
This works really well for all levels, but I haven’t tried it with adults yet. Make sure they have expressions for asking you “How do you say x, in Spanish?” or “What does x mean?” Also I say that if they speak Spanish accidently, which does happen, but they quickly say it in English, then it’s fine. 

One final point. Some of my classes have really taken well to it, I mean really well, and there is no Spanish in class, which also means I can’t set homework. Just make sure you don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

Hope that helps.
Have you got any decent tips for cutting out L1 in class and increasing the amount of English spoken?

7 thoughts on “TEFL Tips: Cut out Spanish from your class

  1. Hi Barry, slightly off topic but I have a question that I hope you could help with. I'm coming to Seville next month to do a tefl course. Do you know of/ recommend Tefl international Seville? I'm being very careful with who to trust you see. I know seville well, actually lived there for a year in 2012 -13. I currently study spanish at liverpool jmu uni. So my spanish is quite good. Any hints or tips that you could give me regarding anything really would be helpful. I intend to start looking for work immediately.

  2. My simple tip for an all-English class is to threaten the students with physical violence. Of course, this needs to be followed through, especially at first, so make sure you have a wide range of duff whiteboard markers at hand to throw at the miscreants. If they become adept at avoiding your missiles, a simple smack in the face often has the desired effect.

  3. I haven't tried this yet, but one of my international friends said that his ESL teacher told them that if they used their L1 in class, he would deduct points from their grade. He also said that if he "caught" them using English outside of the class that he would add points to their grade. My friend said it worked pretty well for most students.

  4. Sounds like a good idea, but also a nightmare to keep track of. How exacty did he hear them using English outside the class? Did he have a microphone attached to all his students?

    Thanks for writing!

  5. Yeah, again a technique that I'd stear clear of, just because I want to keep my job…but indeed an interesting philisophy!

  6. Hi Liam,

    Thanks for writing. Not heard of that school but I've just had a quick look and it seems they are British council credited which is important. Is it a CELTA? I'd recommend Click – Internation house, I did my DELTA there.

    When do you finish Uni? I'd recommend getting some work this summer in the uk as an Englosh teacher if poss and get some experience before you head abroad as it's easier to get a job…anyway good luck.

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