Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Foreign Language Acquisition: Annual Repetition

This is the third and final part of a series on using repetition as an important tool in foreign language teaching.  This series was written by Brooks Lindner from Sonrisas Spanish for use here on Teaching Español.

Below you can find the rest of the series:

Part one: Daily Repetition
Part two: Periodic Repetition

 And now for part three:

Annual Repetition

Annual repetition refers to content that is repeated on a yearly basis. We have always done this with our Spanish classes, and we designed our curriculum to incorporate annual repetition. 

Each level in the Sonrisas Spanish Curriculum is meant to be taught for two years—with lessons being repeated from one year to the next. In this way students are able to use their prior knowledge as a foundation to further learn the content, phrases, and vocabulary of the lesson. 

For example: the first year that you teach a lesson on family your students may only get to the point where they learn the names for different family members. The second year that you teach the same lesson, your students may be able to learn how to also describe their different family members or answer the question, “¿Quién es?” with a full sentence such as, “Es mi primo.”

With the Sonrisas Curriculum the teacher can choose to vary the content of a repeated lesson by reading a different storybook or doing a different art project (most lessons have multiple suggested storybooks and multiple art projects), but many times I simply teach the exact same lesson. 

I don’t believe that students need a constant stream of new lessons in the early years. This has been reaffirmed for me many times in my own classes when I introduce a lesson that students did the previous year, and I hear them exclaim, “I remember this. I love this.” Then, as we do the lesson, students are in a very receptive mode for learning as they are comfortable with the material, and they are able to take their learning to a higher level.

It is important that teachers think about how to use repetition, plan for it in their lessons, and implement it systematically and explicitly. This will insure that students are able to reap the many benefits of repetition in their foreign language learning.


Teachers can get stuck in a kind of rut presenting new information and rarely repeating older lessons.  If we want our students to retain the information we are presenting repetition needs to be a major component of our teaching.

What kinds of things do you do to make sure you are repeating prior lessons? 

Raising Multilingual Children: Foreign Language Acquisition and Children

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