When I was in high school I took French with a great teacher Monsieur Harnois. He was from the drill and kill era where everything was about memorization of vocabulary. I loved the guy, and the class but after fifteen or so years out of school I don't remember much beyond basic conversation.
Today I had the pleasure of sitting in on my first Spanish class. Senor Parrett's class started off with a Rosetta Stone lesson on the computer. Students looked at pictures of objects and were able to push a button and hear the word for the picture in Spanish. The modern language courses believe in using vocabulary, but in a practical way, conversation. Senor Parrett went around the room and asked in Spanish how the students were doing today, he even asked me. Luckily, I know "buen" is good, and I tossed that out there. It was obvious to all the students I have not had much work with Spanish. The advanced class went quickly through the day of the week, the day yesterday, and what tomorrow would be.
They quickly progressed onto a new "story." Senor Parrett went on to explain and interact with student the vocabulary that would be in the story that the students would be practicing with each other and then writing. I learned a lot! I didn't know Sierra Nevada actually translates into, "A saw-snow covered." This is what the explorers saw off in the distance when seeing the continental divide.
The students then stood up and did hand motions to each of the vocab words because as Senor Parrett explained when you use motion it helps the brain to remember the word. The kids were enjoying this quite a bit. It got them up out of their seats and moving around. It was cool! I was overwhelmed with everything the kids were saying! I'm thinking I should have started with Spanish 1. I'll have to come back and learn more!