Category Archives: Classroom Procedures

78: Seeing, Hearing & Tasting Culture with Allison Perryman


What is culture and how do you engage your students in cultural topics?  In this episode, we are looking at culture, but with a lens of seeing, hearing and tasting so that culture comes alive for students in the classroom.  Allison Perryman, a Spanish teacher in Virginia, joins me to talk us through how she uses the senses to engage students in the diversity of target language cultures. We also talk about why it is beneficial to honor our students’ individual lived experiences as they approach their language and culture learning.

Topics in this Episode:

  • what culture is and how culture can be an entry point for student engagement
  • why it is necessary, and ultimately incredibly beneficial, to talk about diversity in the language classroom and how can we use this as an opportunity to affirm students
  • formats for presenting and engaging students in diverse cultural experiences
  • Allison’s approach of seeing, tasting and hearing diverse cultures with students

Connect with Allison Perryman:

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77: Reflective Practice for Language Teachers


How often do we stop to reflect on our teaching?  Hopefully we take the time and opportunity to do it regularly so that we are teaching our students as effectively as possible.  In this episode I’m going to talk about reflective practice and how we can use this as language teachers.  I’ll also include a discussion of success criteria and how this can work into our reflective practice.  I know, this all sounds way up there in the theory world.  I promise you it’s not and that it’s fairly simple.

Topics in this Episode:

  • Reflection can help you to be more creative and try new things. It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut and it can be helpful to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it. This can help to spark new ideas and ways of thinking.
  • Reflection in Learning and Professional Development: Theory and Practice, Moon, J. (1999)
  • Reflective Practice for Language Teachers:
    1. Teach
    2. Assess the effect your teaching has on learning
    3. Consider what can improve the quality of teaching and learning
    4. Try the new ideas
    5. Reflect on effectiveness 
    6. Repeat
  • The Success Criteria Playbook John T. Almarode, Douglas Fisher, Kateri Thunder, Nancy Frey (2021)
  • Tim Eagan on Episode 60: Leading a Proficiency Focused Language Department
  • Success Criteria:
    • What will be learned?
    • Why is it going to be learned?
    • How will I know that it has been learned?
    • What will I do with what I learned?

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76: Interpersonal Activities with Meredith White


Are you getting the most out of the interpersonal activities that you use in your classroom?   In this episode, THE Meredith White, a Spanish teacher in Georgia, joins me with lots of ideas for interpersonal activities that you can use right away in your classroom.  So many of my guests have mentioned Meredith White and the activities that she shares. I had to get right to the source …So let’s jump in. 

Topics in this episode:

  • Meredith’s  personal journey with interpersonal activities
  • feedback from Thomas Sauer : “But what’s the point?”
  • what makes an activity communicative and what about those partner activities that appear to be interactive and interpersonal, but might not be
  • how prescribed (curriculum) grammar and vocabulary come into play with communicative activities?
  • effective interpersonal (and communicative) activities that we can use in our classrooms

Connect with Meredith White:

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Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic

I came across an activity on theteachertoolkit.com called Nothing Ventured.  The wheels started turning right away as I thought of the ways that it could be used in a language classroom.  There are lot of useful ideas on the Teacher Toolkit website, but they are not specific to language teaching.  No fear.  I got you covered.Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic from vocabulary to language structures. French, Spanish, English, Italian, German, Portuguese.

I got to work creating a template to use with my students in the target language.  I also put together templates in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Italian.  You can download them all here and it also includes the directions for the doing the activity in your classroom.

Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic from vocabulary to language structures. French, Spanish, English, Italian, German, Portuguese.

Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic from vocabulary to language structures. French, Spanish, English, Italian, German, Portuguese.

Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic from vocabulary to language structures. French, Spanish, English, Italian, German, Portuguese.

I chose the title The Die Decides for my take on this activity.  I’m always looking for ways to incorporate different materials and that little die can be used for so much.  I’m happy to have yet another way to put it to use.

The Die Decides is an interactive activity that can be used for almost any topic in your language class, such as:

  • practicing vocabulary themes
  • practicing language structures
  • assessing understanding after reading or listening
  • reviewing before an assessment

The teacher creates the questions based on the topic being covered.

How the activity works

  • Individual students, pairs or small groups each need a six-sided die and a “The Die Decides” sheet.
  • Players (individual, pair or group) roll the die before each question is presented either verbally or in writing. They record the number rolled in the “Die” column of their sheet.
  • The teacher says or shows a question (perhaps projected). Students discuss, if in pairs or groups, and write their answer in the “Answer” column of their sheet.
  • The teacher says or shows the correct answer to the question. It can also be part of the projection slides or simply written on the board. Students check their answer and determine whether they were correct or incorrect. The teacher should be vigilant to make sure answer are not altered.
  • If the answer is correct, players get the points that they rolled prior to the question being asked. If they are incorrect, they lose those points.
  • Students then update their total as they continue on with each question.
  • The player (individual, pair or group) with the most points after all the questions have been asked wins the game.

Students enjoy this activity and use so much language as they discuss possible answers, listen to and read questions and react to their points changing as they progress through the game.  Remember that you can download templates in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German and Italian.

Practice or Review Activity for Any Language Topic from vocabulary to language structures. French, Spanish, English, Italian, German, Portuguese.

72: What Does it Mean to “Teach” a Language?


What does it mean to “teach” a language? In this episode I look at this question, particularly considering the shifts in language teaching and learning over the past 10 years or so. My approach to this question is grounded in a quote from Larson-Freeman and Long that a professor shared with me in graduate school. It continues to guide my approach to teaching.

“[It is not] because some plants will grow in a desert, [that] watering the ones in your garden is a waste of time. In fact, of course, while the desert may provide the minimum conditions for a plant to grow, watering it may help it grow faster, bigger, and stronger, that is to realize its full potential.”    [Diane Larsen-Freeman, Michael H. Long; An Introduction to Second Language Acquisition Research (1990)]

Links mentioned in this episode

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71: Supporting Students in Leveling Up Their Language


In this episode I’m taking on the question of leveling up.  We often talk about proficiency levels and the output that goes along with each level.  We’ll take a look at some concrete examples of language produced at each level and I’ll share some suggestions for how we can support students in leveling up their language.

Topics in This Episode:

  • The ACTFL Proficiency Levels (Interpersonal)
  • Novice Low/Mid/High: single words, chunks, chunked phrases.
  • Intermediate Low/Mid/High: discrete sentences, strings of sentences, moving toward paragraphs
  • Advanced Low/Mid/High: paragraphs, multiple paragraphs
  • Concrete examples of the language that students produce at each level and sub level and what can they do to move up a level or sub level.

Links mentioned in this episode

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Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom.
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We record conversations remotely, so you can be anywhere.

70: Simple Ways to Make Activities More Communicative with Julie Baker


In this episode, we are talking about how we can create a supportive classroom environment so that learners, particularly those new to language learning, feel comfortable speaking the target language.  Julie Baker, The Director of the French Intensive Language Program at the University of Richmond,  joins me to take this a step further with simple ways of modifying speaking activities that we all are likely doing so that they are indeed communicative. 

Topics in this episode:

  • what it means to have a “safe space” for speaking the TL, why this is important, and how we can create this type of classroom
  • motivating students to speak and interact in the TL with some ways to facilitate this in the classroom
  •  how to determine if our activities are truly communication, rather than simply practicing structures and vocabulary
  • simple ways to make our activities more communicative with concrete examples
  • assessment and evaluation of communication, compared with assessment of language structure and vocabulary

Connect with Julie Baker

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Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom.
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We record conversations remotely, so you can be anywhere.

67: Checking for Understanding


In this episode I’m taking the idea of input a little further.  Most of us are on board and understand the importance of making input comprehensible for students.  But, how can we check that the language is actually being understood by students? Because if they’re not understanding they’re not acquiring. I’ll share tips for checking for understanding and what to do with the info we get.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • The quick rundown on input and why it’s beneficial
  • The role of comprehensible input
  • How to make input comprehensible
  • Why check for understanding
  • Why the checks are useful and what to do with what we learn
  • How to check for understanding
  • Strategies for checking for understanding

Podcast episodes referenced in this episode:

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Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom.
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66: (2) Finding a Common Ground with Florencia Henshaw and Maris Hawkins


This is part 2 of my conversion with Florencia Henshaw and Maris Hawkins, the authors of Common Ground: Second Language Acquisition Theory Goes to the Classroom by. We had so much to cover that I had to break it down into 2 episodes. Today, Florencia, Maris and I discuss engaging the communication modes at different developmental levels, moving from input to output, particularly when working with learners progressing from novice to intermediate, collaborating with colleagues and understanding what “progress” looks like in a proficiency-based classroom.  We also have a rather amusing “this or that” conversation.

Connect with Florencia Henshaw:

Connect with Maris Hawkins Henshaw:

Get your own copy of Common Ground.  Hackett Publishing is generously offering a 25% discount when you use the code WLC2022.  [Available through December 31, 2022].

**The 25% off discount code can be used for any book through the end of December, 2022.  Hackett publishes several intermediate language-learning textbooks in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Classical Greek. New releases include Cinema for French Conversation, Cinema for Spanish Conversation, and Les Français.

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Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

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Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom. Join me on the podcast.  We record conversations remotely, so you can be anywhere.

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Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

65: (1) Finding a Common Ground with Florencia Henshaw and Maris Hawkins


These are the episodes that we have been waiting for. The  first of a 2-part conversion with Florencia Henshaw and Maris Hawkins, the authors of Common Ground: Second Language Acquisition Theory Goes to the Classroom. We had so much to cover that I had to break it down into 2 episodes.  This is the first part and next Monday (episode 66) you will hear part 2. Today, Florencia, Maris and I discuss what prompted the writing of the book, their collaboration, what they hope teachers get out of Common Ground, how and why their approach is effective, and the all important topic of input.

Connect with Florencia Henshaw:

Connect with Maris Hawkins Henshaw:

Get your own copy of Common Ground.  Hackett Publishing is generously offering a 25% discount when you use the code WLC2022.  [Available through December 31, 2022].

**The 25% off discount code can be used for any book through the end of December, 2022.  Hackett publishes several intermediate language-learning textbooks in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, and Classical Greek. New releases include Cinema for French Conversation, Cinema for Spanish Conversation, and Les Français.

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Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

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Teachers want to hear from you and what you are proud of in your classroom. Join me on the podcast.  We record conversations remotely, so you can be anywhere.

——————————————————————————————-

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.