Category Archives: Classroom Procedures

31: Picture and Movie Talks with Sarah Moghtader


In this episode we talk about movie and picture talks in the language classroom.  This a popular and effective Comprehensible Input (CI) procedure that uses visual story-telling.  This process helps students to acquire and reenforce vocabulary and language structures in context.  Sarah Moghtader, a French in Massachusetts,  joins me to talk us through the benefits of picture and movie talks and how to do them with students in the classroom.

Sarah speaks specifically about:

  • what picture and movie talks are
  • why picture and movie talks are a useful CI approach to teaching language
  • procedure and techniques
  • what to look for in a useful story, book, or movie clip
  • where to find these resources
  • working through a story and extension activities

Links references in the discussion:

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30: Music in the Language Classroom with Allison Wienhold

In this episode we talk all about using music in the language classroom.  I’m joined by Allison Wienhold, a Spanish Teacher in Iowa, who speaks about the numerous benefits of music in our language classrooms.

Allison speaks about:

  • the value and benefits of using music in the language classroom
  • the flexibility of using music, from a few “quick wins” to diving into culture and representation
  • where can we find music to use in our classrooms
  • activities to engage with music
  • I have a song…What do I do before, during and after?

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No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump)

I have to start by saying sorry (not sorry) that once you introduce this activity to your students they will ask to do it all the time.

This activity is all about students listening intently and reacting to what they hear.

No prep involved.  Just grab an object, like a ball, and you’re ready to go.

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

I call this activity Sauter or SaltarJump in the target language that you teach.

Pick a topic category.  Any category.  Any proficiency level.  Here are some possible topic categories:

  • colors
  • animals
  • seasons
  • time
  • family
  • days
  • months
  • adjectives
  • family
  • masculin nouns
  • feminine nouns
  • singular nouns
  • plural nouns
  • present tense
  • past tense
  • future tense
  • imperfect tense
  • details about a story
  • information about an article

Here’s how it works:

  • The entire class stands in a circle.  If there is not enough room in the classroom, maybe take a trip outside.
  • Tell students the topic they are listening for.
  • The teacher tosses the ball to any student and says a word, phrase or sentence.
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is on the chosen topic,  the 2 students next to the student who catches the ball jump.  The one who jumps first stays in.  The other sits down and is out. There are often ties. [example:category is “days” and teacher says “Monday”]
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is NOT on the topi, the 2 students next to the student who catches the ball DON’T jump.  If they jump they sit and are out. [example:category is “days” and teacher says “July”]

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

  • Continue tossing the ball to random students around the circle.
  • The same rules apply.  Keep in mind that…
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is on the topic the 2 closest students still standing to the left and right of the student who catches the ball jump.  The one who jumps first stays in.  The other sits down an is out. [example:category is “past tense” and you say “I went to the store.”]
    • If the word, phrase or sentence is NOT on the topic, the 2 closest students still standing to the left and right of the student who catches the ball DON’T jump.  If they jump they sit and are out. [example:category is “past tense” and you say “I go to the store.”]

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

  • When there are only two students remaining the ball is not tossed.
  • The teacher says a list of words, phrases or sentences that may or not be on topic.
  • The first of the two remaining students to jump when they hear the word, phrase or sentence that fits the category wins the game.

No Prep Listening Activity for the Whole Class (Jump); French, Spanish

Once you have played this a few times and students have the hang of it you can choose students to be the one to give the prompts in the middle of the circle.  It may be the winner from the previous round.

This activity works well as a class starter, closer or as a brain break at any time.  It’s also useful for quickly reviewing vocabulary themes before diving into a discussion or follow-up activity.

29: Teaching Circumlocution Skills


As teachers, and proficient second language speakers,  we have figured out ways to communicate words that we don’t know. We can teach this skill to students early on so that they can begin doing it right away. Circumlocution is a strategy for describing or defining a concept instead of saying or writing the specific words (when we don’t know it). We can teach students how to do this and give them tools to help in the process.

In this episode I give some suggestions to teach students the art of circumlocution.  I also talk about some games that are useful for practicing this skills.

Blog Post on Circumlocution.

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27: Diversifying World Language Curriculum with Ben Tinsley


In this episode we look at what world language curriculum has included and what has been left out, with a critical eye on diverse ethnicities and voices.  I’m joined by Ben Tinsley, a French teacher in Philadelphia.  He guides us through his own language learning journey as a Black student and how he did not see himself and the Afro-Black-Caribbean experience reflected in his language learning experience.

This prompted him to unapologetically center Francophone Black people in his curriculum.  This conversation will help us all provide our students with language learning experiences that authentically, and accurately, reflect the diversity of our target language cultures.

Ben speaks about…

  • his personal experience with language learning
  • what has been missing in language curriculum, particularly regarding diverse ethnicities, voices and lived experiences
  • why is it essential that we include diverse voices and ethnicities as an essential part of our curriculum, rather than one-off discussions
  • how to make sure that our students understand the full range of voices, ethnicities, and lived experiences of those in our target language cultures
  • where to find resources and how do you make them an organic part of the curriculum

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24: Redesigning Classroom Structure with Darcy Rogers


In this episode we look at how we structure our world language classrooms. How can we redesign our classrooms so that they are more communicative and support risk-taking, promote community, and help students rise in proficiency?  I’m joined by Darcy Rogers, Spanish Teacher and founder of OWL (Organic World Language), who helps us all re-envision what our classroom can be.

Darcy speaks about:

  • the traditional classroom structure and the obstacles it creates
  • how we can remove these obstacles
  • the linguistic and social-emotional benefits of removing these obstacles
  • the foundations of OWL methodology
  • infusing pieces of OWL into our classrooms

Connect with Darcy Rogers:

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22: 90% + Target Language Use

In this episode we are talking about 90%+ target language use in the classroom.  We start with where this comes from and why we want to do it, then I ask 4 questions about what is happening in your classroom.  These questions will help to focus on some of the challenge areas and I provide some ways to address them.

  • Q1: Are prompts and tasks at the appropriate proficiency level?
  • Q2. Do students have the language tools they need to communicate?
  • Q3. Are students held accountable for using the target language?
  • Q4. Are all the students actively engaged and interested?

Links referenced in this episode:

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20: Rubrics for Assessment and Learning with Becky Bray Rankin


In this episode we talk about rubrics, not just as an assessment tool, but also as a way to help students grow in proficiency.

I’m joined by Beckie Bray Rankin, a high school French Teacher in Massachusetts, who has presented widely on the topic of rubrics…or, as she refers to them, the “thingamabob that does the job.”

Beckie talks about:

  • what pre-rubric teaching was like
  • how she discovered rubrics (or rediscovered)
  • the benefits of rubrics for students and teachers
  • rubrics and IPA’s
  • the Learn -Practice -Assess -Reflect cycle
  • how a rubric is never really “done” and what she continues to work on

Connect with Becky on Twitter (@BBRlaprof)

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19: Centers and Stations in the Language Classroom with Trudy Anderson


In this episode we are talking about using centers (or stations) in the language classroom.  I am joined by Trudy Anderson, a teacher with considerable experience with designing and implementing centers.

Trudy guides us in understanding…

  • if centers are for useful for all levels and students
  • why we should consider stations
  • how to  set up centers
  • types of stations
  • materials and where to get them
  • logistics of setting up centers…how long, how many, when, assessment?
  • the benefits of adding MAGIC to lessons (Movement, Authentic Resources, Games, Interaction, Challenge)

Connect with Trudy at trudycamand@gmail.com.

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18: Make Your Can Do Statements Communicative


In this episode we are talking about Can Do Statements.  Are yours truly communicative and proficiency-based, allowing students to show what they can do with the language?

We discuss:

  • what the ACTFL Can Do Statements are and why they were created
  • the Intercultural Can Do Statements
  • how to write an effective Can Do Statement that is rooted in the proficiency level of your class
  • what makes a Can Do Statement communicative
  • examples for modifying Can Do Statements to make them more communicative

Links mentioned in this episode:

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