Tag Archives: language learning

41: Practice or Communication?


In this episode I talk about the ideas of practice and communication in the language classroom.  Sometimes what we think is authentic communication in the language is actually just practicing structures and vocabulary.  Is there a place for practice or should it always be focused on communication?  I take on these concepts with suggestions for what this can look like in you classroom.

I speak specifically about:

  • Sandra Savignon’s definition of communication: “The expression, interpretation and very often negotiation of meaning in a given context. Communication has purpose.”
  • Proficiency: what a student can do with language in real-world situations .
  • Distinguishing Practice and Communication and what these look like in our classrooms.
  • Practice, Activity and Task
  • Practice Language and Communication Language

Common Ground: Second Language Acquisition Theory Goes to the Classroom
by Florencia G. Henshaw and Maris D. Hawkins

 

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

40: Microinstruction in the Language Classroom with Lindsay Mitchell


In this episode we talk about the concept of Microinstruction. This approach is being applied in general education contexts, but we we speak about how it can be used specifically in the language classroom.  I’m joined by Lindsay Mitchell, a Spanish teacher in New Hampshire, who talks about her own personal experience and success with Microinstruction.

Lindsay speaks about:

  • the skill set from her previous profession that she brought to her teaching
  • obstacles and challenges that she saw in her classroom that led her to look for other approaches
  • the concept of microinstruction and its benefits
  • what a lesson looks like using the microinstruction approach
  • the levels and content best suited to microinstruction

Connect with Lindsay Mitchell:

French and Spanish Teaching Position at the Brookwood School in Manchester, MA.

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

39: Target Language Games with Kevin Quigley


If you listed to episode 19 with Trudy Anderson you heard her talk about using Jessica Haxhi’s acronym M.A.G.I.C. in the language classroom.  This stands for Movement, Authentic Resources, Games, Interaction and Communication. The focus on this episode is games.  I speak with Kevin Quigley, a French and Spanish teacher in Vermont, and he shares several low-prep target languages games that you can use in your classroom tomorrow (or even today).

Kevin speaks about:

  • why games, and student engagement in general, are beneficial
  • misconceptions about games
  • several effective games and activities that you use in the classroom right away
  • how often we should use a particular game 
  • the important of mixing up games

Connect with Kevin Quigley:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

37: Competency-Based Grading with Ursula Askins-Huber


In this episode we talk about grading.  More specifically, how we can grade based on what students are able to do in and with the target language.  This requires a bit of a shift in thinking and approach, especially when coming from more traditional grading.  I’m joined by Ursula Askins-Huber, a Spanish teacher in New Hampshire, who has been teaching for over 30 years.  She helps us to see ways to adopt competency-based grading in manageable ways.

Ursula speaks specifically about:

  • what grades have traditionally represented.
  • what competency (or proficiency) is how this has been missing in legacy grading practices.
  • what a grade based on competency tell us.
  • What competency-based grading looks like in the classroom.
  • how accounting for HW completion, behavior, participation, being prepared for class, etc. work into a grade that is based on competency.

Books that Ursula References:

Connect with Ursula Askins-Huber:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

33: Integrating Can Do’s and Social Justice Standards with Cécile Lainé


In this episode we discuss the Learning For Justice Social Justice Standards, incredibly necessary topics in the language classroom.  One of the biggest hurdles is addressing the topics of Identify, Diversity, Justice and Action in the target language.  We do not have to put our language objectives aside when these topics come up.  We can integrate them into our Can Do’s.  Cécile Lainé, a French teacher in Tennessee, joins me to talk through the Social Justice Standards with suggestions for integrating them into our Can Do Statements.

Cécile speaks about…

  • what the Learning For Justice Social Justice Standards are and how they are designed
  • how can we use the Social Justice Standards along with Can Do Statements
  • what this integration looks like in the classroom, particularly at the novice level.
  • how we can address these topics at all proficiency levels without the need to rely on native language

Resources that Cécile mentions:

Connect with Cécile Lainé:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

Level Up Students’ Writing (& Speaking)

The 3 communication modes are becoming more commonplace in our language classrooms.

  • Presentational communication is one-way speaking or writing that does not allow for real time clarification of meaning.
  • Interpretive communication is one-way listening or reading that also does not allow for real time clarification of meaning.
  • Interpersonal communication is two-way speaking that allows for clarification of the message in real time.

Let’s look specifically at Presentational Writing.  There are some characteristics that differ from the other modes.  In particular, there are opportunities to focus more on accuracy since the communication is not done in real time. More specifically, Presentational Writing is …

  • practiced, rehearsed, polished and edited
  • organized
  • improved with dictionary and spell-check tools

The ACTFL Performance Descriptors for Presentational Writing are specific regarding the language produced at each proficiency level.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

You can see the full Performance Descriptors Here.

The challenge for me has often been the jump from Novice High to Intermediate Low/Mid.  Students are typically able to begin forming their own sentences with memorized phrases and then creating on their own.  The struggle comes in constructing sentences that move beyond single clauses, and certainly connecting multiple sentences.

To support students in this process, I put together a reference grid.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

The first column is the base words that students can use to add details to their single clause sentences.  The second column, with the gradually rising arrow, contains conjunctions and connecting words that students can use to create sentences with two clauses.  The third column, with the arrow going straight up, has additional conjunctions and connecting words that students can use to connect sentences and ideas.  There are also words under the grid that students can use to write about events chronologically.  All of these words scaffold the process of leveling up language from Novice to Intermediate.

I put together a template of this for teachers to use with their students.

Level Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, SpanishLevel Up Students' Writing (& Speaking); French, Spanish

It is a Word Doc on Google Drive.  Download it as a Word Doc or make a copy right in your Google Drive and edit from there.  Just add in the words in the target language that you teach.

You will soon see your students leveling up their writing, and they will transfer this skill to their speaking.

Take look at this blog post as well.  It focuses on an activity that I do with students that helps them to see concretely what their language looks like at different proficiency levels.

32: The Origins of CI: Krashen’s Input Hypothesis


Where does the whole concept and idea behind Comprehensible Input (CI) come from?  In this episode I walk you through Stephen Krashen’s Input Hypothesis that is part of his theory of second language acquisition that he calls the Monitor Model.  Krashen’s Input Hypothesis is the origin of what what we are doing with Comprehensible Input today.

What Is Comprehensible Input?

  • Comprehensible input means that students should be able to understand the essence of what is being said or presented to them.
  • This does not mean, however, that teachers must use only words students understand. In fact, instruction can be incomprehensible even when students know all of the words. 
  • Students learn a new language best when they receive input that is just a bit more difficult than they can easily understand. In other words, students may understand most, but not all, words the teacher is using. (i+1)

Stephen Krashen’s Monitor Model (late 1970’s, early 1980’s):

5 individual, yet somewhat interrelated theories and comprehensible input is just one.

  • Acquisition-Learning hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis
  • Affective Filter hypothesis
  • Natural Order hypothesis
  • Monitor hypothesis

Criticism:

  • Brown (2000): Krashen’s theory of SLA is oversimplified and the claims he made are overstated.
  • McLaughlin (1987): Krashen does not provide evidence in any real sense of the term, but simply argues that certain phenomena can be viewed from the perspective of his theory.
  • Gregg (1984): bypasses counter-evidence

Support:

Lichtman and VanPatten (2021): Was Krashen right? Forty years later

Ideas have evolved and are still driving SLA research today often unacknowledged and under new terminology.

  • The Acquisition-Learning Distinction
    implicit versus explicit learning
  • The Natural Order Hypothesis
    ordered development
  • The Input Hypothesis.
    communicatively embedded input

Motivated Classroom Podcast (Liam Printer) : Episode 50
Translating second language acquisition research into motivational practice with Dr. Karen Lichtman & Dr. Bill VanPatten

Where does this leave us?

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

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:

Connect with Sarah Moghtader:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

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?

Connect with Allison Wienhold:

Work with Joshua either in person or remotely.

Follow wherever you listen to podcasts.

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.