Tag Archives: Reading

Using Wordle in the World Language Class

Wordle is a resource for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to the Wordle gallery.

These word clouds can be used as a pre-reading activity in a a second language.  Students can look for the most prominent words and begin to decipher what the text will be about.  Student writing can also be put into a word cloud and you can have other students visually look at the text.  There are many interesting uses for this free tool.

Here is an example using a Neruda poem:


Sabrás que no te amo y que te amo
puesto que de dos modos es la vida,
la palabra es un ala del silencio
el fuego tiene una mitad de frío.

Yo te amo para comenzar a marte,recomenzar el infinito
y para no dejar de amarte nunca:
por eso no te amo todavía.

Te amo y no te amo como si tuviera
en mis manos las llaves de la dicha
y un incierto destino desdichado.

Mi amore tiene dos vidas para amarte.
Pore eso te amo cuando no te amo
y por eso te amo cuando te amo.

Wordle in the Foreign (World) Language Classroom (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpess.com

Check out the site HERE.

Classroom Phrases

These are great downloads that you can put up in your classroom.  They include key phrases for students to use and they are all illustrated so that no translation is necessary.

Download the Spanish version HERE.

Download the French version HERE.

Download the Italian version HERE.

Download the Chinese version HERE.

Lingt: Great Free Site that Facilitates Speaking



This is a great new site that is extremely easy to navigate and is very user-friendly.  The teacher can easily record his/her voice for students to hear, then the student simply clicks and records his/her own response to the question.  The student can then listen to what he/she said and easily delete and redo.  The teacher can add in text, YouTube Videos, and images as well.  The great thing about this site is that it is completely online and does not require downloading any software onto your computer or the student’s computer.  The students submit their spoken (or typed) response to the site and the teacher accesses the student work through his/her Lingt account.  Student do not have to sign up for an account, just the teacher (and it is FREE).  Students simply title their work with their name and the teacher accesses it that way.

I recently met the two MIT students who created this site and they are eager to get teachers using it so that they can make it as user-friendly and efficient as possible.  They are also committed to keeping this fundamental part of the site FREE.  You have to visit and try it out for yourself.  Wow!

Here is a rubric that I use to assess student performance using Lingt.

Try it out HERE.

Using Authentic Documents in the Foreign Language Classroom

Using Authentic Documents in the Foreign (World) Language Classroom (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com

The use of authentic documents in the World Language classroom has become more and more important in recent years as teachers are becoming more aware of the importance of exposing students to culture in the classroom.  Here are some ideas concerning the use of authentic documents in the classroom, as opposed to documents created to mimic the culture.

Traditional attempts at understanding difference, particularly cultural difference, have typically focused on institutions, achievements, publications, and well-known public people.This can be most obviously displayed in various “Cultural Notes” or “Culture Capsules” in various foreign language and history textbooks. (Kramsch, Galloway, Moran)

A true understanding of another culture must move beyond what Moran refers to as a Functionalist View, which presents only institutional and assumed collective perspectives of a country or culture.This might include the presentation of cultural “facts” such as “All Quebecers speak French and want to separate from Canada.”By approaching the study of culture from what Moran refers to as a Conflict View, students can come to understand that there are various opinions and perspectives within any culture and these must be understood in order to arrive at a more appropriate, and perhaps empathetic perception of the culture.

The most effective way to provide students with opportunities to understand cultural perspectives from an insider’s point of view is through the use of authentic documents that are created by members of the foreign culture for members of the foreign culture (Galloway,).

The teacher’s guidance through the process of interpreting film clips, commercials, literature, photographs, web sites, and products of the foreign culture will help students to conceptualize it in a way that is not influenced by their native culture. (Kramsch)


Galloway, V. (1992). Toward a cultural reading of authentic texts. In Heusinkveld, P. R. (Ed.), Pathways to Culture. (pp. 255-302). Yartmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.

Kramsch, C. (1988). The cultural discourse of foreign language textbooks. In Singerman, A. J. (Ed.), Toward a New Integration of Language and Culture, pp. 63-88. Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

Moran, P. (2001) Teaching Culture: Perspectives in Practice. Boston, MA: Heinle & Heinle.

Online Nursery Rhymes and Interactive Activities

This site includes these Nursery Rhymes in French, German, Spanish, and Italian:

  • Little Red Ridding Hood
  • The Three Little Pigs
  • Billy Goats Gruff
  • Goldilocks and the Three Bears

All of the stories are very interactive and have voices that read the story, words the screen, movement, Smartboard activities, and a very extensive downloadable pdf with activities to go along with each story.  This is a free site and kids love it.

Check it out HERE.

Great Online Activities for French, German, and Italian

This is a website from Australia that is completely interactive.  There are listening activities, writing activity, and opportunities to read and respond.  Students have lots of fun with this one.

Check it out HERE.

Why Teach Culture?

Here is an excerpt from Romona Tang’ article, “The Place of “Culture” in the Foreign Language Classroom: A Reflection”.


“According to Pica (1994: 70), the question “how necessary to learning a language is the learner’s cultural integration?” is something which “troubles teachers, whether they work with students in classrooms far removed from the culture of the language they are learning or with students who are physically immersed in the culture but experientially and psychologically distant from it”. Numerous other researchers have tried to address issues along similar lines, including Gardner and Lambert (1972) who postulate that learners may have two basic kinds of motivation. The first is integrative motivation, which refers to the desire of language learners to acquire the language while immersing themselves into the whole culture of the language, in order to “identify themselves with and become part of that society” (Brown 1994: 154). The second is instrumental motivation, which refers to the functional need for learners to acquire the language in order to serve some utilitarian purpose, such as securing a job, or a place at a university. The argument is that such instrumentally motivated learners are neither concerned with the culture from which their target language emerged, nor interested in developing any feelings of affinity with the native speakers of that language.”

You can read the entire article HERE.


Brown, H. Douglas. 1994. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Regents.

Gardner, Robert C., and Wallace Lambert. 1972. Attitudes and Motivation in Second Language Learning. Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House.

Pica, Teresa. 1994. Questions from the Language Classroom: Research Perspectives. TESOL Quarterly, 28(1): 49-79.

Building Sentences Through Images

I have found it extremely useful to use pictures to represent words and to add on to these picture sentences as the year moves on.  I tend to use an LCD projector to show these pictures, but have used printed pictures and overhead transparencies in the past and the process works just as well.

I begin the year with a simple picture of heart and another of a heart with an X on it.  These represent “I like” and “I don’t like.”  About 10-15 verbs are introduced (again through pictures) and students then “read” their first sentence, something such as “I like to run.”  I purposely use only “I like/don’t like” at this stage so that students don’t have to be concerned with verb forms.  As we begin to study more vocabulary I add on to these pictures.

For example, they learned the rooms in the house.  As soon as they were comfortable recognizing the pictures of the rooms I added the previous words to them to make more complex sentences, such as “ I don’t like to sleep in the living room.”

As we added on food vocabulary I again using words/pictures that they already knew to make more complex sentences, such as “I like to eat strawberries in the living room.”

It is very important to use the same pictures rather than changing them so that the students become comfortable recognizing them.  I was very surprised and impressed this past year when some of my youngest students (3rd grade) began creating their own sentences based on the pictures and they began trying to create the longest sentence.
This process has helped students to retain the majority of vocabulary that they have learned throughout the year and they enjoy what they are able to accomplish.  You can go in many directions with these pictures once students are comfortable with them.  They can “read” the sentences out loud, write the sentences in the target language based on the picture sequence, or “write” what they are reading.  This entails giving sentences to students that are in the target language along with a group of pictures that they assemble in the correct order.

Here is a Powerpoint that demonstrates this concept:  Image Sentences

picture sentence

Foreign Language Reading and State Testing

We live in the age of state testing. For those teachers who are in public schools, there is a need and expectation that all subject teachers attend to the literacy needs of students. Traditionally, the level of foreign language in the middle school (and even high school) has not been sophisticated enough to contribute to the language arts framework.

Janel Paquin, the Past-President of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association (MaFLA), recently addressed the literacy issue during the Association’s Summer Immersion Institute. She became aware, while doing advocacy work in Washington, that foreign language classes must contribute to the literacy needs of students so that the departments are valued, respected, and funded.

We hear about foreign language programs and individual languages being cut on a regular basis these days. One way of defending language programs to the wider school community is to emphasize reading and writing in the language classroom and making others aware of how this contributes to Language Arts curricula (while still focusing on speaking and listening of course).

Creating Reading Activities

Reading Activity for Foreign (World) Language.  (French, Spanish) wlteacher.wordpress.com

The following reading sequence engages students in reading activities that not only help with their foreign language skills, but also contribute to their overall reading and writing ability.

Regarding reading activities, it is important to keep the following in mind:

  • Reading comprehension is not a memory task.
  • Follow-up activities should engage the reading during and after the reading process (with access to text as needed)
  • Learner comprehension of a text is often more advanced than their read-aloud level.

It is best to engage students through Reading Station Activities. Here are a couple of guidelines to help guide the process:

  • Begin with a short text with enough details to challenge the learner.
  • Include new vocabulary.
  • Include lots of familiar vocabulary.
  • Readings should get progressively more detailed (vocabulary and structure) as students are exposed to new language elements.

Once the students have read the text either as a class, independently, or in groups, they will move on to station activities. Remember, the purpose of the station activities is to help the student understand the text, so don’t spend too much time making sure that the students all understand the text before moving on to the station work.

In terms of room set-up and student flow, try the following:

  • 5-8 stations works well.
  • Depending on the number of students, they may work alone or in groups.
  • Each station should engage the comprehension of the text in a different manner.
  • Students choose 3-4 stations (2 if they choose a challenging one)