Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K–12

A Library of Classroom Practices

Spanish: Creating Travel Advice
Connect to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • How do you obtain appropriate authentic materials for your lessons? How do you use them with your students?
  • In activities like Ms. Pettigrew's, how are you a negotiator of meaning with students? What kinds of errors do you correct, and when do you refrain from making corrections?
  • How do you sequence learning? Do you start with the material you want students to learn or skills you want them to demonstrate, then create a culminating project that uses the new skills? Or do you first plan the culminating project and then work backward? What are the advantages of each approach?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

Comparing Communities (French) illustrates the integration of the three modes of communication, and Promoting Attractions of Japan (Japanese) shows students preparing to advise travelers about tourist sites in Japan.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • Integrate the three modes of communication. Begin a lesson with an interpretive task in which students read or listen to an authentic piece (for example, a poem, newspaper article, or diary entry). The text should present ideas and language that stimulate student thinking beyond opinions or knowledge they already have. Next, ask students to respond according to their proficiency level, making sure they are reasonably challenged. For example, Ms. Pettigrew wanted her Spanish III students to acquire new knowledge and use it in oral and written discourse. They worked with lengthy descriptive materials from vacation sites posted on the Internet. If your students are at a lower level of proficiency, you might vary the task and choose smaller pieces of text, such as visuals with accompanying sentences. Students can report out, summarize, or react briefly to the content. Once students have an understanding of the information, they can shift to talking about the pieces. In doing so, they will begin to incorporate language meaningfully from the authentic material. Finally, have students give oral or written presentations in which they use their new knowledge and language skills.
  • When deciding whether to correct a student, try not to interrupt his or her thoughts or the flow of language. When a student miscommunicates, seek clarification or better understanding of the message. When a student asks for help or shows by gesture or expression that help is needed, give assistance. To encourage communication, do not correct errors that don't interfere with meaning. Patterns of errors that you feel students should be controlling better should be noted for follow-up work. For example, in the video, when Jesús clarified that it was the students and not he who needed more time, Ms. Pettigrew accepted his meaning. Jesús did, however, make another verb-form mistake ("you" singular instead of "they"). In ignoring this second error, Ms. Pettigrew was able to maintain a flow in the student report without turning the exchange into a rule-based lesson.
  • Group students to generate multiple opportunities to communicate. Start a lesson with a quick whole-class or pairs warm-up to get students speaking in the language. This is ideal for short tasks. For more complex projects, let student interests or choices determine the grouping. You can also organize groups according to ability or personality.

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