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Teaching Foreign Languages Workshops Home
    8: Engaging With Communities

Analyze the Video

Introduction
Before You Watch
Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic
Put it Into Practice
Action Research Project
Reflect on Your Learning

Resources
Library Video Chart
Printouts
Assignments

Video Summary

In "Engaging With Communities," Patsy Lightbown, Professor Emeritus of Concordia University in Montreal, discusses ways of providing students with opportunities to interact with communities both inside and outside the foreign language classroom. Professor Lightbown also joins a round-table discussion on ways of engaging students in community experiences and on the role of heritage speakers in a foreign language classroom. The discussion is moderated by University of Pittsburgh professor Richard Donato and includes teachers Pablo Muirhead of Shorewood, Wisconsin, and Davita Alston of Newark, Delaware. The video also features excerpts from Mr. Muirhead's and Ms. Alston's classes, as well as other classes across different grade levels and languages.* The video addresses the following questions:
  • What is community?
  • How can teachers access community within and beyond the classroom?
  • What roles can heritage speakers play in the classroom?
*The classroom excerpts featured in this video are from the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library. To learn more about the featured lessons, go to the Library Videos Chart.

Reflection

Watch the Video

  
Watch the video "Engaging With Communities," and take notes as you watch. Consider pausing at the end of each section to answer the questions before moving on to the next section. If you are working in a group, discuss your responses; if you are working alone, reflect on them in your journal.

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1. What is community?
In this section, Professor Lightbown describes different types of communities that apply to the Communities standards. The group then discusses what they think makes up a "community."
  • Why is it important to give students -- even beginners -- the opportunity to use the language beyond the classroom?
  • The Communities goal area often leads teachers to think of field trips or travel abroad. What additional opportunities for connecting with communities does the group discuss?
  • What kinds of language and cultural issues are likely to arise as students communicate with native speakers?
2. How can teachers access community within and beyond the classroom?
In this section, Professor Lightbown describes different opportunities for students to interact with native speakers. The teachers then discuss how they prepare students for community experiences and the value of debriefing after such an experience.
  • What kinds of activities can prepare students for successful interactions with native speakers?
  • What is the teacher's role during interactions with native speakers in the classroom? On field trips? Via email or other technology?
  • What kinds of issues might you explore when debriefing after such interactions?
  • How has technology changed the kinds of community-building activities that are possible in foreign language classrooms today?
3. What roles can heritage speakers play in the classroom?
In this section, Professor Lightbown addresses the role of heritage speakers in a foreign language classroom. The group then discusses the importance of being sensitive to the needs of the heritage speaker.
  • What issues might come up in a class that has both heritage speakers and second-language learners? How might you address these issues through your teaching practice?
  • How can teachers begin to assess what heritage speakers actually know about the target language and their heritage community? What are the challenges of making a complete and accurate assessment?
  • What can teachers do to help ensure that heritage speakers are challenged to grow their language abilities and cultural knowledge so that they can use them in community interactions? At the same time, how can teachers maintain the comfort level of traditional learners so that they are not overwhelmed in the presence of heritage speakers?
  • In what ways can teachers remain sensitive to the needs of heritage speakers in their classes?



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8: Engaging With Communities > Introduction | Before You Watch | Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic | Put It Into Practice | Action Research Project | Reflect on Your Learning
Resources | Library Videos Chart | Printouts | Assignments

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