Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices
Arabic: Making Plans Class Context
The point of the activity is to show them how to negotiate. So it is not just like, “Do you want to go to the restaurant?” “Yes, I want to go to the restaurant.” “Goodbye.” “Goodbye.” That’s not an authentic situation. In an authentic situation, people ask about time, days, and are they busy. After they did this activity, I asked them not just to have two students together, but to have four people agree on things. This is what happens in real life.
– Belal Joundeya
YEAR AT A GLANCE
Weather and Seasons; Hobbies and Sports
Food and Beverage; Eating Etiquette
University Majors; Employment and Future Careers
Time and Daily Routine; Free Time and Entertainment
My Future Plans
Personal Detail, Appearance, and Character
Town, Services, and Neighborhood
Middle East Geography
Belal Joundeya teaches grades 9–12 Arabic at Lincoln High School in downtown Portland, Oregon, a city with over 600,000 residents. According to the school, minority groups make up approximately 28 percent of the 1,721 students enrolled, and 14 percent of all students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Noted for its academic climate and rigor, the school’s college preparatory curriculum features a wide array of advanced classes. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme’s curriculum, which includes language acquisition among its six subject groups. In addition to Arabic, which was first offered in 2010, Lincoln offers Mandarin, Spanish, Spanish Immersion, French, German, and American Sign Language. Some students study more than one language.
Mr. Joundeya uses backward design to plan the curriculum: he identifies anticipated student performance outcomes and creates 8–10 units that cover the learning goals. He then considers how to work in activities developed around the Five C goal areas, with particular emphasis on Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational Communication. Mr. Joundeya typically has students complete reading and writing assignments outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, he wants students to practice authentic conversation. They exchange customary greetings with Mr. Joundeya at the beginning of each class and participate in engaging and motivating activities that emphasize speaking in real-world situations. To preserve the immersion experience, Mr. Joundeya routinely employs nonverbal cues such as images and acting. He makes sure all students are conversing in pairs or small groups at the same time so that no one is left out. He walks around the room, listening for opportunities to add something new for students who quickly demonstrate a lesson objective, and to lend support for struggling students.
Mr. Joundeya implements curriculum through a dynamic set of resources, including textbooks, online materials, and videos. He constantly assesses the usefulness of particular items to determine whether he should continue using them or modify his selection.
This class of 20 students included one heritage speaker, whose parents are from Lebanon. The students were at different levels, many having started Arabic together in middle school, and most having studied for three to four years. Leading up to this class, students had been learning to talk about their daily routines and what they do in their free time. Mr. Joundeya introduced this lesson at this point in the unit so that students could connect the idea of “what they do” to the future tense: “What are you going to do?”
To set students’ expectations of what they will be practicing in class and at home, Mr. Joundeya posts daily goals on the board. For this class, he linked the objectives to the following Can-Do Statements, which are self-assessment checklists used by language learners to assess what they “can do” with language in the different modes of communication:
- I can talk about my future plans.
- I can ask others about their plans.
- I can invite someone to do something in the future.
- I can read an invitation.
- I can write a response to an invitation.
The lesson progressed from heavily guided practice to independent practice. The use of choral repetition of target forms (in which students repeat what the teacher says), modeling with a student volunteer, and group work (first in pairs and then in fours) reinforced this strategy. To meet the language goals, students practiced talking about future plans—something they would be doing after school, the following day, on the weekend, or over spring or summer break. Students also had to make or accept an invitation to do something with someone else. During the lesson, Mr. Joundeya made it clear that students should not simply accept or decline an invitation. Rather, they should practice negotiating until they ultimately agreed on a plan. Through practice in engaging with one another as native speakers do in authentic situations, students use language more independently and spontaneously, acquiring language rather than just analyzing or memorizing it.
Key Teaching Strategies
- Incorporation of Technology: The teacher uses technology, including school-sanctioned social media, to support or enhance opportunities for practicing the three modes of communication. Technology enables students to engage in more authentic tasks, interact with authentic audiences, and access information from authentic resources. They can do this by writing a blog or posting a podcast; exchanging messages with native speakers online or via video chats; and tapping materials from the target cultures for listening, reading, or viewing.
- Individual/Group Writing: The teacher provides multiple writing experiences that include individual work as well as group writing activities. Both contexts include opportunities for prewriting, drafting, revising, and sharing.
- Multilevel Group Work: The teacher purposefully mixes students for group tasks, including students with stronger language skills in the mode required for the task and students with weaker language skills, and assigns roles and tasks appropriate to each student’s strengths and level of proficiency. While heritage speakers are incorporated into group work as regular participants who may assist in maintaining the conversation, they are not called upon to act as “walking dictionaries.”
- Scaffolding: Scaffolding is a method of structuring an instructional task in a way that helps learners gradually advance through the process. Initial portions of the task are designed to be within learners’ competency so that they can complete them on their own. As students’ confidence, skill, and knowledge increase, the teacher provides less and less scaffolding for that task in a gradual release of responsibility.
PDF: Card Matching Game—Conversation Exercise
Instructions for playing the card game based on making future plans that is featured in the classroom video
PDF: Engaging a Native Speaker via Email—Writing Exercise
Instructions for the email activity, providing a sample invitation from the native speaker and student responses
PDF: Future Plans Reading: Sami—Reading Comprehension
An account of Sami's future travel plans in America, with comprehension questions
PDF: Future Plans Reading: Michael—Reading Comprehension
An account of Michael's future travel plans to Jordan, with comprehension questions
Session 0 Introduction to the Library
This program provides an overview of the entire library, with suggestions for use in professional development settings
Session 1 Arabic: Teaching Arabic Overview
Provides background on the standards with commentary by teaching experts and clips from the classroom programs.
Session 2 Arabic: People Who Help Us
Arabic Grade 1: Khamael Alaloom introduces her class to people who help in the community and teaches students a new letter of the alphabet. She projects images of community helpers and reviews their names and what they do.
Session 3 Arabic: Vegetables We Like
Arabic Grade 2: Rita Lahoud’s Art and Arabic students draw pictures of vegetables they like and don’t like. Students discuss in pairs what they drew and then present their drawings to the full class.
Session 4 Arabic: Comparing the Weather
Arabic Grade 6: Wael Fawzy’s class learns about the weather in the Arab world and practices speaking and writing using dialects. Mr. Fawzy shows slides of the weather in Chicago and Egypt and asks students about the weather in each place and then has them develop questions of their own.
Session 5 Arabic: How We Spend Our Free Time
Grade 8, Arabic I: In a unit on hobbies, Katie Quackenbush’s novice-level students practice asking and answering questions about what they like to do in their free time. In a small-group activity, students picks a card and asks classmates whether they like doing the activity pictured. Students then poll one another about their free-time activities.
Session 6 Arabic: A Place I Call Home
Grades 9 and 10, Arabic II/III: In a lesson rich with music and visuals, students learn vocabulary to describe the rooms and exterior features of modern and traditional houses in Arab countries. Manar Mayalah introduces the lesson with a song about a “dear little house,” then shows videos of a traditional house in Syria and a modern house in Lebanon.
Session 7 Arabic: Making Sales Calls
Grades 9 and 11, Arabic I: Eric Bartolotti’s high school class of novice and heritage speakers use basic greetings and express likes and dislikes through a role-playing activity. Students pair off, assuming the roles of telemarketers and prospective customers.
Session 8 Arabic: Making Plans
Grades 9–12, Arabic V/VI: Students converse about what they will be doing in the future, in pairs and expanding to a group of four. Belal Joundeya presents a scenario in which two celebrities negotiate their busy schedules to agree on a dinner date, and then he role plays a similar situation with a student volunteer.
Session 9 Chinese: Communicating About Sports
Chinese I, grade 6: In pairs and in small groups, Jie Gao's students develop interpersonal communication skills as they state their sports likes and dislikes. They practice writing Chinese characters for an ongoing activity — a letter they are composing and sending to Chinese students. At the end of the lesson, the students create skits to perform for their classmates.
Session 10 Chinese: Exploring New Directions
Chinese II - IV, grades 9 - 12: In this lesson, Haiyan Fu's multilevel class explores direction - both literally and metaphorically. While Chinese IV students practice reciting Chinese cultural poems, students in Chinese II and III work on mapping the locations of nearby restaurants and providing directions to them.
Session 11 French: A Cajun Folktale and Zydeco
French I, grade 8: After preparing her students for new vocabulary, Paris Granville retells a Cajun folktale while students act out the story. Students then create a story map to delve into the different story elements. Ms. Granville introduces zydeco music and the instruments typically used to create it, such as the washboard, accordion, and spoons.
Session 12 French: Chicken Pox
French I, kindergarten: Jai Scott's French immersion class uses the topic of chicken pox, from an Arthur book and a French song, and total physical response (TPR) movements to learn new vocabulary for the parts of the body. The class practices emerging literacy skills by matching vocabulary labels to a drawing of a person.
Session 13 French: Comparing Communities
French III, grades 9 - 12: Ghislaine Tulou's students work in pairs to discuss aspects of their own community. They also discuss a Canadian community that they had read about and plan what they would do if they were to visit. Through individual and group-centered activities, students learn to express conditional statements about personal preferences.
session 14 French: Family and Home
French I, grade 5: In this two-part lesson, Debra Terry's students integrate vocabulary about the family by creating an imaginary family tree. Then they develop more complex ideas by describing the location of family members in different rooms of the home. For homework, students write about activities that take place in each room.
session 15 French: Interpreting La Belle et la Bete
French IV, grade 11: Michel Pasquier focuses his class on interpreting and adapting film, literature, and music, using the classic tale Beauty and the Beast. The students work in groups to find moral meaning in the 1945 Jean Cocteau classic film and compare the film to the original story and a French rap song.
session 16 French: Mapping Planet Earth
French I, grade 2: Stephanie Appel connects her French lessons to content and teaching materials in the general classroom curriculum. She employs TPR and map activities to practice vocabulary for the planets, continents, and oceans.
session 17 French: Performing With Confidence
French IV - V, grades 10 - 12: This lesson focuses on advanced conversation proficiency with connections to social, political, and pop culture. Yvette Heno's students play word games, discuss French politics, and stage a mock press conference with students portraying celebrities and journalists.
session 18 French: Touring a French City
French I, grade 8: Prior to this lesson, Robin Neuman's students researched French architecture and constructed a model of a French city on the classroom floor. During the lesson, students take turns role-playing tourists asking for directions and tourist bureau agents giving directions and describing the buildings and the city.
session 19 German: Holidays and Seasons
German I, grade 3: Margita Haberlen's lesson combines the topics of seasons and German holidays to reinforce basic reading skills, build cultural knowledge, and introduce more abstract thinking. Using a Venn diagram, students compare aspects of Fasching and Halloween.
session 20 German: Sports in Action
German I, grades 9 - 11: Denise Tanner guides her students through graduated activities including a TPR vocabulary review of the body, a grammar segment teaching the German structure gefallen, and a discussion of the German medals won at the 2002 Winter Olympics. As a culminating activity, students act out a TPR story in front of the class.
session 21 German: Sports Stats
German I, grade 5: In Amy Garcia's German class, students write in journals, listen as classmates share their sports preferences, take a poll on sports likes and dislikes, and record the class results on a graph. Using a chart showing the favorite sports of young Germans, Ms. Garcia makes connections to math by having students analyze the data.
session 22 Italian: U.S. and Italian Homes
Italian II, grade 9: In this lesson, Marylee DiGennaro's students compare American homes with typical dwellings in Italy. The class learns new vocabulary words, then practices them during a line dance and a card game. For homework, the students compose letters describing their homes, which they will email to students in Italy.
session 23 Japanese: Daily Routines
Japanese I, grade 5: This lesson focuses on the daily routines of individuals in Japan and the U.S. Margaret Dyer uses a variety of activities including TPR, modeling, paired practice, and student-led charades to introduce and review new vocabulary and concepts.
session 24 Japanese: Happy New Year!
Japanese II, grades 10 - 12: Students learn about some common products and practices of the Japanese New Year's celebration. Leslie Birkland's class splits into two groups: One sings New Year's songs, writes cards, and plays cultural games, while the other discusses New Year's food and decorations. After switching activities, the class reconvenes to compare the Japanese New Year's celebration with those of other cultures.
session 25 Japanese: Promoting Attractions of Japan
Japanese III - IV, grades 10 - 12: As part of a larger unit on the geography and culture of Japan, students learn the major regions and cities and discuss popular tourist destinations. Using timed activities, including a fast-paced Jeopardy-style quiz game, Yo Azama, 2012 ACTFL Teacher of the Year, assesses students on recall and recognition. As a culminating project, students create a travel brochure and begin planning a promotional video to attract visitors to Japan.
session 26 Latin: Music and Manuscripts
Latin II - III, IV AP, grades 10 - 12: Lauri Dabbieri's class explores how Latin manuscripts are interpreted, translated, and created. Latin IV students work independently to translate a passage from Vergil's Aeneid, while students in Latin II and III are guided through activities in translation and interpretation. Then the whole class works in pairs to create their own versions of illuminated Latin manuscripts.
session 27 Russian: Russian Cities, Russian Stories
Russian I and IV, grades 9 - 12: In this unique mixed-level class, Jane Shuffelton's students work on geography skills, story writing, and presentations. Russian IV students are paired with small groups of Russian I students to read a story, gather information, and write their own folktales. Each group shares their tale while the remaining students use their interpretive skills to write down specific information. In a separate activity, Russian IV students debate the role of the leader in Russian history after reading an article about Vladimir Putin.
session 28 Spanish: Creating Travel Advice
Spanish III, grade 11: In this lesson, Fran Pettigrew gives her students a letter from a teacher in Chile who plans to bring students to visit the United States. Working with authentic tourist brochures in Spanish and their previous research, student groups plan itineraries for their Chilean counterparts. They prepare to send a follow-up letter to the Chilean teacher sharing their suggestions.
session 29 Spanish: Food Facts and Stories
Spanish I, grade 8: Students use math and science skills as they interpret nutritional information in a Spanish-language McDonald's menu. John Pedini's lesson integrates authentic materials, makes connections to other academic areas, and develops interpretive and interpersonal communication skills.
session 30 Spanish: Fruits of the Americas
Spanish I, grade 4: Teacher Carina Rodriguez combines visual media and multisensory activities in a vocabulary-building lesson about familiar and new fruit. Students learn what country the fruit comes from, try to identify the fruit solely through touch, and taste the fruit to categorize it as sweet or sour.
session 31 Spanish: Hearing Authentic Voices
Spanish I, grade 8: Davita Alston's class engages in mock phone conversations, brainstorms about how American teenagers occupy their time, and reviews a video of Spanish-speaking youths discussing their leisure activities. Later, two native Mexican students visit the class and answer questions about how they spend their free time in Mexico.
session 32 Spanish: Interpreting Literature
Spanish III, grade 11: This lesson centers on the story Dos Caras by the New Mexican author Sabine Ulibarri. Barbara Pope Bennett guides students as they recount the details and discuss their interpretations of the story and its moral message. Students act out segments of the story and then collaborate in groups to come up with alternate endings.
session 33 Spanish: Interpreting Picasso’s Guernica
Spanish II, grade 10: In this lesson, students use their interpretive abilities to learn about culture and history through art. The students in Meghan Zingle's class make initial observations about Picasso's painting, and then work in pairs to write and present a mock radio announcement about it. After reading about the painting's background, they discuss the history it represents.
session 34 Spanish: Politics of Art
Spanish V, grade 12: Lori Langer de Ramirez's class stages a political debate based on Spain's visa requirement for Central and South Americans who wish to enter that country. During the debate, students assume the role of Latin American artists whose work they had researched and weigh the pros and cons of boycotting an invitation to exhibit their work in Spain. After the debate, the class votes on whether or not to accept the Spanish invitation.
session 35 Spanish: Routes to Culture
Spanish II, grades 9 - 10: This culturally rich lesson falls in the middle of a thematic unit about the African presence in Latin America. Pablo Muirhead's students identify cultural aspects of stories about a fictitious African girl who is taken to Panama and enslaved. Then they work in small groups to incorporate these cultural aspects into skits to be performed by their classmates. The class also practices playing African/Latin American box drums called los cajones.