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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices

View & Analyze the Video

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

Before You Watch
Respond to the following questions:

  • When teaching large sets of vocabulary, how do you sequence and vary activities?
  • How do you demonstrate the cultural meaning of words when translation is not sufficient?
  • How do you ensure that learning new vocabulary leads to communication? How do you ensure that you are drawing on students’ multiple intelligences when teaching vocabulary?
  • What are some advantages of establishing an email relationship with a school from another culture?

Watch the Video

As you watch “U.S. and Italian Homes,” take notes on Ms. DiGennaro’s instructional strategies, particularly how she structures and sequences multiple vocabulary activities. Write down what you find interesting, surprising, or especially important about the teaching and learning in this lesson.

Reflect on the Video
Review your notes, and then respond to the following questions:

  • Describe students’ progress as they learn the vocabulary during the span of this class period.
  • What is the value of the PowerPoint presentation to the lesson?
  • How does Ms. DiGennaro lead students to make cultural comparisons without overgeneralizing?
  • What is the benefit of the dance for students? How do students react?

Look Closer

Take a second look at Ms. DiGennaro’s class to focus on specific teaching strategies. Use the video images below to locate where to begin viewing.

Video Segment: Comparing Homes

You’ll find this segment approximately 3 minutes after the video starts. Watch for about 4 minutes.

Students share drawings of a typical American home exterior, and then discuss some similarities and differences between American and Italian homes.

  • What tasks does the homework assignment set up?
  • How does Ms. DiGennaro have students explore the Comparisons standard?
  • After students work in pairs to compare American and Italian houses, Ms. DiGennaro brings them together to share insights. Observe the language of the three students who respond, beginning with Viviana. How does each student’s response illustrate individual growth using language in interpersonal communication?

Video Segment: Identifying Furniture

You’ll find this segment approximately 9 minutes and 30 seconds after the video starts. Watch for about 5 minutes.

Students match labels to pictures of Italian furniture.

  • What is the added value of using pictures of furniture from Italian magazines?
  • What strategies does Ms. DiGennaro use to help students understand and remember the vocabulary?
  • What example of a student “negotiating meaning” stands out in this segment?
  • How do students engage in guessing and active learning while matching labels to pictures of furniture? How does Ms. DiGennaro encourage students without revealing answers?

Video Segment: Drawing From Directions

You’ll find this segment approximately 22 minutes and 30 seconds after the video starts. Watch for about 2 minutes.

Students draw a picture of a house described to them by their partner.

  • How does this activity serve as an informal assessment of the lesson?
  • How well do students communicate their message?
  • What makes this an effective activity?


Series Directory

Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. 2003. 2016.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-731-2