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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: Workshop

Delivering the Message

Looking at the presentational mode of communication, this session shows how students and teachers consider a variety of audiences as they create and deliver written presentations.

One of the most useful aspects of having a real audience in presentational communication is that the audience will provide gaps that students can investigate, understand, explore, and then write about or talk about.

— Paul Kei Matsuda
Assistant Professor of English
University of New Hampshire

Learning Goals

How do you organize an effective written or oral presentational task that has students focus on a particular audience? In this session, you’ll review relevant research, observe video discussions and classroom examples, and do a culminating activity on the presentational mode of communication. At the end of this session, you will better understand how to:

  • take audience into consideration when designing written and oral presentational tasks;
  • help students develop a repertoire of strategies for completing presentational tasks; and
  • spiral writing tasks as students develop proficiency in the language.


Unit Glossary

communicative modes
The three communicative modes — interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational — are the basis of the Communication goal area of the National Standards. (To read more about each of these standards, go to National Standards.) These modes emphasize the context and purpose of communication, unlike the traditional four-skills approach of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, which treats skills as isolated units.

Genre refers to a class or category of authentic text that has a distinctive and recognizable style, form, or content (for example, poetry, biography, cartoon, etc.). Working with genres in the foreign language classroom requires that both teacher and students be familiar with the conventions of each genre. This knowledge is also helpful to both interpreters (readers/listeners) and presenters (writers/speakers).

A rubric is an assessment tool that describes the components of a student task and the expectations for completion. An effective rubric establishes clear assessment criteria — such as the expectations for vocabulary recall, pronunciation, and creativity — and gives students guidelines for doing the task and teachers a method for evaluating it. A rubric also provides descriptive feedback so that students know how to improve their performance.

Spiraling is the process of teaching a theme or language rule over time with increasing complexity to reinforce previous learning and help students develop a depth of understanding of the topic. Spiraling takes place throughout the year, and can continue across grade levels within a language program. For example, a lesson on weather can be spiraled as follows: (1) Novice students can describe the weather in short, formulaic sentences; (2) when the students move to the Intermediate level, they can talk about the weather and its effect on their activities, or gather information from broadcasts or newspapers; and (3) when the students are at the Pre-Advanced level, they can tell a story about a frightening weather-related event or follow a description of weather in a literary piece.


Check out these additional resources to explore the topic further.

ACTFL K-12 Performance Guidelines

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century. National Standards in Foreign Language Education Collaborative Project. Yonkers, NY: American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1999. (To purchase the Standards document, go to or call 1-800-627-0629.)

Belcher, Diane, and Alan Hirvela, eds. Linking Literacies: Perspectives on L2 Reading-Writing Connections. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

Berg, E. C. “The Effects of Trained Peer Response on ESL Students’ Revision Types and Writing Quality.” Journal of Second Language Writing 8, no. 3 (1999): 215-241.

Bräuer, Gerd, ed. Writing Across Languages. Stamford, CT: Ablex, 2000.

Brookes, Arthur, and Peter Grundy. Beginning to Write: Writing Activities for Elementary and Intermediate Learners. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Campbell, Cherry. Teaching Second-Language Writing: Interacting with Text. New York: Heinle & Heinle, 1998.

Candlin, Christopher N., and Ken Hyland, eds. Writing: Texts, Processes and Practices. London: Longman, 1999.

Carson, Joan C., and Ilona Leki, eds. Reading in the Composition Classroom: Second Language Perspectives. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1993.

Conrad, S. M., and L. M. Goldstein. “ESL Student Revision After Teacher-Written Comments: Text, Contexts, and Individuals.” Journal of Second Language Writing 8, no. 2 (1999): 147-179.

Ferris, D. Treatment of Error in Second Language Student Writing. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Grabe, William, and Robert B. Kaplan. Theory and Practice of Writing: An Applied Linguistic Perspective. London: Longman, 1996.

Hamp-Lyons, L. “Fourth Generation Writing Assessment.” In On Second Language Writing, edited by T. Silva and P. K. Matsuda, 117-127. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001.

Harklau, L. “The Role of Writing in Classroom Second Language Acquisition.” Journal of Second Language Writing 11, no. 4 (2002): 329-350.

Hinkel, Eli. Second Language Writers’ Text: Linguistic and Rhetorical Features. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.

Holmes, V., and M. Moulton. “‘I Am Amazing to See My Write in Print’: Publishing from ESL Students’ Perspective.” TESOL Journal 3, no. 4 (1994): 14-16.

Johns, A. “Written Argumentation for Real Audiences: Suggestions for Teacher Research and Classroom Practice.” TESOL Quarterly 27, no. 1 (1993): 75-90.

Kroll, Barbara, ed. Second Language Writing: Research Insights for the Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Kroll, B., and J. Reid. “Guidelines for Designing Writing Prompts: Clarifications, Caveats, and Cautions.” Journal of Second Language Writing 3, no. 3 (1994): 231-255.

Kutz, Eleanor, Suzy Q. Groden, and Vivian Zamel. The Discovery of Competence: Teaching and Learning with Diverse Student Writers. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook, 1993.

Leki, I. “Coaching from the Margins: Issues in Written Response.” In Second Language Writing: Research Insights for the Classroom, edited by B. Kroll, 57-68. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Liu, Jun. Peer Response in Second Language Writing Classrooms. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002.

Mangelsdorf, K., D. Roen, and V. Taylor. “ESL Students’ Use of Audience.” In A Sense of Audience in Written Communication, edited by G. Kirsch and D. Roen, 231-247. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990.

Matsuda, P. K., and K. E. De Pew. “Early Second Language Writing: An Introduction.” Journal of Second Language Writing 11, no. 4 (2002): 261-268.

McKay, Sandra Lee. Agendas for Second Language Literacy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Reichelt, M. “Toward a More Comprehensive View of L2 Writing: Foreign Language Writing in the U.S.” Journal of Second Language Writing 8, no. 2 (1999): 181-204.

Scott, Virginia Mitchell. “Teaching Foreign Language Writing.” In Rethinking Foreign Language Writing, 140-170. Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1996. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Semke, H. “Effects of the Red Pen.” Foreign Language Annals 17 (1984): 195-202. (This text is available in the Before You Watch section.)

Sengupta, S. “Peer Evaluation: ‘I Am Not the Teacher.'” ELT Journal 52, no. 1 (1998): 19-27.

Severino, Carol, J. C. Guerra, and J. E. Butler, eds. Writing in Multicultural Settings. New York: MLA, 1997.

Silva, Tony, and Paul Kei Matsuda, eds. Landmark Essays on ESL Writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2001.

Silva, Tony, and Paul Kei Matsuda, eds. On Second Language Writing. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum, 2001.

Silva, T., and P. K. Matsuda. “Writing.” In An Introduction to Applied Linguistics, edited by N. Schmitt, 251-266. London: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Truscott, J. “The Case Against Grammar Correction in L2 Writing Classes.” Language Learning 46 (1996): 327-369.

Weigle, Sara Cushing. Assessing Writing. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000.

Library Videos Chart

The following lessons from Teaching Foreign Languages K-12: A Library of Classroom Practices are listed in the order in which they appear in the “Subjects Matter” video:

Lesson Title Instructor Language Grade Level
Mapping Planet Earth Stephanie Appel French 2
Interpreting La Belle et la Bête Michel Pasquier French 11
Food Facts and Stories John Pedini Spanish 8
Routes to Culture Pablo Muirhead Spanish 9-10
Comparing Communities Ghislaine Tulou French 9-12
Chicken Pox Jai Scott French K
Promoting Attractions of Japan Yo Azama Japanese 10-12
Interpreting Picasso’s Guernica Meghan Zingle Spanish 10
Politics of Art Lori Langer de Ramirez Spanish 12
Performing With Confidence Yvette Heno French 10-12
Communicating About Sports Jie Gao Chinese 6
Assessment Strategies Wendie Santiago Spanish 11-12


If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for session 3: Delivering the Message.

  1. Examine the Research
    Read the article, then submit your written responses to the Reading Questions.
  2. Examine the Topic
    Complete the interactive activity, then write an oral presentational task summary.
  3. Put It Into Practice
    Complete one or both of the activities, then submit your design for a presentational writing task and/or a presentational speaking task.
  4. Action Research Project
    Submit your completed action research project on any one of the eight session topics.
  5. Reflect on Your Learning
    Review your notes, then write a summary of what you have learned and how you plan to apply it in your classroom.

National Standards

The following is a description of each of the Five Cs goal areas and its related standards. To learn more about the standards, refer to the Standards and the Five Cs video in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 video library.


Communicate in Languages Other Than English

Standard 1.1: Interpersonal Communication
Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.

Standard 1.2: Interpretive Communication
Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.

Standard 1.3: Presentational Communication
Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.


Gain Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures

Standard 2.1: Practices of Culture
Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.

Standard 2.2: Products of Culture
Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied.


Connect with Other Disciplines and Acquire Information

Standard 3.1: Making Connections
Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the foreign language.

Standard 3.2: Acquiring Information
Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the foreign language and its cultures.


Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture

Standard 4.1: Language Comparisons
Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.

Standard 4.2: Cultural Comparisons
Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.


Participate in Multilingual Communities at Home and Around the World

Standard 5.1: School and Community
Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting.

Standard 5.2: Lifelong Learning
Students show evidence of becoming lifelong learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.

Standards for Foreign Language Learning in the 21st Century reprinted courtesy of the National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project, a program of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Copyright 1999. All rights reserved.