Real-World Application

One of my favorite things to do in class is use target language in realistic contexts. I think it’s important for students to find out what it’s really like to be a second-language user, both as a tourist and for the workplace, and I also enjoy the personal touch that students will add to this kind of work. Our French program gives students several opportunities to apply these skills — from roleplaying situations in a store or restaurant with realistic props and money to creating presentations and documents for clients. Read More »

Nous sommes la révolution

I can’t believe another semester has already gone by! The fall was much busier than I expected, but it was a good type of busy with lots of rewards and great activities.

I spent most of the fall semester trying to incorporate even more methodology from the Summer Language Institute, and I think the results were very good. The curriculum is fresh and natural, and the student success rate has been particularly high. Read More »

SLI 2015: New Processing Games!

We had a great first week at this year’s Summer Language Institute in Latin! Spreading out the curriculum over two weeks has made the material even more fun and natural for students, and we’ve had so much more time to play processing games and build proficiency with productive language skills. I knew the students were making great progress, but I was still impressed with their ability to retell stories, carry on conversations and communicate information through spoken Latin.

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Living Latin

It’s almost time for the Summer Language Institute, so I thought I’d do a little throwback to my first TPR- and TPRS-based Latin class. I was very lucky to have such a motivated and creative group of students, but I also have to give credit to the TPR and TPRS themselves. Can you imagine, a whole group of high school students voluntarily studying Latin, not for the credit but just for fun, and mainly because they knew what the methodology would be like? What a great testament to brain-based teaching! The students made the class outstanding, and the methodology empowered them to do so.

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Pop-Up Power

One of the first things I liked about TPR was the potential for immersion. And for the first few years, using TPR to build an immersive classroom worked well for me. But that was when students only took my class because they wanted to. I didn’t realize it at the time, but they were spending a lot of time at home clarifying meaning on their own.

Things are different now. Every student takes a foreign language, but not all of them are self-motivated to do anything at home. For some, if it doesn’t happen in class, it simply doesn’t happen. Add in the fact that these same students have a low tolerance for ambiguity — they want exact, straightforward meaning — and issue start to develop.

What I’ve learned to accept is the idea that a non-immersive class can be even better than an immersive one. I want my students to get all the input they can get, but it only matters if it’s comprehensible. A lot of my students made great turnarounds as soon as I stopped worrying about the French-to-English ratio and started focusing on 100% comprehension.

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Taxi is a great processing game that reviews vocabulary and high-frequency phrases and, most importantly, gets every student up and moving.

In this activity, half the students pretend to be taxi drivers while the rest are passengers. The passengers use simple or complex phrases to get the taxi drivers to take them to places around the classroom.Read More »

Iter Īcarī

Iter Īcarī was inspired by CPLI’s Pauvre Anne series, which I’ve always enjoyed using in my French classes. The series takes a good range of TPR and TPRS vocabulary, adds a dash of plot and high-frequency extra words, and offers a great cumulative reading experience for my French students at all levels. I wanted my Latin students to have the same experience, but I wanted it to be tailored to a Latin-specific range of vocabulary and culture.

The result was Iter Īcarī, a tale that begins with the myth of Daedalus and Icarus and ends centuries later at the Nashville Parthenon. The story uses classical and modern conversational Latin and all the typical structures found in a first-year Latin curriculum, including a famous quote from Latin literature at the start of each chapter. A full Latin-English glossary accompanies the text.Read More »

Là na #Gàidhlig 2015

wp_ss_20150430_0002Today was one of those off days at school – lots of students out of class for one reason or another – so I decided to delve into the Comparisons standard and get us involved in a Twitter event for Là na #Gàidhlig. We talked briefly about the status of Gaelic in Scotland and how social media events like Là na #Gàidhlig help build awareness and strengthen cases for linguistic equality. It’s an easy perspective for my students to understand, given that they’re required to use a second language every day. We also talked about how a few Gaelic expressions appear in English, like gleann “glen” and clann “clan, children”.

Next, I put a list of Gaelic words on the board, along with their meaning in French. The list included some words borrowed into English, some high-frequency words, and some related to popular interests among my students. The students made a picture card for the word of their choice, and then I tweeted their work with the hashtag #Gàidhlig. They really enjoyed watching other Gaelic speakers and learners “favorite” and comment on their work!Read More »