Letter from Tim on ‘Something from Nothing’

The following is a letter I received from Tim, a teacher in Colorado, in response to my recent video and commentary on getting Something from Nothing in our classes. It was encouraging to me and I thought it might be encouraging for you to hear about the repeatability of the filmed interaction and about the […]

Brain Unbreaks (Express Fluency reflection 3)

This is the third in a series of reflections and elaborations on Express Fluency 2017. If you haven’t yet, check out installment 1, on the skills of slowness and silence, and installment 2, on making lemonade, i.e., capitalizing on would-be problems in class. I usually use brain breaks just to get the blood pumping if it’s been […]

Making Lemonade (Express Fluency reflection 2)

This is the second in a series of reflections and elaborations on Express Fluency 2017. If you haven’t yet, check out the first installment, which celebrates the skills of slowness and silence. Something which many observers of my classes at Express Fluency 2017 noted, and which I consider a core feature of my classes, is my […]

Slowness and Silence (Express Fluency reflection 1)

Last week I had the thrill of joining 70-some language teachers and another 30-odd community members of all ages in Brattleboro, Vermont, for the annual Express Fluency conference. I was honored that founder Elissa McLean had invited me, along with Annabelle Allen, Grant Boulanger, Tina Hargaden, and Dustin Williamson, to teach language classes for four mornings […]

Whiteboard Doublestack

It’s been a while since I shared a low prep/no prep activity, but I was recently reminded of the fun and the mileage of this one, so it’s time to share. Whiteboard Doublestack is a nice consolidation game or middle-of-unit (if you have those) activity, including both input and output, that I saw Nancy Llewellyn do in 2008 and […]

Do I Make Students Do Stuff I Would Never Do?

Here’s a goals-related question I occasionally ask myself: Now, the fact that I would consider something annoying or a waste of time in my own language learning doesn’t automatically mean it’s not worth my students’ while. We shouldn’t assume that our students are versions of ourselves, whether it comes to interests, temperament, neurology, or motivation, though […]

“High-Leverage Practices” from TeachingWorks

This week I go on a tangent from the Goals series to alert you to TeachingWorks, an initiative of the School of Education at the University of Michigan here in Ann Arbor. Its motto–“Great teachers aren’t born. They’re taught.”–represents its conviction that skillful teaching isn’t merely the result of certain personality traits, nor is it something that […]

What Are My Goals? (Teacher Edition)

This post is the first in a series about language learning goals. Stay tuned for a Learner Edition, a Latin Edition, and maybe a Super-Practical Edition.   My goals as a language teacher are simple–at least to state: Help each student grow in proficiency as much as is reasonable, given total time and frequency of interaction. Inspire […]