Justin’s Lesson Plans from NTPRS 2015, Buy-In Guaranteed

NOTE: This post is a feature-fest based on a jam-packed conference presentation. Please feel free to skip around! To me, the perfect lesson plan is one that guarantees buy-in by students, requires little to no preparation, is enjoyable for students and teacher, is flexible and repeatable with the same group of students and across levels, […]

What Is Your Favorite Thing To Do?

If you could spend your time doing whatever you wanted, how would you spend it? What if doing that activity somehow also helped you learn a language? Many of our favorite activities can be adjusted or can be incorporated into our schedules in such a way as to enhance language learning. This doesn’t mean they always […]

Indwelling Language and Stephen Krashen at NTPRS 2015

The first day at NTPRS 2015 (this year’s national conference for the system called Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) has been exhilarating: I’ve enjoyed conversations with teachers and presenters that I had known only through the internet or by fame and had been eager to meet in person, and have been pleasantly surprised to hear that I have been […]

Do What You Feel Like

“Do what you feel like” can be devastating moral advice, but for language-learning that doesn’t have an impending deadline, it’s a great way to maximize joy and success. Here’s what I mean: This morning I felt like reading young adult fantasy fiction in French. Fortunately, I had sitting by my bed a copy of Harry Potter à l’école des sorciers […]

Riddle Me This!

What’s bright orange, red, and yellow, full of marshmallows on sticks, and freezing to the touch? If you’ve read much of this blog, you know I like to use and share simple activities or classroom features that (a) are a source of high-interest, level-appropriate content in the target language and (b) easily engender conversation in the target […]

Optical Illusions

The last post celebrated the role mystery can play in language learning. Optical illusions present us with a genre of mystery that (a) holds almost everyone’s attention for a little while and (b) lends itself to using lots of high-frequency language structures. In addition to whatever words are relevant to a particular illusion, the discussion […]

Making the Most of Mystery

Last year, with input from students, I wrote a mystery one of whose central features is a small, sealed box that the protagonist finds and seeks to open. The desire to know what’s in the box plays a key role in propelling the reader through the story. Last night, I came across a brilliantly simple suggestion from Adam Beck (@BeckMonkeys) for making […]

Limiting your language learning–on purpose

The best journaling advice I ever got was to follow a firm rule not to write more than a single page per daily journaling session. The prediction was that this limitation would actually increase my total writing because it would make the task less daunting and would therefore make me more likely actually to sit down and […]

How To Use Your Windows

I’m taking a sick day from skiing in Sun Valley. The upside is that I can finally write about windows, as promised in the last post, which dreamt of the ideal classroom. Through the window I can see one of my Happy Places–a snowy peak with a ski lift–from another: a quiet lodge with an oversize […]