“The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”

My father likes to give people self-improvement books, and he’s discerning enough that they tend to be worth reading. The latest is Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. It’s about not just simplifying and de-cluttering, but developing both the skill and the constant habit of identifying and pursuing what is important, which, McKeown says, […]

Top Five Posts of 2016

I’ve enjoyed seeing other bloggers catalogue their top posts of the year. Here are the five posts on indwellinglanguage.com that generated the most engagement in 2016. There’s lots of variety–activities, reflections, theory, and practice. I hope you (re)find something useful! Quirky Scripts–an Easy Way to Teach “Hard” Language A low-prep activity that keeps on giving […]

Riding the White Elephant toward Proficiency Palace

In December 2005 I came the closest I’ve ever come to owning a jewel-encrusted dagger. This happened during a game of White Elephant, convincing me forever of that game’s potential for good. More recently, I’ve become convinced of the game’s power for a specific type of good: the acquisition of a language. I like it all the more […]

Position Statement: The Why & How of L1 Use

What is the role of students’ first language (L1) in a language classroom? This question is probably more controversial than the one about the use of the target language (TL), which I addressed in the last post. I’ve been asked several times in the last year to publicize my thoughts on L1 use in the classroom, and I finally have […]

Position Statement: The Why & How of TL Use

Not for the first time, the timing (and titling) of a post here is due to a powerful post by my friend and #TeamBlackBox colleague Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell. This week, Sara-Elizabeth helpfully complemented ACTFL’s position statement on target language (TL) use in the classroom with her own practical position statement, and encouraged other teachers to do […]

PlusDelta – a simple tool for daily reflection

During last night’s #langchat, several teachers mentioned their desire to engage in more regular and more formal self-reflection next year, and to help their students do the same. Here I share a simple tool, PlusDelta, that my students and I have found tremendously useful for reflection. It works for people learning on their own, too. […]

LOW PREP lessons, all in one place

I love lessons and activities that yield high payoff with little or no preparation. I like them even better if they are easily scaled or repeated. As the school year draws to a close, I’ve been seeing lots of requests for such activities, which are, of course, useful not just at year’s end, but all the […]

Go Ahead, Indulge in Next Year

Cyberspace is flooded with tweets and posts by teachers longing for the school year to end or by others encouraging these teachers to finish strong. A theme I’ve seen in teachers’ posts is the attempt not to think too much yet about next year, because doing so would distract from this one or would be plain procrastination. Sure, […]

The Role of the Teacher

Last week I had the honor of guest-hosting Tea With BVP. It was tons of fun. The main feedback I got from friends and colleagues who listened was variations of “you should have said more.” So here I’ll say more about that episode’s topic, which was the role of the teacher in helping students acquire […]

Use Can-Do Statements–just not like this.

The introduction to the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, increasingly used in U.S. schools, features this helpful clarification: These Can-Do Statements describe the specific language tasks that learners are likely to perform at various levels of proficiency. (p. 2) What this means is that, if you tell me Kendra is an advanced speaker of Polish, I can reasonably infer, […]