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, […]

What Is “Unconscious” Acquisition in the Classroom?

If you’ve read or heard much about input-based theories of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), you’ve probably come across the idea that acquiring another language happens “subconsciously” or “unconsciously” under suitable circumstances. You may also have seen this process of acquisition–basically, the journey from being someone who doesn’t know a particular language to being someone who does–contrasted with other processes […]

Good Idea / Bad Idea (Activity + Add-On)

Here’s something you can use as a freestanding activity or as an add-on to almost anything you do in a language classroom. It doesn’t get much simpler: Good Idea / Bad Idea (freestanding version) All you do is a say a sentence in the target language. All students do is say whether it represents a good […]

Off to CSCTFL 2016!

In a few minutes I’ll be heading out to the largest regional conference for language teachers in the United States, the Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL). I’ll be leading a three-hour workshop and a one-hour session, but mostly I’m excited to meet and learn from old and new friends. Will […]

How Has 2016 Been So Far?

This is the last weekend of the first month of 2016. How is the year going so far? What has been most as you expected? What has been least as you expected? What has been most as you hoped? What has been least as you hoped? For me, it’s been a tiring, but exciting month. Since being […]

Quirky Scripts: An Easy Way to Teach “Hard” Language

Quirky Scripts is a lesson requiring almost no prep that can be used repeatedly all year, at every level. It’s also a way for students to acquire “advanced” language really early on with minimal effort. Skim the how-to or scroll down for a dozen reasons these Quirky Scripts are so useful. Here are the steps: Step 1: Give […]