“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? (Learner Edition)

This is the second in a series of posts about goals for language learners and teachers. The first post raised a lot of questions for myself and others, questions I’m eager to explore in the rest of the series. For now, though, because this is a site for learners as well as teachers, I want […]

“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, […]

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, […]

Why it matters that this blog speaks to teachers AND learners

Most language education sites target either teachers or learners. This one targets both. Why? After all, it’s not really good for business: Teachers may decide that the articles about reading habits and other language learning routines aren’t relevant to them, and people learning languages on their own may decide the same about the posted lesson plans […]

No subtitles, TL subtitles, L1 subtitles…?

Both teachers and learners recognize the potential of target-language film and TV for boosting proficiency–witness this vast collection of teacher resources for El Internado or lists of Spanish language dramas recommended for learners. But many wonder what role, if any, subtitles should play. Rather than declare one option golden, I want to share some possible reasons for and […]

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 […]

Partnering with Express Fluency in August!

Elissa McLean of Express Fluency has just announced a set of exciting language-learning and teacher-training programs taking place this August in beautiful Brattleboro, Vermont. Among the options are three featuring yours truly: A Latin intensive course for anyone who has always wanted to learn Latin or whose past experiences learning Latin didn’t make it stick. This will be quite […]

Tricks and Triggers for Opportunistic Language Learning

If you’ve seen the Savvy Language Learner infographic or read many posts on this site, you know that I find a system of routines and triggers indispensable for living in your target language when you’re not living in an immersion setting. In 2016, frequent travel and closely bunched projects have convinced me of the need for even more vigilance […]