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 […]

Summer 2016 Preview

What I enjoy most in the summer is lolling lakeside with my family. But learning with friends old and new at the many summer programs for language teachers or learners is up there. While some have already happened–last week’s ACL Institute was one for the ages–I thought I’d share here some things I’m excited to be part […]

Throwback ThurSLAy (video)

You read the title right: The latest episode of the Musicuentos Black Box Podcast has just been published, and it features not one, but FIVE, classic articles from the field of second language acquisition (SLA) that still influence current research and practice in language education. We hope you find the video, which you can watch below, useful both […]

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

How to Create Twisted Embedded Readings

In 9 Ways to Happify Your Class, I claim that every activity has a “funner version.” Well, every Embedded Reading has a “twisted version,” or at least a version with a twist. Here are some simple ways to add a delicious twist, even if you’re not Agatha Christie, O. Henry, or those deviants who dreamed up El Internado. […]

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, […]