Salvador Dalí meets Lady Gaga: Art and culture in the language classroom

By Cecilia Herrera

The role of emotion has been referenced in language acquisition theory for decades. One of the most effective ways to elicit emotion-driven learning in language classes is through the universal medium of art. Unfortunately, visual art appears too often as a haphazard add-on or a decorative afterthought to other types of cultural content. If you feel like you lack time or resources to successfully include art in your lessons, keep reading for ideas on types of artwork and artists that will engage your high school students and promote relevant cultural learning.

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How fewer, intentional goals will make you a happier, better language teacher

By Meredith White
@PRHSpanish

On social media #goals is usually shorthand for: “Wow, I’d really like to do that, too.” As teachers, we are used to setting goals: I want my students to be able to ___ by ___; by December I need to have ___; this year I’m really going to ____; the list goes on. But, what if our goal was, shockingly… to have fewer goals?

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Activities that help create a safe classroom space

By Angelika Becker
@diebestefrau

At the beginning of the school year I like to ignore the old advice “don’t smile before Thanksgiving” and start with a big smile on my face and a lot of community building. Students need to know that my classroom is a safe place to learn and that it is okay to make mistakes; they need to know that I care about each and every individual student and they need to know that their classmates will be supportive.

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Summer: A time to pause, a time to plan

By Elena Spathis
@ElenaSpathis

Teachers all over the world face a similar dilemma: how to regroup during the summer while still taking small steps to prepare for the new school year? What can we do to avoid that anxious rush at the start of the new school year?

Thinking ahead and planning gradually with a clear mind can make all the difference once the hustle and bustle of your school routine kicks in. In the case that you are assigned to teach new courses for the first time, the first month of school may seem like a complete blur. You may even start to feel like a brand-new teacher again!

Here are some steps that will help you prepare for the upcoming year without breaking a sweat.

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5 tips for making the most of online learning communities

By Ashley Uyaguari
@profeashley

During my first year teaching, I remember feeling very alone. My department wasn’t supportive, I didn’t have a mentor, I didn’t have anyone to inspire me. It was exhausting pulling everything out from myself to do my best every day. Alone. That cup empties quickly.

How many of you have felt like an island as you did your planning, grading, and relationship building with your students?

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The case for interculturality

By Ed Weiss

As world language teachers, we all use various aspects of culture to enrich our curriculum and engage our students.  My love of French began in another era in classrooms where grammar ruled the day.  My true appreciation of languages truly blossomed when I spent time in France and was immersed in the language and culture.  I absorbed language as I grew as a person by learning about and appreciating the differences between my native culture and the new, exciting culture of France.  Looking back on a lifetime of teaching, a philosophy that I have come to embrace is that language teaching without culture is inaccurate and incomplete.  The idea of interculturality allows students to discover language via authentic cultural interactions just as you would in the target language country.

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A classroom setup that makes language learning magic happen

By Angelika Becker
@diebestefrau

If you are the teacher who likes to keep up with the latest trends and research in pedagogy and who wants to do what is best for language learning and students, you most likely tried a number of setups in your room. I know, I did!

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Music: The instrument for language acquisition

By Deborah Espitia
@despitia
Instructional Strategist

Get your students jazzed about learning languages and motivate them with some rocking strategies by incorporating music into your instruction.

The benefits of using music in language instruction have long been known. From his work beginning in 1982, Principles and practice in second language acquisition, Stephen Krashen addressed the use of background music as a way to lower anxiety associated with learning a second language. Others in the field, such as Annette De Groot, in her 2006 article for Language Learning, “Effects of stimulus characteristics and background music on foreign language vocabulary learning and forgetting,” have addressed the increase in retention of target language vocabulary.  

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Choose your own adventure: Self-paced practice for AP® students

By Erin Gibbons
@eeg_il

The Challenge: How do I structure practice for intermediate high AP® students in a way that meets their individual needs and interests without boring them and still appease the “Gradebook Beast” (who must be fed a steady diet of numbers at least every two weeks)?

The Answer: I don’t structure it. Or rather, I provide a loose framework and a bank of resources so that students can self-select practice that they find relevant and motivating at the time.

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