Transitioning to Proficiency Part II: Baby Steps to Comprehensible Input

by Alex Terwelp

I have a two-year-old son, and watching him grow, I have discovered there is nothing more fundamental than the process of a child learning to walk. I see four stages to this process, namely supported standing, cruising, staggering, and finally, walking. We can apply the metaphor of learning to walk to a journey toward Comprehensible Input (CI). I am taking that journey in my Latin Classroom, one step, and one stage, at a time.

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Transitioning to Proficiency Part I: Advice From a Recent Convert

By Conner McNeely
@indyprofe1

 Would you rather conjugate verbs in another language or have a conversation with someone who speaks another language? Unless you are a true grammar geek, you prefer communicating. That is why teaching through comprehensible input and using a proficiency-based practice is what we language educators should all be doing with our students. The question should not be whether to transition to a proficiency-based curriculum, but instead when and how to begin the transition.

My department has recently adopted the proficiency-based EntreCulturas and EntreCultures series for Spanish and French. It has been a challenging process, but during the transition, I have learned a few things I would like to share with you:

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Négritude – Empowering the African Diaspora in Francophone Literature and Thought

by Beth Velletri

We have all probably heard of the Harlem Renaissance, that pivotal African American intellectual movement in the early part of the 20th Century. But did you know its influence spread across the ocean to France, and all francophone countries through a literary and ideological movement called Négritude?

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Representing Women in Greek and Latin Classes

By Maureen Lamb
@latintechtools

Many Latin and ancient Greek textbooks, and even the AP® exam, focus largely on the experiences of aristocratic Roman men. But as a high school teacher, I want my students to see that there is more to the language and culture than just the experiences of free, wealthy men. The good news is there are many opportunities to teach texts about and by women in Latin and ancient Greek.

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Tags & Searches: How You Can Get the Most Out of this Blog

by Beth Velletri

At Wayside, we strive to empower our teachers by providing them tools to succeed with their students in the world language classroom. To honor this mission, we’ve teamed up with real life world language teachers -just like you- to offer advice, tips, reflections and fresh perspectives through our blog, Proficiency Talks.

Here is the situation: you may have read a post and thought it was worth re-reading at another time (but what was the title, again?). Or perhaps you are new to our community and do not know the topics or authors, but want to read a post that more closely speaks to you. How do you go about finding these?

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Accessing Authentic Resources – Beyond Questioning Part 3: After Reading/Listening/Viewing

By Deborah Espitia
@despitia
Instructional Strategist

World language teachers are the most creative educators. We have a million and one ways to engage learners in speaking and writing in the target language. Engaging students is our passion – well, that and intercultural connections, of course! Unfortunately, though, it is too easy to develop the habit just of asking our students to answer comprehension questions to evaluate their understanding. Instead, why not have them demonstrate that comprehension through the very acts of speaking and writing? 

In earlier blog posts, we examined pre-reading, listening, and viewing strategies, and during reading, listening, and viewing strategies. Today, we will take a closer look at what we can have learners do after they have engaged with an authentic resource to show they understand it. 

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Accessing Authentic Resources – Beyond Questioning Part 2: While You Are Reading

By Deborah Espitia
@despitia
Instructional Strategist

Since the time Joaquín was sitting in my Spanish 3 class, student engagement has been a key guidepost for me in lesson design. Joaquín was a bright student with a great sense of humor and a strong creative streak, so, I could have anticipated what he would do, but I did not. That day, the class was ideal; students were quietly completing writing exercises in their workbooks. You could hear a pin drop. A dream class, right? Suddenly, Joaquín put his pencil down, stood up, and walked to the window. He opened the window, stuck his head out, and screamed. Then, he closed the window, walked back to his seat, and sat down. And stared me down. The class and I stared back with our mouths opened. The bell rang and I came to, closed my mouth, and vowed to change the way I teach. Obviously, workbook exercises were not cutting it with student engagement, or with helping students acquire the language.  

We now know that communicative ability cannot be drilled, and as evidenced by Joaquín, drills are stifling. Bill VanPatten, a current researcher in second language acquisition, writes that, “[Communicative ability] cannot be practiced in the traditional sense of practice. Communicative ability develops because we find ourselves in communicative contexts.” As a result, world language teachers are moving to proficiency-driven classrooms in which students are immersed in the target language, engaging in real-world tasks, using language to explore content in intercultural contexts, and showing what they know and can do via performance assessments.  

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Accessing Authentic Resources – Beyond Questioning Part 1: Gearing Up

By Deborah Espitia
@despitia
Instructional Strategist

World language teachers have been incorporating authentic resources – materials made by native speakers for native speakers – into their lessons since forever. How many of you have collected “realia” during your travels? Menus, ticket stubs, magazines, newspapers, posters, and coasters have all found their way into my suitcase and then into my classroom. And with the Internet, the sky’s the limit. All types of print and audiovisual materials are at our fingertips and shared with our students. 

Fortunately, our students love these materials as much as we do. Authentic resources are highly motivating because they provide students with a window into the everyday use of the target language – real people actually communicate with this language! Authentic resources not only bring authenticity into the classroom, but they also prompt students to use the language themselves and support them in making intercultural connections. 

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7 Ways to Find Support in Online Teacher Communities

By Alma Rivera

@proferiveraac 

Now that we’ve had about a month of this new school year, how do you feel? Overwhelmed? Exhausted? Challenged? Perhaps even discouraged? You have heard it already: This is a totally different school year. What do we do when these feelings grab at us?

One answer is to find support in online teacher communities. We need to lean on each other more than ever before. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few websites that have helped me get through the rough times:

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