Music: The instrument for language acquisition

By Deborah Espitia
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

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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4 types of authentic resources and how to use them effectively

By Cristin Bleess
Instructional Strategist

In Part 1 of our series on authentic resources we talked about the basics of authentic resources. Today we are going to take a deeper dive and look at how your students can interact with these great resources to learn vocabulary and grammar in context.

Authentic resources are an excellent way to provide the needed input for learners to begin to acquire new vocabulary or language structures. By showing examples of how the language is actually used, students are not learning the information in isolation, but rather with meaning attached to it, embedded in context and culture. As they interact with the resource, they are seeing how and why it is used in different instances.

In classrooms using a proficiency-driven instructional method, the teacher moves from being the provider of all new knowledge to the co-constructor of that knowledge. Instead of front-loading our learners with all the words or rules they could possibly ever need, I am proposing using authentic resources to show them how the language is used by native-speakers and letting students organize that new knowledge in a way that is meaningful for them.

Let’s look at some examples:

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“But what’s the point?” Designing effective interpersonal activities

By Meredith White

When it comes to designing and curating interpersonal activities, especially at the novice levels, I used to feel like I was setting students up to hit tennis balls against the garage door: repetitive, not much value, and not particularly similar to an actual game of tennis. When there is a Partner A/Partner B slant, the lack of value is especially evident because the students aren’t really required to think much; they merely parrot or fill in the blank with what they think they’re “supposed to be doing”.

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Authentic resources: what they are, where to find them, and how to use them

By Cristin Bleess
Instructional Strategist

Authentic resources. That buzz word seems to be everywhere these days. It’s thrown around as if it were a beach ball in Miami. They are mentioned in ACTFL’s Six Core Practices. It is assumed that everyone is using them, or at least knows that they should be. But, do they? Let’s talk a bit about the basics of authentic resources: what are they, where to find them, and how to use them.

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Featured Teacher: Elena Spathis

Our Featured Teacher series introduces world language educators from across the country. We kick off the series with Elena Spathis, who teaches Spanish at Pascack Valley High School in Hillsdale, New Jersey. According to colleagues and students who nominated her, she is an inspiring teacher who brings out the best in her students. Read our Q&A with her below. Do you know a world language educator you would like to see featured on this blog? We’d love to hear from you!

“I try to place culture at the core of every lesson.”

Wayside Publishing: What language do you teach? Do you speak any other languages?

Elena Spathis: I teach Spanish at the high school level, and am certified to teach English as a Second Language as well. I speak Greek fluently as I am of Greek heritage. I also completed a minor in Modern Greek Studies while in college.

WP: How long have you been teaching?

ES: I am currently about to complete my fourth full year of teaching.

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5 ways to advocate for language learning

Language advocates gather to strategize before heading over to Capitol Hill on Language Advocacy Day to make their case for language education.

Here at Wayside we are passionate about advocating for language learning and for language teachers. We are excited to share this guest post from the Joint National Committee on Languages about five easy ways you can become a language advocate. We’d love to hear from you in the comments: how do you advocate for languages?

By Alissa Rutkowski
Communications and Policy Intern, JNCL-NCLIS

Why should you advocate for languages? By speaking up for languages, experts like you have a chance to share your unique story with policymakers. Showing up and taking a stand on issues that are important to you and your community matter. As the saying goes, “if you’re not at the table, then you’re on the menu.” Advocacy work can sometimes feel like overwhelming, uncharted territory. Focusing on these 5 tips will help create the foundation for a positive advocacy experience.

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Acquiring vocabulary part IV: Mental pictures and drawing

By Deborah Espitia
Instructional Strategist

In Part I of our series, Acquiring vocabulary: 5 strategies to create meaning in learning vocabulary, we noted that teachers are moving towards authentic resources and communicative tasks to teach vocabulary and language structures in context.

In Part II, Acquiring vocabulary: 9 strategies for creating graphic organizers, we reviewed a few graphic organizers that support vocabulary acquisition.

In Part III, Acquiring vocabulary: 10 ways to get students moving with physical models and kinesthetic activity, we reviewed types of physical models and kinesthetic activities along with ideas for applications that support vocabulary acquisition.

In Part IV, we’ll maximize the adage, “a picture paints a thousand words”.

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Six ways to build community online

By Deborah Espitia
Instructional Strategist

Immersing students in the target language embraces all facets of the classroom environment—physical, social, emotional. This immersion encompasses a variety of tangible elements through which we can purposefully use the target language in our own classrooms: print, audio, and video authentic resources; authentic tasks in the three modes of communication—interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational; formative and summative performance assessment; classroom management; teacher-to-student plus student-to-student informal interactions.

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