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2009 Backward Design and Standards-Based Instruction Summer Institute
Four Beautiful Days of French (in English) / Quatre Beaux Jours de Français (in French) by Marcel La Ed.D.

2008 Spanish Immersion and Movie Clips (lists of guaranteed to succeed activities for the Cine con clase website).
NECTFL Presentation: Communities & Connections: Hardest Standards to Meet? Or Greatest Opportunities?
2007 Spanish Immersion Summer Institute participant inspired by the program
NCLRC's first Annual Chinese Summer Institute a Glowing Success! (2006)
NCLRC 2005 Spanish Immersion Institute expands horizons of Florida Spanish Teacher. By J. Melodee Thompson & James S. Rickards
Elementary language immersion students: Changes in reading comprehension strategies across grades
By Catharine Keatley
Learning Strategies Development in an Elementary Spanish Language Classroom: An Individual Profile By Jennifer Delett
Exploring Cultural Content in the University Classroom Through Learning Strategies By Margaret Gonglewski & Abigail Ann Bartoshesky


2009 Backward Design and Standards-Based Instruction Summer Institute

How do I design a curriculum based on the Standards with performance as the goal? What does performance assessment look like? Participants are guided through a model protocol, aligning backward design specifically with the ACTFL Standards (5Cs). This institute is hands-on and interactive with presentation, examples, and discussion.

Jennifer Eddy, Ph.D., led this institute and has provided her PowerPoint below.

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Quatre Beaux Jours de FrançaisMarcel LaVergne

Marcel LaVergne Ed.D.
Version française (See the video highlight here)

Le français était vibrant cet été à Washington DC lors de l’Institut d’Immersion française du 30 juin au 3 juillet 2008. Sous la direction de Dr. Catharine Keatley, 18 professeurs de français d’à travers les Etats-Unis se sont réunis à Georgetown University le soir du 30 juin et ont promis de ne parler que le français pendant tout leur séjour. Ce fut un groupe de professeurs énergiques qui se sont lancés à augmenter leur facilité orale de la langue tout en apprenant du monde francophone avec l’intention d’intégrer ce sujet dans leur curriculum.
Mardi, le 1 juillet après une courte promenade à pied à l’ambassade de France, on a été accueilli chaleureusement par Mme Catherine Petillon, attachée pour l’éducation, qui nous a renseignés sur l’importance du français dans le monde avec des statistiques comme suit:

  • Avec l’anglais, le français est la seule langue parlée sur tous les continents.
  • Le français est langue officielle ou langue seconde dans 55 pays du monde.
  • Plus de 200 million de gens parlent français comme langue maternelle à travers le monde.
  • Plus de 300 million le parlent comme langue seconde et plus de 90 million l’apprennent à l’école.
  • Le français et l’anglais sont les seules langues parlées dans tous les pays du monde.
  • 50% du vocabulaire de l’anglais vient du français.
  • Le français est la langue officielle des Jeux Olympiques et une des langues officielles de l’ONU, de l’UNESCO, de l’ OTAN, et de la Croix Rouge.
  • Le français est une des trois langues les plus usitées sur l’internet.
  • Il y a 3000 entreprises françaises aux Etats-Unis qui emploient 700.000 Américains.
  • Il y a 2400 entreprises américaines en France qui emploient 240.000 ouvriers.

Le message qui nous a été donné avec enthousiasme est que le français est une des langues les plus importantes du monde et que c’est le devoir des professeurs de français de le faire savoir dans nos écoles et surtout avec les parents.
Après un bon déjeuner à la cafétéria de l’Ambassade, on s’est réuni dans la salle de conference avec Dr. Marcel LaVergne pour la première de trois classes pour apprendre ce que c’est que la francophonie, où trouver les ressources pour nos classes, et pour créer une leçon incorporant des éléments de la francophonie pour nos propres classes. Les professeurs ont été exposés non seulement aux écrivains de langue française de l’Afrique, mais aussi de ceux de l’Indochine, de la Louisiane, et de la Nouvelle Angleterre. La plupart ont admis ne rien savoir de cette littérature et ont annoncé leur intention de l’inclure dans leur curriculum.
Mais tout n’était pas travail. Au contraire, on a dîné au restaurant français Bistro Le Pic à Georgetown et chez Dr. Keatley qui nous a gracieusement invités chez elle pour un magnique repas, du bon vin, et de la bonne conversation. Il ne faut pas oublier le bel après-midi passé à la National Gallery of Art où Mme Lee nous a régalés avec sa profonde connaissance des artistes français exposés là.
Le but de l’Institut d’Immersion était de fournir une occasion éducative et sociale à des professeurs de français de se baigner dans une ambiance française où le français serait la langue naturelle de communication. De ce point de vue, les participants crieraient que c’était un grand succès. En plus, on s’est fait un tas de nouveaux amis.
Si vous trouvez que vous n’avez pas beaucoup l’occasion de parler français en dehors de la classe, je vous invite de faire partie de l’Institut d’Immersion française l’été prochain. Venez donc nous joindre. Vous ne le regretterez jamais.

Four Beautiful Days of French
Marcel LaVergne Ed.D.
English version

French was alive and well this summer in Washington DC thanks to the French Immersion Institute from June 30 to July 3 2008. Under the direction of Dr. Catharine Keatley, 18 French teachers from across the United States gathered at Georgetown University and pledged to speak only French during their time at the Institute. The group enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to increase their speaking fluency while learning about the francophone world with hopes of integrating that topic into their lessons.
On Tuesday July 1 after a brief walk to the French Embassy, we were welcomed by Dr. Catherine Petillon, cultural attaché for education, who informed us of the importance of French in the world with such statistics as the following:

  • Along with English, French is the only language spoken on all five continents.
  • French is an official or second language in 55 countries of the world.
  • More than 200 million people speak French as a native language worldwide.
  • More than 300 million people speak French as a second language and more than 90 million study French in schools.
  • French and English are the only languages spoken in every country of the world.
  • 50% of English vocabulary comes from French.
  • French is the official language of the Olympic Games and one of the official languages of the U.N., UNESCO, NATO, and the International Red Cross.
  • French is one of the three most used languages on the internet.
  • There are more than 3000 French-owned companies in the United States, employing 700,000 Americans.
  • There are 2400 American-owned companies in France providing 240,000 jobs.

Dr. Petillon’s message was that French is one of the most important languages of the world and that it’s the duty of French teachers to so inform our schools and most especially the parents.
After a delicious lunch at the embassy’s cafeteria, the group met in the conference hall with Dr. Marcel LaVergne for the first of three sessions to learn about La Francophonie, where to find resources, and to create a lesson incorporating elements of La Francophonie in their own classes. The teachers were introduced to French-language writers of Africa, Indochina, Louisiana, and New England. For most of them, this was a new discovery and they indicated their intention to include some of these writers into their curriculum.
But all was not work. On the contrary, we had a wonderful dinner at Bistrot Le Pic in Georgetown and Dr. Keatley opened her magnificent home to us for an evening of good food, wine, and conversation. Adding to our pleasure was a wonderful afternoon at the National Gallery of Art with Mme Lee, docent, charming us with her delightful tales about some the French artists on display.
One of the main goals of the French Immersion Institute was to provide French teachers with an educational and social environment wherein French was the natural language of communication. From that point of view, based on the teachers’ evaluations, it was a resounding success. In addition, one left with a network of new friends.
If you feel that you don’t have enough opportunity to speak French outside of the classroom, I invite you to join us in next summer’s institute. You certainly won’t regret it.


2008 Spanish Immersion and Movie Clips

These are documents for the participants of the 2008 Spanish Immersion and Movie Clip Institutes, from Sheila Cockey. Each is a list of guaranteed to succeed activities for the Cine con clase website. One is for begining level classes and the other for more advanced levels.

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Communities & Connections: Hardest Standards to Meet? Or Greatest Opportunities?

June’s focus is on COMMUNITIES. At first glance for many of us, this is a difficult standard to include in our daily plans. Upon further reflection, with a bit of creative thinking, Communities can be one of the more exciting standards to work with, and it incorporates many of the other standards along the way. There are two ways to approach communities: either by bringing the community into your classroom, or by taking your students out into the community. This is a brief summary of a NECTFL presentation entitled "Communities & Connections: Hardest Standards to Meet? Or Greatest Opportunities?" The power point is available at HERE.

Bringing the community into your classroom:
 

Guest Speakers
Invite people to share their experiences with your students

newspapers

Foreign Newsletters and Magazines
Select articles or have them available for casual reading

film

Film Clips
Select a 3-5 minute clip to demonstrate cultural traits

maracas

Realia
Hands-on, visual examples of stuff used every day

Reaching out into the community:
signs

Public Buildings
Informational Signs for employees and patrons

menu

Hospitals
Translate Room Service Menu for patients and employees

reading

Community Centers and Libraries
Read to children or the elderly

students info

Schools
Translate students information documents

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Spanish Immersion Summer Institute participant inspired by the program

kathy_watlingtonThis summer 2007, Panola College Spanish Professor Kathy Watlington attended Spain: Language and Culture, a three-day immersion institute for teachers of Spanish provided by the National Capital Language Resource Center with staff from the Consejería de Educación y Ciencia of the Spanish Embassy in Washington, DC. Developed for fluent Spanish teachers whose desire for interaction in Spanish language and culture must yield to the realities of the classroom, these teachers enjoyed hands-on, interactive presentations, discussions and cultural experiences.

Mrs. Watlington was excited by the opportunity and inspired by the program. "I spoke nothing but Spanish, and the people I was talking to were just as excited to be speaking Spanish back to me. Since I am a non-native Spanish speaker living in an English-speaking household and community, my chances to continuously speak Spanish are rare. The whole week was wonderful. I sure appreciate the opportunity to participate in the program and would love to do it again sometime."

In addition to the pedagogical and linguistic discussions, the Spanish teachers were treated to a cooking lesson in the home of a professor who lived in Colombia, a salsa dancing lesson, and a tour of the National Gallery of Art located on the National Mall.

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NCLRC's first Annual Chinese Summer Institute a Glowing Success! (2006)

students-1

We had a marvelous two days of workshops May 27 and 28, 2006 with Hong Gang Jin and Phyllis Zhang.
On the first day, Professor Hong Gan Jin of Hamilton College presented Teaching Techniques for Effective Communication in which she explained how the types of questions asked in a language class influence the kind of communicative skills students develop. First, she described the types and functions of teachers' questions; then participants identified and analyzed different types and the effects of teachers' questions used in classroom teaching. At the end of the session participants practiced using different types of questions and developed activities for their classes. Download articles by Dr. Jin here: Form-Focused Instruction and Second Language Learning: Some Pedagogical Considerations and Teaching Techniques Download PDF and The Importance of CFL Teacher Training on Elicitation Techniques Download PDF.

students-3

On the second day of our Chinese institutes, Professor Phyllis Zhang of George Washington University demonstrated a variety of ways to integrate technology into Chinese language instruction. She showed exciting PowerPoints which included animation, sound clips, and videos, and online interactive activities. Participants enjoyed hands-on experience with preparing sound and image files; embedding image and audio/video clips into a PPT slideshow; recording a narration and inserting background music for PPT slideshow; creating animated text, images, and dialogs in PPT slides for language and culture related exercises and games. Dr. Zhang's technology workshop handout and links can be found here: http://www.quia.com/pages/techworkshop.html
Video clips and presentations are on the Text, Tools, and Tasks Online Lab (www.columbia.edu/itc/ealac/zhang/TTT_adv/lab_index.htm)
This site contains two index pages Units 1-3, and Units 4-6. Check it out and have fun!

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NCLRC 2005 SPANISH IMMERSION INSTITUTE EXPANDS HORIZONS OF FLORIDA SPANISH TEACHER
By J. Melodee Thompson, James S. Rickards High School, Tallahassee, FL

Seldom do I happen upon workshops specifically tailored to the professional development of Spanish teachers. In fact, I have very little contact with Spanish teachers outside my district in Florida; therefore, attending the Spanish Immersion Summer Institute sponsored by NCLRC at George Washington University this past June afforded me the opportunity to meet and share ideas with other Spanish teachers from various districts in the United States. While the workshops were chockfull of interesting, didactic material, they also integrated activities that fostered a warm, friendly environment to experience Spanish culture and enjoy collegial camaraderie.

The institute began with a swearing in ceremony in which all the participants promised to speak only Spanish for the three day duration of the program. During the course of the regular school term, I generally do not have many occasions to practice my Spanish beyond the limited vocabulary that I use with my Spanish I students. I was both challenged and enriched by speaking Spanish continually for seventy-two hours.

Sharpening my speaking skills was merely one of the many benefits of the training. The workshops took place in the Spanish Embassy so not only was I challenged to speak but also to listen actively; both are valuable skills that I feverishly try to inculcate in my own students. There were several moments in which I could easily identify with my students which has forced me to rethink some of my own teaching strategies. I came way from the institute with improved language skills along a wealth of teaching resources for my classroom including: innovative lesson plans, posters, interactive website addresses for teachers and students, and information pertaining scholarships available to Spanish teachers along with information about other professional development opportunities.

No Spanish cultural experience would be complete without sampling some of the platos típicos . I am still savoring the the memory of the delectable cordero con setas that tried during one of our outings to Jaleo, a Spanish restaurant that specializes in tapas. The next afternoon we were treated to lunch at a wonderful, quaint Peruvian restaurant called La Chalán. That same evening we enjoyed tapas at a reception at the Spanish Embassy. Our final meal Friday night proved to be a veritable feast of Spanish food. Dr. Catherine Keatley, an associate director at NCLRC, graciously opened her home to the participants and all those involved in the institute to prepare an authentic Spanish meal. Carmen Velasco Martín, her husband Paulino, and Esther Zaccagnini de Ory, all who work at the Spanish Embassy, put us to work chopping, slicing, peeling, and stirring to produce a scrumptious tortilla española and a refreshing tureen of gazpacho. The relaxed atmosphere provided yet another moment have a good time and learn all at once.

The experience left me anxiously anticipating next year's institute. Just being able to meet with other Spanish teachers energized me. One generous teacher from Texas shared a wealth excellent lesson plans that I intend to use this year. While I enjoyed all aspects of the training, the people component was by far the one that impacted me most. I met a young woman from Pennsylvania who had traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa, another who taught both Spanish and French, another who was married to Guatemalan, and two who were college professors, each with an interesting story to tell. I am looking forward to next year's prospect of seeing familiar faces as well as some new ones.

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Elementary language immersion students: Changes in reading comprehension strategies across grades
By Catharine Keatley

Researchers at the NCLRC have been conducting research on the learning strategies of elementary language immersion students since 1993. In one study, staff compared the learning strategies of 72 children in French, Spanish, and Japanese immersion programs; thirty-six children in Grades 1 and 2 and 36 children in Grades 3 and 4. One-half of the children in the study were rated as highly effective learners by their teachers, and one-half were rated as less effective learners. When researchers focused on comparing older and younger children's use of Elaboration, Inferencing, and Prediction strategies, they found an interesting pattern.

Elaboration, Inferencing, and Prediction are three strategies that learners use to help them comprehend a text. All three strategies involve the reader using his/her background knowledge to understand the text. With Elaboration, the reader makes a connection between the information in the text and information in his/her background knowledge. However, this information is not used to go beyond what is explicitly stated in the text: "It says he went to the beach. I've been to the beach. I like it." With Inferencing, the reader uses the connection between background knowledge and the text to make guesses about aspects of the meaning that are unstated: "It says he uses a cane, so I think he's old." A prediction is a special kind of an inference; the background knowledge is used to make a guess about what is going to happen in the text: "He is a fierce wolf and he's going to eat all the other animals."

In reviewing the data, researchers found an interesting pattern in the children's use of these three strategies. The younger children, both more and less effective learners, used a higher proportion of Elaboration strategies than the older children. The more effective younger children used a higher proportion of Inferencing strategies than the less effective younger children. The older children used a higher proportion of Inferencing strategies than the younger children overall. Also, the older children, both more and less effective learners, used a higher proportion of Prediction strategies than the younger children. The data revealed that there is a progression across the grades in the degree to which students rely on these different strategies: children start by mainly using Elaboration strategies, gradually introduce more Inferencing strategies and rely less on Elaboration, and then add Prediction strategies which they use along with Elaboration and Inferencing.

The data demonstrate that there is a change across the grades in how the children use their background knowledge to make meaning from the text. We need to understand what this means about reading and language learning. One theory that provides us with a framework for understanding reading comprehension is the Constructivist theory as described by Kintsch and Van Dijk (1978) as a model of discourse comprehension. Although the theory has gone through a number of permutations, there are several assumptions in constructivism that help us to interpret the data. First, the theory assumes that meaning or knowledge is constructed in the mind of the reader, and this construction is an active process. We would add that the conscious use of the strategies of Elaboration, Inferencing, and Prediction we observed in the children is part of that active process. The theory also assumes that the reader generally forms a representation in his or her mind of the meaning of the text that is partly based on information in the text and partly on the reader's background information. Kintsch calls this the "situational model." The reader seeks coherence in his/her situational models; that is, the models need to make sense. Situational models are made up of two kinds of structures in our minds: macrostructures and microstructures (more general ideas about the text vs. details). You can think of the situational model as if it were a house, the macrostructures would be the foundation and the microstructures would be the bricks or boards.

The data, interpreted within the framework of the constructivist model of reading comprehension, suggest that the youngest children focus more on the microstructures of a story, that is, more on the details than on the overall structure or plot. They relate their background knowledge to information in the story, but they (at least the less effective learners) tend to use logical inferences less than older children to build a situational model that goes beyond the information given. The older children (and more effective younger children) use elaborations, but they also build models in their minds that go beyond the specific information in the text, using logical inferences based on their background knowledge. This allows them to build larger, more complex mental models of the meaning of the text. The older children also use the specific inferencing strategy of Prediction. On the basis of their mental representation of the meaning of the text, and on the basis of their background knowledge, they make inferences about what will happen in the "future" in the text. In order to do this, it is necessary to have a good, coherent grasp of the macrostructures that determine the shape of the current situational model. Younger children may not develop macrostructures that can support predictions.

What does this mean for instruction? We do not know whether these changes in how children use their knowledge to comprehend text are dependent on maturation or on experience. It does appear that practice in elaboration is important for everybody. When children acquire their initial reading skills in a foreign language, it may be especially important for them to have as much experience as possible in using the foreign language to make explicit connections between their background knowledge and the meaning of the text. It may also be important to help children develop rich, complex, and interesting elaborations of the meaning of the text in the foreign language. Inferencing is developed earlier in stronger readers. It is not clear why this happens, but explicit instruction and practice inferencing in the foreign language may aid weaker elementary immersion readers to develop the skill. Prediction can also be taught and practiced in foreign language learning. The central skill on which teachers may want to focus is developing macrostructures for mental representations of texts: What kind of story is it? What are the most important elements of the story? What might happen? This should not replace instruction in the word-level reading skills, such as decoding and vocabulary development, but rather complement it. In the end, we suspect that learning to read in a foreign language is very similar to learning to read in the native language. A very important part of the reading acquisition process is learning to build large, rich, complex, flexible, and interesting models of the meaning of the text.

Reference Kintsch, W. & van Dijk, T.A. (1978). Toward a model of text comprehension and production. Psychological Review, 85, 363-394.

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Learning Strategies Development in an Elementary Spanish Language Classroom: An Individual Profile
By Jennifer Delett

From 1994 to 1996, the NCLRC conducted longitudinal research on learning strategies used by elementary school students in Japanese, French, and Spanish language immersion programs. The study addressed two primary research questions: 1) which learning strategies are used by more and less effective learners in elementary foreign language immersion programs and 2) do the strategies change over time, and if so, how?

To answer these questions, the research staff collected data through think-aloud interviews and coded and analyzed the data for general trends in each student's strategies use in the three years. The staff then examined more closely the think-aloud transcriptions of two more effective and two less effective learners for the qualitative characteristics in each year and for changes over the three years, and discussed the results through a case study. The quantitative results of strategies use by more and less effective learners were reported in the May issue of the Language Resource. This article reports on the qualitative analyses by describing the reading strategies use of a more effective Spanish language learner, Clarice (a pseudonym), and identifying the pattern of strategies use that emerged during the course of the study.

The analysis of Clarice's strategies use supports previous research indicating that more effective learners are more knowledgeable about and flexible in their strategies use. Throughout all three years, Clarice used prediction and elaboration appropriately and skillfully, and she used the strategies in increasingly more sophisticated ways with more awareness of why and how to use them. Examples from the study illustrate these patterns in Clarice's strategies use.

Clarice's use of prediction and elaboration was most notable in her preparation for reading tasks. For example, as a second-grader, before reading the story Pájaros en la Cabeza (Birds on My Head), she predicted that the story "puede ser de fantasía" (might be make-believe). It is common for students at this age to demonstrate or indicate that they make predictions about the story based on the title and the pictures. (For example, a student might say upon seeing the title Pájaros en la Cabeza (Birds on My Head) that the story will be about birds or that it will be funny). However, what made Clarice's prediction unique was that it was about the genre of the story, a more meaningful and useful prediction. Her prediction told her much about what might happen in the story. It set the tone and perhaps provided a story structure.

Clarice also elaborated on her predictions. For example, Clarice used prediction to prepare to read a story about a boy and his ant farm. Based on the picture, Clarice made a prediction about the story and elaborated on the situation from the perspective of the boy as well as that of the ants: En este dibujo el niño mira como asustado y también como upset que los, las hormigas están en el piso de su casa y creo que están, está pensando que van a comer toda la comida que se pierda como cuando están comiendo las crumbs. Y él está queriendo esto (In this picture the boy looks like scared and also like upset that the ants are on the floor of his house, and I think that he is thinking that they are going to eat all the food that is lost like when they are eating the crumbs. And he is wanting this). By elaborating on her prediction, Clarice presented possible situations for the characters. This well prepared her for the reading task. In contrast, a less effective student in the study said Sí, de hormigas. (Yes, about ants.) The lack of elaboration may limit the student's preparation for and comprehension of the reading.

Over the course of the study, Clarice continued to use the title and pictures to make predictions about the genre of the stories, seeming to know what kind of title was appropriate for a particular genre. For example, she noted: el título me sueña como un explictivo (the title sounds like an expository story to me.). In this case the title was short and straight forward, characteristic of expository material. Although Clarice's predictions were not always correct, she consistently and successfully prepared for reading by considering what might be ahead.

Clarice also expanded her repertoire of strategies over the course of the three years. She began to use more text-based strategies such as inferencing and she began to combine different strategies, using various sources of information. This was most evident in her approach to unlocking the meaning of new words while reading. As the reading tasks became more difficult, Clarice began to use multiple strategies to determine the meaning of new words. For example, in one passage she read: cuando me lo raguelo, rega-lo, rega-ló Pepe (when Pepe gave it to me.) She first made a guess based on the initial letter, and then changed strategies when that did not help. She tried decoding to help her read the word, and she used auditory association to determine the meaning, that is, she corrected herself based on the fact that it sounded wrong. With another text, Clarice successfully tried four different strategies to unlock the meaning of unknown words, demonstrating her flexibility in and understanding of strategies use. Where less effective students would have continued to use the same strategy unsuccessfully, Clarice used decoding, auditory association, background knowledge, and textual inference.

By the third year of the study, Clarice began to take advantage of her knowledge of linguistic structures to comprehend the text. For example, she identified the defense weapon of the boar as los colmillos (the tusks) even when she did not know what the word meant. She came to the correct answer based on her understanding of the colon in the sentence structure: ...el jabalí ataca con su arma de defensa: sus colmillos. (...the boar attacks with his defense weapon: his tusks.)

Clarice also demonstrated her ability to reflect and comment on her use of strategies. For example in using auditory association, she commented that "Because I was listening to my voice and when I looked at the word, I um knew that [it was wrong]". She also explained how she uses the words around a new word to unlock its meaning. "Yo leo las palabras alrededor, y si entiendo todo, yo puedo entender la palabra y que está pasando". (I read the words all around the word and if I understand everything, I know what the word is and what is happening.

Clarice was an articulate and creative student whose advanced knowledge of the structure of language and the conventions of literature aided her in the use of high level strategies. She demonstrated flexibility in and understanding of strategies use which facilitated her success in learning Spanish. Before reading each text, Clarice used prediction and elaboration proficiently and in increasingly more sophisticated ways. While reading, Clarice began to rely on her knowledge of the second language and began to combine different strategies effectively to unlock the meaning of new words. Clarice showed awareness of her strategies use; she developed the ability to discuss how and why she used strategies.

From the analysis of Clarice's transcriptions and the other case study data, it can be concluded that the difference between more and less effective learners is not the frequency of strategies use but the type and quality of strategies use. More effective learners, like Clarice, are aware of their strategies use, have sufficient knowledge of strategies, and are flexible and resourceful in their employment of the strategies.

This article is based on a case study completed in 1996 by Christine Newman.

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Exploring Cultural Content in the University Classroom Through Learning Strategies
Presenters: Margaret Gonglewski, Abigail Ann Bartoshesky

NCLRC Presentation at ACTFL 2002

What if there were a secret to learning a foreign language? What would you give to learn this secret and give it to students who, despite their great effort and enthusiasm, continue to struggle with the language? While there is no magic formula for learning a foreign language, there is one concrete way to facilitate the language learning process - using learning strategies. This article illustrates how post-secondary language educators can use authentic materials to integrate learning strategy instruction into curriculum and instruction. It will also provide example activities that can be adapted to suit any language.

Learning Strategies are techniques that students use, in the form of thoughts or actions, to help themselves comprehend, produce, remember and manage information at every stage of their language learning. Good language learners often know which of these techniques will work best to help them accomplish a particular learning task or approach a new situation in the target language. By observing good language learners in action, researchers have identified specific strategies that facilitate language learning.

Click to view the Learning Strategy List, developed by Anna Uhl Chamot and NCLRC researchers, which describes 21 techniques that instructors can teach their university language students. As you read the strategy list, think about how you use each of these strategies to help you learn language. Although some of these strategies may seem obvious or intuitive, research shows that many ineffective language learners do not use learning strategies or they use them inappropriately. Explicit learning strategy instruction provides students with essential language learning tools.

University language educators can help learners develop their proficiency in a new language by teaching them how to use the same language learning strategies that successful learners use. By teaching learning strategies explicitly we can empower our students to become independent, effective learners. Learning strategy instruction involves introducing, modeling and guiding our college level language students' practice of learning strategies. We have chosen cultural content to demonstrate how language instructors can develop learners' strategic thinking and learning.

Examining and analyzing cultural content is critical for understanding the people and communities of the language being studied. Indeed, Kramsch* and others have argued that cultural content cannot be encapsulated or separated out from language teaching, since language itself embodies culture, from politeness to specific lexical items. As language teachers teaching cultural content, we should therefore include instructional materials designed to explore various levels of the target culture such as artifacts, traditions, beliefs and social norms. Authentic materials like articles, songs, poems and video clips are excellent sources of language/culture input. Learning strategies can be useful to students in associating and extracting information about culture from authentic sources.

Although all of the learning strategies can help students learn cultural content, we have chosen to illustrate two strategies that are particularly effective for learning about culture from authentic resources: Personalize and Use Imagery. Click below to view examples of activities using the strategies Personalize and Use Imagery developed by GWU higher education FL instructors.

Strategy Description Lesson
Personalize
Students develop multicultural perspectives by relating new information to their own beliefs, ideas and experiences.
Students Personalize new information to help them understand a German concept that does not exist in English.
Use Imagery
Students create and use mental images to understand, associate or represent information.
Students Use Images to help them comprehend the language and conventions of a Spanish poem and better understand new cultural perspectives.

The Web is an excellent source of cultural content. Today's language faculty has virtually immediate access to authentic resources through the Internet. Click here for a list of authentic target culture resources. For more ideas and links, consult Websites for Language Teachers, a compilation of Bartoshesky's articles of annotated sites, a regular feature of the NCLRC Newsletter, The Language Resource.

The NCLRC is currently developing a Learning Strategies Resource Guide for University Language Educators. In addition to a description and rationale of learning strategy instruction, the guide will provide a collection of example activities that teach learning strategies through cultural content developed by The George Washington University and Georgetown University language instructors. Each activity, based on a template, presents how a learning strategy can help achieve the goals of a language task.
See Sailing the 5 Cs, NCLRC's Learning Strategies Resource Guide for more lesson plans and ideas.

*References
Language, Culture and Curriculum, 8 (12), 1995, 83-92.

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