Using Film Clips to Promote Listening and Cultural Proficiency
Janet Beckmann, Fairfax County VA Public Schools
Sheila W. Cockey, King George County VA Public Schools, Retired
Karen Falcon, Fauquier County VA Public Schools
What can be more culturally authentic than movies? The language, the
scenery, the sets, they all reflect a slice of true life. Hear a variety
of authentic speech patterns. Watch how table manners play out in a
formal setting, in a family kitchen, or at a fast food restaurant.
See landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes as backdrops for the action.
Hear music and other sounds that are characteristic of a particular place.
Viewing one- to five-minute clips of movies enhances student listening
abilities and leads to better cultural understanding. There are a variety
of activities and assessments that increase listening proficiency, but our
experience shows that movies are a great item to add to the lesson plan.
Less Commonly Taught Languages
Why I Teach to the Test
Rich Robin, The George Washington University
At the dawn of proficiency-based language testing in American academia, in
the mid-1980s, I stood up at a presentation on Oral Proficiency Interviews
and admitted that I teach to this test. I said that I taught OPI strategies
explicitly. It was, I argued, a language teacher's duty to help students
"beat the test." I was booed for advocating such subversive practices. After
all, the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines gave us for the first time a common
yardstick for measuring language proficiency. It promised to usher in not
only a uniform way of looking at language learners' progress but also a
powerful motivator to change people's thinking about curricular planning,
classroom pedagogy, and realistic expectations. Why would a teacher,
especially a newly minted certified tester, work at cross-purposes to the
Crossroads: Heritage Learning
A Case Study: Native Speaker or Heritage? Managing, Meddling, or Muddling to Find the Answer: Part One: The Community
Jeremy Aldrich and Phil Yutzy, Harrisonburg VA Public Schools
In recent years, heritage Spanish speakers have taken center stage in
Harrisonburg's (Virginia) language program. They're neither native
speakers nor non-speakers. Heritage speakers come with a different set
of experiences, a different perception of their home language and
culture, and a different set of expectations for their own language
skills. In a word, they're different! This series of articles will
present Harrisonburg City Public School's struggles to expand and enhance
quality language development for heritage Spanish speakers while dealing
with the current realities of public education in the twenty first
century. Hopefully this "case study" will provide inspiration and ideas
for others across the region and nation. While Harrisonburg's experience
is unique, it is a microcosm of the direction of American society and
Victoria Nier, Center for Applied Linguistics
As I write this article, it's mid-November, 2013 - roughly the middle of
fall semester, just after the end of the first marking period in many schools.
One teacher wrote in to ask what he should be doing at this point regarding
assessment in his Chinese language class. Despite his lofty ambitions, he
wasn't able to set up an assessment plan for the year during the summer.
His question: Is it too late to start now?
In a word: no. It's never too late to think about, plan for, and implement
assessment intentionally in your classroom. Sure, we all could be better
at planning in advance, but even if you missed your chance to make a new
(school) year's resolution, today can still be the first day of the rest
of your thoughtfully assessed life.
YANA (Classroom Solutions)
ACTFL-NCSSFL Can-Do Statements and Benchmarks Provide a Solid Basis for Increasing Proficiency
Sheila W. Cockey
ACTFL and NCSSFL have just issued their Progress Indicators for Language Learners,
dubbed "Can-Do Statements." Accompanying this document are benchmarks for each
level and mode. Both of them provide wonderful points of departure for classroom
teachers as we try to provide engaging, challenging, and enlightening activities
and opportunities of exploration and expansion for our students. They also provide
comfort and support in terms of knowing that we are doing the right things in our
planning and presentation of lessons and curricula. Another "comfort document" is
the revised ACTFL Proficiency Scale which correlates the various proficiency levels
with years of high school study.
Sound Bites for Better Teaching
Not all Activities Lead to Proficiency
Marcel LaVergne, Ed.D.
Of the countless amounts of activities that students are exposed to, it is
important to understand that much time is spent in activities that do not
lead one to become proficient in the foreign language. A mechanical or
manipulative activity is one that can be done successfully whether or not
the student understands the words used in the activity. A meaningful activity
demands that the student understand only some of the words to get to the
correct answer but there is no sharing of information involved. A
communicative activity requires that the student understand the message of
the language and expects him to fill an information gap by encouraging him
to express creatively his thoughts, opinions, or ideas. If students are to
become proficient in L2, much more time must be spent engaging them in
Business Language in Focus
Business Language Networking through NOBLE
Margaret Gonglewski, The George Washington University
In October's Business Language column, we focused on valuable strategies to help
language instructors (without a background or training in business) develop business
language courses. Of all the strategies noted there-and in our previous columns - the
most important are focused on learning from colleagues. In that light, this issue
showcases a resource that facilitates connections to other business language teachers: the
Network of Business Language Educators (NOBLE).
Reflections of a Classroom Teacher
Teacher Observation: Thou Shall Not Fear
Sylvia Lillehoj, Howard County MD Public Schools
This year marks my 10th year of teaching. In reminiscing on the experiences I have had and the
lessons I have learned, some things are difficult to recall, such as the names of all the students
that I taught or the activities that I have implemented. However, like most teachers I know, it is
difficult to forget the mixture of feelings accompanying my first day as a teacher: fatigue (I
could not, and still cannot, sleep the night before the first day.), doubtful (I had spent hours
planning for the first week, but I still felt underprepared.), and anxious (I wondered if I would be
able to navigate the challenges that I would encounter). I was a young, over-analytical, yet
underprepared teacher, beginning my journey into the field of education without much practical
experience to chart my course.
What made my first day, and first year, easier was the support I received from my fellow teachers...
As a new teacher, this support lessened my anxiety and provided me with a reminder that I was not
alone in my journey into the field of education.
Using Technology for Language Learning
Effective Use of Screencasting in the Foreign Language Classroom
Carol Marcolini, Hampton City Virginia Public Schools
Laurie Smith, Hampton City Virginia Public Schools, Retired
We welcome a team of writers for this column! Carol and Laurie will be sharing
their ideas and projects with us through the next several issues of our
e-newsletter. Please contact them through the editor if you have suggestions
and/or questions. ~Editor
It seems everyone is making videos these days.
The truth is it's easier than ever to create videos for your classroom.
Apps for tablets and free web-based programs make screencasting simple for
tech savvy and tech novices alike. And there are many hosting options to
suit your needs.
6 reasons to create your own videos.
4 reasons to have students screencast.
Easy to follow directions to give you a head start.