Foreign Languages

Thoughts from a Spanish Teacher

  • Goal setting is a crucial part of the teaching process, particularly in foreign language where the ultimate district goal will be a high number of students prepared for college, rather than students who have a desire to be fluent.
  • Although ACTFL and state standards and curriculum selections guide content, the ultimate goal of the foreign language teacher will determine how proficient the students become in the target language.
  • Spreading out vocabulary over time can bridge the gap between regurgitation and student-motivated learning and acquisition.
  • Context is crucial to helping students make connections between their first and second language.
  • Increased diversity doesn't mean that drastic changes have to be made, rather it's a cause of greater reflection. "You don't just keep doing something if it isn't working. Diversity just added a new level of variables to potentially cause problems."
  • Vocabulary knowledge is essential to comprehension. Vocabulary often also connects to grammar points, so making those connections explicit during each phase of the reading process improves comprehension a lot.
  • Real world examples and relating readings to students' own lives helps them create those connections on their own.
  • Despite all teachers best efforts, there are lessons that don't sink in. Monitoring comprehension and learning your students' typical responses will help you determine when that's about to happen. If it does happen, re-evaluating your notes and finding where you made assumptions about student knowledge will help you reform the lesson. Teachers know the language already, so when you're writing your plans there's a chance that you made a jump that your students don't know to make.
  • As far as lessons going well, that's a matter of monitoring comprehension as well, combined with gut instinct. Correct oral participation and good performance on assessments are great indicators of comprehension, but most of the time, you'll learn over time to tell when students have grasped a concept.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License