This post is about a resource I developed in about 2017, and it allowed me to align the way that I teach reading in my second language classes with a series of beliefs that I've held for a long time: Reading is NOT translation. For years, every time I asked students to read something in … Continue reading
12 key questions to build listening skills in a second language
When language learning is divided into its four core skill areas of speaking, listening, reading and writing, listening is often an area where students struggle the most. Listening to an authentic speaker or watching a video in the target language feel overwhelming to them, and they need specific instruction in how to do it. If … Continue reading
Six alternatives to oral presentation in second language classes.
I vividly remember what it was like to participate in my first university level French class. It seemed like everyone else was talking easily, having conversations and responding to the professor's questions in French. I, on the other hand, felt totally inadequate. Nothing in my high school French experience had prepared me for this. We … Continue reading
This year I’m working on… developing reader engagement.
I'm in the middle of reading "Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters," by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst. This is a book that I've been looking forward to, and I'm excited to adapt the ideas for second language reading with my students. Here's the problem I'm working on solving: second language reading … Continue reading
What I’ve learned so far about student translator use.
My two teaching areas are English and French. I haven't taught English for some time, but there are some pretty reliable tools available now to catch incidents of plagiarism. Translator use is considered plagiarism in second language classes, and it's no exaggeration to say that plagiarism is rampant in high schools. Simply put, work completed … Continue reading
Introducing choice-based writing in second language classes
Last summer, I read a book that was a game changer for me. The book was called Writing Circles, written by James Vopat. Mr. Vopat has developed a system similar to literature circles, using peer-led small groups and micro lessons focused on skills and strategies to do the following: lead students from practice to progress as … Continue reading
How to design stations for second language classes
My collaboration partner and I have been using stations (sometimes also called centers) in our secondary level French as a second language classes over the past year. When we tell our colleagues what we're doing, reactions vary. If we're talking to secondary teachers, the reaction is somewhere between asking us what we're talking about to … Continue reading
What is “real world writing” in a second language class?
This question has been coming back to me over and over in recent months. Matching up learning with an appropriate form of written output is important, but not always easy. As a teacher, I am familiar with the groans that ensue when I ask students to engage in something they don't want to do, or … Continue reading
Skill-based strategies for listening in second languages
One of the big shifts in education in BC has been the transition from a content-based curriculum to one that is skills-based. There are many subject areas that are heavily driven by content (math and science, for example). Second languages are a relatively easy place to make the transition to skill-based instruction, but it is … Continue reading
Deep learning – exploring culture and identity
I've been working with my collaboration partner, preparing a presentation we will give at an upcoming conference. The focus of the presentation is the ways in which we integrate culture in our lessons. We've worked really hard to get away from viewing the integration of culture as (a) a checklist, or (b) simplistic. We have … Continue reading