During our #Langchat session last Thursday night, participants batted around a number of excellent authentic language listening resources and ideas for using authentic audio in the classroom. Here are some of our favorites!

Audio Resources

Pandora Radio Latin channels. Great songs for in class use! (@srapontarelli)
@ZJonesSpanish has organized resources by topic (@espanolbartlett)

Musicuentos Blog Post: Finding Authentic Audio Sources (@SECottrell) #langchat

Spanish listening option: call (720) 865-8500 choose option 5. Some weeks more comprehensible than others. (@SenorG)
Compagnie Creole Youtube Channel (@MmeNero)
Mis Cositas Youtube Channel (@placido)
AudioLingua (English, German, Spanish, French) (@srapontarelli)
Tunein Online Radio Stations (All Languages)(@ouiouicestlavie)
Audioboo Online Radio Stations (All Languages)(@ouiouicestlavie)
7 Jours Sur Le Planete Television Channel (French)(@ouiouicestlavie)
Graphic Organizers from Houghton Mifflin (English, Spanish)(@tiesamgraf)
Lyrics Training Online Video Channel (All Languages)(@ouiouicestlavie)
Cody’s Cuentos, classic children’s stories. (Spanish)(@GlastonburyFL)
KeepVid Downloading and Sharing software for videos. (All Languages)(@CoLeeSensei)
SchoolTube: Voici un petit sapin (French)(@AudreyMisiano)
SchoolTube: Cancion de la rutina diaria (Spanish)(@AudreyMisiano)
Annenberg Japanese Listening Activities Video (Japanese)(@tmsau1)
Nulu online language learning software. (Spanish)(@sraoconnor)
Approaching a Listening Text – University of Texas: Foreign Language Teaching Methods (All Languages)(@Catherineku1972)
El Internado, Spanish television series. (Spanish)(@sraoconnor)
BBC Mundo Freak, free authentic Spanish listening resources. (Spanish)(@tiesamgraf)
@SECottrell’s Delicious audio tag. (Spanish)(@SECottrell)
Comptines French videos for elementary students. (French)(@dr_dmd)
News in Slow Spanish. (Spanish)(@mundaysa)
Proficiency Speaking Exercise Videos – University of Texas at Austin. (Spanish)(@cadamsf1)
Commentary on the textbook and movie Sol y Viento at The Spanish Dilletante (Spanish)(@Tecabrasileira)
Les Courts Metrages French videos. (French)(@MmeNero)
RTVE.es Spanish news online magazine. (Spanish)(@cforchini)
Radio France Internationale. (French)(@dr_dmd)
Spotify music service. (All Languages) (@micwalker)
@zachary_jones CLOZELINE audio activities. (@darcypippins)
Wordle. (All Languages)(@cforchini)
Ca bouge au Canada online television station. (French)(@MmeNero)
News in Slow French. (French)(@darcypippins)
ACTFL 2012 Proficiency Guidelines. (All Languages)(@tmsaue1)
Language and Culture Francaises online magazine. (French)(@msfrenchteach)
¿Quién fue Ana Frank? – Free authentic Spanish resources (Spanish)(@plazasantillana)

Authentic Listening Classroom Activity Ideas

@soccermom2013 Invite a Salvadoran refugee to talk about civil war experiences that pushed him to immigrate.

@cadamsf1 Invite Andean musicians to teach musical instruments, history, dance and culture of Peru.

@esantacruz13 Students should always create a question about what they are learning. And have classmates answer it.

@Tecabrasileira Try to use songs the Hispanics are into by either asking them what is popular or from reviewing the Latin Grammys.

@GlastonburyFL Have the high school students come teach the elementary students.

@srapontarelli Every year in our school we have International Idol. Students listen to songs all year and choose one and perform a skit.

@nosilaN
Have students listen to a video before watching so that they focus on listening. That way, when video is on, they will focus more on watching and critiquing.

@alenord If a video clip, watch without sound the first time. This helps students focus on visuals.

@alenord Students listen to audio then write follow up questions that they would ask for more info.

@MaestraVance If students feel overwhelmed by listening have them draw pictures as they hear words or phrases. It gives them a visual.

@Traciepod I do vocab for an intro, comp questions during, personal application questions afterwards.

@viajando_kj Once I took the English standards and built my questions around them. (What is this about/purpose? For whom? What else do you understand?)

@SECottrell
Once you leave your low-level thinking (cloze, vocab) ask students to use audio in an argument or opinion. When students can reference authentic resources to defend an opinion or argument, you’ve got real comprehension/assessment there!

@mcastroholland Use Spanish language commercials for short, high-interest video.

@msfrenchteach Make sure students do all the work with the recording, like with graphic organizers.

@Traciepod News is good because they hopefully have a background in it already.

Catherineku1972 #langchat 2/2 The teacher prepared an exercise at appropriate level using cognates, etc. Exposure to media+lang development.

@alenord Use Realplayer to download audio or video. Save onto your iPod. Connect to speakers directly.

@PreKlanguages Have older students do a puppet show for younger ones. It’s an incredible exercise for both, as it requires them to listen very carefully and interpret different accents.

@cforchini Simon says in the target language.

@srapontarelli I like to do some sort of summarizing and reflective piece with audio as well as objective questions.

@sonrisadelcampo Have students listen to a podcast with a list of specific information to listen for.

@ouiouicestlavie
An audio or visual experience should usually be combined with reading and writing. For example, students search for a house in Morocco online then choose a house. They could watch a video on interior design tips, then write a letter to an interior designer incorporating information from the clip.

@profesorM Students perform skits, while the rest of the class listens and fills in a graphic organizer.

@profesorM I play authentic songs, then have students do a CLOZE or rearrange the lyrics as they listen.

@CristinaZimmer4 My classroom always follows the same three steps: predict words, listen for those words, listen again for new words, discuss as group.
dr_dmd Have students draw what they understand.

@muchachitaMJ
Pre-listening activity: let students read the title of a video and the associated user comments underneath. Then have them predict the mood and main idea.
@SECottrell At very low levels, ask lots of yes/no questions with options.

@dr_dmd Graphic org idea: Create a time line – write an event on the line, listen again, add in more information each time students listen to audio again.
@tiesamgraf T charts are great for compare/contrast.

@ouiouicestlavie Connect themes of audio and students’ personal experience in pre-discussion using the target language. For example, when you use a video on sports, ask what characterizes that kind of clip?

@dr_dmd I like to suggest a 3 part graphic: A list of topics in one column, new words in another, questions in the last.

@dr_dmd Use graphic organizers during comprehensive input stage, then use similar ones for listening activities.

@profesorM My students make vokis and vocaroos for homework. Even though they’re not authentic, they make good listening components. #langchat

@ouiouicestlavie Having students put events in order as they listen or draw the ideas is a great way for them to quickly show comp rather than take notes.

@PreKlanguages I give parents activities to do at home with recorded conversations, from setting the table to taking a bath.

@MmeReichhoff Try watching a video without sound first and answer the questions ou/qui/quand/i etc..Then listen without video and answer questions. Compare!

@crwmsteach Organize movie viewing as listening and vocabulary review. For example, Chocolat after food or shopping, Les Choristes after music.

@CoLeeSensei I also have them tell me what the song is about by feel of the music – non-verbal listening is key, too.

@karacjacobs
Another great task- if using commercials as CLOZE listening activity, have students read the lines first, then again after completed act.

@CoLeeSensei
Students have an “I heard” checklist as they watch a drama episode. Try to make it only 4 or 5 per viewing to keep the ears ready to hear.

@Tecabrasileira Play audio sources several time and have students focus on different specific goals.

@SenorG Show concert poster while playing audio of a radio ad for the same show. Seeing and hearing produce authentic input.

@nosilaN When listening to songs, I show the video after we listened 2 or 3 times. It helps them comprehend a little more before needing English.

@CoLeeSensei We have a “song of the week.” It is always playing at the start and end of class in addition to their “working in the language” class time.

@CoLeeSensei Authentic audio also includes student-produced. Have students listen to what others in class, (for example, during a presentation) and check off what they heard.

@alenord I just have my students listen and take notes in English. Then we verify what they hear. They can listen as many times as they want to.

@GlastonburyFL I pre-teach key words. Then, every time students hear a key word they give a “silent applause.”

@CoLeeSensei Have students generate the words they think that they will hear!

@darcypippins Pull out difficult vocab from listening and circling it or PQA it. Get the reps before students listen. Visuals help too.

@dr_dmd For our novices and elem students, give a handout with pictures of many words in the resource. Then have them check off the ones they hear.

@tiesamgraf I have used Wordle and other Wordsplash ideas to prompt conversations and pre-listening tasks to get students engaged in the content/context.

@Tecabrasileira I play popular authentic Spanish listening resources while students enter the room.

@crwmsteach Preview the title like you would if reading literature. Have students pick out key words then the main concepts. Challenge advanced students with more detailed questions.

Authentic Audio Listening

With the right preparation, students will enjoy their authentic audio experience more and retain new concepts better.

After a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday, #langchat was alive with great ideas and interesting perspectives on the different ways that teachers are preparing their students to interpret authentic audio sources.

Setting Clear and Appropriate Learning Expectations

One of the key components that many teachers agreed upon was the importance of setting realistic and attainable expectations for their students before introducing authentic resources. @SECottrell said, “It’s great to also tell [students] exactly what your goal is for them.” To support this concept, @GlastonburyFl, @MartinaBex and @Karacjacobs suggested pre-teaching key words and phrases that students should recognize in the text.

Another key to setting expectations is preparing students (especially novice speakers) for misunderstandings that will naturally occur. @Trescoumnae said, “So many students (especially novices) freak out because they expect and think that they should understand every word.” While some teachers advocated preparing students for this sometimes disappointing learning curve by explaining that they could expect to understand about 50-80% of new authentic audio, others thought that percentages were intimidating to students.

Providing Authentic Audio Sources as a Natural Teaching Method

A number of #langchat members discussed the importance of using authentic audio as a regular part of the classroom instead of as a teaching novelty. @Musicuentos said, “Students will be more primed to comprehend authentic audio when you stay in [the] target language from [the] novice level.” @PreKlanguages agreed, saying that young learners learn the language much better if they are exposed to regular authentic audio experiences.

Some participants stressed the importance of speaking in the target language a large portion of the class time. The idea is that the more students become familiar with hearing foreign words, the more comfortable they will be with authentic listening exercises. @GlastonburyFL said, “I strive for speaking in the second language 100% of the time, so my students are used to hearing unknown words.” @Tecabrasileira enhances this concept in her classroom by playing popular Spanish music as the students enter each day.

Lower Level and Higher Level Responses to Authentic Audio

One concept that got some attention was how students should be reacting to age-appropriate audio lessons. Some participants, such as – and – wanted to make sure that students were able recognize and understand key vocabulary terms. Others, such as – and – wanted to make sure that students focused on getting the “gist” of the audio selection rather than focusing on individual words.

The participants talked about using authentic audio to focus on encouraging different levels of thinking skills. While some advocated novice-level students focusing on identifying vocabulary in authentic audio, others argued in favor of using audio to promote higher-level thinking skills for identifying main themes and ideas. @Dr_dmd said, “As we examine the ACTFL proficiency guidelines for novice, we see that situations [should be] highly predictable and personal – not abstract.” @Martina Bex agreed stating that, “Listening for main idea is incredibly challenging in lower levels.” As a counterpoint, @SECottrell said, “Don’t forget to push for critical thinking. Don’t stop with CLOZE and vocabulary lists.”

Best Practices for Teaching with Authentic Audio

Some of the most valuable tweets of the night had to do with best practices and ideals for using authentic audio in the language classroom. A couple of these concepts were the most retweeted of the evening:

  • Graphic organizers such as T-charts, Venn Diagrams and modified timelines of events are great aids in pre-listening, listening and post-listening activities.
  • Thematic, entertaining and applicable audio and video will be much more accessible for students. @Glastonbury FL said, “Students will be more engaged if it is a topic relevant to their lives.”
  • Providing students with written lyrics or transcripts of audio and video allows for better scaffolding and post-reading discussions.
  • Targeted listening, whether linguistic or thematic, will provide students with a framework for listening that builds confidence.
  • Differentiate the audio or visual text to the class. @Tmsaue1 said, “There is no such thing as “leveled” audio/video. Change the task, not the text.”
  • Give clear instructions about the activity before you begin, and be prepared to repeat the audio a number of times. @SECottrell said, “Don’t be in a hurry to leave your audio. Do multiple activities with the same one.”
  • Use practiced nonverbal cues, such as a “thumbs up” or nodding, with the classroom to quickly assess understanding during an activity.
  • @Dr_dmd said, “Authentic is not check off singular/plural or present/past, but make the task communicative and real life.”

A complete list of authentic audio teaching strategies and resources from this week’s #langchat is on its way! Watch for a new blog post with helpful links and ideas from this week’s #langchat.

Join us for #LangChat every Thursday evening at 7pm EST. Also, remember to vote in this week’s poll about upcoming discussion topics or submit ideas for discussion at the #LangChat wiki.

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Last week, #LangChat participants discussed the role of personal learning networks for language teachers(PLN). Several participants were live-tweeting together from the ACTFL 2012 Conference in Philadelphia, which made the discussion all the more meaningful and lively!

Participants described the value of personal learning networks for language teachers on sites such as Twitter, Edmodo, and other teachers’ websites. @karacjacobs has found that her teaching has changed dramatically in the past year and a half since connecting with her Twitter PLN. @MmeNero likes the “instant” nature of communication with her PLN; whenever she has a question, she is able to get an answer from someone almost immediately. Sometimes, she pointed out, teachers need as much support as students.  Many times that support can only come from personal learning networks for language teachers.

Many participants shared their appreciation for their online personal learning networks for language teachers. They area  great support for filling in where their own language departments have fallen short.

Benefits of Personal Learning Networks for Language Teachers

  • @Catherineku1972 appreciates the power of a PLN as a place where like-minded teachers can find the time to share their thoughts, successes, and mishaps in a forum.
  • @placido pointed out that she feels comfortable sharing thoughts with her personal learning network that she wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing at her department meetings.
  • Similarly, @dwphotoski’s department is a combined art-music-language department – not the best place to share specific ideas about ideas for teaching world languages.
  • @LauraJaneBarber appreciates her online PLN all the more since her department has continued to shrink; personal learning networks for language teachers give her access to more colleagues even as jobs are cut at her own school.
  • @sraoconnor found her department colleagues to be less collaborative than she would have liked; she has found that personal learning networks for language teachers have given her the support and courage to push for changes at her own school.
  • @senoraCMT and @CarolGaab are struck by the generosity of her #LangChat PLN: participants freely share their own GoogleDocs, links, and other resources, without expecting direct reciprocation.

Encouraging Participation in Global Learning Networks

So the question is, how can we recruit more inspiring colleagues to join our personal learning networks for language teachers? Many participants shared that their departmental colleagues often think the idea of a PLN on Twitter is crazy, or simply too good to be true! @senoraCMT advised that everyone keep preaching the value of Twitter and other online PLNs. @msfrenchteach pointed out that Twitter may seem overwhelming to the uninitiated, but participants should suggest that colleagues join us here on #LangChat for just one hour each week to see how they like increasing their personal learning networks for language teachers.

Many thanks to all our participants across the country (and the world!) A special thanks to the evening’s moderators, @calicospanish, @msfrenchteach and @placido.

Have a topic you’d like to see discussed in a future #LangChat? Suggest it on our wiki. And don’t forget to vote in our weekly polls to help pick the topic for that week’s discussion. A link to the poll will be posted by one or more of the moderators early in the week.

Enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday! And join us next Thursday, November 29th at 8pm EST (5pm PST) for the next #LangChat!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Last week’s #LangChat participants discussed ways to help their students get the most out of reading in world language classrooms. As @muchachitaMJ pointed out, target language reading skills are an extremely important part of building proficiency; however, it can be difficult to get students interested in reading in L2 if they already dislike reading in L1.

@dlfulton reminded us that exposure to print from the very first days of class are key for students to build a foundation for reading in world language settings. Our discussion proved that there are plenty of ways to get students of all proficiency levels engaged with TL reading.

Types of Reading Materials

Participants agreed that any and all reading materials – long or short – can help students build skills of reading in world language classrooms. Novels, short stories, news articles, songs, and even print advertisements can provide students with comprehensible input and opportunities for output. @dlfulton reminded us that it is important to modify the task and not the text: even complex texts can be used with students of lower proficiency levels if the assigned task is appropriate.

Short texts can provide students with just as much comprehensible TL input as a novel. As @akilcoyne21 put it, the text doesn’t have to be long, and novels don’t even have to be finished to be valuable. Several participants shared how they use shorter texts in the classroom:

  • @SraTaylor10 suggested using magazine ads as an authentic warm-up to start class.
  • @CoLeeSensei is using classified ads as part of her “work” unit. She asks her students to prep a resume and do an interview for the positions advertised.
  • @KGallsEduSvcs plans to use an illustrated book of sayings in the TL. Students will translate and determine the English equivalent for each phrase.
  • @klafrench finds that newspaper articles with lots of specialized vocabulary can be too difficult for her students. Instead, she uses photojournalism slideshows with captions.
  • @sonrisadelcampo uses Nulu.com for short, accessible news articles in Spanish: http://t.co/DqnCWlYy
  • @Traciepod uses “People” magazine in Spanish with her students; it may not be hard news, but the articles are simple and accessible to the students. Similarly, @lclarcq’s students love reading “Sports Illustrated” magazine in Spanish.
  • @crwmsteach and @klafrench both noted that songs can serve as reading as well as listening activities when students are provided with a printout of the lyrics. Students can identify vocabulary, grammar, etc.
  • @spanishplans recommends using authentic comic strips from the TL.

Several participants shared their experiences using popular young adult novels, translated into the TL. @CalicoTeach recommends using a book like Harry Potter that students are already familiar with; the class can focus on passages instead of the whole book. @sonrisadelcampo had her students read books from The Hunger Games series; @fravan’s level 2 students enjoy reading books from the Junie B. Jones series. Reading in world language translations of popular books can also provide an opportunity to pick up on cultural differences between the two versions. @dlfulton reminded us of the importance of balancing “known” (translation from TL) and “unknown” (authentic) texts, as each serves a different purpose for reading comprehension.

@Catherineku1972 recommended these sites as great online resources for French reading materials:

@dr_dmd also suggested that teachers consider writing their own stories for their students, making sure to include a clear cultural context.

Pre-Reading Activities

Pre-reading in world language classrooms is an important way to prepare students for challenges they may face in the text, and to activate their interest. Participants shared the variety of pre-reading activities that they use to get their students ready to take on unfamiliar text.

  • @klhellerman will select lines from the reading and have students act them out as a pre-reading activity. The class has to guess which line they are acting out.
  • For more difficult texts, @akilcoyne21 uses Wordle to get the students talking and making predictions about what they are going to read.
  • @Catherineku1972 has students make pre-reading charts that involves scanning and investigation of cognates and known words, as well as unfamiliar terms.

Approaches to In-Class Reading in World Language

In-class reading doesn’t always have to be a solitary activity. There are many ways that teachers can support student comprehension as they read in class, whether through the use of technology or reading aloud. Here are some suggestions that participants made:

  • @dlfulton suggested that world language teachers take more cues from their ELA colleagues, like the idea of progressing from “Read aloud” to “Read Along” to “Read Alone.”
  • Similarly, @LauraJaneBarber starts out by reading with her students, modeling and discussing how to work around unfamiliar. Students can then progress to reading in partners, and then reading on their own.
  • @Catherineku1972 uses CLE International French books with CDs; she uploads the audio to iPods so that students can listen and reflect individually. Reading can be supported by listening.
  • For an engaging way to read in class, @CarolGaab assigns visuals and gestures to unfamiliar words in the text; students are asked to show their visual/gesture as their word is read.
  • @KGallsEduSvcs recommends keeping an in-class library for student use. Teachers can then assign each student a book (or they can choose their own), create their own glossary, write out a “test,” and answer their own questions.
  • Since getting iPads for her classroom, @klafrench has been doing a lot of work with PDFs. She uses the PDF Notes Free app, which lets her students use highlighters, pens, markers, and sticky notes to mark the text on the screen. This makes in-class reading more engaging for the students.
  • @sonrisadelcampo reminded us that students of all ages enjoy being read to. She even bought carpet squares for her students to sit on during reading time!
  • @dlfulton brought up an important point: teachers shouldn’t always assume that one read-through is enough for students; students (especially slower readers) need multiple encounters with a text.

Post-Reading Activities

Post-reading activities can be an important way to ensure comprehension and engage critical thinking skills. Participants shared the activities that they like to use with their students to keep students thinking and talking about the text.

  • @LauraJaneBarber likes to ask students, “What do we know about the person that isn’t explicitly stated?”
  • @CalicoTeach suggested having students create a Wordle from a web article on a topic of interest; students can present to the class using the Worlde as a prompt.
  • @Marishawkins and @alenord agreed that sometimes asking questions about the reading in English (instead of the TL) can be a good way to ensure actual comprehension (and verify that students aren’t just copying sentences from the text as answers.
  • @dr_dmd recommended having students create questions in small groups for the other small groups to answer. @akilcoyne21 likes the idea of having students ask the comprehension questions instead of the teacher.
  • @CoLeeSensei has her students do post-reading discussion in groups of 4, and then has students self-evaluate. Her students just did a 30-minute post-reading discussion and loved talking confidently about the story. She describes it in her blog post here: http://t.co/VPZQtDvM
  • Instead of just answering questions, @alenord recommends having students read and respond in a personal way, in the style of an online comment or tweet.

Many participants have their students draw after reading a text. @dlfulton rightly pointed out that drawing can be important comprehension strategy, especially for students at low levels of proficiency who can’t express their ideas in the TL yet. @klafrench has had her students draw out the story in cartoons/comic strips form. @sonrisadelcampo recommends assigning each student one sentence from the reading to sketch; the other students have to guess which sentence the sketch represents. This gets them to re-read some of the text. It is important, however, to set time limits on drawing activities so that they do not take up too much class time.

Thank you to all of our participants for sharing your excellent ideas! And a special thanks to @dr_dmd and @CalicoTeach for moderating the evening’s discussion.

Next week is the ACTFL 2012 conference in Philadelphia, and many #LangChat participants will be in attendance! Join us for a “tweet-up” on Thursday evening at 7pm. There will also be a #LangChat session at 2pm on Saturday in Room 104 A.

#LangChat will also be held from the conference this week, so even if you can’t attend in-person, you can join us virtually!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Learning Games that Kids Love

“348/365 – The 365 Toy Project” (CC BY 2.0) by puuikibeach

Last week, #LangChat participants were asked, “What language learning games do you recommend or require in your classroom?” Everyone had lots of great ideas for how to adapt familiar games for the world language classroom setting, as well as completely new and innovative games specifically designed for language learning!

What purpose do language learning games serve?

Participants discussed the role of language learning games in the world language classroom. Some participants use games as part of teaching and practice, while others view games as just a “brain break” for both teachers and students.

  • @CoLeeSensei rightfully pointed out that native speakers play language learning games in their own language; thus playing games can be a form of “authentic” practice in the target language.
  • @dwphotoski said games help break up classroom routines while still offering students plenty of comprehensible input and opportunity for active engagement.
  • @placido believes that language learning games can be a great “brain break” for teachers and students; however, they can also waste class time. Teachers must be careful. @spsmith45 argued with careful planning, games can become a meaningful part of the lesson sequence.
  • @espanolbartlett pointed out that language learning games can be a good way to practice vocabulary and review material.
  • @CoLeeSensei likes games because they provide an opportunity for students to learn from each other, not just the teacher.
  • @espanolbartlett has her students play language learning games towards the end of her 80 minute class periods when students are starting to get tired (usually around the 50 minute mark).
  • @KGallsEduSvcs uses the promise of game “fiestas” every 6 weeks to help motivate students. They look forward to playing Spanish bingo with pictures, UNO, Twister, Go Fish, and food.
  • @katchiringa reminded us that language learning games can and should focus on different types of learning, like kinesthetic, auditory, etc.
  • @placido sees games as a great way to engage students in her class who are at a variety of different levels. Sometimes an easy game allows the slower students to “catch up” without boring the more advanced students.

Adaptations of Familiar Games for the WL Classroom

Many traditional games already popular with students can easily turned into language learning games. Participants shared how they’ve used popular board games and children’s activities to provide their students with comprehensible input and encourage authentic TL communication.

  • @espanolbartlett, @katherinedelima, and @LucyWHand have used Battleship in the classroom as a good in-seat partner game for practicing verb conjugation.
  • @yya2 and @darcypippins like classroom Jeopardy for review. @yya2’s students have created their own Jeopary game questions to play with others using the site Jeopardy Labs: https://t.co/rEQvcGWy
  • @yya2 also recommends Pictionary and charades for vocabulary practice.
  • @katherinedelima and @SraHoopes like playing “Guess Who?” with their students as good description practice.
  • @placido shared a link to Martina Bex’s blog, where she describes how to adapt the game of “Spoons” for the Spanish classroom: http://t.co/NG9iMadN
  • @placido has played an adapted version of “Apples to Apples” in Spanish with her students.
  • @CoLeeSensei helps her students learn colors with the game “I spy!” For practice stating opinions and using the word “probably,” she recommends the game “Two truths and a lie.”
  • @katchiringa’s students have enjoyed Spanish-language Monopoly, Scrabble, and Bananagrams.
  • @espanolbartlett created a version of the game dominos for her Spanish class. She made a set of index cards with TL words on each end, then had students use them to create comprehensible sentences.
  • @alenord recommends the game “Taboo” for practicing circumlocution, and has even adapted it for her students at lower levels. “Go Fish” is another popular game that can be adapted for any vocabulary lesson. A game of “Would You Rather…?” helps students practice asking questions in the TL.
  • @c_macd adapted the game of “Hot Potato” for verb conjugation practice. He writes verbs on the ball (“potato”) and has students conjugate the verb where their thumb lands as they catch it.
  • @sonrisadelcampo and @lee_bruner have both used the game of “Twenty Questions” to help students practice talking about different jobs.
  • @js_pasaporte adapted the popular schoolyard game of Foursquare for the classroom. Four students form a square at the front of the room; the teacher explains a word, and the first student to give the word in the target language gets to move forward in the square.
  • @spsmith45 reminded us that a game of “Simon Says” can be great practice for body vocabulary.

Non-Traditional and Unusual Language Learning Games

Participants have also made use of some newer games in their classrooms, and some have even created their own language learning games!

  • For @espanolbartlett’s favorite game, students form a circle standing on colored paper. A student stands in the center of the circle and makes a statement. The students who agree with the statement (including the student who made the statement) have to run to a new piece of paper. Because there is one less piece of paper than there are students, the student who does not make it to a new piece of paper is out.
  • @placido’s students enjoy musical “slap-n-grab.” She gives her students pictures of some words from song lyrics, and students try to be the first to get the picture as they hear the word in the song.
  • @fravan puts his students in groups of two with a different colored pen for each group. Each group has a sheet of paper with vocabulary words arranged randomly on page. He holds up different objects representing the words, and students have to circle the corresponding word to get points.
  • @placido shared this link to a language learning game called “numbered heads together:” http://t.co/eyKygexd
  • @darcypippins plays a language learning game called “Pancho Carrancho” with her students. The game is described here: http://www.eslcafe.com/idea/index.cgi?display:913597439-4402.txt
  • @KrotzerK plays “Matamoscas” (“Fly swatters”) with her students. A description of how to play can be found here: http://genkienglish.net/swatthefly.htm
  • @JillHSnelgrove has even created some original board games targeting specific content for her class!
  • @spsmith45 provided this link to an explanation of how to use miming games in the classroom: http://t.co/2hU46ri9
  • @fravan provided to a link to a GoogleDoc that his students love, and which can be adatped for students at any level: http://t.co/SRT4CBJj

Digital Games

Technology has provided world language teachers with a wealth of digital games and ideas that encourage TL learning! Participants shared their experiences using such language learning sites and programs in their classrooms:

  • @katchiringa, who uses 1:1 iPads in her class, has found the Space Race app by Socrative to be a fun way to make quizzes competitive.
  • @spsmith45 shared this link to a list of classroom games from FrenchTeacher.net : http://t.co/aJDFw7Lr
  • @rwettlaufer has used the Super Teacher Tools site to make Jeopardy and Millionaire games for his class. He likes that it lets you embed the language learning games on a website so that students can play the games at home, too : http://t.co/hBu7Qn1M
  • @sraoconnor recommended this game by James Stubbs as a good way to begin or end a class: http://t.co/HRHNyf43
  • @msfrenchteach likes providing students with a list of links to language learning games on her website so that students can play on their own when they finish an in-class activity early.

Prizes and Competition in the Classroom

Some teachers offer prizes to their students as incentive for participation, while others are wary of making language learning games so competitive that they are no longer friendly.

Many participants recommended offering small prizes so that there is still incentive, but losses are less disappointing.

  • @katchiringa gives Spanish stickers or pencils as prizes to those who win her language learning games.
  • @CoLeeSensei gives her students large paper clips as prizes. Students enjoy collecting these unusual prizes, but can deal with the disappointment of losing more easily because the prize is not very substantial.
  • @espanolbartlett believes that the “prize” students receive is the fact that they got to play a game in class, which she argues is a privilege. Sometimes she offers winners one Skittle candy as a prize. Because the prize is so small, students make less of a fuss when they lose.
  • @Elisabeth13 rarely gives out prizes because she is wary of students coming to expect them.
  • @yya2 knows of a teacher who gives small cultural items from Spanish-speaking countries as prizes (e.g., coins, postcards, etc.)

To further reduce the chance of unhealthy competitiveness, @CoLeeSensei and @katchiringa recommend putting students into small, carefully-chosen groups.

Thank You!

Thank you for all of our participants for sharing their ideas! A special thanks goes to the evening’s wonderful moderators, @placido and @msfrenchteach.

Have an idea for a future #LangChat topic? Suggest it here on our wiki! Also, don’t forget to vote in each week’s poll to help decide the next topic up for discussion.

Join us this Thursday, November 8th at 8pm EST (5pm PST) for the next #LangChat!

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.