movie-clapper-icon_500x500 by Shmector, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  Shmector 

While some language teachers only pull out the old video player as a backup plan, #langchat participants were strong advocates for actively using movies and videos as a way to teach world language in the classroom. Many suggested that a steady schedule of short, high-interest, culturally significant movies or videos can help students to connect with the target language.

10 Techniques for Teaching World Language with Videos

1. Make Movies Matter

@Sra_Hildinger said, “Movies should not be used as fillers on ‘down days.’ An activity is needed with it.” This was a sentiment that many other #langchat teachers identified with. @alenord said, “I like to use videos as engagement pieces or as input for integrated writing or speaking tasks.” @dwphotoski said, “I try to avoid ‘just showing a movie.’ A movie needs prep, purpose and connection. @BridgetCroyle said, “Also, a movie needs to be relevant to what is going on in class, or kids will think it’s a blow-off.”

2. Build on a Theme

Most #langchat teachers build their video watching around a common theme that they are already exploring in the classroom. @SrtaTeresa shared the way she does this in her world language classroom. She said, “I pick films for themes. For example, La Misma Luna generates discussion on immigration.” @SrtaTeresa said, “I show the entire film over a series of class days but we talk about themes at the beginning of class each day.”

3. Prepare Students Ahead of Time

@SrtaTeresa said, “Showing anything without prep or frequent guidance becomes a missed opportunity.” Other participants agreed that watching a film or video clip without preparing students is a huge waste of time and can lead to frustration. @CatherineKU72 suggested avoiding period pieces with too many cultural references and language jokes. @SraSpanglish said, “Prepare them with information they need to break down and analyze, so they have context for understanding.”

4. Shorten It Up

One way of naturally breaking down movies into bite-size pieces is through utilizing short films. Many world language teachers advocated for using short films or video clips to engage students and expose them to culture, language and more comprehensible input. @sonrisadelcampo said, “I prefer short films with little talking so I can “narrate” for lower levels in language that is comprehensible to them.” @alenord suggested the use of authentic clips from media in the target language rather than full-length films. She said, “The clips are great for kids to get little glimpses into the lives of Spanish speakers. Then we discuss and compare our lives.”

5. Peak Their Interest

Some of the most effective short videos for teaching language are movie trailers. @CalicoTeach said, “Often trailers show an entire plot. Nice and short way to fit a movie into class!” Other teachers used trailers as a way to prepare students for the movies that they will be watching throughout the year. @dwphotoski said, “In Sept, I show trailers of all movies that we will watch as a preview. Then I do cloze activities with them.”

6. Make a Scene

Without breaking down a larger movie, students can get easily overwhelmed. @BridgetCroyle shared her excellent example of how to use individual scene breakdowns to aid reading, writing, listening and speaking in the target language. She said, “[This system] also lets us work on reading skills, oral reading, pronunciation, inferences and understanding main idea – all before we watch the film.” She gave a short step-by-step instruction to the #langchat world language teachers on how to break movies down into easy-to-understand scenes.

A. Break the film into scenes.
B. Write down a description of each scene in simplified language.
C. Give students a packet with all the written scenes (she gives them out of order but labeled for matching activities).
D. Spend a few moments of each class reading through the scene to ensure comprehension.
E. Give an answer sheet to do matching activities while watching the movie.
F. Identify new scenes as they happen in the movie.
G. Students use reading and listening skills to find the scene described in packet and write the matching letter down.

7. Play With Subtitles

The langchat community had differing opinions on the best way to deal with subtitled movies. While some teachers love using subtitles to encourage understanding, others believe that they can lead to poor language habits. Either way, it was clear that world language teachers should be wary of putting too much faith in subtitles. @jeanrueckert gave this warning: “Be aware of subtitles in the target language that don’t match what’s heard (different forms of the target language). Often confusing.” @SraSpanglish also sugested, “Beware of subtitles that highlight naughty words they might otherwise have missed.”

8. Interact and Innovate

An innovative concept that @CatherineKU72 suggested was the use of mobile devices to interact with world language films while students are watching them. She said, “Students use phones or other devices to comment on Twitter or Today’s Meet. Students comment through texting and see other comments.” @sonrisadelcampo shared another interested interactive method of reviewing a film. She said, “To review, take screenshots, put on collage, project it and review highlights or important parts of video/film short.” @mcd_boulanger encouraged hands-on activities that can be done in conjuction with a video: “With video screening, we can have a discussion, design a new product, conduct an experiment, prepare a publicity or review the film.”

9. Rock Your Videos

Using music videos is a great way to get students engaged in listening while they are watching. Many teachers suggested incorporating Youtube playlists into the world language classroom and searching out top hits in a country where the target language is spoken. @BridgetCroyle said, “I like to use music videos too. Sometimes we watch the video without sound and discuss what kids think the song is about.” @dwphotoski said, “Music videos add great variety too. @senorwooly ‘s videos are always popular, especially Billy.”

10. Reflect and Respond

Post-watching activities are just as important as pre-watching activities. @SraSpanglish said, “Like reading, there must be pre-reading, reading and post-reading activities: Frontload essential vocabulary. Go from LOTS to HOTS.” World language teachers suggested a number of great ways to have students reflect and respond to the films they have seen, including class discussion, summaries or having students act out the video using their own words. @BridgetCroyle even suggested having students write an alternate ending to engage higher levels of thinking with the film. @sonrisadelcampo said, “I have a film short as part of final. Students write what the characters were afraid of, angry about, etc.”

Other Great Video Ideas for the World Language Classroom

  • Compare: @SrtaTeresa said, “It’s interesting to watch snippets of a film in English with subtitles in the target language and have the students compare what they hear and read.”
  • Share: @CatherineKU72 said, “Use Socrative circles, personal reactions, partner shares.”
  • Cloze: @SraSpanglish said, “I like cloze activities with songs, interviews, promotional videos: I make mine by transcribing them, then taking out key words.”
  • Describe: @jeanrueckert said, “Turn sound off with introduction or particular scenes and have them do a viewing activity only (pre, post). Yes, description.”
  • Compete: @Sra_Hildinger does a highlighter race using videos in her world language classroom. She gives each a different highlighter pen and a Wordle for each pair of competitors. The competition is to see who can highlight the word first when it is heard on the video.
  • Feast: @CatherineKU72 said, “I use “Un diner presque parfait” from a French reality show. Five people entertain and cook for the others in turn. Then they rate the food and hospitality. Culture!”
  • Converse: @alenord said, “If I show a whole movie, I prepare “conversation cards” that have questions to guide students through a talk about the movie in TL.”
  • Play: @CatherineKU72 said, “Make playlists on YouTube for students to watch on their own: trailers, clips, shows, ads!”
  • Repeat: @ConnectExtend said, “Would it make sense to show same video clip 2-3-4 times? Each time focus on something different: vocab, grammer patterns, culture, characters.”
  • Promote: @tiesamgraf said, “We started international movie night once a month this year – a good way to show full length films and good advocacy.”
  • Connect: @jeanrueckert said, “For ideas, I also touch base with native speaking teachers in their native countries – what’s new and ‘appropriate’?”

Thank You!

Thank you for being a part of our professional learning network . We love to hear your ideas and advice about how to become a more effective and authentic world language teacher. If you have a specific topic you would like to see discussed this Thursday at 8pm EST, please share it with us!

Again, thank you to our moderator for the evening, @CalicoTeach. It is great to have someone keeping us on our toes and asking the vital questions that make our teaching more inspirational. For a complete transcript of this session, please visit our online archive.

Suggested Movies For World Language Classes


Un diner presque parfait
Man in the Iron Mask
Midnight in Paris
Le Havre
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Astãrix Mission ClÃopatre


La Misma Luna
Hija del Sastre
Señor Wooly Videos
Que Mi Sirve La Vida
Los Olvidados
La Cosecha
Viva Cuba
A Better Life
El Estudiante
Pan’s Labyrinth
Devil’s Backbone
Ladron Que Roba Ladron
Sin Nombre
Voces Inocentes
Motorcycle Diaries
Which Way Home
Viaje a Marte
Historia Oficial
Maria Full of Grace
El Norte


Mr. Bean
Pixar short films

Additional Resources

YouTube Videos
Gretchen Hess via Lindsey Kneisley
Kidsimmersion YouTube
Black Beans and Rica in Costa Rica Gallo Pinto Costa Rica
Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell
A collaborative project for our Spanish-teacher PLN
Frases de la película El estudiante
Cortometraje for narration
Canal Encuentro
Cinema Latino
SHHS International Movie Nights
Comida Compartida
7:35 de la mañana corto

University Life 102 by francisco_osorio, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  by  francisco_osorio 

According to #langchat participants, the best assessments are those that incorporate and prepare students for real-world language interaction.
@cadamsf1 summarized the key point of last Thursday’s #langchat conversation simply: “Less is more with summative assessments so that kids use the language and have success!”

Participants in the chat shared some interesting perspectives about how and when to do summative assessments. A number of great ideas were given about making summative assessments work to improve students’ communication and prepare them for real-world language exchanges.

Defining “Quality” Summative Assessments

Although each #langchat teacher has a different style of teaching, there are many elements of summative assessments that most teachers incorporate. The most effective summative assessments include multiple modes of communication, provide students with expectations in advance, and incorporate creativity. Still, each teacher has a different definition of a “quality” summative assessment.

  • @garnet_hillman said, “Quality summative assessments occur when the students apply and use what they have learned in class in their own way.”
  • @Marishawkins said, “A good summative assessment allows students to express what they know and gives choices. Good summative assessments should also reflect what is going on in class- not something new that students haven’t seen.”
  • @CoLeeSensei said, “For me, quality summatives are interpersonal, oral, interaction and personal reflection of learning.”
  • @cadamsf1 said, “I think it includes the things mentioned plus they allow the students to realize that they can use this in a real world setting.”
  • @jas347 said, “You give a summative when your students have learned all that they need to perform well on the summative…backward design!”
  • @alisonkis said, “Summative assessment is open-ended and truly allow students demonstrate TL [target language] skills.”

How Much Summative Assessment is Too Much?

@Placido asked the question, “How often do you do summative assessments in your world language classrooms?” Although the answers were varied, most #langchat teachers do between two and three each semester/trimester. @snesbitt1972 said, “I think that less is more with summatives. Why do we have to have such long unit tests?” @CoLeeSensei answered, “So true – mine have evolved a lot and now are more personal expression than long written exam.”

Student-Centered Assessment

Different students understand different elements of a world language at different times. That is why it is so important to have student-centered assessments that empower students to excel. @jas347 said, “Timing needs to be based on your students, not on your schedule. Set them up for success by giving it when they’ve shown they’re ready! I always let my students know the project for end of unit at beginning of unit. It gives them goals.”

Choices are also a way that assessments can be more student-centered. @Marishawkins said, “I try to give my students choices – normally through different writing options.” @SraSpanglish said, “With the right classes, I let them choose research topics and sometimes part of how they are graded (content 1/4).”

13 Tips for Creating Quality Summative Assessments

1. Be Creative. Students will respond better to an engaging, interactive assessment than to a boring one. Not only that, but having interesting project-based and communication-based assessments can eliminate teacher burn-out as well.

2. Break Down Assessments. @SraSpanglish said, “For term projects, I break down the tasks involved as much as possible, having them submitted for review before the due date. Most recently, I’ve broken down tasks by mode of communication: Intepretive 1st, Presentational, Interpersonal (discuss day of).”

3. Incorporate Formative Assessments. @alisonkis said, “Lots of formative assessments are needed to ensure successful end performance.” If world language teachers are doing consistent formative assessments, they will have a much better understanding of their students’ abilities and likelihood of success on a summative assessment.

4. Reduce Pressure on Students. Many students have testing anxiety, so it is vital to eliminate as much pressure on students as possible. @jas347 said, “Not being watched by the entire class at once reduces pressure! Present/talk in smaller groups.” @SraSpanglish suggested that anxiety can be reduced by maintaining a standard testing procedure that students can rely on.

5. Encourage language risk-taking. @garnet_hillman said, “Errors are inevitable, communication is golden. If they are afraid to try, we haven’t accomplished anything”

6. Prepare Students at the Beginning. @jas347 said, “Letting students know from beginning what you expect from a summative assessment lets them know what they should be able to do so they don’t overestimate.”

7. Don’t Rely on Just the Textbook. Often times, a textbook assessment doesn’t truly reflect the teaching in the classroom, nor the real-life experiences that a world language should prepare students for. @snesbitt1972 said, “Real life isn’t in a textbook! Is that the BEST they can give the kids?” @srvonier responded, “Sometimes the best textbooks are stacked in the corner.”

8. Get Them Talking. @CoLeeSensei said, “I think if we create activities where the language is the tool, not the focus they buy in more perhaps. Usually they’re so keen to talk to each other doing the task they forget it might be an evaluation!” @cyberfrida said, “COMMUNICATION with or without errors is what I want. Verbally, orally, written. It will always be a process.”

9. Make it fun. @Sra_Kennedy said, “[Make] the task relevant and engaging. Find out their interests and let them explore that in the TL [target language].”

10. Use real-life tasks and problems. @Lesliefosterann said, “I find that there is student buy-in when language is used as tool for real life scenarios.” @cadamsf1 said, “We talk about real world issues which increases interest. They can speak with family and others.” @CoLeeSensei said, “It is a challenge – I tend to look at what we’re learning and think ‘When would I use this language in real life?’“

11. Encourage Imaginative and Creative Thought. @jas347 said, “I don’t think they’ve ever been asked to use their imaginations before. They’ve only been taught and regurgitated.” @CoLeeSensei responded, “Very true – so some are ‘really real life’ and others not so much!”

12. Move Away from Multiple Choice. Many multiple-choice type questions are not designed to test higher-level thinking skills. Often, they are not conducive to showing students interpersonal and presentational skills in the language, either. @placido said, “Personally I want to continue moving away from multiple choice and toward MORE authentic performance assessment!”

13. Work As a Team. #langchat teachers all have varying curricular responsibilities when it comes to working as a team. @cyberfrida said, “Our challenge is that not all WL teachers are on the same page. Some prefer grammar, others skills.” While some teachers are compelled to use books or departmental exams, #langchat participants encouraged all world language teachers to incorporate as many of the modes of communication possible in order to truly assess student growth.

Creative Summative Assessments To Try Next Year


@jas347 shared an idea that is being used in one world language class. Students give mini-presentations to each other in pairs, one partner presenting and the other asking questions. Then the roles reverse. @jas347 said, “My assessments are normally set up in a fair type way. 1/2 students set up projects with their design, with a written brochure or flyer. This works great for student choice and includes all modes. Students can design schools, houses, clothes and then find out others’ design in TL.”

Travel Fair

@CoLeeSensei talked about her “travel fair” as a way to assess using all three modes of communication.
“We’re doing a travel fair tomorrow (various areas in Japan) and then a ‘write’ about which tour they’d like to go on and why.”

Murder Mystery

@CoLeeSensei also introduced her creative “Murder Mystery” assessment. In this assessment, one student plays the victim while the rest of the class has to figure out who the murderer is by asking and answering questions in the target language.

Question Card Activity

@SraSpanglish said, “I’m giving students question word cards: they have to ask presenters one of each and get quality responses. Partners have cards with questions in English. I have monitors work with two partners and track questions and responses.”

Thank You!

Thank you for being a part of our professional learning network by participating in #langchat. We are always open to discussing new ideas for the world language classroom. If you have a specific topic you would like to see discussed this Thursday at 8pm EST, please share it with us!

Thank you to @placido and @CoLeeSensei for moderating the chat. You helped us keep the ball rolling and led our discovery of brand new ways to create and implement assessments. For a complete transcript of this session, please visit our online archive.

Additional Resources

Got the rubric!
JCPS assessment documents
Ted Talk Every Kid needs a Champion
E-portfolio Template, Spanish 2

29 Proven Ways to Motivate Your World Language StudentsInfusing culture into the classroom, travel and dance are just a few ideas that always seem to get world language students motivated to learn.

“Kids love variety, creativity, and want some choices about what they do,” @dr_dmd explained. His comment hit the core of what the chat was about on Thursday night. Teachers from all over the continent shared what excites their students to learn, and found that world language students are motivated by the same basic things.

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29 Proven Ways to Motivate Your World Language Students

1. Real-world applications. A huge number of teachers talked about how important it is for world language classes to connect to the real world, on a small or large scale. @dr_dmd said, “When we have activities about the REAL world, students seem to be curious, want to know more.” @SraHass said, “I think a great intrinsic is having big real world projects, maybe spanning years, culminating in service travel maybe.” @DiegoOjeda66 said, “Every example, every lesson has to be connected to students’ real world.”

2. Travel. Going to a country where the target language is spoken can be one of the most motivating events in a student’s world language experience. @cadamsf1 said, “I had a parent write and tell me how much more motivated her child was after a trip where she was the only one who could speak the language.”

3. Classroom climate. Most world language teachers agreed that classroom climate is one of the most important elements in keeping students motivated. @SraHass said, “I agree that creating a good class culture is important for students to take risks.” @placido said, “Trying to take a cue from band teachers…make the class feel like a family, like a club, like the kids are special for belonging!”

4. Progress. Nothing is more motivating to a world language student than knowing that they have made personal progress in the language. @CatherineKU72 said, “Students [are motivated by] seeing their progress over time. They sometimes forget where they started and how they have grown.” @trescolumnae said, “[A lot of positive class climate] comes from the excitement of accomplishing a worthwhile task!”

5. Have high expectations. Students will be more motivated if they know that, when they do accomplish something, it will be a real achievement. @dr_dmd said, “Have high expectations! Don’t compromise, but do scaffold for success. They CAN do it, but help and coach!”

6. Invite guest speakers into the classroom. When students meet people who have been successful at learning the target language, they form personal connections with it. @placido said, “I bring in guest speakers whenever possible! Native speakers and former students who have study abroad experiences!

7. Be unexpected. Many of the #langchat world language teachers talked about how important variety is in their students’ motivation. @CatherineKU72 encouraged, “…unexpected activities that change up the class. I sent second years out onto campus w/iPods to take pictures of objects and adjectives. Motivation!” @c_macd shared, “I had students playing MASH. It was such a great way to bring their interests into language activities.”

8. Humor them. Students are more likely to want to come to class if they know they will laugh at least once. @Sra_Kennedy said, “#langchat I use humor to motivate students. Silly faces during songs. Funny voices during dialogues. They eat it up.” @dr_dmd agreed, and gave some excellent advice: “Incorporate HUMOR often! The more laughter, the better! But not at anyone’s expense! Costs too much. Make it safe!”

9. Connecting globally. Many world language teachers shared their positive experiences with global connections to motivate their students, mentioning Edmodo, Skype and Google+ as great tools. @profeslack said, “I’ve been able to set up Skype sessions with people/classes in Spanish speaking countries. Students love using L2 for real communication”

10. Be interdisciplinary. @msfrenchteach said, “I find it important to make those interdisciplinary connections with a broad-range of topics (like w/the 6 major AP themes).” @SraHass said, “I tried connecting with geography so our unit topics would coincide; everyone’s so busy!” @cadamsf1 said, “My science students that are in language like it when I choose short readings or topics for them.”

11. Artistic elements. @HJGiffin said, “I have found my success with art as the content to be very effective. We make art…in Spanish.” Other teachers agreed that art is a great way to get students more involved in world language. @dr_dmd said, “Anything art related is very interesting to kids! Check out the @GoogleArtProject for some inspiration!”

12. Music and dance. Music and dance are great introductions to culture and get the students moving. @cyberfrida said, “I sometimes dance in front of class with Spanish music! Some join me, others sing.” @Innablog shared, “In Spanish club we do Zumba, Bachata, Cumbia and Salsa. Kids love it and then sing songs.” @klafrench said, “Songs and music videos really get them involved, for me. No iPad games or chats when we do one of these. They are all focused.”

13. Journaling. Having students write journals makes language learning more personal and long-lasting. @HJGiffin said, “Every day the students write a journal in the TL about personal topics and opinion (today = What is love?) Kids want to share.” Even group journals can be great motivation, as @Marishawkins explained. “We did a fake Facebook page and the students loved it!”

14. Give students creative expression. @SrtaTeresa encouraged teachers to incorporate, “…anything with few parameters where they can use their creativity. I have students who come to life when they are given freedom.” @msfrenchteach agreed: “Great point regarding creativity and freedom! Nice to have challenge of developing tasks that motivate even least creative students.”

15. Performance based tasks. One of the key ideas that many teachers agreed upon was the elimination of focus on traditional grades in favor of performance-based assessment. @julieeldb00 said, “I agree. Performance-based tasks motivate my students. They like to see what others create.” @trescolumnae said, “The effort-results connection is key, and for grade-motivated students, grades should reflect that.”

16. Technology. Any world language teacher who uses technology in class knows that kids light up when they are allowed to use their phones, Ipads or computers to learn. The Edmodo software was brought up as a good example of motivating technology. @dr_dmd said, “@edmodo rocks BIG TIME! My kids will write compositions in @Edmodo when they won’t on paper!” @AudreyMisiano said, “I see my students logging in outside school time, during vacations and checking out content! It’s a great motivator!!”

17. Television and videos. Watching and making videos can be a great way to get world language students excited about class. @HJGiffin said, “We also watch real telenovelas in Spanish w. Spanish subtitles. They picked it up SO quickly because the acting is so obvious!” Reader’s theater and other video productions can also be fun for teachers. @trescolumnae said, “Readers’ theater or, if you have time, making video versions of what you read – exciting for many students AND for me.”

18. Mentoring. Many teachers have found success in programs where their students help teach to younger or more inexperienced classes. @AudreyMisiano said, “Another motivator for my students this year has been cross-age teaching. They prepare for teaching younger students in our district.”@Sra_Kennedy agreed, “My third graders will do just about anything for the chance to help out with kindergarten.”

19. Connect with students’ interests. In order for students to be interested in coming to class, they have to feel that they personally connect with the lesson and language. @trescolumnae expressed it perfectly, “So, to create the joy we have to connect everything (language, cultural products/practices/perspectives) with students’ compelling interests.” @HJGiffin agreed and added, “…and themes that are relevant to their lives (body image, divorce, etc).”

20. Connect with community and home. @SraHass said, “Connect with the community – community exhibitions for authentic audiences, how #WL is present in local hospital/businesses, etc.” @julieeldb00 said, “I like to flip the class – students take the notes at home and then use all class to apply and practice.”

21. Games and props. @AudreyMisiano said, “I also use a lot of games for motivation. I love games because I design them so the learning is disguised…they don’t even know it!” @Sra_Kennedy said, “My students love props. I’ve never seen them go so crazy as when I pulled out a bucket of plastic food during our restaurant unit.”

22. Provide rewards. Having a good reward is a great way to keep kids engaged in the lesson. @SrtaTeresa said, “Smelly stickers and ones with praise words motivate as well, even high school students.” @SrtaTeresa suggested using free reading as a reward for early finishers. “Classic children’s books in Spanish can be fun to look through if someone finishes a test early.”

23. Teach organization. @DiegoOjeda66 said, “Organization is a very important aspect of motivation.” @CatherineKU72 said, “We go through binder organizing every other week. What’s missing? Replace, organize. It really helps distressed students.” @Sra_Kennedy encouraged teachers to run an organized classroom as well, to help alleviate stress for students. She said, “Having a well-established routine all around I think helps students know what to expect.”

24. Promote participation. @klafrench said, “I find it is easier to “hook” them the younger they are. My 7th graders are all motivated to participate and share.” @CatherineKU72 said, “I ask students if they have any other class where they have so many cool activities. Other classes use workbooks, drills. Not French.”

25. Friendly competition. Many students love to be able to compete. Friendly competitions can get students working together and much more engaged in the lesson. @DiegoOjeda66 said, “I include competition sections in my tests. Students are divided in groups and score points for their teams if answer correctly.”

26. Give students freedom to choose. So often, students are mandated activities and assessments. Giving them the option to be in charge makes them much more motivated to complete a task. @DiegoOjeda66 suggested allowing students to help prepare the day’s lesson. He said, “Like @SECottrell has advised us in the past, allow students to design their own assessments.” @dr_dmd said, “Give students opportunities for voice and choice as often as possible, and daily in some manner – students need to OWN the class as well”

27. Be passionate. Many teachers suggested that personal passion for the language is one of the best motivators for world language learners. @klafrench said, “When they see your passion, it is catching! They will catch the spirit and be just as excited as you about it!” @cadamsf1 responded, “That is so true!! You can bring them up from the dead sometimes if you are passionate enough about it…”

28. Use inquiry-based learning. Helping students to foster an inquisitive mind and allowing them to research their own answers is a great way to motivate students with higher-level thinking skills. @alisonkis explained, “Inquiry-based approach engages students in learning process.”@dr_dmd suggested, “Invite students into the inquiry – when they have a question, can they do some digging to find the answer and teach the class?”

29. Don’t overdo it. With all of these great ways to keep kids motivated, it can be very easy for a world language teacher to get overwhelmed. @CatherineKU72 has some words of wisdom for the world language teacher who wants to do everything now. She said, “I would add: temper your energies. Burning out because you gave 150% everyday is not good either. Lots of energy, w/breaks.”

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How to Motivate the Unmotivated

@CatherineKU72 said, “We provide a great deal of motivation, but how to help those who cannot motivate themselves or feel no motivation to try..Trickier” @klafrench said, “@DiegoOjeda66 That is absolutely true. Just being tough on them all the time gets us nowhere as teachers.

Even the best lessons and teachers run up against a student who just doesn’t want to be in class. But, some, like @msfrenchteach sees it as a positive challenge. She said, “Motivating students to find interest in WL learning keeps me on my toes. Without challenge, life as an educator would be dull.”

@placido gave some of the best advice of the night for reaching the unreachable students: “Kids just love to feel loved and special. If you can figure that out, the learning comes easy!” @dr_dmd responded, “We must believe in our students, and not just some, but ALL of them. Even mushrooms grow!”

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Thank you!

Thank you to our moderators, @dr_dmd and @placido, as well as the other #langchat moderators that were present, @diegoojeda66, @msfrenchteach and @SECottrell. It was a great, fast-paced chat that was over sooner than most of us would have liked. Also, thanks to everyone who came out and actively participated. It is always great to have new resources in the search to keep world language students motivated.

Please help us be a better professional learning community by sharing with us what you would like to chat about during #langchat. Visit us online to share your topic ideas for upcoming chats. You can also find a complete transcript of last Thursday’s chat.

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Additional Resources

No Child Left Monolingual
Kristy Placido
Edmodo: Mrs. Audrey Misiano
BLOG: The French School In Mount Vernon
Edmodo: Mr. Don Doehla
Spanish Class – Authentic Materials
The concept of self, Part 1
The concept of self, part 2
Slam Poetry Resources
Unidad: La inmigración
My Spanish Games
Project-based learning in World Languages
ARCS Model of Motivational Design (Keller)
Fresh Prince: Google Translated
Google Translate Cover Of ‘Call Me Maybe’
French Class with Alec Baldwin in Saturday Night Live”
Les mois de l’année
AIM rap
El rap de la entrada
AIM Entry Routine
Tuve Para Dar Remix Block 2
Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion
Guía del Prado


The concept of backwards design is not new to most world language teachers. As schools become more product and test-oriented, teachers must use the end goals of proficiency as a constant guide when they are developing curriculum and assessments. At last week’s #langchat, participants talked about how they are using the backwards design concept to create more engaging activities, authentic assessments and informative rubrics.

Defining Backwards Design

Although there are varying interpretations of backward design, @suarez712002 gave us a perfect Twitter-length description. She said, “Backwards design = 1) What students will be able to do 2) Assessments 3) Activities.”

In more specific terms, backward design is the concept that curriculum development starts with the end goal in mind. What will students be able to do by the end of the term, unit or class period? When world language teachers consider these goals before sharing new information, many believe that it helps them create a better learning experience for the student. @SenoraMcLellan shared a widely held idea with the rest of the participants: “Identifying desired results makes the planning of learning experiences and instruction so much easier!” @msfrenchteach said, “When the many steps of backward design are used to develop the curriculum, assessment and all leading to it should lead to student successes.”

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Teachers Who Can = Kids Who Can

Many participants of #langchat emphasized that backwards design is really only as good as the final goal. Creating meaningful final statements of ability is crucial to an effective curriculum. @maggierodger said, “We use success criteria. We write “I can” statements at the beginning of the unit about what the kids will be able to do by the end.” @SraSpanglish shared her process as well: “Once I have a question to be answered, I consider accessible sources and how to process them.”

One of the most popular ways to create meaningful final goals for many world language teachers is by adapting the Lingua Folio “I Can” statements for their classrooms. These simple, student-centered statements are clearly defined and provide a great starting point for many backward design units. They also contribute to more confidence in their burgeoning skills. @maggierodger explained, “Students using “I can” statements hopefully understand that they CAN speak another language (no matter how little vocab they have).”

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Putting Backward Design on the Students

This brought up a valuable point: as soon as students buy into the concept of backward design, it becomes much more effective. Some teachers shared ideas where students had control over what the end goals would be. @msfrenchteach said, “I began providing students with the Can-do statements this year. Students definitely appreciate knowing the unit goals.”

Other teachers expressed that they put even more of the backward design of their courses on the student’s shoulders. @Innablog said, “I have student write their goals for learning English and tell me what will help them to reach it.” @SraSpanglish shared an idea where she gave students general thematic topics and asked them to create their own desired “I Can” statements. @jennahacker added to this idea: “I have students tell me what they need to accomplish the “I Can” statements at the beginning AND reflect at the end. What did they need?”

Reflect and Respond

Many teachers suggested that reflection and adaptation is key to making backward design work. Having students do self-evaluations of a lesson helps teachers make the activity better for the next class. @CoLeeSensei said, “I often have students ‘self-assess’ after an activity and sometimes I remember to get them to jot down few things on back!” Other teachers mentioned using “talk-back” cards: cards with a few key questions about the activity and whether it met the student’s language learning needs. @Marishawkins said, “One thing that has helped me is to craft “can do” statements for my objectives. I reference them at the end for an exit ticket.”

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Other Thoughts on Using Backward Design for World Language

  • @natadel76 said, “I think the key is that the students know where they’re going and that they need all the steps to get there.”
  • @jennahacker said, “Backwards design works. Knowing where students need to end influences every decision and activity up to that point. Backwards design also allows student to see the big picture and how it breaks down into many goals.”
  • @msfrenchteach said, “Backward design allows educators to observe BETTER student success – both smaller and larger successes.”
  • @CoLeeSensei said, “Backward design also helps students see that language is a practical tool to accomplish a task they just might face in the real world.”
  • @msfrenchteach said, “Traditional testing can really disappear from the curriculum if well-developed units are created with backward design in mind. That’s my goal.”
  • @cadamsf1 said, “It would also help parents who always ask, “What can do we do?” It gives them a concrete task also!”

Thank You!

Thank you so much for your participation in this amazing #langchat! It is so much fun to talk about world language teaching with teachers around the world! Get involved with #langchat by sharing your ideas for conversation topics and help us brainstorm better ways of teaching together.

Again, thank you to our wonderful moderators, @CoLeeSensei and @msfrenchteach. It was so wonderful to have both of them working to make sure everyone’s voices were heard. As usual, there are many great ideas that we couldn’t fit into the summary. For a complete transcript of this session, please visit our online archive.

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Additional Resources

Kentucky Department of Education: Standards and Curriculum Documents
eLinguaFolio – open source LinguaFolio service serving North Carolina
Juno – Online tests, quizzes, worksheets & textbooks
Self and-Partner Evaluation Activity Rubric
Infuse Learning
New Twists to Old Themes | Señora B
Youtube Video
The Comprehensible Classroom