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Last Thursday, those counting down the days to summer and those who are already off tuned in to brainstorm ways for students to build their language skills when school is not in session. Participants encouraged instructors to ensure language practice is painless and fun, and they provided tips on how to keep students connected with the target language, which have been summarized below!

We extend a big thank you to last week’s moderators, Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) and Cristy (@msfrenchteach), as well as everyone who tuned in for the final #langchat of the school year!

Tip #1: Encourage Students to Tap into Technology at Their Fingertips

Students today are not strangers to technology, and, more and more, they carry technological devices around in their pockets. So why not remind them that the target language is right at their fingertips? Langchatters highlighted fun and simple ways for students to connect with the target language by means of technology!

  • Applications:
  • Students can take advantage of a host of applications for smartphones or other electronic devices to keep up their language skills outside of the classroom. @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “[I] love to assign gaming options instead of traditional homework [, via] Quizlet, Zondle [and] various other [applications].” @maestravila suggested Duolingo as another option, noting that “[students] can use [it] as [an application] or via [the] Internet.” And why not encourage students to seek out handy applications themselves? @MmeCarbonneau said, “Have students find TL learning [applications]. [Then, have them] explain them and rate them on [a] collaborative board shared by the class.”

  • Twitter:
  • If you want to keep your students communicating in the target language, look no further than Twitter. @lclarcq reminds students that they can tweet away in the target language: “We start with in-class activities and [I] mention [that] they can be done outside [of class] whenever: [students can] post tweets from [popular] sports [or] movie stars in [the] TL.”

  • Instagram:
  • This photo-sharing network allows students to document and post evidence of the target language while away from school. @MmeCarbonneau is “thinking of assigning kids to use Instagram to show evidence of the TL they find ‘out there’ beyond [her] classroom walls.” @trescolumnae added that students could connect through the use of a common hashtag on photo posts: “I love the idea of a specific # [hashtag] they can follow (and use) to share [with] each other!”

  • Skype:
  • Sure, it may take some legwork, but students could benefit from Skype exchanges with target language speakers during time off from school. @Convercise shared, “For a while I coordinated Skype tandem exchanges between my Japanese students of English and American students of Japanese.”

  • Pinterest:
  • This site allows students to search for, pin, and share materials in the target language. @MmeCarbonneau said, [I am] thinking of also having the students use Pinterest to pin TL stuff. Our art teacher does this and kids love it.”

  • TV and Movies:
  • Langchatters mentioned that instructors could encourage students to tune in to shows and watch movies in the target language as a means of enjoyable and authentic linguistic and cultural exposure. @PattyNiebauer wrote, “I also encourage [students to watch] Netflix, but [following the] World Cup [or] Tour de [France] is great summer viewing.”

  • Music:
  • Streaming music, watching music videos on YouTube, or downloading songs represent other ways for students to surround themselves with sounds of the target language. @lclarcq wrote, “Music is [the] best draw. [There are] many [downloads for] songs [and] videos and [I] suggest ones for class.”

Tip #2: Keep Reading Light and ‘Less Booky’

If you’d like students to do some summer reading in the target language, Langchatters emphasize keeping it light and do-able! @SrtaJohnsonEBHS highlighted the difficulty of finding level-appropriate readings that students can confidently complete alone: “I also like to encourage reading, but [it’s] so hard to find interesting novice-level material that doesn’t need me.” She added, “I want something they can access from home and [that] is less booky.” @CadenaSensei suggested news websites targeted at youth as a solution: “For novice readings, I like to use kids news websites. [They are] authentic but written more plainly.” For Japanese instructors, @CadenaSensei noted that “NHK has a [fabulous] easy news website.” Just as you can ask your students to search for applications, consider having them look for neat websites in the target language to share with classmates. @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “Asking students to find an authentic website based on [whatever] theme we are studying is also intriguing to them.”

Tip #3: Encourage Students to Look for and Use the TL in Their Community

Langchatters encouraged instructors to make students aware of the presence of the target language in their surroundings—and to make it even more present in their lives through use with those around them.

  • Scavenger Hunt – Search and Share!</li>

    Participants discussed the possibility of a scavenger hunt for evidence of the target language. @MmeCarbonneau shared, “I start the year by asking students to bring in [three] items with the TL on [them].” As previously mentioned, she is also “thinking of assigning kids to use Instagram to show evidence of the TL,” which they would document using a specific class hashtag (#). @lclarcq also favors encouraging students to gather evidence: “Ask [students] to look for brochures while traveling, working, etc. [in] other languages, any [language,] or use [the] ATM in TL. Some [love] the idea!”

  • Encounters with TL Speakers
  • Instructors can also promote encounters with speakers of the target language. @km_york wrote, “I encourage real interaction with the Spanish speakers in [the] community – Have you invited … somewhere? Spoken [the] TL at your job?”

  • Lessons or Conversations with Family and Friends
  • Langchatters commented on the possibility of teaching or interacting with family and friends in the target language. @MmeCarbonneau said, “I often make [students] teach what we are learning in class to a family member.” Another participant wrote, “In May, a student told me that she spoke only French [with] her [boyfriend] (another student) in the car on the way to the beach once. Fantastic!”

Tip #4: Keep in Touch and Encourage Students to Do the Same

You might not see your students everyday, but making an effort to keep in touch with them can help to maintain and build their language skills outside of the classroom. Langchatters shared a variety of strategies to stay in contact—in the target language, of course!

  • Class Blogging
  • Blogs provide a great platform for students and their instructor to share their summer activities, but, as @Tecabrasileira pointed out, they do generally require a significant time commitment: “I tried blogging [with students]. [It] didn’t work, [with] only [one] blog [post] and nothing more.” @SrtaJohnsonEBHS agreed that “blogging takes a fair time commitment (spoken from experience).” Alternatively, she highlighted the possibility of daily mini-blogging on a platform such as Twitter: “Maybe ‘1 tweet per day’ is more accessible?”

  • Class Discussion Boards
  • You can also start a discussion board to discuss various topics during break. From @MmeCarbonneau’s experience, students enjoy this activity: “Students love when I assign discussion boards as outside work. Even at the [middle school] level.”

  • Edmodo:
  • This platform allows students and their instructor to ‘connect and collaborate,’ and its interface resembles Facebook. It takes some work to set it up, but consider creating one if you have the time and energy this summer. @MmePoulet said, “I found Edmodo was a cool way to reach out to kids en français …but [it’s] very time consuming to set up.”

  • Google Classroom:
  • @MmeCarbonneau suggested Google Classroom as an alternative space to Edmodo for instructors to interact with their classes. Learn more here: https://t.co/7L93MViIuH.

  • Class Emails
  • Occasional class emails are a great way to share resources or relevant and current happenings with students. They serve as a great reminder (for those who are interested) to invest some time in the target language. @km_york wrote, “We have [a] school-wide Gmail and my students will get several group emails with songs or articles from me, some will look.”

  • Remind 101
  • There may be no texting allowed in the classroom, but texting your students over summer can be a great way to remind them of the target language. @PattyNiebauer tweeted, “I use Remind101 to send [students] links or [alert them] if [something] of interest is going on.” @SrtaJohnsonEBHS commented, “I need to do that to remind my kids about #spanstuchat [a monthly Twitter conversation between Spanish instructors, high school students learning Spanish, and native Spanish speakers]!”

  • Postcards
  • You don’t need to look to technology to connect. Consider sending postcards to your students in the target language, and ask them to do the same. @MmeCarbonneau suggested, “Have [students] send you postcards from their trips. I send my new students ones in French over the summer.”

  • Face-to-Face Gatherings: Book Clubs and Movie Nights
  • It may require some footwork, but think about organizing a face-to-face activity to bring your language students together. @CadenaSensei commented, “[I have] never done this before, but maybe an optional TL ‘book club’ over summer? (Maybe manga for 日本語 [students]).” Another participant added, “I’m setting a goal for myself FINALLY to do a Francophone movie night at school.”

Motivation: Is it Teachable?

@teachermrw asked a question likely lingering in every instructor’s mind: “Ideas shared are good [and] a [student’s] motivation to practice [and] improve skills is tantamount. Can we teach motivation?” @trescolumnae replied, “I don’t think you can DIRECTLY teach motivation,” adding that the key is to “connect learning [with students’] personal interests.” @SrtaJohnsonEBHS also imparts her own interests to students, noting, “I like to share my [favorite] (real [favorite], not cause-it-works-for-class) songs and musicians with my [students].” Of course, incentives can also help to increase student motivation. @MadameKurtz commented, “My students would do almost anything for a piece of candy. Bring in evidence of TL use [and] you get a piece?” @MmeCarbonneau does not use candy; instead, she likes to “hand out Eiffel Tower tickets. [Students] turn them in as raffle tickets for various prizes end of [quarter].”

Conclusion

Participants shared lots of strategies to help students maintain and build their target language skills during time away from school. They emphasized keeping practice painless and urged instructors not to overwhelm students with a heavy workload. @trescolumnae wrote, “[At my school,] we stopped [having students log their summer practice hours in the target language because students] were overwhelmed [with] ‘summer packets’ from other classes :(.” Another participant commented, “[We] want [students] to enjoy time [off and] come back refreshed!” As @madamebaker asserted, and other Langchatters agreed, “Ideas that appeal to adolescents and don’t seem like work: music, movies, apps, games work best.”

Like you, #Langchat will be on summer vacation but will return in August! Stay tuned for the start date, and, in the meantime, why not do some summer reading of your own by checking out past summaries?

Thank you!

Thank you again to Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) and Cristy (@msfrenchteach) for moderating last week’s productive #langchat! To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, do not hesitate to do so. Also, be sure to send us your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

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Summer may just be underway, but Langchatters are already thinking about ways to modify their teaching come Fall! Last Thursday, your weekly #langchat focused on strategies that instructors can adopt in order to integrate more interpersonal speaking in the classroom. Participants shared a wealth of ideas on how to transition into, support, and wrap-up interpersonal interactions among students.

We extend a warm thank you to our moderators, Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), and to everyone who tuned in for this summer edition of #langchat!

The Importance of Peer-to-Peer Conversations

#Langchat participants emphasized the value of and need for interpersonal spoken interactions among language learners. @MmeCarbonneau wrote, “My [middle school] students do way too much presentational speaking. Need more interpersonal [interaction]!” Several Langchatters encouraged instructors to allow time for peer-to-peer spoken interactions on a daily basis. Spoken interactions among peers can begin as soon as students set foot in the door, as noted by @CoLeeSensei, who wrote, “I try to have them speaking every day – we start with ‘greet your partner and…’” @tiesamgraf also advocates for daily practice conversing with peers, adding, “Interpersonal conversation is the most likely real life application so I stress the importance daily!” Finally, @SECottrell pointed out that students desire conversational confidence more than any other skill: “interpersonal speaking is the #1 skill students WANT,” and @BeckyTetzner whole-heartedly agreed: “YES! They always tell me the [first] day, ‘I want to be able to have a ‘real’ [conversation with] someone’.” She also noted that “short [conversations with] lots of different [people lead to increased] confidence.”

How to Get Students Talking

Langchatters had plenty of ideas about how to get student conversations rolling. @MmeCarbonneau suggested short prompts to get students’ thoughts flowing without resorting to pen and paper: “Try one word prompts! No writing. Build off the prompt. EX: In summer….My friends and I…..” @crwmsteach encouraged instructors to help students “brainstorm words [and] phrases [related to the discussion topic and then] let them go.” @CoLeeSensei suggested letting students share their thoughts with a single partner before interacting with multiple peers: “You can give them time with their partner to ‘brainstorm’ [and] then mix it up, [having them speak] with others.” @tiesamgraf uses the classroom walls to offer students helpful resources and models conversation for the class before setting students free to chat: “I have helpful vocab [and] question words posted [on the wall] and [I] model [output] beforehand to [be] sure students understand [the] logistics of conversation.”

How to Support Students as They Converse

@tiesamgraf highlighted the instructor’s role as a facilitator of student dialogue: “teacher = facilitator :-),” and Langchatters repeatedly echoed this point. Participants encouraged instructors to circulate around the room. @SenoraDiamond55 prodded teachers to “CIRCULATE!” and @mmegalea wrote that “[The teacher] must circulate the room and direct the flow of conversation [while keeping kids] in [the] target [language].” @mmegalea takes advantage of the opportunity to scaffold oral communication when circulating. @alenord also uses this time as an occasion to discuss pragmatics: “I like to take a moment to frame the conversation. [I ask students], ‘Is greeting necessary now? Why? Why not?,’ etc.” Langchatters also highlighted the importance of teaching students to be good listeners and to naturally follow-up on peer comments. @SrtaLohse wrote, “I think that it’s important to emphasize listening before responding. [This is] an essential skill for every language!” and @SenoraDiamond55 said, “I remind [students] to follow up Q&A’s [because] in real world [conversations], we don’t ask [one] question [and] STOP, right? :).”

How to Follow-Up on Spoken Interpersonal Exchanges

After students have finished conversing, follow-up is key. Participants advocated for holding students accountable for the content of their spoken exchanges. @SrtaLohse wrote, “To keep on [students on] task, I have them report back some [details from the] conversation. They have to listen [and] then use [the third] person to describe [what their partner said to them].” @crwmsteach asks students questions about their peers in order to encourage careful listening: “I use who…? [e.g. Who went to the movies last week?] For students to summarize what they learned.” Langchatters also advocated for self-reported assessments following interpersonal conversations. Additionally, @CoLeeSensei kindly shared a self-assessment rubric: http://t.co/1MfRZ6Sx9h. She commented, “I include ‘I didn’t use English’ in my [self-evaluation] so they monitor themselves.” In order to encourage a ‘real’ conversation in the target language, with both parties invested in the topic, @Mlmoore_Spanish includes “‘engaged others in conversation by asking questions’” in the [self-evaluation],” emphasizing, “It’s not about one person taking over.” @CoLeeSensei pointed out that student reflection can also include brief checks for comprehension: “[Students] can use a checklist: ‘I heard my partner tell me….’” Aside from individual feedback and self-evaluation, @tiesamgraf encouraged “overall feedback to the [entire] group after you circulate and take note of common errors.”

Fun Activities to Facilitate Interpersonal Speech

Participants shared some fun ideas for those looking for ways to integrate interpersonal dialogue. To begin with, Langchatters suggested changing up your desk arrangement. @CoLeeSensei shared, “Interpersonal communication is the reason I changed my seating. [Now I have] all ‘tables’ [made up of] of 4 desks. They face each other and talk all the time.” @MmeCarbonneau transforms her rows of desks into a lively bus: “I use a ‘bus’ format [with] two rows [of desks] facing one another. [The] bus stops. One student gets off (and gets on the bus in the [front]).” @Inconnue_21 also observed how a change in your room arrangement just might give students more talk time: “I found when I moved the focus in the room from the front I shut up more!”

Here are some activities to get your students talking to one another:

  • “Speed Friend-Making”: This is a good way to have your students interact with a variety of classmates through quick spoken exchanges. @BeckyTetzner said, “This [year] in [Spanish class] we had a lot of fun [with] “Speed Friend-Making” (as opposed to speed dating), adding, “For me, [with] classes of 34 [students], the speed-dating format was perfect–they had an easy [and] set routine.”
  • Improv with a Brown Paper Bag: @bleidolf67 advocates for this oldie but goodie. The instructor puts “random items in a paper bag, [and students] use items [that they draw out] and [the target language] to create [interpersonal dialogues. Engaging!”
  • “Sketch and Share”: @CoLeeSensei shared her go-to activity for interpersonal dialogue. Students create a drawing and come up with a caption. When they come to class, they challenge classmates to guess the caption of their sketch. Find out more here: http://t.co/N7xv0QuD7g.
  • Pretend you’re there… @bleidolf67 shows students “a cultural picture and [has them] create [an] interpersonal dialogue, [pretending that] they are there.” @SECottrell commented that this is a good way to focus on a unit theme, while giving students the freedom to react to the image and share their thoughts. Alternatively, @LauraJaneBarber wrote, “You can also play a muted YouTube video of people walking through [a] city [and tell students that they] must pretend it’s them talking in [target language].”
  • Inside-Outside Circle: This technique encourages all students to create spoken output, while summarizing the content of a story. For more details, see this description. @tiesamgraf said, “[the] inside/outside circle [strategy] works so well for interpersonal [communication],” and @CappiGio commented that “students love them!”
  • “Free Chat” Session: Instructors can set aside time for students to freely converse with one another in the target language. @MmeCarbonneau said, “Every Friday do a ‘free chat’ session [and] see where it leads.”

Looking to Record and Replay Student Chats?
Many #langchat participants expressed a desire to record student conversations “for either portfolios, [teacher] feedback, or self reflection” (@natadel76). Langchatters shared their thoughts on a variety of recording tools, which have been summarized below.

  • Notibility: @Inconnue_21 suggested the Notability recorder and wrote, “I like the drawing tools in Notability. [One] student will explain a [picture] and the others will draw what [they] hear and ask [questions] to clarify.”
  • Evernote: @natadel76 said, “Evernote has [a] recorder too. [Students] record [themselves], send [their recording to you, the instructor], [and] then you record your feedback – they have to listen!”
  • Vocaroo: @bleidolf67 suggested this as another recording tool, which is “easy for [students] to use.”
  • GarageBand: @JenniferSolisj wrote, “[At my school,] we use GarageBand to record [and] export [files] to iTunes. [Students] share [their recordings] with [the] teacher.”
  • GoogleVoice: Instructors expressed mixed feelings about GoogleVoice. @crwmsteach wrote, “GoogleVoice is an easy way to record and [the instructor] can easily hear if two [students] are talking [or not].” @Mlmoore_Spanish shared a concern with using this tool: “My problem with GoogleVoice is that I feel like it’s still rehearsed or notes are read.” @BeckyTetzner expressed agreement (“Me too..”), and @amandacharle wrote, “I know most of my students plan their speaking when they use [GoogleVoice] but I make it clear they won’t be able to do so on [the] test.”

If you don’t want to deal with transferring recordings, @Inconnue_21 provided a solution: “Sometimes I have the [students] record on MY iPad. [You] don’t have to upload/share anything that way. But then they have limited access.”

Finally, @SECottrell offered a word of advice to instructors looking to facilitate and monitor peer-to-peer spoken exchanges: “One caution, don’t overwhelm yourself with thinking you need to record [and] give feedback on every conversation.”

Conclusion

For those eager to integrate more interpersonal talk time next year, Langchatters offered plenty of tips. Overall, they emphasized the role of the instructor as a facilitator who should circulate and help scaffold student output. Additionally, they highlighted the importance of follow-up work to encourage good listening skills and to call upon students to reformulate information they heard.

Thank you!

We extend a big thank you to Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Cristy (@msfrenchteach), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) for moderating a summer session of #langchat! To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, do not hesitate to do so. Finally, as @SECottrell reminded us, “#langchat is powered by YOU,” so do send us your ideas for future #langchats!

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Welcome Back to #langchat! Last Thursday, we were excited to see lots of new “faces” as participants discussed ways to keep your target language fresh during summer vacation. Langchatters shared a wealth of tips for painless reading, listening, speaking, and writing in the target language, which have been summarized below. After all, as @KrisClimer reminded instructors, “Keep it FUN. This is summer.”

We would like to thank our wonderful moderators, Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Kris (@KrisClimer), for moderating yet another productive hour!

Reading

Participants shared a number of ways to keep your reading skills polished during break.

  • Pick up a Translation in the TL. Maybe you’re already familiar with the English title. Why not pick up the translation in the TL? @alenord commented, “While I know it isn’t really authentic, I like to read familiar novels to see ‘how they say’ stuff in [Spanish].” @bleidolf67 also looks for translations: “I try and find some [young adult] books that have been translated to Spanish. I am a big reader.”
  • Follow the Language of the (Social) Media. Don’t limit yourself to classic novels in the target language. Expose yourself to the language found in magazines and on the Internet. @mweelin wrote, “For idiomatic [language], read magazines, newspapers, gossip [magazines] and websites in the TL!” Look no further than Twitter as a source of summer ‘literature’! @BeckyTetzner said, “Following lots of TL [speakers] on social media helps me see lots of idiomatic [language]-I keep taking [screenshots to] use in class!”
  • Consider Investing in Technology. Kindle, anyone? @SraRoar discussed the possibilities offered by the world of Kindle: “I read in español. Getting a Kindle opened reading possibilities tremendously. So many more interesting choices.” @CoLeeSensei agreed: “Oh a Kindle – the E-Reader has made it very easy to access TL books, hasn’t it?”
  • Start a Summer Book Club. @KrisClimer suggested “low intensity book clubs with students over the summer” as a great way for instructors to brush up on their own and their students’ language. There’s no need to meet in person for this. While it can be difficult to coordinate times to chat, book club meetings can be conducted over the Internet (e.g. via Skype or Google Hangout), as mentioned by @BeckyTetzner.

Listening

Looking for ways to keep your ear attuned to the target language? Langchatters had plenty of suggestions to share.

  • Listen (on-the-go). @bleidolf67 prescribed “a good dose of CNN in Spanish [or your TL] in satellite radio while in the car.” If you’ve got more time to spare, @CatherineKU72 suggested doing “transcriptions of radio broadcasts [as] excellent training for vocab/grammar/culture.” Here are some audio resources that you might want to check out:
    • TuneIn radio: This application and website allow users to search radio stations by language or country (@CatherineKU72).
    • iTunes: @SenoraWienhold wrote that “listening to current pop music in the TL is a great way to stay current.” Think of consulting the “top lists by TL country” for the latest greatest in your TL (@CoLeeSensei).
    • Podcasts: @SrtaLohse highlighted the vast number of podcasts available: “Lots of great TL podcasts – One Thing In a French Day, Coffee Break French, etc. I want to revisit those this summer.”
    • Watch TV Shows, the News, or Movies in your TL.
      • StreamWatch. This website allows you to stream television from around the world. @tmsaue1 commented, “My favorite site. Stations from around the world: http://t.co/U1NMp0QnfQ.” On the topic of streaming, @BeckyTetzner wrote, “I’m definitely looking forward to streaming La Copa Mundial via Univision this summer!! Lots of TL there!”
      • Netflix. Fill up your queue with TL flicks! @MadameKurtz wrote, “In the past I’ve loaded my movie queue with TL movies [and] watched them after everyone’s asleep.” @alenord chimed in, commenting, “OMG, my Netflix queue is loaded with Spanish language movies to catch up on!”
      • YouTube. Look no further than YouTube for short clips and some full-length shows or films in the TL. @CatherineKU72 also likes “to subtitle YouTube [videos],” adding, “It’s great practice for the ears.” Remember to keep it fun! @CoLeeSensei wrote, “I watch Japanese game shows!” and @Frau_Kahn shared a guilty pleasure: “‘les vraies housewives’ [The Real Housewives] on YouTube.”
      • Change the Language Settings on your TV. No need to search for programs in the TL—simply change the settings on your home television. @SenoraWienhold said, “I like to change the language on the TV [and] drive my husband nuts watching old favorite shows in Spanish.”
      • Applications in the TL. Your Smartphone or iPad could help you carry your TL with you over summer. @alenord wrote, “I know that some of the Latin American TV stations have free [applications] that you can [download] and watch [programs] on.” @tournesol74 shared an application for French: “check out the [application for the] M6 [TV station]. There are awesome shows [available, such as] L’amour est dans le pré. It’s [like] ‘The Bachelor’ [with] farmers!” @CatherineKU72 also posted a resource for French speakers: “A few iOS [applications] for Francophone media. http://t.co/89Exz2FQXO.”
    • Expose yourself to the TL in your Local Community. @alenord wrote, “@SenoraWienhold gave me an idea for Spanish teachers – [Attend] church services in Spanish or [volunteer] in your community. Surround yourself with any community of TL speakers that you choose! @SenoraWienhold enthusiastically agreed: “great idea! Volunteering would be a perfect use of summer time [and] language skills.” Hosting an exchange student is another way to bring the TL home (@MadameKurtz).

Speaking

Langchatters agreed that it can be more difficult to find speaking opportunities. That said, a little resourcefulness could definitely pay off come August.

  • Online Exchanges. The Internet has facilitated access to TL speakers. @MmeFarab said, “I’m hoping to have a couple of Skype sessions with some friends this summer!” Google Hangout also allows for distance exchanges. @bleidolf67 wrote that “a Google Hangout would be good for those teachers looking to practice speaking!,” and @MmePoulet shared that she has both a school and home profile. LiveMocha (@tournesol74) and WeSpeke (@CatherineKU72) also offer free language exchanges with TL speakers.
  • Talk to Siri. You may have trouble getting your point across to Siri in English, but she is multilingual, afterall. @CoLeeSensei said, “Sometimes I just flip Siri to Japanese and ask it questions!” She added, “I have my students do it too – if the don’t say it correctly Siri won’t work!”
  • Get Involved in Language Meet-ups. Consider organizing or participating in a pre-existing language meet-up. @SrtaLohse wrote, “Yahoo [meet ups] are good for conversation. Many meet on a weekly basis in different cities.” As @SraSpanglish said, “You might think of inviting your students to participate. I’m actually thinking of setting up outings, café chats [with] some of my students who want to grow.” You can also organize meet-ups at summer conferences. @alenord wrote, “[It’s a] great idea to host slumber parties at big conferences to hang out with your #langchat friends [and] speak [different languages].”
  • Think of CouchSurfing. You probably never considered this as a source for TL speakers, but @BeckyTetzner advises you to check it out: “This might sound odd, but sometimes CouchSurfing is a place to look for [conversation] partners in other languages!”
  • Don your “language badge” for the day. Challenge yourself to go about your entire day in the TL. @CoLeeSensei shared, “I look for chances – last year in a [department] store saw [an] ‘I speak Japanese’ badge – [and I] did [the] rest of my shopping in my TL.”
  • Connect with Langchatters (not just on Thursdays!). Why not connect with Langchatters who speak your TL? @alenord proposed, “Make friends with #langchat folks, exchange phone numbers and call each other.”

Writing

  • Langchatters suggested a few ways to keep writing in your TL over summer. @magisterb480 suggested Twitter as a space to write to others in your TL: “There are several Latin tweeters, and I also tweet in Latin. This is a great medium for practicing [one’s] TL.” @SraSpanglish suggested that Langchatters organize to comment on a film via Twitter: “We could coordinate a movie night tweet-up!” As another suggestion, consider keeping a record of new vocabulary you learn over the summer, and encourage students to do the same. @alenord wrote, “I have a colleague here who has his [students] keep a ‘cuadernito’ (little notebook) [to record] new vocab. [We] could do [the] same?”

Finally, consider participating in #langcamp this summer! @SraSpanglish wrote, “[It’s] not NECESSARILY in [the] TL, but [#langcamp has] a section now: https://t.co/VXm9jAjGAZ.”

Conclusion

It might not seem easy to keep up your TL over the summer, but Langchatters offered a number of suggestions for those looking to read, listen to, speak, and/or write in their TL this break. They emphasized the importance of keeping it fun and practicing in a variety of ways. As @alenord encouraged, “JUST DO SOMETHING! Be intentional! Set an example for your [students]! #preachingtomyself.”
 

Thank you!

We extend a sincere thank you to Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) and Kris (@KrisClimer) for moderating a summer session of #langchat! To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, do not hesitate to do so. Finally, send us your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Young Learners Test of English at MLC by Modern_Language_Center, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Modern_Language_Center 

 
Last Thursday, participants tuned in to #langchat to discuss ways to accurately assess student proficiency. In case you couldn’t join us last week, you can find a summary of Langchatters’ reflections on proficiency assessment below!

Thank you to those who participated in the conversation last week or watched it unfold from the sidelines. We extend a special thanks to moderator Kris (@KrisClimer) for leading another Q&A style #langchat, with help from Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) and Cristy (@msfrenchteach)!

Question 1: What topics and conversation level can a novice sustain?

When conversing with novices, @srtajohnson13 emphasized that “COGNATES are key!!!!!” and encouraged “basic conversation,” characterized by “simple [questions] like ‘How are you?’” and “personal [questions] (origin, occupation, etc.).” @SenoraWienhold also associates personal topics with instruction for novices: “When I think novices, I think ‘all about me’.” @srtajohnson13 agreed, writing, “Me too! The topic of ‘me’ is VERY familiar [for novices],” and @SenoraWienhold pointed out that “high schoolers love to talk about themselves.” Finally, @madamebaker advised instructors to revisit the “ACTFL Novice [Can-Do] Statements” to refamiliarize themselves with appropriate expectations for different levels.

@KrisClimer commented, “We’re all guilty of expecting novices to do too much, and @srtajohnson13 echoed this point, writing, “novices SHOULD be repeating memorized phrases…so hard for me to accept!!”

Question 2: What’s the difference between chunking and creating language?

@tmsaue1 offered a definition of chunking: “Chunks of language are memorized high frequency [combinations] of words.” @mvhsfrancais1 shared a “[French 2] project example [with] chunks that became complex,” with students creating language of their own invention around chunks.

Question 3: What does creating language at the intermediate level look like?

Langchatters described features of intermediate language. @SenoraWienhold wrote, “Intermediates can make more complex sentences over more expanded topics.” @nicola_work commented that intermediate output is also “less planned [and] much more spontaneous.” @SECottrell noted the introduction of “new situations [and] new topics” at the intermediate level, adding that, in contrast to novices, “intermediates can create outside of ‘me, me, me’.”

Once again, participants expressed difficulty in keeping their expectations appropriate for students’ level. @KrisClimer said, “For me, it’s important to read the rubric. I think intermediate is higher than it is” and reminded fellow instructors that it is “important to look at similarities and DIFFERENCES [in expectations] between Novice High and Intermediate Low.” [Refer to the ARTFL Can-Do Benchmarks here: http://www.actfl.org/global_statements]

Question 4: How does vocabulary deepen from novice to intermediate?

@srtajohnson13 observes interest-driven vocabulary exploration at the intermediate level: “For me, they start to explore/create/investigate their own vocabulary that is relevant to their interests.” She added, “I also TEACH them how to find new vocab – sometimes looking it up in dictionary/wordreference.com isn’t enough.” @srtajohnson13 also encourages her students to work with the vocabulary that they have acquired by means of circumlocution: “[I try to] teach them [to] speak using what they already know!” In terms of comprehension, @nicola_work observes intermediate students “understanding new vocabulary more from context.”

Question 5: How does sentence structure change from novice to intermediate?

Participants noted increased sentence complexity at the intermediate level. @srtajohnson13 wrote, “[Intermediate] sentences [include] connecting words/phrases, more detail [and] description,” adding that students begin to expand their explanations: “answers to questions start to include ‘because………’ with [an] explanation.” @nicola_work also commented on more sophisticated sentence structure: “[There are] more complex sentences with some subordination, coordination.” @srtajohnson13 further commented that ideas become more fleshed out as “[intermediate] sentences start to become paragraphs.”

Conclusion

Participants emphasized the importance of making topics personal for students at the novice level. They described the increased complexity of intermediate proficiency in terms of sentence structure and vocabulary. Throughout, they emphasized the importance of creating realistic and level-appropriate expectations for students.

Thank you

Thank you again to Kris (@alenord), Cristy (@msfrenchteach) and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) for moderating another Q&A style #langchat! To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive.

If you have any comments or questions that you would like to share, do not hesitate to do so. If you haven’t done so already, we invite you to share your thoughts on #langchat’s Q&A format, as well! Finally, send us your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!