students group by, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by 

Welcome back to #langchat! Last Thursday night, Langchatters gathered to discuss personalized instruction. Participants began by attempting to define personalization in the classroom. They then discussed whether instructors should limit student choice and, if so, where they should draw the line. Langchatters also shared their favorite ways to personalize lessons and reflected on how to personalize instruction while ensuring that all learners are reaching proficiency goals.

Thank you again to all of the participants who tuned in for another hour of #langchat and to last week’s moderators, Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Amy (@alenord) and Kris (@KrisClimer).

How do you define personalization in the classroom?

Langchatters shared their definitions of personalization in the classroom. @AndyCrawfordTX wrote that, for him, “personalization begins with relationships.” Many others agreed that getting to know students and understand their interests was a key first step in an effort to make lessons personalized. @Sralandes described personalization in the classroom as “learning based on individual needs [and] desires that is student-driven.” @dwphotoski echoed this idea in different terms, writing that personalizing means “making the students the curriculum, connecting them to every structure.” @AndyCrawfordTX offered one way to “connect” students to structures and to, in the words of @MmeMurphy, “[get] students involved in the creation process,” suggesting use of personalized vocabulary: “[Let students] ‘self-select’ instead of [using] traditional [vocabulary] lists.” @tmsaue1 posed an important question in the midst of this discussion: “We shouldn’t confuse choice with personalization. Who is designing the choices?” Langchatters seemed to agree that personalization means allowing students to make choices about their learning.

Where does the line for student choice stop? Is there a line?

@KrisClimer asked fellow instructors whether they felt that teachers should limit student choice. @AndyCrawfordTX said that students should be given “choice within certain [parameters] (learning targets).” @SrLaBoone agreed, writing, “Personalization for me means [students] have some say in subject. For descriptive adjectives, they provide the [celebrities] they want to describe.” @maestroallison also leaves room for student personalization within parameters on tests: “[I] make my assessments [open-ended] enough that [students] can add personal flair and earn points for it.” @Marishawkins added that, for written tests, giving students choices can allow them to “show what they know.” Langchatters reflected on the positive outcomes of student personalization. @MmeMurphy said, “I think when [students] share ownership of the content–like with creating a story–they are more engaged and invested in learning.” @SrLaBoone wrote, “Personalization for me is essential. [Students] need choice in how they express themselves in [their] L2. More choice [means] more engagement!” While participants generally favored some degree of student choice and ownership of content, some instructors expressed apprehension. One instructor pointed out that it can be scary to give students too much control, and @SenoritaBasom highlighted other considerations: “Choices are revered, but with limited time and [elementary] student [attention spans] it is important not [to] give too many!”

What are your favorite methods and tasks that “personalize” instruction?

Instructors shared their go-to methods and tasks for personalized lessons. In terms of methods, they emphasized allowing students to choose content they are familiar with and interested in. @SrLaBoone said, “Favorite methods: always relate content to what [students] KNOW. [For example,] for after-school activities, [have them] tell WHO [they] know that does [the activity being discussed].” @alenord also proposed that instructors could share their interests and activities with students: “Another angle to personalizing is to let them see more about us, too!”

Participants then shared some of their favorite “personalized” tasks. @coxon_mike suggested students share “selfies and [pictures] of what they did over the weekend,” adding that this can become an “instant personalized TL activity.” Instead of sending in pictures, @dwphotoski has students to share their weekend activities aloud: “Every Monday we have the weekend chat, [which means] instant personalization” @KrisClimer suggested another way to allow students to bring their personal tastes into the classroom: “This year, I’m having [students] propose songs rather than me choose them ahead. [They may be less] connected to [the] unit but [there is] way more interest.” @bleidolf67 enjoys putting students in charge of planning class itineraries for imaginary fieldtrips abroad, allowing them to showcase their interests in a different way: “I like for [students] to use Chrome books to plan cultural day trips to countries we [are] studying.” @tmsaue1 shared yet another way to promote personalized classes: “In @Jeorg’s class students write their own syllabus that support their language goals.”

What strategies can you use to allow for personalization while ensuring that all learners are reaching proficiency goals?

Instructors discussed ways to promote personalization while still keeping students on track. Several participants suggested offering students a range of homework choices to choose from. @MmeCarbonneau said, “My students often assign themselves their own homework from our unit matrix of tasks.” @alenord is considering the possibility of embedding independent study on topics of student interest within course units: “[I’m] toying with the idea of a ‘topic list’ that [students] choose from each unit. They [would] pick a topic for independent study [within] the unit.” Another participant offered a way for advanced students to adhere to standards, while still exploring their interests: “Upper level students choose [an] article they want to read [and] list the major AP theme it goes under.”


Overall, instructors favored allowing for student personalization of content. That said, they acknowledged that letting go of some control can be difficult for instructors. As one participant noted, “It definitely does require us to let go as much as we can while still ensuring that proficiency goals are met.” As @tmsaue1 observed, giving up control also means “empowering students” to make content personally meaningful. To be sure, “[walking] that fine line [between] too much [and] not enough choice for [students] to show mastery” (@bleidolf67) can be difficult, but Langchatters generally feel that personalization is essential to increased student engagement.

Thank you!

Thank you again to all of the participants who made time for #langchat last Thursday and to Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Amy (@alenord) and Kris (@KrisClimer) for moderating the conversation.

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Spanish Language and Culture  1 by giftedstudieswku, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  giftedstudieswku 

Last Thursday, Langchatters were so eager to discuss how to move students to a “novice-high” level that they were already tweeting on the topic before the first question was posted! In this Q&A #langchat, participants covered lots of ground. After establishing the distinguishing characteristics of the “novice-high” level, they discussed the role that scaffolding can play in pushing students to higher proficiency levels. They then reflected on how instructors can move students to a higher level in the interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational modes.

We extend a big thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s lively discussion and to our moderators, Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Kris (@KrisClimer), Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), and Laura (@SraSpanglish), for structuring the discussion.

Question 1: What characteristics distinguish a “novice-high” from a “novice-mid” student?

Instructors discussed signs that students were developing a “novice-high” level. They mentioned the ability to make “complete sentences and attempts at real discourse” (@SrtaJohnsonEBHS) and understand more complex ideas. @SrtaJohnsonEBHS also cited use of “even more advanced connectors.” @hewalleser added that students at a “novice-high” level “share information and experiences without relying totally on memorized patterned responses, play more with language.” @SECottrell acknowledged that while “[novice-mid and high levels] will both be supported by memorized language, but [a ‘novice-high’ student] can reach into [their inter language and begin] to create.” For this reason, instructors characterized language of “novice-high” students as marked by more variety and less repetition. @ms_kdub wrote, “If every sentence follows the same pattern with only minimal changes, they’re not there yet.” Finally, @JenniferSolisj added that attainment of a “novice-high” level can be accompanied by an increase in student confidence: “My [novice-high students] tend to have more confidence or feel more confortable to try and produce language.”

With regard to “novice-high” understanding, @JenniferSolisj noted that “[‘novice-mid’ students] tend to get less information with [an] authentic listening activity, [while ‘novice-high’ students] understand more details [with the] same activity [with] less repetition.” @SECottrell phrased this idea differently: “In interpretive [tasks], [‘novice-mid’ students] can distinguish words, [while ‘novice-high’ students] can more often get the main idea.”

Question 2: How does scaffolding play a role in a move to higher proficiency levels?

Langchatters discussed the important role played by scaffolding. @SrtaJohnsonEBHS wrote that scaffolding is key to any movement: “No proper scaffolding, no movement. [Students] will be lost without proper guidance! Passages should be i+1.” @SECottrell added that scaffolding can work to build student independence and success as they increase in proficiency: “[Scaffolds] build student tools so they can work through learning and communicating processes independently and successfully.” @MmeFarab agreed that scaffolding “provides necessary practice for students to learn structures [and] take risks on their own!” @MmeMurphy added that scaffolding can additionally help to lower affective filters: “I think students have to feel successful in the language so scaffolding is important. Lower the affective filter!”

Question 3: How can we push learners to the “novice-high” level in the interpretive mode?

First and foremost, instructors stressed the benefit of daily exposure to authentic resources. @SrtaJohnsonEBHS wrote: “Listen, read, listen, read, listen, read, listen more, read more [with] comprehensible input.” Langchatters also noted the importance of follow-up by teachers and peers. @KrisClimer said, “Ask about details more and more.” @MmeFarab has adopted @alenord’s strategy of “listening in layers!”, calling students’ attention to particular layers of detail at a time. @CoLeeSensei observed that teachers need not be the only one asking questions: “I’ve been asking them to create the [questions] to ask other ‘reading teams’ – [They] must dig deeper to do so.” When responding, @hewalleser highlighted a variety of ways for students to illustrate their understanding and respond to questions, suggesting “drawing, captions, retelling [a] story, [or writing] summaries.” @JenniferSolisj encourages students to try and make sense of aspects of content that they don’t understand, urging them “to always use what they know to help decode what they don’t [or to read] like a detective.” Finally, @natadel76 emphasized the importance of highlighting what students do understand, and several instructors heartily agreed: “I always end [interpretive activities] with ‘Anything else you understood?’ [This allows students] to show off.”

Question 4: How can we push students to reach for “novice-high” in interpersonal mode?

One instructor acknowledged from the start that “[interpersonal] is haaaaard.” In order to facilitate and improve student proficiency in interpersonal mode, @JenniferSolisj recognized the “[need] to provide [students] with lots of opportunities to [talk with] each other and lots of different things to talk about.” @SrtaJohnsonEBHS felt that “the most daunting part is having interpersonal practice that isn’t teacher-centered,” and @KrisClimer observed that “[controlling] one side of the [conversation (with a teacher or stronger partner)] helps [‘novice-mid’ students] become [‘novice-high’].” Even when instructors are not on the other side of a conversation, they can “[explicitly teach] how to react if [a student is] not understanding [their partner] and how to engage [with] others” (@natadel76). @natadel76 added that instructors should “[push students] to ask [follow-up] questions that are not just one word.” @alenord suggested “[starting] with a control topic: [i.e.] “Ask your partner about your family [and] respond to [questions] about your own” before adding layers of conversational complexity [i.e. “Ask your partner why their family A. is annoying B. is dependable C. is fun”]. @profesoraparker commented that while instructors provide structure, they should also “[keep it interesting,” adding, “My [Spanish 2 students] love to play improv comedy’s ‘The dating game.’” Finally, @JenniferSolisj shared that it’s “[great] to record [students’] interpersonal conversations and play [them] back for [students] to reflect on what they said.”

Question 5: How can we push students from “novice-mid” to “novice-high” in presentational mode?

In the words of @alenord, “Teach’em not to talk like Siri.” She elaborated on this point, writing, “This is the best time to integrate transitions, connectors, flavoring words, rejoinders, etc.” To playfully get away from short, simple “Siri” language, @alenord suggested the “Longest sentence challenge,” in which instructors “[give students] a topic and see which [student] can create the longest most comprehensible sentence.” @SraCastle commented that the same activity can be completed in groups: “[Students can] work in groups to make [a ‘longest sentence’]. [This forces] flavor and connectors!” Speaking of lots of words, @SenoritaBasom added that instructors should encourage circumlocution: “[Have students] use what [they] know, describe it in [their] words to get to what [they] are trying to say.” In terms of content, @bleidolf67 reminded instructors to allow students to choose their own topics: “Give students the freedom to show proficiency with a theme [or] topic that interests them.”

Langchatters observed that we should not always focus on working on modes in isolation. @JenniferSolisj pointed out that interpersonal mode can be developed along with presentational mode when students provide each other with feedback: “Provide more opportunities to peer edit and peer evaluate. They really can pick up one [another’s] errors.” @KrisClimer echoed this point and added that interpretive mode can also be developed: “I also weave in [interpretive mode] so the [audience] asks follow-up [and interpersonal mode] so [the] presenter [answers].”


Langchatters began by discussing features distinguishing “novice-high” from “novice-mid” students. They emphasized the value of scaffolding in increasing students’ proficiency and confidence, while encouraging them to take more risks. They also discussed the importance of providing students with tools to ask each other complex questions and respond with increasing complexity. Once again, instructors also commented on the value of using engaging content, connected with student interests.

Thank you!

Thank you again to all those who joined us for last Thursday’s #langchat and to our moderators, Sara Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Kris (@KrisClimer), Amy (@alenord), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), and Laura (@SraSpanglish), for directing an action-packed conversation. You are all the reason that “#langchat PLN is the best and most inspiring PLN that there is” (@MmeFarab)!

There’s still time to order your #langchat T-shirt! 36 more orders and we ship again! Only $11 plus shipping!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!

Before the #langchat “bell” could ring, participants were logging onto Twitter and counting down the minutes! Last Thursday, Langchatters met to discuss “bell work.” They worked to define “bell ringers,” discussed how they fit into a typical class period, shared their thoughts on the importance of routine and relevance for a given unit, and offered ‘fun and engaging’ examples of “bell work.”

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the conversation last week! We also extend a big thank you to our moderators, Kris (@KrisClimer), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Amy (@alenord), Laura (@SraSpanglish) and Cristy (@msfrenchteach), for moderating a discussion filled with lots of important questions about and reflections on “bell work.”

What Are Effective Goals and Formats for “Bell work”?What is a “Bell Ringer”?

Langchatters began by attempting to define bell ringers. Some instructors said they “are activities students are expected to begin at the sound of a bell” (@Sralandes). Other instructors described them as tools to get students into a target language or language-learning mindset when they enter the classroom. For example, @CoLeeSensei defined them as “[something] to…. get [students] into my TL frame of mind.” These activities can set students’ language-learning gears in motion, as one participant noted: “For me, the warm-up task … gets learners’ gears grindin’.” Some participants wrote that bell ringers have too often been viewed as forms of “busy work.” For example, @SECottrell said, “I’ve seen bell ringers used too much as busy work to keep kids quiet while teacher does [something. I] would love to hear [about] communicative uses.” @CatherineKU72 pointed out that “[bell] ringers come in many styles and purposes,” adding, “Busy work is not something my students see.” @CoLeeSensei said, “I don’t think of [bell ringers] as ‘busy’ but as ‘getting ready,’” and @SraRoar also felt that “[bell ringers] should be communicative and engaging, not just time-fillers.”

– Follow the blog on Bloglovin

When do your “bell ringers” start? During transition time or after the “bell” has rung?

Instructors shared their thoughts on when bell ringers really start. @CatherineKU72 likes to give her students time to take a breath between classes and does not make them deeply engage in an activity before the bell rings: “My thoughts [are that students] need 5 minutes between classes to relax [and] process. I respect that down time, but have music, images to entice.” Other instructors want to get students into bell work before the bell rings. For example, @ProfeCochran said, “I really prefer to have something that engages them even before the bell rings.” @SenoraWienhold agreed, writing, “[My students] are expected to start [the] task as soon as they enter. They should be started when bell rings.” @Sralandes notes that it can be important to consider student level. For her “high level kids,” bell work begins right away, but, for most classes, it begins after the bell.

Do you use “bell ringers” everyday?

Many participants said that they do use bell ringers everyday. @Sralandes stressed her regular use of bell work, writing that she uses them “EVERY class.” For @axamcarnes, students’ language level determines the frequency with which he uses bell work: “I use bell ringers every single day [with Spanish] 1 but not with [Spanish] 3 honors.” Although many instructors claimed to use bell work on a daily basis, they sometimes make exceptions when students have an exam. One participant said, “Yes, I have a warm-up every single day unless we have a speaking quiz (in pairs) which can take up the whole class period.” @cbdamasco wrote, “I have a [bell ringer] everyday except perhaps on a test day, but [I] may use a warm up as a way to start a review.”

– Like Calico Spanish on Facebook –

Do you use a routine “bell ringer”?

Many instructors seem to vary the form that bell ringers take but routinely use one to start class. @KrisClimer wrote, “I don’t have a routine [bell ringer] per se, but do use something to engage, recap, open the lesson.” @SraSpanglish said, “I’m with @SenoraWienhold [about] having a routine for each day–that way [students experience the] variety [and] interest [and] comfort of routine.” In general, @MmeLohse felt that routine use of bell ringers can serve as a source of comfort: “I think that [students] find comfort in [bell ringers] because they give a sense of structure. Things can be varied and switched up after.”

How much of the class time is the “bell ringer”?

Instructors had very different ideas about how much class time bell ringers should take up. @tmsaue1 said that a bell ringer should “technically [not take up any class time],” adding, “[It] should stop when the bell RINGS.” Most participants seemed to feel that bell ringers should occupy between 5 to 10 minutes of class (@alvin_irwin: “five [minutes more or less]”; @CoLeeSensei: “We’re [doing] 5-10 minutes – [Sometimes] I ask them to go longer to press them to go ‘deeper’ into their [conversations]”). One instructor said that her bell ringers usually take “at least 15 minutes, often more like 20, but they’re into it, so…” A couple of participants expressed surprise: @tmsaue1 wrote, “[That] sounds like the first activity of the class to me,” and @KrisClimer said, “15-20 [minutes]? Wow, that would be third to nearly half of my class!” While these comments encourage limiting time devoted to bell ringers, @SECottrell commented, “[If] it’s a communicative task, it should last as long as it needs to for them to do it.

Do “bell ringers” always need to relate to theme?

Langchatters reflected on whether bell ringers must be somehow related to a unit theme. Some participants felt that theme relevance was simply irrelevant! @CoLeeSensei said, “For me communication or interpretation trumps theme.” @KrisClimer agreed: “As long as [students are] doing something in the TL, I’m happy.” @crwmsteach added that it is “[sometimes] nice to have non-related [activities, such as a] current event.” As several participants mentioned use of current events, @connolly335 shared some useful resources: “Euronews has video and text by topic. The RTVE Telediario 1 en 4′ is great too.” @SraSpanglish provided another reason why theme relevance should not be a main focus: “I want to hit as many kids’ interests as possible in any given lesson, so a nonthematic activity allows more variety.”

Some instructors disagreed, viewing theme relevance as important for a variety of reasons. @SECottrell noted that using bell ringers related to themes can help teachers maximize use of short class periods: “I think I disagree, I think keeping it to the theme helps discount our time problem.” @tmsaue1 added, “[A bell ringer] doesn’t have to relate but seems like a lost opportunity otherwise.” Finally, @MmeLohse wrote that use of theme-related bell ringers can facilitate student learning: “I think that trying to relate [them] to a theme gives more [students] a chance for success because they have a context.”

– Follow Calico Spanish on Twitter

What is ‘fun and engaging’ for “bell work”?

#Langchat participants shared their ideas for ‘fun and engaging’ bell work. These included:

  • Applications for technological devices (@magisterb480: “Because we have 1:1 iPads I review material with Socrative, Geddit, or Kahoot. [This] gets the [students] motivated, engaged [and] ready to learn.)
  • News clips (One instructor: “Lately, we watch a 1-2 [minute] news segment from a French TV station (TF1-13j). We LOVE it so far! I use same segment for 3 [levels] now.”)
  • Slideshows (@CoLeeSensei: “Sometimes I just use a unit slideshow to ‘visually’ set the stage [and] get them ready to go; @SECottrell: “I love using a slideshow to hook students!”)
  • Catchy songs and music videos (@SraSpanglish: “I just really want my kids to get HOOKED [and] catchy songs do it every time [and] they reinforce vocab [and] structures”; One instructor: “Sometimes, I play [appropriate] music [videos] before class. [Students] tune in then sometimes.”)
  • Memes (@alenord: “[Love] to use TL memes and have students write comments in TL about them or TL hashtags.”)
  • “Secret Person of the Day” (@tmsaue1: “[Have] a secret person of the day (assign a student) [and] ask students to find out who it is through asking questions.”)

No matter what activities you use, participants stressed making bell ringers purposeful activities. @tmsaue1 said, “Bell ringers are engaging when they have purpose, [when students] see value in them for the rest of the learning for the day.” @tmsaue1 added that “bell ringers also function as the magical transporter that [takes] the students into the new language [and] culture environment.” He further noted, “[If] the [bell ringer] is a conjugation chart or a translation worksheet, you are not transporting students anywhere.” @crwmsteach pointed out that different activities will be engaging for different groups, so instructors should take their students’ interests into account: “Fun [and] engaging depends on class makeup; [a picture], song or video clip that motivates one class could totally distract another.”

Do you recommend any “bell-ringers” with comprehensible input (CI)?

Finally, Langchatters suggested a couple bell ringers with comprehensible input.
@KrisClimer said, “I like the well-chosen song, with visual [or] video to help.”
@crwmsteach offered another option: “[You can give students] proverbs to figure out; words are CI but meaning is a fun challenge.”

– Follow us on Instagram too! –


Langchatters described bell ringers not as “busy work” but as activities to set the stage for class and engage students once, or even before, the bell has rung. They generally favored the idea of routine implementation of bell ringers and differed in opinion over whether or not bell ringers should be tied to a theme. Participants offered a variety of ‘fun and engaging’ ideas for bell work. No matter what kind of bell work you implement, they stressed the importance of making it purposeful!

Thank You!

Thank you again to all those who “attended” #langchat last Thursday and to our moderators, Kris (@KrisClimer), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Amy (@alenord), Laura (@SraSpanglish) and Cristy (@msfrenchteach) for directing a reflection-filled hour.

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!


Climbing Down by Luke Hoersten, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Luke Hoersten 

Last Thursday, #langchat was a whirl of activity as participants shared their thoughts on language learning and acquisition. As @KrisClimer noted, lots of acquisition fans showed up, and Langchatters reflected on whether or not efforts to support acquisition are always successful. They also suggested strategies to promote acquisition, discussed student language awareness and brainstormed ways to nudge student proficiency ever higher.

Welcome to those #langchat newbies who joined us for the first time last week, and a welcome back to all those who joined us again! As always, we would like to thank our participants for all of their thoughtful contributions! We also extend a thank you to Kris (@KrisClimer), Amy (@alenord) Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) for moderating a very active conversation.

Learning versus Acquisition

Participants began by distinguishing language learning from acquisition. They provided a variety of points of comparison and images to help us think about this distinction. @dawnrwolfe contrasted learning about a language with acquiring language for communicational purposes. She elaborated on this point, noting, “[Learning deals with] vocabulary and discreet grammar points out of context [while language acquisition occurs] through authentic contexts.” @xBrittany0527x also associated acquisition with communicational aims, writing, “Acquisition [means studying] language with direct focus on pragmatics and how native speakers would have learned that topic.” @alenord used an image to exemplify her view of the difference, highlighting an awareness of pragmatics: “When I think of learning [versus] acquisition: I know what a hammer is [versus] I have a hammer and know how to use it!” @Mr_Fernie echoed @alenord’s association of acquisition with native speakers’ first contact with language, writing, “acquisition [is] what happens when we are children and we ‘get’ language.” Students can also ‘get’ a second language, as @KrisClimer wrote that acquiring a language means “having it be part of you.”

Are efforts to support acquisition always successful?

Langchatters acknowledged that acquisition does not happen overnight. Aware of this, Mr_Fernie said, “I find it hard in the [short-term] to see if [students] acquire what we present. [We] can assess, but it takes time to see what sticks.” @KrisClimer agreed that “[acquisition] requires PATIENCE,” but he remains optimistic, adding, “I do think however that ALL kids acquired a [language], and I believe they ALL can acquire another one.”

Langchatters were aware that to promote acquisition in the classroom by guiding students away from fill-in-the-blank exercises or grammar drills could be met with resistance. @cforchini observed, “Acquisition takes more effort. It is certainly easier to fill in the blanks, not care about the answer, [and/]or copy.” @SenoraWienhold experiences difficulty faced with some students’ desire for exercises that secure an ‘easy A’: “I have this issue too! They say [they] WANT a worksheet for [homework] for an easy grade.” @MCanion pointed out that acquisition is, in fact, more difficult to grade: “Hard to earn a grade for acquisition when showing grammar knowledge is clear.” Efforts to promote acquisition may prove unsuccessful for other reasons. For example, @crwmsteach said that instructors “may choose [the] wrong input, wrong setting [or] miss [opportunities for target language] use,” adding, “[Students] also choose their paths[, but instructors can] try to offer [opportunities for acquisition development].”

What strategies can you use to promote acquisition rather than just learning?

Instructors emphasized use of comprehensible input (CI) to promote acquisition. @KrisClimer championed comprehensible input: “Lots of CI! Lots of CI!,” encouraging instructors to “[expose students] to comprehensible input,” and promising, “Acquisition happens. They think it’s magic.” Other Langchatters offered suggestions of ways to integrate activities featuring comprehensible input in the classroom. @MCamion suggested “[storytelling], lengthy readings that kids can understand [ninety-percent or more of].” @AnnaKay512 also promoted “[adapted] readings,” finding that “[they] worked really well for discussing current events in class.” Alternatively, @heatherbook enjoys using audio-recorded stories: “I love audiobooks to help [students] acquire sounds [and] structure of language.” @frenchteacher11 added to instructor suggestions, highlighting the value of “using [students’] L2 as the method of communication,” and incorporating “[role play and other authentic] uses of the language.”

In terms of feedback on student output, @MmeMurphy favored a focus on successful communication: “I try to emphasize success instead of mistakes [, for example,] highlighting correct parts of essays not picking them apart.” @KHS_French also underscored the importance of encouraging student output in the spoken medium: “I use [oral points] where students are expected to carry on [conversations] in TL as much as possible.”

How might students be affected by language awareness?

Langchatters discussed how students’ developing language awareness might cause them to notice gaps in their understanding. @alenord said, “[Students] recognize a gap in what they know how to say and then ask how to fill that gap.” She added, “My job is to create as many scenarios as I can to expose those gaps so they stay inquisitive.” In this view, heightening student awareness of gaps is seen as a crucial step in increasing proficiency.

@Mr_Fernie pointed out the importance of not only recognizing gaps but making students aware of the process to bridge them: “[Let] students know exactly what we’re doing with CI, what acquisition is, and what outcome to expect in [the] TL.”

What strategies do you use to push for higher levels of proficiency?

Participants offered suggestions of ways to support advancements in student proficiency. @cforchini wrote, “Speaking in the TL all the time really helps speed up acquisition in the classroom.” @alenord recognized how peer-to-peer interactions can contribute to proficiency growth: “[A critical] piece [of] acquisition is for students to interact with students. They have to work to make meaning with each other.” @cforchini favors activities that require students to gather information from one another to fill in their knowledge for this reason: “That’s why I love information gap activities!!! [Partner] practice is so helpful.” Finally, @alenord encouraged use of consistent rubrics with incentives for growth over time: “I also believe that a solid set of rubrics that don’t change but consistently dangle carrots are important!”


#Langchat participants shared their views on how language learning differs from acquisition. Langchatters recognized that acquisition takes a lot of effort on the part of instructors and teachers alike, and they reflected on tools to support student development. This is an on-going process requiring lots of patience, and, as @alenord stated, “We have to keep filling the toolbox!” Participants acknowledged the value of increasing student awareness of gaps in understanding and discussed ways to bridge them.

Thank You!

Thank you again to everyone who tuned in for #langchat last Thursday, and thanks to Kris (@KrisClimer), Amy (@alenord) and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) for moderating an energizing #langchat hour.

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. To view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. If you have a topic you’re eager to discuss, send in your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible!