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Welcome back! Last week, #langchat participants met to talk about can-do statements. They began by defining them and describing the characteristics of an effective can-do statement. Langchatters then discussed strategies that instructors can use to ensure that learners maintain a can-do mindset. They also considered how can-do statements factor into assessment and evaluation. The school year may have come to a close for many, but enthusiasm for the last #langchat until August was high. Participants did everything possible to tune in! @tmsaue1 tweeted from a plane in DC: “Waiting for takeoff. Pretending to be in airplane mode when I’m really in #langchat mode.”

Thank you to all of our fabulous participants and to last Thursday’s moderating team: Cristy (@msfrenchteach), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Amy (@alenord), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), and Colleen (@CoLeeSensei)!

Question 1: What is a can-do statement?

Langchatters started off the hour by attempting to define a can-do statement. Several participants associated can-do statements with proficiency levels. For instance, @alenord said, “A [can-do] statement is [a] measurable goal for student performance based on a proficiency target.” Similarly, @SrtaSpathis wrote, “Can-do statements connect language [and] proficiency. [They] help [students] identify what’s expected (goals) at each proficiency level.” Some instructors described can-do statements as signposts on the road to increased proficiency. @carmenscoggins said, “[Can-do] statements show students their destination and stops along the way.” Additionally, participants noted that can-do statements emphasize achievements rather than shortcomings. As @kballestrini wrote, “Can-dos allow students to internalize and recognize what they know rather than [adopting] the traditional ‘what they don’t know’ [or] got ya [perspective].” @jen_bibby recognized that these statements empower students: “Can-do statements are a POSITIVE way for [students] to take ownership over their learning.”

Question 2: What are the characteristics of an effective can-do statement?

Langchatters reflected on key elements of an effective can-do statement. They noted that such statements consider student proficiency and are achievable, measurable, demonstrable, and learner-friendly!

  • Proficiency-boosting: @MlleSulewski wrote, “[An effective can-do statement is] realistic with regard to proficiency level.” @alenord added that statements should nevertheless support increases in proficiency: “Great [can-do] statements must cause movement up [the] proficiency scale [and should not] just [be a] bunch of little statements.”
  • Achievable: Langchatters also highlighted the importance of making can-do statements achievable in the near future. @BestMomofJames said, “A can-do should be something [students] can do today. I usually make mine too large and then they seem unachievable.” @SenoraDiamond55 advised participants, “Don’t cram too many skills into ONE Can Do. It’s ONE Can Do.”
  • Measurable and demonstrable: @SraStilson pointed out that an effective can-do statement “should be measurable or demonstrable.” She added, “Maybe something along the lines of ‘show me how well you can’ or ‘prove to me that you can…’”
  • Learner-friendly: Participants also recognized the value of taking learners into account when making can-do statements. One participant wrote, “First, can-dos should be written in language that is [learner-friendly].” Additionally, @rlgrandis highlighted the importance of “[student] buy-in,” adding, “[Students] see it’s attainable and they have an idea of how to get there. They even help craft [statements] :).” @jencjencnv agreed that students could be involved in the development of can-do statements: “[Kids] can help to write the [can-dos] based on what they think they should be able to [do] at [the] end of [the] unit.” @SrtaSpathis pointed out that student engagement can also come in the form of reflection: “[Effective] can-do statements engage students in self-reflection, [and] help them create goals [and] self-assess.”

Question 3: What strategies can we use to ensure that learners are thinking about can-dos on a daily basis?

Langchatters have their method of choice for increasing student awareness of can-do statements. As @K_Griffith observed, “The consensus seems to be—‘Put the ‘can-do’ in front of the [students].’” One participant suggested use of entry and exit tickets as a way to help students monitor their progress. Others prefer to post can-dos in the classroom. @alenord said, “I prepare my [can-dos] for each unit, magnetize them, and post them. I move them in and out of daily agenda depending on [the] focus.” @SenoraDiamond55 wrote that instructors could “[post] a daily [can-do and discuss] how [students] can meet it by the end of class.” Alternatively, some participants use paper reminders. For instance, @rlgrandis said, “I print out all of unit can-dos at [the] beginning, [and students] mark where they are. [They refer to the handout] throughout [the] unit until final reflection at [the] end.” @SraSpanglish mentioned portfolios as another option: “It may not be DAILY, but can-do based portfolios keep kids conscious of their skills” Still others provide oral reminders in class. @MmeFarab wrote, “Remind [students] of can-do goal that they’re working on. Most [students] like to know where they’re headed.” @bjillmoore advocated for implicit reminders through continued practice: “[Make students] use the language for that purpose daily – talk, write, talk to one another [or with their] teacher! (I am passionate about this.).”

Question 4: How do can-do statements factor into assessment and evaluation?

Instructors emphasized that can-do statements should be closely related to assessment. @Marishawkins wrote, “Assessment should be an accumulation of the [can-dos]. Demonstrate that you can keep doing it!” Although all felt that can-dos should be evaluated, some participants differed in their preference for design. @rlgrandis said, “[In my opinion,] ALL assessments should be based off of those can-dos. If [students] weren’t given that goal it shouldn’t be evaluated.” Alternatively, @MmeFarab favored backwards design: “I think that the [assessment] should come [first]; that way you know what you’re guiding [students] toward. Backwards design all the way.” Some noted how can-do statements offer insight into assessment content. @SrtaSpathis said, “Can-do statements give [students] insight as to what they’ll be assessed on [and] give teachers direction on what they should be assessing.” @SenoraDiamond55 agreed, writing, “[Can-do] statements inform your [students] (and YOU!) about what matters.” She encouraged instructors to focus on what’s important: “Assess what matters. Do not assess what doesn’t. In other words, if it’s not important enough for a [can-do statement], it’s probably not important enough to spend time assessing.”


#Langchat participants defined can-do statements and pointed out that effective statements consider student proficiency and are achievable, measurable and demonstrable, and learner-friendly. Participants shared their favorite ways of encouraging learners to think about can-dos on a daily basis. They also reflected on the relationship between can-do statements and assessment and evaluation. As always, Langchatters offered encouragement, reminding each other that they CAN DO it.

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who have contributed to #langchat during the past school year! #Langchat will return in August, so stay tuned for the start date! We would like to wish everyone a wonderful summer, and we look forward to seeing participants, both old and new, in the Fall!

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!

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Last week, Langchatters met to discuss how the concept of high-frequency words can inform language instruction. They shared their thoughts about which high-frequency words are most important and offered advice on how to draw students’ attention to high-frequency vocab. Participants also brainstormed ways to help students build their vocabulary beyond high-frequency words and reflected on how the role of high-frequency words changes as students’ proficiency increases. Lastly, Langchatters noted potential risks of focusing too heavily on high-frequency vocab.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s discussion, whether you were soaking up the first days of summer or taking a break from pesky end-of-semester grading! We would also like to extend a big thank you to Thursday’s moderating team: John (@CadenaSensei), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Amy (@alenord), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell)!

Question 1: Which high-frequency words are most important?

Participants weighed in on which high-frequency words should be considered most important, and several instructors cited common verbs. @SraSpanglish wrote, “I’m all about the verbs” and shared a link with 10 essential verbs for Spanish: @ShaneBraverman also places emphasis on “words that have the most meaning, like verbs and nouns,” adding, “[Prepositions] have meaning, but [are] smaller in comparison.”

Some participants discussed the relationship between sight words and high-frequency vocabulary. @SraSpanglish wrote, “[From] my son’s kindergarten experience, he seemed to start with the highest frequency [words] for sight words…?” @doriecp commented, “[Yes], high frequency words are usually taught as sight words,” sharing a link to explain the distinction:”
@SraSpanglish noted, “The specifics can be filled in with circumlocution [and] cognates or self-selected vocab!” and @alenord agreed, writing, “High frequency words should support [comprehensible input] and circumlocution.”

Instructors also commented on the difficulty of determining high-frequency words in certain languages. @TPSLatin wrote, “I have found making the [high-frequency] vocab list [for Latin] so tricky this year. [Should instructors consider words with] 1st century [or] 21st century [high-frequency]…?” @magisterb480 commented, “That’s the thing. Do we really need all the words for death and armies? :-)”

Question 2: How do you draw students’ attention to high-frequency words in your teaching?

Participants had lots of ideas about how to highlight high-frequency words in the classroom. We have shared their top suggestions with you below:

  • Frequent Use: @Marishawkins underscored the importance of using high-frequency words with great frequency: “I keep using them. And reusing them!” Similarly, @ShaneBraverman tries to “draw attention to words [his students have] seen before,” noting, “[Students] start to remember them as we use them more and more.” @alenord underscored the importance of frequent use by students, in particular: “[This may] not be popular belief, but [student] don’t remember [something] best because I USE it a lot. They remember it best if THEY USE it a lot.”
  • Flashcards: Other instructors suggested use of flashcards to reinforce high-frequency vocab. @oowwoo recommended “[flashcards] made with Quizlet,” and @Sralandes suggested Anki to those using flashcards, noting, “[This] site uses [a Spaced Repetition System (SRS)] to help learners remember vocab.”
  • Music: Langchatters also mentioned the potential of music to reinforce high-frequency vocabulary. @SrtaOlson advised “[making] call and response chants [or] songs for students to sing or listen to that notify [students] of a new task with [high-frequency] words included!” She added, “Playing [students] popular American songs in Spanish helps [them] pick up on vocab! Versions with lyrics across the screen are best!” @mturt said, “Agreed – [Music] is a HUGE motivator for my students, too.”
  • Posters and Word Walls: Still others cited posters and word walls as sources of vocabulary reinforcement. @CadenaSensei said, “I’ve seen [teachers] make posters of their ‘Top 10 Verbs’ to hang in classroom for [students’ reference]. I’ll be making some next year, too.” He shared “a blog post by @mike_peto on posting high-frequency verbs in [the] classroom” @lovemysummer posted a link to a blog post about word walls in her classroom:” Additionally, @spanishplans provided an example of what a verb word wall might look like: @alenord, however, questioned the use of word walls to display high-frequency vocabulary, writing, “I actually think that word walls shouldn’t be [high-frequency] words, [but] rather other things that need more support.” She added, “If I have to post it for kids to use it, it isn’t high frequency enough.”
  • Student Input: @TPSLatin recognized the importance of student input: “[If] I’m picking the right [high-frequency] words, then [students] are naturally drawn to them. Better yet, they can help me make the list.” @VTracy7 said, “[Agreed]. My [students] always remember what is important to them [and] are far more apt to use vocab that negotiates wants and needs.”

Question 3: How can we help students build their vocabulary beyond high-frequency words?

Looking to help student expand their vocabularies beyond high-frequency words? Langchatters suggested personal dictionaries or student vocab lists and reading.

  • Personal Dictionaries and Student Vocab Lists: @oowwoo suggested “[personal] dictionaries [where students] write [a] word [and] then draw a picture [to illustrate it].” @SrtaOlson proposed having students “[create] their own vocab lists for a unit maybe and having them look up definitions [or create] sample sentences!” Similarly @brandstaetterk1 recommended “asking [students] to perform tasks with a theme (travel, restaurants, etc.) and making them find the vocab they need.”
  • Reading: Many Langchatters recognized the benefits of reading. @tiesamgraf wrote, “[Reading] is the best way to increase vocab – [it is provided] in context and [personalized].” @oowwoo suggested “free reading followed [by] a mini book report.” She added, “I think ‘learning to read’ is the first stage, then after this base is established, [students] can ‘read to learn.’”

Question 4: How does the role of high-frequency words evolve as students progress in proficiency?

Participants noted that high-frequency words can serve as a base for students to continue to draw from over time. @kballestrini wrote, “[High-frequency] words are that core [students] can always reach back to in order for them to deliver comprehensible [messages] to others.” He added, “[They] also are those words that you (and their peers) can use for circumlocution to establish [the] meaning of new words.” @Mr_Fernie commented, “[We] need to keep adding new [high-frequency] verbs as students progress and we must continually recycle the older ones.”

Langchatters acknowledged that high-frequency words can also change over time. @brandstaetterk1 wrote, “[What you consider high-frequency] evolves within the themes that you are teaching ([as they become] more specialized [or] advanced).” @alenord agreed, observing, “Because TASKS are different and the contexts we want [students] communicating [through evolve], [what we consider high-frequency] MUST change.”

Question 5: What are the risks of focusing exclusively on high-frequency words?

Participants acknowledged that too much focus on high-frequency vocab carries risks. @brandstaetterk1 pointed out that student individuality could be compromised: “Focusing exclusively on [high-frequency vocab] takes away [students’] individuality. You are deciding words they should use [for] them.” Additionally, some commented that instructors could risk limiting student growth. @magisterb480 wrote, “Their vocabularies won’t increase [and] they’ll communicate like novices for too long if [high-frequency] words are used exclusively.” Students can also become too comfortable with high-frequency words, as @profepj3 observed: “A big thing I ran into this [year] was that kids didn’t feel comfortable expanding [in the target language because] they didn’t want to stray from [high-frequency] words.” @lovemysummer added, “They will be those people who say, ‘I took x [years] of [a foreign language and] can’t say anything except [the] Taco Bell menu.’”


Langchatters had plenty of thoughts about how the concept of high-frequency words can inform language instruction. They discussed their place in the classroom and brainstormed ways to emphasize them without compromising individuality and student growth. As always, #langchat left participants feeling motivated. With the school year coming to a close and final grading weighing heavily on instructors’ minds, #langchat offered a moment of reprieve and inspiration for next year. @profepj said, “I’m mixing some things up next year, and I’m looking to #langchat for ideas, too! Fresh start in August, for sure!” adding, “[#Langchat] is a place where I can come with frustrations and ideas and BOTH are welcome.”

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who continue to contribute to #langchat and to those who recently joined in for the very first time! Remember, #langchat now happens on Thursday evenings at 8pm ET AND Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET!

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

Science & Technology Student by Gates Foundation, on Flickr
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Welcome back to #langchat! Last week participants met to reflect on their experiences in the classroom over the past year and to (already!) begin the process of making plans for next Fall. They shared a change that they made this year – large or small, discussed their big ‘AHA’ moments, and talked about the biggest risk they took. Looking ahead, Langchatters reflected on what they are planning to try or ditch in the coming school year, and they tweeted some questions or issues that they are seeking to resolve. @Narralakes described the conversation as “a [Twitter] tsunami [with] lots of good stuff, but fast!!” reporting, “93 new tweets in a minute!!”

Thank you to everyone who joined in the dynamic conversation and to Thursday’s moderating team: Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Laura (@SraSpanglish), and Amy (@alenord)!

Question 1: What was a change – large or small – that you made this year?

This has clearly been a year of change and growth for many Langchatters. Several instructors mentioned their efforts to develop a more proficiency-based language classroom. @CoLeeSensei started doing “‘less recording’ in the [mark book, giving] more ‘feedback’ to [students].” She noted that this process entailed “erasing the numbers from all of [her] rubrics and changing [them] to [say] ‘expectations: meeting, exceeding, [etc.].’” @MmeFarab also made this shift, writing, “[I changed] my style to proficiency-based, which meant throwing out textbooks and changing all my activities. [I’m never] going back.” @alenord also reported far “fewer grades than normal,” adding, “I like that [students’] grade in my class better reflects their performance.” Additionally, some participants experimented with ‘Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling’ (TPRS). @Mr_Fernie said, “[I made] lots of changes this year; [the] biggest was [my] shift away from [the] textbook to TPRS.” @rlgrandis wrote, “[I] tried to dip my toes in #TPRS and ended up diving in head first! [This was my best] move all year!”

Participants mentioned a range of other changes that they implemented. Here are some of their comments:

  • @kballestrini reported “moving further down the continuum of treating Latin as a ‘language.’” This meant spending “a lot more time […] delivering understandable messages [in the target language].”
  • @magisterb480 integrated more technology in the classroom: “I also started using much more technology since my students all have iPads.”
  • @SraDentlinger wrote, “Professionally speaking, I had a [student teacher] for the [first] time! [This was scary] and exciting at the same time.” @CoLeeSensei replied, “Awesome – [Having] one really helped me ‘define’ what teaching meant to me!”

Question 2: What was your big ‘AHA’ moment of the year?

This year was full of valuable insights for participants, and many #langchat participants couldn’t mention just one! Most ‘AHA’ moments centered on proficiency, TPRS, students’ wants and needs, and Twitter as a source of professional development.

@MariaTrolese wrote, “When my students stopped talking about [percentages] and [numbers], I knew changing my [assessments] to [be standards-based] had worked!” For more information on standards-based assessments, check out this recent summary! While this shift in mindset can have great results, @CatherineKU72 realized that a change in proficiency takes time and requires patience: “[ACTFL] guidelines for proficiency reminded me that [the move from] novice [to mid-high levels] takes time. [This relieves] ‘pressure’ to reach a certain level.” @SraSpanglish added that this mindset has the added benefit of advancing all students: “[If] I keep focus on proficiency it keeps ALL kids focused on advancing, not just grade grubbers [or] natural linguists.”

@rlgrandis realized how TPRS could become a reality when watching another instructor: “[I] observed a [teacher] at another school that uses #TPRS. To see it in action clicked and made it possible.” On the topic of TPRS, @SraDentlinger realized that guides can save teachers lots of valuable time: “I guess my big AHA [moment] was that @TPRSPublishing [Teacher] Guides save lives. I was SO busy, and creativity was rough.”

Student wants and needs
@RyanWestBosson learned the benefit of focusing on student interests: “Tying the curriculum to the [students’] interests is more motivating than content I find interesting. [This may be obvious], but I’m a newer [teacher].” @VTracy7 shared her realization that student needs also matter: “Working hard, and I mean [putting in hours] of thought and effort (on my part) were futile UNTIL I shifted my focus to what my [students] NEEDED.”

@cwilsonspanish came to realize the valuable professional development offered by Twitter: “Twitter is the best [thing] I’ve ever done professionally and I should have done it sooner.” In particular, some participants became aware of #langchat’s role as a source of ‘AHA’ moments. SraGSpanish2 wrote, “These discussions are an [‘AHA’] moment for me every week.” @magisterb480 commented, “[I realized] that if I have a question about some random education buzzword that I don’t know, #langchat has an answer!”

Question 3: What was the biggest risk you took this year and how did it pay off?

Langchatters were big risk-takers this year! Most of the risks they described involved emphasizing stories in class and viewing phones as resources instead of obstacles to learning.

@Mr_Fernie described his biggest risk, namely, “shelving textbooks we just bought last year to tell silly stories.” He commented on the success of a story-oriented approach: “[My] valentine’s story had 5 different couples proposing to each other…[Students] loved it more than anything else all year.” @SraSpanglish wrote, “[That] was another big risk I took–writing dumb stories for kids in Spanish!” She shared a link to some of her own creations: @CoLeeSensei also ditched more traditional materials in favor of stories: “I scrapped two units that didn’t seem right [and] went into a story unit. It was magic!”

Phone usage in class
Instructors attempted to change their views on phones in the classroom, accepting them as useful tools with the potential to enhance learning. @SraGSpanish2 said, “I would have to say [my biggest risk concerned] phone usage in class; it’s so ingrained in us to tell [students] to put them away and not use them for [education].” @SraCurling also mentioned “[incorporating] more tech into class,” noting, “[Students] loved being able to use their devices on various tasks.”

Other risks included increasing time in the target language, implementing IPAs and blogging about successes…and failures!

  • @kballestrini said, “[I started] aiming for around [70-percent] of the time in Latin, along with slowing down just enough to meet a wider range of learners.” Looking to increase your own use of the target language? Check out this past summary.
  • @SraSpanglish wrote, “I went all in with IPAs [and] even modeled the final exam on [this] format. Kids UNDERSTAND their scores AND their performance levels!” For tips on adapting IPAs for your classroom, take a look at this summary.
  • @SraWienhold said, “My biggest risk was blogging about my lessons and failures #hardtoputyourselfoutthere,” and @SraDentlinger offered words of encouragement: “People appreciate admitting failures almost more than successes, [in my opinion, and] your stuff if GOLD. Keep it up!” @SraWienhold suggested, “[We] could start a series on #langfails for those lessons that explode in your face.”

Question 4: What are you looking forward to trying, or ditching, next year?

Even though the year has yet to come to a close for many, #langchat participants were already planning for Fall. They mentioned incorporation of novels and TPRS, increased use of technology in the classroom, greater student-led inquiry, and rearranged seating.

Novels and TPRS
Many instructors were eagerly discussing use of novels and storytelling next year! @SraGSpanish2 said, “[I ordered] my first class set of novels for next year,” and @SoyBolingual wrote, “[#Langchat] has convinced me to buy sample packs of novels to read over the summer! [I] hope to find [one] to include [in class] next year.” @rlgrandis said, “[I’m] going to make the full switch to #TPRS and [Spanish] 2 as novel-based. [It only] feels possible with #langchat.”

Use of technology
@CatherineKU72 said, “[I’m looking] forward to [a] new set 30 Chromebooks for next year. However [I’m] not jumping on the bandwagon of ‘everything tech.’ Balance!” @CatherineKU72 kindly offer tech assistance: “If anyone needs any tech integration assistance, you know my Twitter handle! I am your [world language] geek girl.”

Student-led inquiry
@dpilla said, “I want to ditch ‘presenting vocab’ and make vocab acquisition [inquiry-based] and [student-led] instead.” @alenord added, “What is meaningful, valuable and REUSABLE to [students], they find a way to remember. #selfselectedvocab.”

Rearranged seating
Some participants expressed intent to reconfigure the seating in their classroom. @VTracy7 said, “I moved the desks and left just the chairs. [Students] will become active listeners! I hope.” @kballestrini wrote, “I keep asking for standing tables so that I can ditch the desks. [I hope] that next year is the year for them.”

Question 5: What are some questions or issues that you need solutions for by next year?

Langchatters had some lingering questions and issues that they would like to resolve before the start of the next school year. If you have suggestions, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

  • @magisterb480: “I still don’t know after so many explanations what in the world an IPA is and how to do them for Latin effectively.” He added, “I still need help with all the ACTFL modes [and] terminology and applying it to Latin more appropriately.” @kballestrini wrote, “Couple of months, bro 🙂 New Classical standards are going to rock. I promise.” Any tips, Classicists?
  • @SraCurling would appreciate advice on “[how] to help [administrators], parents, students, and teachers embrace the move towards proficiency.” This summary could be a useful starting point.
  • @MmeFarab seeks advice for “[keeping] novice [students] in the [target language] as much as possible.” @SraWienhold voiced a similar concern: “I need ideas for building relationships with new students while staying in the [target language].”

Do you have other issues or questions that you’d like to voice? Consider submitting your ideas for future #langchats, contact fellow participants for advice, and take a look at previous #langchat summaries on the @CalicoSpanish blog or our Wiki page.


Last Thursday, Langchatters were eager to reflect on the past year and plan ahead for the coming school year. Participants shared the changes they have experienced, ‘AHA’ moments they have had, and risks they have taken this year. They also discussed plans they are eager to implement and voiced lingering concerns and questions. Participants expressed their appreciation for #langchat as a source of support as they seek to improve the quality of world language teaching. @MmeFarab commented, “All of us want to grow and make changes. We’re not alone in wanting to get better, even the ‘best’ of us.” @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[#Langchat] is my go-to for those who have done what I want to do – or on the journey with me as we all try to do it.”

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who continue to contribute to #langchat and to those who recently joined in for the first time! Remember, now you can also #langchat Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET in addition to our standard time of Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. ET!

Due to space limitations, many tweets had to be omitted from this summary. If you wish to view the entire conversation, you can access the full transcript on our tweet archive. Have a topic you’re eager to discuss?