open house at school tonight - upside do by vbecker, on Flickr
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Welcome back to #langchat! Last week, participants were ready to dive into a chat on flipped classrooms! They began by discussing what a ‘flipped classroom’ is and why it may be gaining momentum. Langchatters then considered what kind of world language content is appropriate to be flipped out of class time. Additionally, they shared their ideas on how to make authentic resources comprehensible as flipped content. Finally, instructors reflected on some potential drawbacks associated with flipped learning and suggested ways to avoid them. #Langchat energy remained as high as ever, resulting in yet another speedy chat! @SECottrell said, “Well, that was one wild and fast #langchat. No time to heat up my coffee, even.” Don’t flip out if you got lost in the sea of tweets! Catch up on the chat highlights with your weekly summary!

Thank you to everyone who participated last Thursday, Saturday – or both! We would also like to thank last week’s moderators: Cristy (@msfrenchteach) and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) led the Thursday chat, and John (@CadenaSensai) kept the Saturday chat running!

Question 1: What is the ‘flipped’ classroom and why is it gaining momentum?

Participants began by defining the topic of this chat: the flipped classroom. @MmeFarab wrote, “‘Flipped’ means [students] do the ‘lecture’ part of instruction at home, so [instructors] can use class for furthering knowledge [with] activities.” In the words of @virgilalligator, “Flipped can mean presentation of content [or a] skill ([whether it is technology-based] or not) [that] students can learn [and] bring back to class to dig in and discuss.” For @doriecp, “[A] flipped classroom is one that allows [instructors] time with [students] to be focused on discourse rather than ‘instruction.’” Many participants questioned whether there is a difference between ‘flipwork’ and homework, and @SECottrell offered an explanation: “This is a REALLY good question. [The answer] is [that something] flipped is frontloading, [while] homework is after-learning-practice.”

So why might flipping be catching on? Langchatters shared some possible reasons. @JenShawSpanish wrote, “Flipping gives [world language teachers] more time to spend on valuable [communicative] tasks […] [You can get students] talking [and] practicing in class!” @WHS_French_ also mentioned increased opportunities for communication: “[The] flipped classroom is popular because then [students] can use language more in class.” For @mrsbolanos, flipping facilitates in-class collaboration: “Flipped to me allows for more collaboration in the classroom between students and the teacher.” @Marishawkins reiterated this point: “[One] of our math teachers loves the differentiation of a flipped class. I see it also allows her to work more [one-on-one with students].” Participants also noted that flipping can help hold students more accountable for their learning (@WHS_French_), while allowing them to progress at a comfortable speed. @LidaZlatic wrote, “We spend so much time presenting content [and] drilling to the middle. [When we flip, we] let kids do it at their own pace. In class we practice.” @SECottrell mentioned a practical reason why flipping might be gaining popularity: “[The flipped class] is also gaining momentum because of the availability of [technology]. 15 years ago it would not have been a question.”

While many expressed enthusiasm for flipping, this topic was clearly a source of controversy from the start, with some instructors on board more than others. Some voiced concerns early on. For example, @magisterb480 pointed out, “A lot of kids have busy schedules,” asking, “How do we know they’re doing the learning at home to maximize class time?” Others expressed hesitance about giving up too much control. @MlleSulewski said, “I think I’m too much of a control freak for a flipped class.”

Question 2: What kind of world language content is appropriate to be flipped out of class time?

Can you flip everything? Langchatters discussed what content is most flippable in the world language class. They considered the flippability of grammar and vocab, videos, readings, and cultural knowledge.

  • Grammar and Vocabulary? Langchatters generally agreed that grammar and vocabulary can be frontloaded before class. @LidaZlatic wrote, “Anything rote can be done at home (grammar, vocab, lecture, etc.).” @omahafrenchie also suggested vocabulary as flippable content. When discussing how vocabulary might be flipped, @SECottrell said, “[It] could be something as easy as watching a slideshow of images and listening to pronunciation before class.” @LidaZlatic shared another resource for flipped vocabulary: “@ClassTracks is a customizable [vocabulary] platform for the [foreign language] classroom. It gives you data on what your [students] learned. I’d love [your feedback]!” @MlleSulewski mentioned grammar: “I guess if I was going to do explicit grammar instruction [this could be flipped. I would] rather use class time for input.”
  • Videos? Some instructors are experimenting with flipped video lessons. @JenShawSpanish wrote, “I currently [flip] grammar, but next unit I’m doing an interpretive [authentic resources (#authres)] video [with] questions and some voiceover on @EDpuzzle.” Others also expressed enthusiasm for annotated videos. @Marishawkins wrote, “I really like flipping #authres videos for [homework] using @zaption or @EDpuzzle.” She provided the following example: “I found a video of a girl [her] her daily routine. I could insert questions throughout the video with reinforcement of [vocabulary].”
  • Reading? The flippability of reading was contested. @MCanion wrote in favor of flipping level-appropriate readings: “Extended reading that is at a student’s level is great to flip to outside the class.” Others wanted to play a more active role in scaffolding students’ comprehension and guiding them through a text. @SECottrell said, “I don’t believe stories can be flipped because I can’t see faces, check comprehension, ask 5700 questions during story.” @LidaZlatic also felt that “[stories] need to be done in person,” suggesting, “Flip the [vocabulary] before you do the story!”
  • Cultural knowledge? Participants seemed to feel that flipping cultural knowledge could be beneficial. @Mariwynn wrote, “Flipping can give [teachers] the [opportunity] to frontload cultural knowledge to inform [students’] L2 learning.” @SECottrell added that this knowledge base could be developed in students’ L1 outside of class, reserving in-class time for target language use: “Flipped is the answer to our continual question of how to teach culture at novice [without] being in [the] L1 in class.” @mrsbolanos also wrote in support of flipping “[anything] in [students’] L1 that would help keep the classroom in [their] L2,” adding, “[It’s tough] to get that 90% [target language use].”

As a word of caution, @SECottrell urged participants not to flip just to flip, but to carefully reflect on the usefulness of flipped content: “Let me put out the opinion that if it is a lousy class practice it is a lousy home practice.”

Question 3: How can we make authentic resources comprehensible as flipped content?

Instructors are used to making input comprehensible for students, so what happens when they aren’t around? Langchatters considered ways to make authentic resources remain comprehensible as flipped content. Nevertheless, some participants expressed skepticism. For example, @MmeFarab wrote, “I honestly don’t think I would flip #authres for students. What say you, #langchat?” @senortalone also voiced concern: “Agreed. [If] it needs to be scaffolded to be comprehensible in class, what is the scaffolding at home?”

That said, others ensured skeptics that you can make it happen, with careful planning! @IndwellingLang suggested, “[Pick] stuff easy enough for [students] to read without help.” In terms of building understanding, @jlynnhambrick proposed, “Let [students] show off what they DO understand from a [flipped] video, song or text in the [target language].” @mjosey1 noted that this could mean “simple [things] like [asking students to] list verbs, list things [they] saw [or] heard [that they] knew, look for [a] tense they have studied, etc.” @jlynnhambrick suggested that in-class activities could then provide scaffolding for a more nuanced understanding: “Then follow up the next day with those ‘harder questions’ when they have the [teacher] there and other [students] for support.” @JenShawSpanish expressed no reservations at all about flipping #authres: “I will absolutely flip #authres. [Students] can engage with [them], answer questions, [and] flipping tools like @EDpuzzle would be perfect.”

Question 4: What are the pitfalls associated with flipped learning and how can we avoid them?

Langchatters recognized potential pitfalls of flipped learning and proposed possible solutions. They mentioned students’ failure to flip, classes with a heavy grammar focus, and unequal access to technology as sources of concern.

  • Students who don’t flip… and make you flip out! @MmeFarab expressed concern about instances where “[students] don’t complete the flipped lesson and are unprepared.” @ProfeCochran described a nightmare scenario: “I can just imagine walking into my class [with] this perfectly prepared plan based on what [students] did night before, then…boom, nada.” A couple of participants offered suggestions. @JenShawSpanish wrote, “I’ve found it I assign a flip [three or four days] in advance [and] conference [with] the handful who haven’t finished a few days before, it helps a ton.” Alternatively, @LidaZlatic said, “When [students] didn’t do the work, I divided my class into groups. They made up the work in class, [while] others did fun [comprehensible input].”
  • Classes that feel too grammar-y: @MCanion shared his “[fear] that [a] trend to flip grammar lessons pushes [the] scope and sequence [of a class] towards grammar translation methods.” She added, “When flipped content begins to replace teachers in the classroom, [that’s a big] pitfall.”
  • Unequal access to technology: Participants noted that too much flipped content requiring technology could put some students at a disadvantage. @omahafrenchie cited “[no], limited or inconsistent access to [technology]” as a pitfall. @SECottrell agreed, writing, “I’ll reiterate after working with flipped learning that [technology] in low-income or rural areas continues to be issue.” @ProfeCochran pointed out that high student motivation can help reduce unequal access: “We are extremely low income, but I’ve been surprised lately of the willingness of students to stay late in library to work.”

Question 5: What tools, tips, and technology make flipped world language learning happen logistically?

Ready to get your flip on? Langchatters offered some final advice concerning logistics. We share their words of wisdom:

  • Carefully consider technology: @mjosey1 wrote, “Find out what technology [you are] familiar with already [and] always use something [you are] comfortable [with] or [it won’t] work.”
  • Take advantage of resource editing tools: @SraDentlinger said, “I think videos and video editing tools make flipped classes possible for [world language teachers].”
  • Keep your resources organized: @SraDentlinger added, “I also think a homebase like @GoogleClassroom or @edmodo to house everything is vital.”


Langchatters defined a ‘flipped’ classroom in their own words and discussed why it may be gaining popularity. Participants also considered what kind of world language content is appropriate to be flipped out of class time, and they proposed ways to make authentic resources comprehensible as flipped content. Lastly, they considered some drawbacks associated with flipped learning and thought up ways to avoid them. Throughout the discussion, participants came to realize that flipped lessons need not be entirely tech-oriented. They also noted that we need not get our flip on day after day. As @omahafrenchie reflected, “[Flipping] doesn’t have to be done all day every day. Use it as a tool.”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s detailed chat. In case you can’t make our traditional Thursday chats, don’t flip out! Remember that now you can get your #langchat on twice a week—Thursday evenings at 8 p.m. ET AND Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET!

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. Got a question 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!

Consul General Lochman at Mangilaluk Sch by US Embassy Canada, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  US Embassy Canada 

Last Thursday, #langchat was back in full force! Participants eagerly counted down the minutes to a chat on maintaining use of the target language during classroom management. Instructors started off the hour discussing factors that they consider part of classroom management. They then described a number of issues that tend to derail commitment to consistent target language use. Langchatters also suggested tools and interpersonal activities to help keep students on task in the target language. @KrisClimer’s advice could not have been more spot on, as this #langchat moved fast: “In case you’re just joining #langchat, it may get crowded. [Buckle] up and hang on.”

Thank you to everyone who hung on tight during a lightning speed chat, and a big thanks to last Thursday’s moderators: Kris (@KrisClimer), Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Amy (@alenord), John (@CadenaSensei), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell)! We’d also like to thank the moderators of Saturday’s Sequel, Laura (@SraSpanglish) and Diego (@DiegoOjeda66)!

Question 1: What factors do you consider ‘classroom management’ in the world language classroom?

As Langchatters were quick to recognize, ‘classroom management’ can mean much more than discipline. @Marishawkins said, “[Although] classroom management can [be] discipline, I think of it as giving directions.” Other participants shared their own associations. @CoLeeSensei described ‘classroom management’ as a process of starting and stopping activities, effectuating transitions: “[It’s about] getting [students] going on something,’ ‘debriefing.’ ‘stopping them from doing something’ […] (and [everything] in between!).” @rlgrandis also mentioned transitions: “[Management means facilitating] smooth transitions, making sure students participate, [and] keeping them in [the target language].” Several others noted the value of routines in maintaining management. @learnsafari wrote, “Most of my work is with young children, so ‘rituals and routines’ are the name of the game in classroom management.” Still others mentioned the importance of a sense of safety: “[It means] keeping a safe environment (physically and emotionally)” (@kltharri).

Participants also recognized the great potential of engagement. @kballestrini wrote, “I’ll be honest, I give little thought to classroom management these days: engaging content [coupled with] my personality makes it easy.” @KUBuffy replied that management “does seem to take care of itself as long as [students] are engaged.” @SraSpanglish whole-heartedly agreed: “YES, engagement is the best management–breakdown in discipline is first a breakdown in engagement.”

Question 2: What issues tend to derail your class’s commitment to stay in the target language?

Langchatters seemed all too aware of issues that risk derailing a class commitment to the target language, and tweets had fellow participants nodding in agreement. @muchachitaMJ wrote, “I’m basically silently agreeing to EVERY one of these little distractions!!” Among other factors, instructors cited the following:

  • School Interruptions: Some cited school-wide interruptions as distractions that pull students out of target language mode. For example, @muchachitaMJ mentioned: “school responsibilities – fire drills, office calls, interruptions…” @virgilalligator also cited “interruptions beyond our control,” observing that “anything that disrupts our routine and throws us off track switches off the [target language] mode.”
  • Complex Ideas, Simple Language: Students may not yet have all the tools to express their complex thoughts in the target language. @KUBuffy noted that students “having more to say than their level allows” may switch back to their first language. @MmeFarab agreed that this can happen “[when students] have questions too complex to ask [or] answer.”
  • Lax Target Language Enforcement: If you are eager to keep students in the target language, try not to let down your guard. @kltharri wrote, “[Students] not being pushed to use [the target language may] resort to [their first language, and] then [the teacher] sees it as class [management] issue.” @SraWienhold replied from personal experience: “When I am distracted and not focused on class, [students] literally run with the English!” @ENSENOra proposed a way to encourage students to monitor one another: “I’ve used clothes pins and students steal each other’s when they hear English. They love it.”
  • Peer Translations: “Pssst! That’s what it means!” Participants noted that “[when] students start translating what [their instructor is] saying to those around them” (@ShannonRRuiz) it can be distracting and detrimental for target language maintenance. @CoLeeSensei replied, “Oh my – why DO they do that? [Who] created this fear of NOT understanding and [thinking they] ‘must translate’!” @tiesamgraf commented, “I agree – [Students] want to help others and think it’s the right strategy. [This deserves] a discussion [with the] class.”
  • Lack of Boundaries: Activities without time limits or enough structure risk giving students the opportunity to slip back into their first language. @CatherineKU72 wrote, “Any extra time derails the class. I’m learning to keep extra tight [with] beginners [and] limited [with] intermediate [students]. Idle mouths…” Similarly, @mafarrace observed, “[When] I accidentally give too much time and many finish [students] within that time… [it’s a] BIG mistake on my part.” @HolaSrHoward also agreed that too much “open-ended-ness :)” could become problematic, adding, “If [students] have too many options, [and] not enough [boundaries], expectations, [and] guidelines, they opt for [their first language] and [get] off-task.”
  • Could it be me…?: Langchatters even asked whether they should take some of the blame for non-target language use. @KrisClimer wrote, “I really think I am the one who derails the [target language] use more than any other single factor.” This was the start of many similar ‘confessions.’ @CoLeeSensei said, “My name is Colleen I derail my own classes too!” and @MlleSulewski commented, “THANK GOODNESS I’m not alone! #derailersanonymous.” Langchatters recognized that they are, indeed, far from alone, and @kararparker showed appreciation for a candid discussion: “I love the honesty of this #tryingourbest.”

So how do instructor actions sometimes work against target language maintenance? Langchatters acknowledged different potential factors. @K_Griffith pointed to a lack of comprehensible input: “[This can happen when] I use language that isn’t comprehensible.” Others cited a lack of commitment to target language use. For example, @SraWillis wrote, “When I fail to stay in [target language because] it’s faster [or] easier to slip [into the first language], game over. I lose [students’] commitment.” @mohamedansary72 agreed that instructor commitment is key: “If the teacher does not show a commitment toward using the [target language], don’t blame [students].” Poor planning was also discussed as a potential cause of decreased target language use. @SraWienhold said, “I need to plan activities that facilitate [target language] use. Usually poor planning leads to [use of the first language].” Lastly, @fabughoush drew attention to possible consequences of instructors’ frustrations: “[Not] being calm. Getting mad. Students acting bad. Loosing control. [All of these emotional reactions can pull us out of the target language].”

Question 3: What tools and techniques help your class remain on task with high levels of the target language?

Langchatters suggested three primary tools and techniques to keep students working in the target language: scaffolding, insisting on target language immersion, and teaching students to embrace the unknown.

  • Scaffold – Prepare Students to Stay Afloat! In the words of @tiesamgraf, “Scaffold, scaffold, scaffold! Give [students] the tools, build them up, practice and they will speak!” Participants shared different ways to support student production. @Elisabeth13 suggested “word walls! [with words] everywhere!” @SraHutton recommended that instructors “[model] and write phrases on the board before sending [students] to do a task.” Participants also encouraged providing students with key phrases and teaching circumlocution to keep them going. @SraStilson said, “A useful phrases list is helpful; [circumlocution games] help build confidence in all levels.” @KrisClimer also suggested having students “[learn] high frequency, functional survival phrases early [on],” adding, “[We should make] trying and circumlocution more important than using correct grammar!” @SraStilson agreed: “We should reward kids for TRYING as much as we do for being right!”
  • Don’t Give in to Student Demands! @HolaSrHoward wrote, “[Target language] use is natural when [the target language] has [its] PLACE to be used and NEED to be used. Do [students subconsciously] see my class as a PLACE for [the target language]?” @apiolxi said, “Don’t give in to [students’] demands to use English.”
  • Teach Students to Embrace Not Understanding: @CoLeeSensei wrote, “[This] may be crazy but practicing, preparing for NOT knowing [or] understanding in [the target language is essential].” She added, “[We] practice not understanding, we practice ‘small talk’ follow-up [questions], we practice [and] prepare so [students] can stand on their own.” @tiesamgraf encouraged making the path to greater understanding fun: “[Make] figuring out the content […] a problem solving game! Use gestures, images, actions and be silly! It’s a fun puzzle.”

Question 4: What interpersonal task designs keep everyone on task in the target language?

When it comes to designing interpersonal tasks that promote target language use, Langchatters recognized the value of modeling, supporting preparation, having students speed date and circulate, and allowing for practice through games.

  • Model First: @tiesamgraf suggested that instructors “[model] the interpersonal activity first [with] another student so they see the strategies in practice.” @rlgrandis commented that teachers can get involved in activities themselves, serving as models in the process: “Sometimes it’s not about me monitoring–it’s about me joining in and participating. I’m right there still and I’m modeling.”
  • Support Preparation: @CadenaSensei noted the benefit of “giving [students] time to think about [a] response [with a] pre-writing [activity].” @mELTingTeacher added that preparation through partner work, where students are held accountable for producing something, can also support target language use: “Anything ‘public’ [is helpful]. Let [students] work in pairs to practice talking, but knowing their work goes OUT of the class is a big push!”
  • Speed Date and Circulate: @KrisClimer said, “Speed dating, [with] me circulating is a good [strategy].” @tiesamgraf pointed out that such exchanges can take the form of ‘inside-outside circle,’ adding, “[And] get OUTSIDE the classroom – in the hall or open space. [Interpersonal] practice works magically.” @CoLeeSensei also encourages “a constant mixing up of partners,” writing, “[You] can do the same thing over and over with new people! […] After [students] switch partners couple of times I also ask ‘[Tell your] current partner what your last partner…’”
  • Practice with Games: @SraStilson proposed a game format: “Set it up as a game. Go fish. Pyramid. Guess who. If it’s a game that [requires the target language, students] actually SPEAK [the target language]!” @melyluna415 proposed Taboo as a way to practice circumlocution, and @kballestrini recommended VERBA.


Lots of factors risk pulling students out of the target language, but, with determination and strategizing, maintaining target language use is possible! Langchatters offered their take on classroom management and described a number of issues that tend of derail a commitment to consistent target language use. They also mentioned tools and interpersonal activities that can help keep students on task in the target language. As @CoLeeSensei reminded fellow participants, “[This] is a WORK IN PROCESS for both [teachers and students]. Don’t beat yourself up over it – it’s a journey!”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s detailed chat. Now you can get your #langchat on twice a week– Remember, #langchat will take place both on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET AND then again during the Saturday Sequel at 10 a.m. ET!

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. Got a question 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!

Class Activities by Jose Kevo, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  Jose Kevo 

Welcome back to #langchat! Last week, “long-time and new #langchat friends” (@KrisClimer) alike tuned in for a chat on promoting long-term memory for language learners. Langchatters brainstormed strategies and tasks that make language more memorable. They also considered the role that assessment practices can play in fostering long-term memory. Lastly, participants discussed how instructors can encourage language students to take responsibility for their long-term memory. In case you missed a beat or your memory is a bit fuzzy, your #langchat summary is here!

Thank you to everyone who participated in last week’s conversation. We also extend a warm thanks to Thursday’s moderators: Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Kris (@KrisClimer), and Cristy (@msfrenchteach).

Question 1: What input strategies foster long-term memory in language learning?

In terms of input strategies, Langchatters discussed the role of numerous factors: repetition, mnemonic devices, visuals, movement, music, and emotions, just to name a few!

  • Repetition… Repetition… Repetition! @SraStilson asked, “Is it possible to overemphasize repetition?” Langchatters replied with an overwhelming NO. @kballestrini encouraged “continuous exposure to words, structures, and themes… over… and over…. and over…. and over… and over…” @SoyBolingual agreed that content should be presented “[over] and over,” adding that this should occur “in varying contexts too.” @Sralandes shared her novel way of bringing old material back: “I use [Throwback Thursday] as a means to review.” @KrisClimer replied, “What a GREAT IDEA! So modern, connected, hip, [and] relevant!”
  • Mnemonics: Others share mnemonics with students and have them work together to create some of their own. @WHS_French_ said, “I teach my kids mnemonics that I learned in high school and they LOVE THAT!” @DonnaGaul commented, “[Mnemonics] are great,” adding that instructors could “[encourage] kids to create their own and share.” @profelopez716 even introduces a bit of competition: “[Sometimes] I add a competition as to which group can come up with the most creative mnemonic.”
  • Visuals: Others highlighted the benefit of visual associations in promoting memory. @LisaShepard2 wrote, “Adding a visual component–using pictures [or] video to teach [vocabulary,] for [example],” is useful. @JessieOelke added, “This is key in novice [classes]. I rarely [introduce vocabulary without] some visual [component].”
  • Movement: Some participants also recommended movement as a way to get students immersed in content. @VTracy7 wrote in strong favor of “MOVEMENT!” @JessieOelke also advocated for “[the] ‘old’ P in [Total Physical Response],” prompting instructors to “[create] a class action [or] motion for key [vocabulary] words.”
  • Music: Langchatters suggested music as yet another way to make content catchy! @profelopez716 noted the benefit of “[giving students] a context of the word and adding a beat that’s hard to ignore.” @SlocumBeth also uses “songs… [which are] sometimes silly but memorable.” @SenoraLauraCG couldn’t emphasize the value of this resource enough, writing, “I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again. MÚSICA, MÚSICA, MÚSICA!” Eager to incorporate music in your class, but not sure how? Check out the summary of a recent chat on music in the language classroom!
  • Emotions: If you want something to be memorable, participants encouraged making content emotionally engaging. @SoyBolingual wrote that instructors should aim to evoke “[some] type of emotional [or] personal response” from students, such as a “silly inside joke from class.” @sonrisadelcampo also wrote in support of “[input] accompanied [with] laughter and a relaxed setting.” Participants further pointed out that a lighthearted atmosphere works to lower students’ affective filter, making input more likely to be absorbed and stick.

Question 2: What practice and task designs help students build long-term memory?

In terms of tasks, Langchatters favored activities that are personalized, feature recycled content, promote playful engagement, and require retrieval of older material.

  • Personalize Tasks: Langchatters just can’t emphasize personalization enough, and they acknowledged its role in long-term memory. @LisaShepard2 recommended promoting “[personalized] production using [vocabulary and] structures to express personal meaning.” @cadamsf1 commented, “[I] agree completely [that] personalization is the key for most [students].” @SenoraLauraCG also felt that instructors “gotta make it meaningful!” She suggested creating situations where “[students] have to personalize the [target language], share opinions, [express] likes [and] dislikes, [or] tell a story [about] their lives.”
  • Constantly Recycle: Participants just can’t get enough of repetition and recycling. @MlleSulewski promotes “constant recycling, [in which students are called upon to write] using this [vocabulary], speak [with] that [vocabulary], read it, listen to it.” @Marishawkins recommended reading, which naturally “[recycles] so much vocabulary.” @CoLeeSensei uses rubrics, prompting students to be accountable for things past: “I also include ‘brings in past learning’ in my rubrics to remind [students] of what we used before!”
  • Promote Playful Interaction with Material: In the words of @kballestrini, “[Playful] interaction with the material goes a long way; if students have agency and creative control, [there will be] greater personal retention.” As one form of playful interaction, @soccermom2013 mentioned “storytelling, compelling stories, [with] student actors in stories,” adding that this can serve as a form of “recycling with tons of comprehensible input.” As an alternative, @DonnaGaul wrote, “I started using [Kahoot!] this year. [Students] love it and say it really helps.” @profesorM offered some additional suggestions: [games!], categories, [Jeopardy!], bingo.”
  • Have Students Use It… or They Might Lose It: As @KrisClimer noted, “Strong memory [is] built by RETRIEVAL, so NEEDING [something and] USING it across multiple contexts” is key. @CoLeeSensei agreed, writing that memory is supported “when [students] need to know it [or] use it to do what they need to do!” @KrisClimer replied, “‘Use it or lose it’ seems relevant. If it won’t matter next, my task should not require it today.”

Finally, @MlleSulewski reminded instructors to keep things interesting: “Something that is compelling is always memorable. The brain doesn’t pay attention to boring things!”

Question 3: What role do assessment practices play in fostering long-term memory?

If you’re looking to create assessments that support long-term memory, Langchatters advise folding in the old, assessing progress on a regular basis, and shooting for authenticity.

  • Fold in the Old: Langchatters reminded fellow instructors not only to assess recent material. @SraStilson wrote, “Hopefully, all my assessments give even more [repetition and] opportunity to further cement words [or] structures, etc.” Along the same lines, @MlleSulewski encouraged instructors to make “sure assessments require [the] whole of [students’] knowledge. The concepts never go away; they’re folded in.”
  • Assess Progress Regularly: Participants wrote in support of more frequent assessments as opposed to larger summative assessments. @rlgrandis also questioned the implications of referring to assessments as ‘summative’: “I don’t like idea of ‘summative’ assessments. This seems to send [the] message [that students] are done and can stop using those structures.” @SraStilson wrote, “I have moved away from calling them ‘summative’ to simply [calling them] ‘performance assessments.’” @CoLeeSensei has started using more frequent check-in quizzes: “I’m doing way more ‘do we have it?’ pop-quizzes (with time to re-learn) [rather] than ‘[quizzes] for marks’ now!” @mskbordner also likes providing “multiple opportunities [to] demonstrate proficiency!” She urged fellow language teachers to “[let] students try again!” In addition to shifting focus away from grades, @rlgrandis added that “[constant] formative assessment should be used to inform teaching practice” in light of student performance.
  • Make Assessments More Authentic: Participants also mentioned the value of authenticity in assessments. For example, @SrLaBoone said, “I think the more authentic the assessment, the more likely [students will] remember the material in the long term.” @SlocumBeth also recommended “creating assessment rooted in personal, meaningful expression,” adding, “[Students] retain what they consider important.” @DonnaGaul mentioned some possible forms for ‘authentic assessments’: “create a menu, have a fashion show, create a calendar page.” @brookssensei even proposed a possibility outside of the classroom: “Authentic assessment should mean going to the restaurant and seeing [students] order food!”

Question 4: How can we help students take ownership in developing their long-term memory?

Participants noted that it is important for students to take responsibility for their learning and actively work to develop their long-term memory. They suggested ways to guide students on this journey: teaching memorization skills, using real-world situations as a source of inspiration, and supporting student reflection.

  • Teach Memorization Skills: @brookssensei recommended discussing memorization with students: “Teach them how memory works and skills they can use, then let them trial the ones that work for them.” He added, “I did a task where we talked about different [memorization] techniques, used it [with vocabulary] and then [students] reflected and shared.” Similarly, @laprofeloca wrote, “[Let students] brainstorm and experiment [with different] types of memory aides, discuss them [and] learn about them together.”
  • Use Real-World Situations as Inspiration: Some instructors noted that real-world situations can be motivating, prompting students to take a more active role in their long-term learning. @cadamsf1 wrote, “[When students] have a purpose they have ownership.” She added that this purpose could arise when students “help others in real-life situations.” @SrLaBoone agreed, writing, “Yes, a real-world situation will really open their eyes to what they know [and] what they need to re-learn.”
  • Support Reflection: @cadamsf1 acknowledged the importance of student reflection in building ownership: “[Have students] reflect on where and how they improved and they will become owners.” @profelopez716 pointed out that instructors must make time for such reflection: “[Many students] don’t take time to reflect unless we give it to them.” She suggested using choice boards, adding that they allow students to “[choose] which project would best prove what they as individuals have learned.”


Langchatters had lots of tips about how to make language-learning stick with students! Participants thought up strategies and tasks to support long-term memory. They also considered how assessment practices can contribute to this aim and discussed how to encourage language students to take responsibility for their long-term memory. In light of the discussion, @CoLeeSensei spoke for many when she said, “I am responsible for the ‘opportunity [and] environment’ to learn in …and my students for their own learning in it…”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to yet another memorable #langchat! Remember, now you can get some #langchat in your life two days a week, both Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET AND Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET!

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. As @CoLeeSensei reminded participants: “Got a topic to suggest? #langchat gets its ideas from teachers like you! [Yes,] you!” Send us your ideas for future #langchats so that our weekly discussions can become as relevant and inclusive as possible.

Blast Off with Math 5 by giftedstudieswku, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  giftedstudieswku 

Last week, Langchatters met to discuss how to get more detail out of students. In the process, they provided lots of detailed comments themselves! Participants reflected on the kind of detail they hope to find in student responses. They then considered how questions and tasks might promote greater detail and help students support their opinions. Langchatters then shared some of their favorite strategies used to elicit more detail. Before the hour came to a close, they talked about how the level of detail provided by students should factor into assessment.

There was no lack of detail in last Thursday’s chat, and we extend a big thank you to everyone who contributed! We would also like to thank our moderators: Diego (@DiegoOjeda66), Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Kristy (@placido), Kris (@KrisClimer), and Laura (@SraSpanglish)!

Question 1: What kind of detail do we want to see more of in student responses?

When it comes to ideal amounts of detail, Langchatters encouraged one another to take student level into account. As @kltharri pointed out, expected detail “depends on [students’] proficiency level target :).” @CecileLaine added that “[novice students are] moving from words to lists, [and, as for intermediate students, they are] moving from sentences to strings of sentences.” @Marishawkins commented, “I think in [intermediate classes, students are] answering why more often.” @WHS_French_ noted, however, that answers need not be enormously complex: “I want to see something deeper than just parroting back the ‘right’ answer. Give me a why – anything!”

As Langhchatters recognized, even novices should be pushed to respond with greater detail. @KrisClimer wrote, “Even if language is parroted, more detail is better than less. Instead of ‘Yes,’ [novices can respond,] ‘Yes, I’m 15.’” He added, “I tend to use the old ‘phrase complète’ with my expanding hands gesture, even with [novices].” @srahugueley, who also uses this technique, wrote, “[My] students started mimicking my hand gestures to ‘frase completa’ today.” While such learning exercises can help stretch student output, others felt they could become somewhat unnatural. For example, @SECottrell wrote, “I think it’s important to remember though that answering naturally is ok even if [students do not produce an entire] sentence […] We narrate in mostly complete sentences. We answer questions in mostly words and phrases.”

Question 2: How does the type of questions asked affect level of detail in learner responses?

As @tmsaue1 asserted, “[If] we want more details we got to ask better questions.” Langchatters recognized that questions can strongly influence learner responses. They noted that binary and open-ended questions can serve different purposes in the classroom, eliciting different kinds of output from students.

Many instructors felt that binary questions are a good way to start off a discussion. @SraDentlinger wrote, “I also use binary ([yes/no questions]) to warm-up the whole class before moving on to harder questions with level 3 [students].” @kballestrini added that binary questions can also help put students at ease: “[Binary] questions also create an initial comfort level in response; removing the affective filter is so important.” In addition to lowering the affective filter, binary questions can also serve as comprehension checks. @magisterb480 suggested that instructors “[use] binary [questions] to check for understanding, use open-ended [questions] to see how [students] interpret it, and assign [another] task to further comprehension.” @MagistraRamahlo also uses binary questions to “check comprehension,” writing, “I greet students at [the] door with [a] binary [question]: “[Do] you prefer apples or pears?”

Langchatters noted that open-ended questions create expectations for greater detail. @MmeFarab said, “Open-ended questions give way to more detail. Binary questions make [students] (and me) think you don’t want more.” @SraEspinoza1 commented that this type of question also “allows [students] to have creativity and use the language more.” Along the same lines, @SraDenlinger wrote, “[Open-ended questions] also ask for students to use previously acquired [language], while often creating with it.” That said, @tmsaue1 pointed out that students should feel prepared to respond to open-ended questions: “[Open-ended] sounds like a great idea but can also shut down kids if they don’t have skills to answer.”

Question 3: What tasks help students give and support their opinions in the target language?

Langchatters offered three main ways to help students provide and support their opinions in the target language. They suggested that instructors allow students to record their responses, provide supporting language to strengthen student ideas, and assess student interests to make elaboration less of a chore!

  • Let Students Record Themselves: Several instructors provide students with opportunities to record their responses. For example, @SraWiemiller wrote, “Sometimes I have [students] record their answer. [This takes] away the fear of ‘[What] if I am wrong?’” @Narralakes replied that there are “lots of good [applications] for that, [one] online [resource and application] is [SoundCloud]. [Teachers] can annotate and send back [comments] to [students].” Alternatively, @_scolby commented, “I use [Google Voice] to have my students send me responses.” @learnsafari felt that recorded responses could be beneficial for leaners: “That’s a great idea. I think fear (embarrassment, being wrong) is a big barrier to using language. Practice helps!”
  • Offer Supporting Language: Some instructors recommended providing students with chunks of language to bolster their opinions. @MmeJCesario said, “I give [students] chunks to add to [a conversation, for example,] ‘I agree with…’ ‘I don’t agree because I like…’” @VTracy7 echoed this point: “I feel like this is my answer for everything but sentence starters (that grow in details) really help.” @SraDentlinger also provides students with linguistic tools to support their answers: “I used worldcloud [with] adjectives [and gave the resource] to [students]. They used [vocabulary] (some new [and] old) to defend answers to my questions. [This was] VERY helpful!”
  • Assess Student Interests: Yet again, participants pointed out the importance of knowing your students and their interests. @Marishawkins wrote, “The key is to find out about what students want to talk about. That is the only true way to get them to elaborate!” @GrowingFrench agreed, noting, “[It’s] all about the topic. [Students] love to [give] their [opinion] if its something they care about. [Get] to know your students.”

Question 4: What are your favorite strategies for eliciting more detail in student responses?

When it comes to strategies to elicit more details, Langchatters again reinforced the importance of discovering student interests. They also suggested drawing on previous knowledge, providing safe spaces for sharing, and setting expectations.

  • Discover Student Interests [Yes, we said it again!]: Once again, participants recognized the importance of knowing your students. @SraDentlinger wrote, “[The best] strategy to get detail is to discover what [students] want to talk about.” @SraWienhold replied, “Truth! No one wants to support an opinion about something they don’t care about.” @Marishawkins shared a frequent favorite topic among students: “Many times I give photos [of] celebrities as [conversation] starters [because] kids always have opinions on celebrities.”
  • Draw on Previous Knowledge: Langchatters acknowledged that previous knowledge can support detail provided in students’ second language. @PreKlanguages wrote, “[Tap into] previous knowledge. If [students] know [about something in their first language,] they’ll be able to describe [it easier] and you’ll be able [to] make connections [with] other subjects.” For example, she suggested, “To push students to give more details use easy novels or fragments of stories that they already know in their own [language].”
  • Provide Safe Sharing Spaces: @SraWiemiller commented that “[providing] a safe place to be wrong [either working with partners or small groups]” can support greater detail in student responses. @MmeJCesario uses group work as preparation for class discussion: “Sometimes I put a timer on. [Students] have to speak for 4 minutes with their table before [we begin] whole class discussion.”
  • Set Expectations: Others recommended setting expectations for detail in student output. @SraEspinoza1 wrote, “Sometimes if you ask [students] to have a certain [number] of sentences, it makes them have more responses.” @profepj3 uses a detail scale: “I have a finger scale that tells them how much [language] they’re using. 1 is [the] least, 5 is [the] most.” Alternatively, @SraDentlinger suggested requiring one contribution from each individual student to build detail collectively: “I’ve heard of one activity where [students] write one sentence. Then [they] add 1 detail to other [students’] sentence, and so on.”

Question 5: How does the level of detail in learner responses factor into our assessment practices?

In the words of @KrisClimer, “Assessment should allow learner to go as far as possible. [This means more] open-ended activities with MORE answer possibilities.” @profepj3 observed that our expectations can push learners to give us more detail: “As we expect more from our [students], they’ll give us more. Build into them, praise them, show HOW they can accomplish higher levels.” That said, he reminded instructors to remain realistic: “Yet have realistic expectations of what they can do—[Novice-mid learners] aren’t going to always speak in sentences, for example.” Along these lines, @SECottrell wrote that we should also have realistic expectations in light of the type of questions we have asked, “Bouncing off @tmsaue1 – if you asked a novice question, don’t assess as if you expected an intermediate answer.”

In terms of rubrics, some instructors include level of detail as a grading criterion. @CecileLaine includes a category for “writing [or] speaking with more details in [her] rubric at every level,” and she shared an example: @MsKBono also encouraged use of “proficiency rubrics targeting what kind of language [students provide and] how much language [they produce].”


Last week, Langchatters met to discuss detail—and they had plenty of it to offer! Participants described the kind of detail they hope to find in student responses. They also considered how questions and tasks might promote greater detail and help students support their opinions. Langchatters then shared strategies to elicit more detail from students and talked about how level of detail should factor into assessment practices. Throughout, participants encouraged instructors to push for more and support students to help them get there! @learnsafari wrote, “Meet students on individual levels and help scaffold to the next. Ask for more, but don’t terrify them!”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to last week’s detailed chat. Now you can get your #langchat on twice a week– Remember, #langchat will take place both Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET AND Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. ET!

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. Got a question 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!