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Last week, Langchatters responded to the #ACTFL15 theme, thinking up ways to inspire, engage, and transform in the language classroom! Participants discussed what they want to inspire and who inspires them, and they also reflected on how to move from “inspiration” to changes in practice. Langchatters then shared what most engages them as a world language teacher. Instructors also considered what should be transformed in the field, in schools, in their role as teachers, and in students, and they pondered what could be done about it. Finally, participants mentioned supports that can facilitate an effective transformation of classroom practices.

Thank you to those who tweeted in live from #ACTFL15 and to the “#notatACTFL15 crew” (@dr_dmd) as well. We would like to extend a big thanks to Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) for moderating!

Question 1: What do you want to inspire in the field and who is inspiring you?

Instructors are keen on inspiring students and changes in instruction. Speaking of her students, @SraWiemiller wrote, “I want my [students] to realize the world is a big place full of [people] who just might be different than them #openyoureyes.” Similarly, @MlleSulewski wants students to come in contact with others around the world: “I want to inspire my [students] to TRAVEL! Do something different!” Others mentioned their desire to inspire colleagues to experiment with new approaches to instruction. These included content-based instruction (@SraDentlinger), communicative activities (@ProfeCochran), and authentic task-based language learning (@YYCfrancophile). @davis0670 also encouraged increased use of technology in the classroom: “I want to inspire some colleagues to get aboard the technology bandwagon.”

When it comes to sources of inspiration, Langchatters acknowledged their students, former teachers, colleagues, and professional learning networks, such as #langchat! @bjillmoore wrote, “My students are my inspiration as I look for new ways to teach and reach them to make learning meaningful.” @Sra_Saavedra observed that former students can be really inspiring: “Knowing how my alumni are using Spanish to make a difference is a great source of inspiration for me.” @WHS_French_ added that current students can provide daily inspiration: “[This is probably] really cheesy, but my [students] inspire me every day! I want to be the best version of myself for THEM.” @MlleSulewski’s own former teachers provide her with inspiration: “The French teachers I had in school inspire me to be ‘that’ teacher for my [students] #milestogo.” Current colleagues can also inspire, as @CatherineKU72 wrote: “Teachers who dare to share [and] dare [to] try new approaches [and] ideas, [these] people inspire me [to] continue my growth,” and she gave a shout-out to “#langchat bloggers.” #Langchat was also mentioned as a great source of inspiration. @CoLeeSensei said, “[My] no-brainer answer is of course [that] #langchat inspires me!” @profe_robbins echoed this comment: “[#Langchat] inspires me! [It] has [definitely] changed my attitude towards teaching.”

Question 2: What helps you move from “inspiration” to “inclusion” in your practice?

Ready to make changes to your practice? Langchatters have lots of tips to ease the transition from inspiration:

  • Take risks! Langchatters recognized that this can be a scary transition! @SraDentlinger wrote, “To move [to] inclusion I just need to force myself to do it. This is how I started with [Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS)]. I was SO [uncomfortable], but [it was] SO worth it!” As @SraWiemiller added, “It’s about taking risks [and] hoping for the best. AND giving myself room to fail but come back better than ever.” @profe_robbins added that instructors must embrace the possibility of “failure”: “[It’s about not] being afraid to fail. [We need to be] aware that [students may] not be receptive to certain things I’m excited [about] and [it’s OK].” In the words of @ProfeCochran, “[It takes a little] bit of heart, [a] little bit of elbow grease. These things take a LOT of hard work, time, and energy!”
  • Reflect! Others commented on the importance of reflection on efforts and their reception. @alenord wrote in favor of “REFLECTION,” adding, “[Pick] ONE thing to try out, [test] it and [see] how it works.” @ProfeCochran noted that this means “[being] willing to not be perfect, to reflect, and try again.”
  • Take your time! Langchatters reminded fellow instructors that big changes cannot happen overnight. @Marishawkins wrote, “[I apply something new] piece by piece- I may not be [at 100% implementation yet] but I keep incorporating more ideas every day [and] week.” @WHS_French_ pointed out that instructors should be patient with themselves: “[I must remember] that it takes time to be the ‘perfect’ teacher that I want to be. It won’t happen overnight, but little daily steps [add up]!” @muchachitaMJ replied, “[Exactly]! That’s why we need to be so patient with new teachers! Too many quit [because] they don’t have it figured out by [year] 2!”
  • Connect with colleagues! Participants reminded one another that they are not alone in this process. @Vines_TOY10 noted the importance of “[realizing] you are not an island [but have] colleagues [and] learners who [have] ideas that will help [you] move forward to action.” @SraDentlinger added, “I find blogging encourages me to actually do new things, [because] I want to be able to share and help other [teachers].”

Question 3: What engages you most as a world languages teacher?

When it comes to engagement as a language teacher, participants noted the role played by life-long learning, student growth and engagement, and collaboration.

  • Life-long learning: Langchatters noted a link between personal growth as an instructor and increased engagement. @SraDentlinger said, “I am most engaged when I am able to learn in the process as well. I’m still a student at heart.” @SraWiemiller added that an interest in learning is contagious: “When I’m excited to learn, so are they! It’s catchy!” Some instructors search for interesting information to share with their students. @profe_robbins said, “I’m most engaged when I’m learning new information about culture and/or history to share with my students.” @EduJoJoRoRo mentioned “[authentic] resources, [films], late shows like @LPJofficiel – things that keep me abreast of culture so I can share.” @JessicaSelka added that blogs inspire engagement: “[Engagement comes from getting] new ideas…forcing myself to read blogs [or] posts even when I fear it will give me another idea I can’t get to yet!”
  • Student growth and engagement: @MlleSulewski said, “Seeing my students do things I’ve taught them in real life settings – [there’s nothing] more engaging than that.” @MmeFarab also mentioned “[student] achievement and progress,” adding, “I almost cried grading beautifully written [level] 1 assessments last night.” @mlardmlarks experiences engagement when students show curiosity: “when students ask questions out of genuine interest.”
  • Collaboration: Others commented on engagement supported by collaboration. @alenord cited “[collaboration], great conversations with brilliant colleagues, people who are willing to LEARN with me.” @virgilalligator mentioned “[a professional learning network] like this where people are positive, sharing and learning from each other, spreading the good [and] positive.”

Question 4: What needs to be transformed in the field, in schools, in us, and in students? What are we doing about it?

Participants noted that tools and mindsets must be transformed. They added that language must also come to be seen as more than a requirement.

  • Tools: In the words of @ProfeCochran, “TEACHERS NEED TOOLS!” Several participants wrote about the need to integrate technology in the classroom. @learnsafari said, “[Instructors should embrace] technology and [take] advantage of technology,” clarifying, “It’s not meant to replace teachers; teachers are irreplaceable.” @magisterb480 added that appropriate use of technology must also be enforced.
  • Mindsets: Others mentioned the importance of cultivating growth mindsets. @Marishawkins pointed out the need for teachers to be willing to change: “[This is not a problem] with #langchat but with other teachers who never do [professional development, etc.].” @MlleSulewski commented, “Sharing new ideas isn’t showing off. Stop using [this] as excuse to stay stuck in your rut!”
  • Language as more than a requirement: Others underscored the need to alter the way in which many understand foreign language education. @davis0670 wrote, “[As] I said earlier, [language] is not just an item on a checklist for [a] diploma or college admission.” @VTracy7 agreed that we must change the view that “language learning is just a [2-year] obligation for academic purposes.” Along the same lines, @EduJoJoRoRo wrote that this means “[getting] beyond ‘what do I *have* to do’ to succeed to ‘how much can I learn [and] what can I do with it?’”

Question 5: What supports are needed for an effective transformation?

As participants noted, support can ease transformations! They recognized contributions made by a good listener, time, and administrative support.

  • A good listener: @SraDentlinger remarked the value of “someone who will listen to you talk it out,” and @Marishawkins encouraged “getting in touch with more local teachers trying to do the same thing,” noting, “Nothing beats a [face-to-face conversation]!”
  • Time: @MlleSulewski wrote that an effective transformation is supported by “[the] kind of time that would only be awarded to [teachers] with a national shift in mindset [or] policy unfortunately.” One instructor said, “[Our principal] wanted to implement [a 4-day] work week [with Friday] as collaboration [or] extra help time. [The superintendent] said no :(.” @davis0670 reflected, “It always seems to come back to time doesn’t it? Can I buy a few hours?”
  • Administrative support: The discussion underscored the role of administrative support. One instructor wrote, “[We need] district bigwigs to let us implement changes and maybe cut out some of the junk in the curriculum.” @SraWiemiller recognized the benefit of “[administrators and] colleagues who support your risk-taking.”

Conclusion

Last week, Langchatters were motivated to inspire, engage, and transform teaching practices! Instructors discussed what they hope to inspire and mentioned those who inspire them. They also reflected on how to move from “inspiration” to changes in practice. Langchatters then shared what most engages them as a world language teacher. They considered what should be transformed in the field, in schools, in their role as teachers, and in students, while also pondering what could be done about it. Finally, participants pointed out supports that can facilitate an effective transformation of classroom practices.

Thank You!

#Langchat will take a break for the (US) Thanksgiving Holiday, and resume the week of November 30th. We are grateful for all of those who continue to inspire, engage, and transform through this professional learning network! As @magisterb480 wrote, “It’s always good to reflect on our teaching with like-minded people. Thank you, #langchat, for all you’ve done for our profession.” @VTracy7 also expressed gratitude: “Agreed! I’ve made more gains in one year following #langchat than in my first 3 on my own.”

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!

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Last week, Langchatters were 100% ready to talk relationships in the 90%+ target language (TL) classroom. They started off the hour by discussing features of the best teacher-student relationships. Participants then reflected on factors that affect their decision not to use the TL when connecting with students. Langchatters also thought up ways to share information about themselves in the TL and design engaging TL tasks to connect with students more deeply. Before the end of the hour, participants even considered how to continue to build relationships with students outside of the classroom.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to #langchat last Thursday, Saturday—or both! We extend a big thanks to both Thursday and Saturday’s moderating teams, which included Colleen (@CoLeeSensei), Kris (@KrisClimer), John (@CadenaSensei), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Amy (@alenord), and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell)!

Question 1: What characterizes the best teacher-student relationships?

Langchatters reminded one another that the best teacher-student relationships are built on mutual respect, a team spirit, and good listening. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Mutual Respect: @MlleSulewski highlighted the impact of “[mutual] respect and genuine interest in one another as people.” @la_sra_hinson added that mutual respect should entail an “understanding that we both learn from each other.” @profesorM commented that this also means relating to one another as human beings: “Treat your students like human beings. Share your stories with them, let them know you’re human.”
  • Team Spirit: Others commented on the value of a supportive team spirit. @SoyBolingual wrote, “[Teachers] and [students] should see each other as team members, not [as] a threat.” @profepj3 agreed, writing, “[Students] need to know we’ve got their backs!” and @MlleSulewski said, “[My students] want to trust that I will not let them fail!” @MmeFarab pointed out students may not recognize our desire for them to succeed: “[Students] think we throw parties when they fail.” @profepj3 mentioned that instructors serve as a float, supporting students and helping them stay above water: “I had a student say that, though my class is sink or swim, I provide a float for them.”
  • Good Listening: Positive relationships are sustained by communication, which entails good listening. Langchatters suggested that instructors listen to students’ goals, needs, and concerns. @profepj3 said, “We actually talked about this today in class. My [students] were floored that I asked them how I could improve their learning.” @CoLeeSensei replied, “Why don’t we ask our ‘clients’ regularly eh?” and @VTracy7 noted that students’ voices aren’t listened to enough: “Being a good listener [matters]! The kids really want to be HEARD but spend the majority of their days listening to adults.”

Question 2: What prompts you to switch out of the TL when connecting with students?

Sometimes, even those who commit to maximum TL use find themselves pulled back into their L1. Langchatters reflected on factors that influence the decision to switch out of the TL. Participants cited serious behavior issues or emotionally charged situations, temporary prioritization of relationships or cultural knowledge, and out-of-class interactions as motivating factors.

  • Behavioral issues and emotional situations: @MlleSulewski mentioned “serious behavior management issues” as a justification for momentarily abandoning the TL. @oowwoo wrote, “If [there’s a] behavior [issue,] I take [students] aside to find out what’s going on and have a conversation in English.” @SoyBolingual also switches into the L1 in emotional situations: “When [students] are obviously mad [or] upset… L1 [use] shows [that] you care more about the [student] than the [language] at that point.” @MmeBlouwolff agreed, commenting, “When there’s negative emotion – [for example] crying, [when] everyone bombed an assessment, [… etc.], – then I want [the] L1.”
  • Prioritization of relationships and knowledge: In the words of @CoLeeSensei, “[When] the class ‘relationship’ or the ‘knowing’ is key [and] more important than the ‘expressing’ [I switch into the L1].” @profepj3 sometimes uses the L1 when putting relationships first: “If there’s something that really makes me or my [students] seem like a real human being, I opt for [the] L1.” Others cited the communication of cultural knowledge as a motivating factor. For example, @mttslsn considers “depth of discussion,” writing, “When opportunities arise to talk [and] connect that are beyond TL knowledge, I flip to English.” @SraSpanglish pointed out that in such situations, learning is still taking place: “I love when [students] get excited [and] curious about a culture. They’re growing, so that’s worth [using the] L1.”
  • Interactions outside of class: Time out of the classroom can also offer opportunities to meaningfully connect with students. @Sra_Kennedy wrote, “[During morning and] afternoon duty out of [the] classroom, I try to connect [with] kids in [the] L1. In class, I want [to use the] TL but [I am] still getting to know them.” @doriecp also generally reserves L1 use for out-of-class interactions: “[If] I’m using [the] L1 to connect [with students], it’s usually outside of class or [one-on-one with a] student while others are engaged in something else.”

Question 3: How can teachers cultivate relationships with students by sharing information about themselves in the TL?

Langchatters recognized that opening up to students and sharing things about yourself in the TL is a great way to connect. Some try to make this a part of the daily routine. For instance, @MlleSulewski wrote, “I always include myself during [our] ‘what’s up[?]’ chat to make [students] more [comfortable] at first. After a while, they just ask me :).” @kltharri wrote that “anytime we can personalize a lesson with info about us or [students, it] helps.” Langchatters encouraged instructors to share personal photos with students and talk about their favorite things.

  • Visual connections: @CoLeeSensei proposed that instructors offer insight into their lives “visually with key words #whyhaventIdonethis?” Similarly, @virgilalligator suggested teachers share “photos, images, scrapbooks, travelogues, slideshows, [etc.] accompanied by TL [text].” @profepj3 makes photos from his life available to students online: “I post on a (separate) Twitter, Instagram, [and] Snapchat in Spanish for my [students]. They’ve seen [pictures] of my races, family, etc.” Some Langchatters reflected on how to draw on personal photos for specific units. @MlleSulewski said, “[I introduce] family [vocabulary with] my family photos [and] daily routine [with] silly [pictures] of me around my house, etc.” @SoyBolingual commeted, “Ooooh now I’m thinking I should introduce my own childhood pics in [our] ‘Cuando era niño/a’ unit.”
  • Me and my “thing”: Several instructors like to share their “thing” (@kltharri) with students—what interests them and gets them talking! @SraSpanglish wrote, “YES! The ‘thing’! [This is not] necessarily a book or novio [boyfriend], but maybe a pet or place?” @la_sra_hinson said, “[This is something] simple but effective: I make references to [‘Mean Girls’], chocolate, and my puppy in almost every class…[There’s] no need for [the] L1.” Others mentioned celebrity crushes. For example, @SraSpanglish said, “[Students] have to have some view into who [or] what you are that you can refer to, [e.g.] Spanish boyfriends.” As an example, @MmeBlouwolff wrote, “YES! Ma maison idéale avec George Clooney [my ideal house with George Clooney]… that works in [the] TL .”

Question 4: How can we design engaging classroom TL tasks that connect us to our students more deeply?

Instructors brainstormed ways to design tasks in the TL that engage students and promote deeper connections. They emphasized letting students be creative and personalizing learning.

  • Let students be creative: As @BeaverSensei observed, “[It’s] great to let students get creative with a task (even something simple like a brief presentation).” Langchatters shared some suggestions: @SenoraLauraCG wrote, “If you do la Persona Especial or something similar, put yourself in the hot seat, too! They’ll remember your answers for sure!” @Sra_Kennedy proposed collective creativity: “I LOVE making classroom books – where each [student] contributes a page. Then we read them aloud together. Very personalized!” @VTracy7 also wrote in favor of class stories: “Writing a class story with my 6th graders was the BEST time I’ve ever had teaching. It was hysterical.”
  • Personalize learning: Langchatters really can’t stress the benefits of personalization enough! @virgilalligator urged instructors, “Think about voice and choice, personalized learning. [Give students opportunities] to craft their own inquiries [for] learning [and] go [with] it.” Some participants suggested organizing class themes around the personal interests of both the instructor and students. @MlleSulewski wrote, “Go beyond typical class themes and teach to YOUR passions!” Considering student interests, @doriecp said, “[Design] lessons that allow [students] to talk about what they’re truly passionate about.” @MadameKurtz asks students about their likes very early on and keeps them in mind throughout the year: “In [September] I ask [for students’ favorite] band, TV [show], movie, [etc.] Then [I] use [pictures] of their answers in lessons. [Students] love it [and] it starts [a conversation].”

Question 5: What other strategies (in and out of class) make teacher-student relationships have a lasting positive impact?

Don’t think that your influence stops at the door! Langchatters encouraged fellow instructors to continue to build relationships with their students outside of the classroom. They explained that this could mean making a point to greet student, going to school events, and generally showing that you value students as individuals.

  • Say hello! @SoyBolingual noted that “[even] saying a quick hola when passing in hallway” can have an impact. @profepj3 makes an effort to memorize names when greeting all students: “I make it a point to know kids’ names who pass my door on a regular basis even if they’re not in my class.”
  • Be a friendly face at campus events: Langchatters encouraged one another to attend school events to offer support outside of the classroom. @MlleSulewski recognized the importance of “[being] there [by going] to sports events, plays, concerts, [etc.].” As @WHS_French_ wrote, “[This shows that instructors] care beyond [the] classroom #lovethewholekid .” @lovemysummer also mentioned the value of “going to [students’] ‘stuff’–games, etc.,” and added that “positive phone calls home [and] positive notes home” are another nice touch.
  • Value your students as individuals: @MrsCoblentz acknowledged the importance of displaying genuine concern for students: “[Show] the student that you value them as a human being, not out of obligation, but because you really care.” As @KrisClimer wrote, this means “[investing] time and attention in their LIVES, not just their TL proficiency.” @MlleSulewski advised that, to this end, instructors should try to “[remember students’] interests, friends, family, etc.” @senoraCMT added, “[Love] them! Just as they are! Even when they aren’t lovable!!! #fakeasmile.”

@kltharri commented that cultivating relationships takes time and gets easier: “[Honestly], it is so much easier when you know each other already. You can be ‘you’ in the L1 or L2. Newbies are tough.”

Conclusion

Last week, Langchatters discussed relationships in the 90%+ target language (TL) classroom. They began by identifying features of the best teacher-student relationships. Participants then reflected on factors that affect their decision not to use the TL when connecting with students. Langchatters also thought up ways to share information about themselves in the TL and design engaging TL tasks to connect with students more deeply. Finally, participants considered how to connect with students outside of the classroom. As @CoLeeSensei reminded language teachers, relationships are crucial: “[If] you don’t build the [relationship,] the language [acquisition] won’t matter.”

Thank You!

Thank you to all those who #langchat! Instructors voiced their appreciation for this PLN; for example, @sr_la_hinson wrote, “[I] don’t know how you guys survived teaching prior to #langchat. [It] keeps me encouraged and passionate!! #grateful.” Don’t forget that you can get your #langchat fill twice 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. 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!

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Welcome back! Last week, #langchat focused on student engagement beyond the world language classroom! Participants discussed how to find target language (TL) communities for students to connect with, and they brainstormed tools (language skills aside) that enable students to interact with such communities on their own. Langchatters also shared their own observations about the kinds of community interactions that world language students find most engaging. Additionally, they thought up ways in which service or project-based learning can be used to enhance students’ interactions with TL communities. Before signing off, participants weighed in on tech, tips, and tools to help students engage.

Thanks to everyone who made last week’s discussions so engaging! We would also like to thank the moderators of both Thursday’s chat: Kris (@KrisClimer) and Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell) and the Saturday sequel: Diego (@DiegoOjeda66) and Colleen (@CoLeeSensei)!

Question 1: How do you find TL communities for students?

When it comes to finding TL communities for students to interact with, participants suggested using social media platforms. They also encouraged fellow instructors to put themselves out there, contacting TL communities in their backyard or over the Internet. Additionally, Langchatters highlighted the value of drawing on existent connections with former students or colleagues.

  • Social Media Platforms: @mrsbolanos wrote in strong favor or “TWITTER.” As an alternative, @doriecp mentioned Instagram, writing, “I also love using Instagram. [I created a] separate school account [and] follow selected L2 users. Captions are perfect for [students at the] novice level!” Still others recommended the MysterySkype community. @mrsbolanos wrote, “I’ve found a few classrooms to #mysteryskype on the [Skype] for education page.” @mjosey1 also uses “MYSTERYSKYPE WITH CONNECTIONS FOUND ON TWITTER.”
  • Put yourself out there! If you want to get your students engaged with a TL community, Langchatters suggested putting yourself out there to make a connection for them. @KrisClimer recognized the importance of “[getting] out ourselves [as instructors], either through travel or online,” pointing out that, “TL communities can be around the world or in your own city.” @doriecp starts locally, writing, “I always start in my own backyard. I reach out to native speakers in our community via connections with PTO [Education].” Others described how they put themselves out there on the web. For example, @CatherineKU72 said, “While looking up menus for our Francophone cafeteria exploration, I find schools. [I cold-write and] ask if they wish to connect.” Similarly, @KrisClimer wrote, “I just recently sent a bunch of cold emails to schools in a sister city in France. [I got] a number of affirmative replies.” @mrsbolanos also uses Microsoft Education to connect, writing, “I have had a lot of luck [using this site] to find partners.”
  • Draw on your own existing connections: In searching for contacts, @Lwbespanol suggested that instructors “try to connect with family members of students or teachers.” @LisaShepard shared how doing so proved to be valuable for her class: “[I am working] on another project with [an] elementary class in France being taught by a former student. Last #langchat on this topic inspired me!”

Question 2: What tools (language skills aside) can we equip students with to enable them to interact with TL community themselves?

In preparing students to engage with TL communities independently, instructors stressed the importance of cultivating a growth mindset and intercultural competence. They also acknowledged online groups of student interest as potential tools.

  • Growth Mindset: To begin with, @SenoraLauraCG pointed out that students must have “open minds and hearts!” and @KrisClimer highlighted the need for a growth mindset, characterized by “[curiosity, trying, and courage].” @mrsbolanos added that students must have the motivation to grow outside the classroom through such connections: “[Students] need to have the interest. If they are not engaged in our classrooms, they will never seek out global connections.”
  • Intercultural Competence: @doriecp emphasized the need to help students develop “intercultural competence!” She added, “[This goes] beyond learning cultural facts [and] addresses attitudes, [the] ability to interpret [or] relate, and more.” @kltharri also mentioned the importance of “cultural understanding, being proud [without] being boastful.” In the words of @srajojava, such training means providing students with “[constant] reminders that perspectives are different and not better or worse.”
  • Online Groups: Some participants suggested prompting students to engage with online TL groups and showing them how to do so. @magisterb480 wrote, “Have [students] find things that interest them in the TL and maybe join online groups dedicated to those.” @mrsbolanos noted that students might need help getting started: “[Students] need to know how to research what they want to find! If they’re looking for TL, they need to know how to work Google.” @JessieOelke recommended one group in particular: “#spanstuchat is very powerful. [Students are] connecting [and] communicating [with] other [students] at their level.”

Question 3: What kinds of community interactions do world language students find most engaging?

@KrisClimer described engaging communities as “[authentic] ones, accidental ones, [and] personally gratifying ones.” @VTracy7 added that, from her experience, “[students] are always proud of self-initiated [exchanges].” Langchatters had lots of particularly engaging interactions to recommend, including the following:

  • Restaurants: @mskbordner wrote in favor of interactions at “RESTAURANTS!” Similarly, JessieOelke wrote, “[A homework] choice from @SraSpanglish [and] @SECottrell has [students] order in local [authentic] restaurant. I have used [this] idea as well. [Students] love it.”
  • Social Media: @LisaShepard2 noted that students enjoy “[following] TL speakers on social media.”
  • Online Forums: @SECottrell wrote, “Connecting on forums on topics they love has always motivated my students #gamers #HarryPotter.”
  • Snail Mail: @MlleSulewski said, “[My students] loved getting written letters from penpals! [It doesn’t] happen much nowadays.”
  • Meetup Groups: @MlleSulewski suggested “local TL Meetup groups” as yet another alternative.
  • Class visits: @mjosey1 proposed bringing TL speakers to the classroom as guests and conversation partners: “Create a TL chat group in your classroom. Bring in several guest and [then] rotate groups.”
  • Exchange Students: @KrisClimer pointed our that hosting a TL speaker can also be motivating: “Hosting TL students is a good way to gain deeper, engaging connections.”

Question 4: How might we use service and/or project-based learning (PBL) to enhance our students’ interactions with TL communities?

Langchatters had some very creative ideas about how to enhance student interactions through service or PBL. Here are some of their fun suggestions!

  • Museum Translations: @SraDentlinger wrote, “One example I heard and loved (from [someone whose name I can’t recall]) was [that Spanish learners] created descriptions for [a] museum that only had English [labels].” She added, “I think anything that can improve or help the community is great! This is my #cordmedwl Capstone Project actually.”
  • TL Buddies: @srkeller63 said, “I like the idea of linking [students] with native speakers [who are new to the] school. [This can help them] to acclimate, [improve their] comfort level at new school, etc.” while providing our students with opportunities to interact in the TL.
  • Mini-Lessons at a Bilingual School: @mskbordner said, “[We] have a bilingual preschool [in town]. I am hoping my students can create ‘mini-lessons’ and we can learn from each other.”
  • >Big-Scale, Collaborative PBL: @KrisClimer wrote, “BIG-SCALE PBL could have two sets of [students] work collaboratively.”

Question 5: Final tech, tips, and tools? How do you help students engage with TL communities?

Langchatters proposed some final tech, tips, and tools to help students connect with TL communities. In terms of tech, @MaCristinaRV is going to use Skype: “My #earlylang students will connect via Skype with elementary school in Puerto Rico to share [and] compare Christmas traditions.” In addition to Skype, @MlleSulewski recommends Twitter and Snapchat.” @SraDentlinger shared one her students’ favorites: “Students love @wespeke!” This service matches learners with TL speakers from around the world and allows them to communicate via text, audio, or video. @SECottrell also pointed out that “Edmodo connections [with] teachers may be a good route.”

Some instructors mentioned an obstacle to online connections. @MadameKurtz wrote, “[Online] privacy [and] safety is über important in my district. E-pals [are] not secure enough. [I’m looking] for tech [and] tips.” @VTracy7 could relate: “My district is ‘vigilant’ in keeping [student] privacy laws. I [kind of] feel like my hands are tied making outside of school connections.”

Conclusion

Last week, Langchatters were all about making connections and building communities! Participants discussed how to find target language (TL) communities for students to engage with, and they brainstormed tools (language skills aside) to enable students to interact independently. Langchatters also shared their own observations about community interactions that world language students find most engaging. Additionally, they thought up ways in which service or project-based learning could be used to enhance students’ interactions with TL communities. At the end of the hour, participants provided final advice on tech, tips, and tools to help students engage. Langchatters left feeling determined to support students’ engagement with TL communities, and @KrisClimer noted how students’ enthusiasm following interactions can quickly spread: “[Students] love to say ‘I understood what they were saying’ and “They understood me.’ Make this joy public. It’s contagious.”

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who engaged with our #langchat community last week, building connections with instructors near and far! Don’t forget that you can get your #langchat fill twice a week — both Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET AND Saturday morning 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!