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by Erica Fischer on Jun 27, 2013

25 Things I Will Do Next Year: Great Ideas for World Language Teachers

Last Day of School Free Printable. Three Little Monkeys Studio.
May 22, 2013. Accessed June 27, 2013.

What a bittersweet night! Last Thursday’s #langchat was the last of the school year, and yet there were so many great ideas and wonderful collaborations among the participants. As a perfect end to the school year, the topic was very reflective and hopeful. Teachers shared their innermost thoughts about what they did right in their world language classrooms this year, and how they will do things differently next year.

25 Things I Will Do Next Year In My World Language Classroom

1. QR Codes. Many teachers talked about the virtues of using QR codes in the world language classroom, including disseminating information to parents, language scavenger hunts and quick class updates. @profesorM said, “Used QR codes as shortcut to webpages for Spanish restaurants and virtual trips.” @klafrench agreed, saying, “Seems to be an easier way to get info to students. Cool scavenger hunt ideas.” @SECottrell said, “I’ve used QR codes to get info to parents as well – like links to books/music to buy on Amazon.”

2. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Although some school districts frown upon using devices in the classroom, many of the #langchat world language teachers want to incorporate phones, mp3 players and handheld games into the classroom. This helps students connect their love of technology with language learning, which can be very motivational.

3. Seating Chart. @klafrench said, “This year was our first year of iPad 1:1. I will do a lot differently next year, starting with a new seating plan!” Although an increase in technology use is one reason to change the seating chart, there are many other reasons that are just as important. This gives returning students a fresh start to the new year, and allows them to make new connections. It is also good for the teacher. A new classroom configuration can literally give you a new perspective on your class!

4. Using Technology for Communication Assessment. This is one area that many #langchat teachers thought was important. Internet accessibility makes communication assessment easy. The only problem is which forum to use? Some of the world language teachers shared their favorites with the group.

  • @SECottrell said, “We like Audacity, use it for the AP too. Have it installed on all the computer lab laptops.”
  • @senornoble said, “Have you tried Vocaroo? Good recorder. Simple. Web based. #langchat”
  • @klafrench said, “@I like Evernote for picture vocab used with Evernote Peek.”
  • @placido said, “I am hoping to bring Evernote into use by my students (I already love it!) and use more Edmodo!”
  • @SraSpanglish said, “I like VoiceThread for logging artifacts for later reflection, also presentational rehearsal.”
  • @Bilinguish said, “Favorite new speaking evaluation idea: Students send you voicemails from home via GoogleVoice – they practice; you use classtime other ways.”
  • @klafrench: I saw a great tutorial at PD about how to use Voki and I am going to try to use that with pronunciation this year.”

5. Emphasize Writing. Some teachers are making a conscious effort to make writing a larger part of their world language classroom model. @msfrenchteach said, “New goal for 13-14: find ways to make writing more present. …and at higher levels. Bof!”

6. More Music. Students love music and using more of it is an easy way to motivate them to stick with the world language course. @placido shared her secret: “Songs are a KEY part of my classes! Love music! Very motivational! I just select music I think kids will LOVE. They loved “yo te voy a amar” by Boyz 2 men – lots of vocab from a song they knew in English.”

7. Better Feedback. @SECottrell said, “Me too! I need to give students a lot of specific information on how to get where they want to go! @trescolumnae said, “I agree – one discovery this year for me: just how many Ss wanted really directive guidance from me In fact, many teachers responded that students are requesting more personal direction on how to become more fluent in their world language. @placido gave a great book recommendation for just this thing: “I am reading the book Role Reversal by Mark Barnes right now…has some good methods for giving feedback.”

8. Holding Students Accountable for Technology Misuse. Some teachers who are in BYOD classrooms or Ipad classrooms mentioned their desire to hold students accountable for how they use the school equipment and Internet. @msfrenchteach said, “Another thing I’ll do differently: more parental contact regarding repeat iPad misuse. :-/” @klafrench said, “Amen sister! Holding students more accountable for their iPad use is one of my goals!”

9. Student Samples. Having samples of student work is a great goal for next year. Some teachers suggested including samples with the rubrics for an assignment, while other simply want to have them on hand to show students what particular projects should look like. @CoLeeSense said, “For me it’s all about the ‘set up’ of expectations and the debriefing – not as much about the ‘rubric’.”

10. Real World Scenarios. @YasmineAllen: Favorite activities this year involved real world scenarios — boarding a plane, ordering food in a restaurant.” These kinds of hands-on learning experiences stay with students long after they have gone home, often beyond their school years. These are also great ways to prepare for standardized tests and travel to foreign countries.

11. Self-Reflection. @SraSpanglish said, “I like doing “I cans” as a form of self-reflection, and will require evidence for EACH this year I think.” While using the I-Can statements as a self-reflection tool is just one way of meeting this goal, self-reflection as a concept is very helpful. Often students will know where their own weaknesses are in a language and can use that knowledge to improve throughout the school year.

12. Storytelling. @klafrench said, “I am going to do more storytelling and more reading. #Langchat” @SECottrell suggested a helpful tool: “StoryKit is another free app that lets you add voice/text to photos/drawings & compile a book.”

13. Student Choice Assignments. Almost everyone wanted to incorporate this into next year’s plan. Students love being able to have freedom to choose how they show their knowledge and it provides a fun experience for the teacher as well. @degroote44 said, “That is something I have tried and like it a lot! Lets students pick on areas they struggle with or need extra practice.” @placido also gave an excellent example of a “choice board” for a novel.

14. SSR. @placido said, “@SraSpanglish @placido @SECottrell I want to REcommit to more SSR too! #langchat” @SECottrell said, “@placido @SraSpanglish great! I want to refine my list and remove the easier ones (my students are too advanced for them) #langchat” @SraSpanglish said, “@placido My kidd really liked the picture books and cookbooks–and the Bible–in SSR! #langchat” @placido said, “@SraSpanglish I have some auto repair manuals that are hot items too! #langchat”

15. Read Teach Like a Pirate. This was one of the highlighted books from last week’s #langchat, and has struck a chord with many of the world language teachers on the forum. So many teachers were touting its excellence at preparing teachers for the upcoming school year that one #langchat member suggested an entire evening devoted to it. @garnet_hillman said, “With so many reading or planning to read Teach Like a Pirate…chat topic for next year???”

Other Great Ideas for Next Year:

16. Surveying Instead of Reading. @SECottrell said, “Another change b/c of lower proficiency: surveying Ciudad de las Bestias for plot rather than reading through.”

17. Word Mats Instead of Word Walls. @klafrench said, “@msfrenchteach #langchat I know a colleague who uses “placemats” instead of word walls for each unit with helpful vocab, very cool!”

18. Scavenger Hunts. @profesorM said, “We have a cart with 27 ipads. Did scav hunts with school obj #langchat” Picture Projects.

19. De-Emphasize Grammar Mistakes. @SraWitten said, “Grammar correction is easy- pushing kids to increase fluency is hard!”

20. Use Rubrics. @placido said, “I use a rubric, I am loving @martinabex’s proficiency rubrics!!” @trescolumnae said, “Rubrics are more for students than for teachers, and are a scaffolding tool.”

21. Total Immersion. @msfrenchteach said, “I will continue to use the French-only speaking system that I’ve had in place for the past two years. Essentially, I take note of times the ss and MOI speak English.When I reach 10, I bake brownies. Ss write lovely letter.”

22. Class Blog. @brianfahey61 said, “I elect a few students 2 write collaborative notes for the day and then they upload them to our class site.”

23. Better Assessment. @SenoraGeroux I want to use the ACTFL proficiency scale next year a la @MartinaBex.” @klafrench said, “I’d like to do more with self-assessment for students on objectives and match that with their performance rubrics.”

24. Use Technology with Purpose. @klafrench said, “Just finished my first year w/iPads too and am re-evaluating as well. Less apps and more focused.” @SECottrell said, “I have to be able to see a bigger point to using a tech tool rather that it’s just a cool tech tool.”

25. Station Learning. @cadamsf1 said, “I used stations but I call them centers and they are wonderful! I never used them past level 3 though hmmm a though.” @trescolumnae said, “Stations and centers do work well in upper level classes if they’re not too small.”

#Langcamp Reminder: Sunday June 30th at 2pm CST

@SraSpanglish reminded us of the first #langcamp session starting this Sunday. She said, “If improving evaluation techniques is 1 of your goals, join us for a #LangCamp Skype Sunday 14:00 CST #langchat”

Thank You!

We’d like to give a big thanks to our moderators, @msfrenchteach @SECottrell and @CoLeeSensei for co-moderating tonight’s and giving us great direction for reflection. There were many excellent ideas for ways to improve your world language classroom, and you can find all of them in our online archive.

Thank you for being a part of the #langchat community by reading the summaries. If you would like to become more involved, share your ideas with us! Even though we won’t be back online until next school year, we are always trying to find out how to talk about what is most important in your world language classroom.

Additional Resources

LangCamp Wiki
I like being bilingual because…
AATF Technology Commission Tech Blog
Make your own infograph syllabus!
Language Teacher Chatboards
iOS Apps for World Language education
Station Centers

Elementary in Spanish
Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.


  • Thanks for plugging #LangCamp! Quick note, though: we met last Sunday in our Google Hangout for the first time (quite cool! ), but we do not have another planned until July 9th–unless we can find a leader for the Comprehensible Input topic–until June 9th, when we’ll be talking student choice!

  • Kami

    I am a native spanish speaker and will be teaching spanish for the very first time next school year, second, third and fourth grade; our school does not have any curriculum, program, etc only some samples books and copies. I need to create the wholething, is there any book or curriculum that you can recommend.
    Thank you very much

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