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by Erica Fischer on Feb 10, 2017

Connecting the World Language Classroom with the Real World

world-languageInteractions with real-world language scenarios and activities increase language motivation levels for many students. In last week’s fast-paced chat, participants shared a plethora of creative ideas for how to accomplish making target languages a reality for students without ever needing to leave the classroom or surrounding community.

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Preparing Students BEFORE They Engage in Real-World Experiences

Although #langchat teachers cannot equip students for every real-world encounter they will face, many teachers have come up with the following strategies to enhance student preparedness:

  • @SrtaOlson said, “I think that establishing a positive relationship and learning environment for [students] will encourage them to take more risks.”
  • @VTracy7 believes that “circumlocution is probably their strongest tool for #reallife.”
  • @espanolsrs said, “Ask them to give the “Why” to back up their responses in [target language].”
  •  @sr_connolly shared, “Engage in authentic scenarios [with] authentic materials: art, politics, sports, pop culture. Language opens so many doors.”
  • @CoLeeSensei said, “You can prep them with vocab, you can prep them with grammar, but ultimately the best prep is the interpersonal practice.”

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Real World Language Scenarios that Engage Novice Learners

There are many ways to introduce real world language scenarios to students. Technology has opened a world of opportunities for teachers and students. Diversity within cities and communities have also allowed for extended interaction and practice of target languages. @SrtaOlson said:

When [students] see the target culture right in their own backyard, their love for the language will only grow stronger = MOTIVATION.

#Langchat teachers shared the following ideas to engage students in real-world scenarios:

Classroom-Based:

  • @GrowingFrench said “my favorite is trip planning- plane, train, hotels, restaurants, itinerary, museums.”
  • @ProfeMcNeely suggests practicing with “daily routines and food. My students LOVE being able to apply their knowledge at their [favorite] restaurant.”
  • @AHSblaz mentioned, “In April, our 2 [year] pen pals are coming to visit!”
  • @LauraErinParker “had upper levels do story books to send to Haiti. Maybe have novices do picture books this time?”

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Community-Based:

  • @rlgrandis  said, “In [the] fall, my [students] served food at a Hispanic outreach event. Great practice of “Quiere…? mucho o poco? pollo o vegetariano?”
  • @ShannonRRuiz said, “Our students went to assisted living centers to read to Spanish-[speakers] (practice pronunciation). [Students] had to practice intros beforehand.”
  • @ShannonRRuiz added, “Higher levels can reach out to businesses or even schools to help translate printed materials for them.”
  •  @la_sra_hinson said, “I also have a plan to get them [with] local pet shelter to get pets adopted by creating ads for them in Spanish.”

Technology-Based:

  • @MlleSulewski said, “Online is so easy these days with social media! Getting involved with my French teacher-friend for anti-bullying campaign.”
  • @LauraErinParker said, “Not a lot of French speakers in area, so reach out to friends – fellow teachers, native speakers, etc. through technology!”
  • @Becky_Skogen suggests, “WeSpeke!!! I had a kid tell me they helped prepare partner for an English test for a new job.”
  • @AHSblaz encourages students to “shop online, explore virtual visits to schools, rent apt, etc.”

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Bridging Real-World Scenarios with Existing Curriculum & Strategies

The “real world” is always changing and sometimes curriculum struggles to keep up with is happening outside of the classroom walls. @LauraErinParker gave some advice and said, “The key is looking for a way to make what they are doing useful past the class and me.” This concept may be easier said than done. However, @ShannonRRuiz said:

Sometimes you have to creatively mix and match [curriculum] to fit the scenario. Takes guts to buck the system that way.

While engaging students, “try to get rid of scenarios that few (if any) will ever do. Instead of being a doctor in a country, how can we adapt realistically?” asked @MlleSulewski.  @SECottrell said that it is important to “leverage the existing structures to ask what relevant, real-world assessment can be made with them.” Finally, #langchat participants emphasized the fact that since language and the world are always changing, curriculum should too.

Thank you

Thank you to our lead moderator, Laura (@SraSpanglish) and co-moderators, Megan (@MlleSulewski) and Colleen (@CoLeeSensei) for guiding the conversation about connecting the world language classroom with the real world. Thank you to all #langchat participants for making this discussion possible! Have a topic you would like to discuss? Check out the #langchat wiki and suggest a topic!

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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.

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