We help kids learn to speak real Spanish. For life.™

by Erica Fischer on Feb 18, 2016

Snap Your Fingers for Another #Langchat Snapper!

If you snapped along to last week’s #langchat snapper, now you can snap for the summary! Participants were eager to discuss four unrelated questions that have been weighing on their minds. They shared their favorite ways to promote and advocate for world language learning. Participants then moved from chatting about advocacy to just… moving, talking up how to integrate physical activity into second language learning. Langchatters also suggested how to capture students’ speaking performances, and, finally, they talked about how to teach students to responsibly and productively use translation tools.

Thanks to all who joined us for a snappy talk! We would also like to thank the Thursday moderating team: Sara-Elizabeth (@SECottrell), Laura (@SraSpanglish), Kris (@KrisClimer), and Amy (@alenord), as well as those who led the Snappy #SaturdaySequel: John (@CadenaSensei) and Diego (@DiegoOjeda66).

Question 1: How do you promote and advocate for your program?

Langchatters agreed that instructors shouldn’t be shy to talk up their programs! They offered lots of great ways to advocate and promote foreign language teaching.

  • Student advocates: @klafrench spoke for many in writing, “My kids are my best advocates!” She explained, “They tell other people to take my class. Good relationships are the first step.” @tmsaue1 added that learners can give public visibility to the success of our programs: “[Producing] highly proficient users of language is the best kind of advocacy.” Additionally, @SenoraLauraCG’s students advertise the language program across campus: “[Students] made #whyitakespanish posters [and] videos and tweeted to encourage lower levels to continue on in Spanish.”
  • Long-term goals: Other instructors try to help learners envision long-term goals to promote student retention in language programs. @LisaShepard2 said, “[There’s lots] of talk about what [students will] learn next year. I try to lead with the assumption that they’ll be in the program for 4 [years].” @klafrench replied, “I do this too! I make a big deal about how sad I am when they don’t register for next year.”
  • Open House: Others noted that Open House can be a great place to promote language programs. @klafrench wrote, “I aim to wow [and] amaze at our Open House. Student volunteers scream ‘Bonjour!’ at people while wearing mustaches.” @lotteesensei also uses Open House to spread the word, writing, “[I] table at 8th grade [Open House] and get current students involved talking to prospective students and parents.” You might even consider asking the school counselor to promote language learning at such events. @SECottrell suggested, “[Get the] school counselor involved. [Our] parents would believe anything [the] counselor said about how colleges choose.”
  • Foreign language classes in the news: Langchatters encouraged one another to get their programs in the news. @SECottrell said, “[Sometimes] contacting the local news to make a big deal out of [something] in your program works!” @rlgrandis noted that news directed at parents is also important: “I send parent newsletters…[The] more the community gets involved the easier it is to promote,” and @SraWienhold kindly shared her newsletter template. @klafrench added that instructors might try to publish their school newsletter in the town paper as well.

Question 2: How can we integrate physical activity into second language learning?

Participants suggested plenty of ways to get students up and moving while languaging! Here are some of the tips they had to share:

  • Games: @MmeHibou wrote, “Playing games and creating gestures for [vocabulary] allow for physical activity in language. AIM is a great resource for the latter.” @SraSpanglish proposed a kinesthetic game: “[Sometimes] we have verbarobics. I put on some dance music, call out [a] verb, [and students] do the action in time until [the] next call out :).”
  • Movement to music: @learnsafari suggested this combo, writing, “Get your kids to dance and sing along to music in [target language]. It’s the best!” @MmeBlouwolff added, “Learning a flashmob dance from a [target language] video is a fun 5-minute daily [activity].”
  • Seating and partner changes: @KrisClimer recommended “transitions, changing partners, movable seating, standing…” @natadel76 pointed out that this could be “[as] simple as stand up [and] find a different partner across the room, NOT at your table.” @JessieOelke wrote, “@grantboulanger has [students] randomly switch chairs after he yells [the] ‘Cambia’ command.” @tmsaue1 offered additional ways to reconfigure pairs: “bicycle chain [and] inside/outside circles are other ways to get learners up and out of their seats.”
  • Surveys in motion: Many recommended getting students up and interacting by having them survey one another. @SrtaJohnsonEBHS said, “I like to do encuestas [surveys] where we get up and have to ask [and] answer [questions] to [different] people in the room.” As a variation on this, @KrisCimer suggested speed-dating or speed friending as an activity with plenty of movement. Others proposed surveys directed at the class as a whole. @SraSpanglish wrote, “Sometimes we have ‘de acuerdo’ [in agreement] and ‘no de acuerdo’ [not in agreement] sides of the room [with] a series of statements in [target language].” Similarly, @alenord recommended ‘Take Off, Touch Down,’ which she described as a game in which students stand if a statement applies to them. She added that this is also a great listening activity.

Question 3: How do you capture speaking performances?

In the next rapid snapper, Langchatters discussed how they capture student speech. Some expressed their preference not to record. For example, @MmeBlouwolff wrote, “[I listen] live and only live, [because] I just don’t have it in me to listen to recordings. Should I try [and] get over this?”

Others have been experimenting with recording tools. Here are some of their tips! @SECottrell said, “I love Google [Voice] for presentational [mode because] I can listen on my phone at my convenience.” @espanolsrs noted that, as a homework choice, her students can “call [and] leave [her a] voicemail via [Google Voice].” @rlgrandis agreed that “Google [Voice] is quick [and] easy,” adding, “Educreations is a fun project, and just recording with an iPad is good for skits [or] presentations.” @virgilalligator added “AudioBoo, [the record feature] in Notability, as well as Croak.It!” to this list of tools. @MmeDJones also mentioned Voicethread and @klafrench commented, “I’ve used also. I like it because you can put a picture up for students to describe.” @nicola_work noted that voice memos on iPads and iPhones are one easy option, and she also offered some fun applications for recorded video conversations: Tellagami, Photospeak, and Fotobabble. Along these lines, @SraStephanie suggested letting students record with an avatar using Voki: “[This is cute for a] class presentation, [and students] can also present in a station [with a] small group.” In case you are still looking for more applications, @CatherineKU72 shared a great resource with a wealth of applications and sites for recording.

Some instructors also touched on what student recordings can be used for. @kltharri has “students record [conversations], transcribe [them], and reflect.” @SraSpanglish uses recordings for student portfolios: “I have kids record daily conversations about songs [and] edit the best ones together for portfolios [one time per] grading period.” @SrMedina_NNHS suggested another way to have students engage with recordings: “[Also] a great idea is turning their [presentational] speaking into an [interpretive] listening [activity] for other students.” @SraSpanglish shared yet another possibility: “I had students record [introductory videos] for @BeckyLeid’s students before setting up penpals!”

Question 4: How can we teach students to responsibly and productively use translation tools?

Before the end of the hour, participants discussed how to train students to use translation tools appropriately. Many emphasized the importance of announcing clear guidelines from the start. @rlgrandis wrote, “Be VERY clear with guidelines. I introduce [students] to [them] on [day] 1. [Talk about what’s] fine [and] what’s not, and show [students] WHY it’s mostly not okay.” @espanolsrs noted the importance of relieving students’ pressure to reach perfection, which can lead to inappropriate use of resources: “Being honest [and] open [with students] about effort over perfection takes pressure off [and] makes ‘cheating’ not ‘necessary.’ Teach responsibility.” In order to avoid potentially irresponsible use of translation tools altogether, @natadel76 has students do their writing in class: “Yes, all important writing is done in class where I am able to monitor [and] help, clarify, [or] suggest when needed.”

Instructors highlighted the need to train students in appropriate use of dictionary and translation tools and to expose them to shortcomings of machine translations. @kltharri said, “I tell my students to type their Spanish into Google and see if the English [makes] sense to them.” Similarly, @AHSblaz said, “[I] show [students] how bad [and] easily detectable translators are.” @alenord pointed out, “[Students] need to be taught how to use a dictionary first!” and @caraluna34 demonstrates effective dictionary use in her class: “I try to make [WordReference] their comrade. I model it myself.” @srtamartino agreed, “[Students] need to use resources like WordReference and RAE (for Spanish) to apply their knowledge and look up what they don’t know.”


Last week’s chat contained a quick succession of four topics Langchatters were eager to discuss. The conversation focused on promotion and advocacy of world language programs, integration of physical activity in second language learning, ways to capture student speaking performances, and training in appropriate use of translation tools. The end of the hour caught up with everyone (Oh, snap!), but participants were eager to continue exploring the topics raised in this quick snapper-style #langchat!

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who joined in and contributed to a productive chat! Instructors like you make this professional learning network thrive. We hope that you continue to find us on #langchat once or twice a week! We will be online and ready to chat on 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. Have an topic that you’re impatient to discuss?! Send us your ideas for future #langchats!

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.

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