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by Erica Fischer on Nov 24, 2017

Teaching Without the Textbook in a World Language Classroom

This langchat discussion focused on the benefits of teaching without a textbook. Although it may seem challenging to some, many #langchat teachers believe teaching without a textbook increases student engagement and allows proficiency in the target language to become more attainable.

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How to Begin to Transition Away from the Textbook

The transition away from using a textbook may seem daunting for some World Language teachers, however, the benefits can be great. @magisterb480 shared, “When textbook stories get dull, when grammar drills are boring your students, when what used to work doesn’t work anymore,” that’s when it is important to step away from the textbook.  #Langchat participants shared how they began this process. @Mmeshep said,choose themes and start looking for authentic resources for the theme you have chosen.” @CourtneysClase shared her experience and said, “I started with the textbook objectives and vocab as an outline, but created my own activities, movie talks, and stories to do.” “View the textbook as a guide/resource but remember you as the teacher are the language expert in the room, not the textbook” (@silvius_toda).

Reassuring Those Worried about Loss of Rigor and/or Support

#Langchat teachers shared how they reassure parents and colleagues alike that teaching without a textbook can still be full of rigor and worthy of support.

  •   @jaybeekay518I said, “show them how aligning instruction to authentic resources has the potential to be WAY more rigorous than textbook exercises!”
  •   @SraWilliams3 shared, “show them the results and the higher engagement levels.”
  •   @CatherineKU72 said “rigorous is not how I would define a textbook. Watered down units on household chore? Or use AP themes & social justice?”
  •   @Oraib_Mango believes “following proficiency standards while motivating students and using meaningful resources does not require textbooks.”
  •   @magisterb480 shared, “Students learn at their own pace about things that interest them. We use compelling topics to build more ‘rigorous’ content.”

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Working Smarter and Not Harder Without Textbooks

Ditching the textbook may seem like creating more work for the teacher. However, scheduling prep-time, assigning certain tasks to certain days and [adding] it to a calendar” cuts back on distractions (@tmsauel). @MartinaBex suggested “plan the same activity for all classes, and just change the content.” Of course, using resources can help #langchat teachers work smarter. “Divide the work and SHARE SHARE SHARE! Be vulnerable to colleagues you trust! And trust YOURSELF!” said @PRHSspanish. @silvius_toda also shared, “collaborate with other like-minded teachers, read blogs, attend presentations on the topic, share your victories/failures.” Collaboration is key. @magistertalley finds, “using info provided by students to create input for future listening/reading/writing activities” to be helpful.

Using the Textbook as a Positive Supporting Role in the Curriculum

Textbooks can have positive supporting role in curriculum. They can be used “as reference for grammar, culture, and vocab. [There is] no reason students can’t use it as they wish” (@Magistertalley). Textbooks can provide “thematic organization. Pull relevant activities as you can. Some have differentiated assessments which helps if you have IEPs,” shared @madamednmichael. @dkcrump1299 said, “It is supplemental and can spark ideas for creating your own activities.” @Elisabeth13 explained how she was able to transition from the textbook; “we designed our units/themes FIRST, then dug through books to find what supported them.”

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Student Results

The best way that #langchat teachers advocated for teaching without the textbook was by sharing their students’ results. For example, @Mmeshep said, “I’m amazed at what my students can do. Not having to cover a [textbook] allows my [students] to spend all of our time using the [language] to [communicate].” Without relying on a textbook, “students start to believe this is real life instead of a class. Classes end. Relationships change but can endure” (@SECottrell). @ogmsespanol praised this new way of teaching and said, “I can’t even begin: [level 1 students] are reading independently, writing in multi tenses, and joking in [the target language]. Incredible, never happened before!” Simply put, “More authentic=more interesting=more retention! It melts the teacher’s heart!” (@MmeGoodenough).

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Thank you

Thank you to all who participated in this engaging conversation on Teaching without the Textbook in a World Language Classroom. A special thank you to our moderator for the week, Meredith (@PRHSspanish) for her efforts in leading the group.


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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