A basic tenet of second language acquisition is that people acquire language by comprehensible input. SLA research over the last 50 years indicates that this is accurate. But too often comprehensible input has been interpreted as input only — as if the teacher just stands up in front of the class and speaks in the target language. All period… Every period… All… Year… Long. We need to be clear that “input” (if input is defined as merely listening to or reading the target language, regardless of comprehensibility) is insufficient—the input must be comprehensible. If students don’t understand, your “input” it is useless. How do you know if the “input” is actually being comprehended by your students?

You have to check for understanding. Often. In different ways.

Students can get very good at pretending they understand you. How can you tell if they do? How do you know if students are actually getting it? To turn teacher talk into effective input, students need to be engaged. Here’s how that happens: When they feel like members of the club of language speakers, students will give more attention. Being able to respond freely and with real emotion is the key. Students need to have ability to respond, permission to respond, and the expectation that they will respond.

The practices below allow students to interact in ways that feel safe and natural. They will get students speaking more openly, frequently and accurately, and they will help you to create an interactive, student-focused classroom.

Mixing Culture & Language:  CALL and RESPONSE  signals create a non-threatening way for all students to participate. The teacher starts the expression… and the students end it. It feels safe because the whole class responds together. The best Calls-and-Responses mix culture and content in a student-centered way. Using call-and-response regularly is a fun and cultural way to involve the whole class, signal transitions during the class period, and check for understanding. This technique had been used in education for centuries, but world language teachers have caught on to it recently… with positive results.

Giving Students Choice & Voice:  REJOINDERS (interjections, responses)  are short, useful responses in the target language. Rejoinders let students demonstrate active listening, giving them the ability to show emotion and talk back in the target language and letting their personalities come out. The way I like to explain it is: “Rejoinders keep the conversation going” because they give students tools and permission to interact in a natural, fun, emotional and intuitive way. Quality rejoinders are not mere made-up teacher expression like “Uno, dos, tres: No inglés!”  The best rejoinders are authentic, meaningful, interactive expressions that come from the culture of the language — things that real kids in the culture would say.

Making Daily Personal Connections with Students:  PASSWORDS  are expressions in the target language that students are required to say in order to to enter the classroom. Passwords help the teacher to connect personally with each student before class starts. Using engaging and useful expressions, (rather than merely practicing vocabulary or grammar) makes these interactions more useful, memorable and meaningful.

Passwords, Rejoinders and Calls-and-Responses often overlap. Using Calls-and-Responses and Rejoinders as Passwords gives students more repetitions and confidence with those expressions.


(Scroll down for German, Mandarin, Latin, and Spanish resources)

French Materials on this Website

French Novels: https://www.brycehedstrom.com/shop-for-books-other-french

French Partner Pair Maps

France: https://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/LES-AMIS-DE-LA-FRANCE.pdf

Northwest Africa (scroll down) https://www.brycehedstrom.com/free-stuff/classroom-management-2

French Special Person Interview Posters: https://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/La-personne-pre%CC%81cieuse-doc-format.pdf

French Call & Response



German Special Person Interview Questions


Here are some Latin Rejoinders inspired by Magister P, Lance Piantaginni. I print them out on colored 4 x 11 poster board according to category. They are posted (in Latin only) on the wall in the classroom all school year for easy reference. Rejoinders liven up the classroom by allowing students to express their opinion.

Here are some more Latin Rejoinders from Gin Lindzey. She calls them interjections.

Here are some Latin Call-and-Response ideas from John Piazza.

You can also use Rejoinders and Calls-and-Responses as Passwords in your Latin classes.



Thanks to Say Eow Quah, who shared these. She credits Haiyun Lu and Diane Neubauer for much of this work.  太感谢了!

Chinese Special Person Interview Questions

Chinese Special Person Interview Questions, P. 2

Thanks to Jian Li, of Dallas, Texas for these translations.

Mandarin Chinese listening resources:
Chinese Extensive Listening: https://hanyufanting.com/

Thanks to Christopher Corbett – 郭锐老师, of DePaul College Prep, Chicago, IL


Spanish Call & Response:


Tongue twisters are fun to use as passwords or as calls-and-responses. You can also assign students to memorize one a week from these five lists of authentic trabalenguasTrabalenguas Spanish Tongue Twisters

Spanish Rejoinders:


Spanish Passwords:


Here is a year’s worth of weekly passwords for your intermediate level students. They include historical expressions, rejoinders, idioms, wise sayings from the deep culture, tongue twisters, and some opportunities to express their opinions using typical upper level grammar and vocabulary. Knowing authentic, cultural expressions like these can help immensely on high stakes upper level tests.

Refranes Wise Sayings  (For upper level Spanish)

Wise cultural sayings can help students understand the language and culture, as well as their own lives.


The novice level passwords are useful idiomatic expressions, rejoinders, interesting (but quick) questions, tongue-twisters and just fun words. I do NOT suggest using non-meaning-bearing phrases or lists such as verb conjugations, or random vocabulary items.