“I don’t know how one develops imagination without reading fiction”—Diane Ravitch I buy all the novels for my students that our school budget allows because our students need to be reading fiction more than non-fiction. Here are some reasons reading novels will help our students both as language learners and as well-rounded human beings: 1. Readers learn more vocabulary from novels. In a novel the vocabulary repeats itself more than that in non-fiction texts because the setting and the situations tend to be revisited and referred to over and over. This helps a reader to pick up both high frequency [...]

By | September 2nd, 2015|Compelling Input, Light Reading, Reading|0 Comments


For the first 2 1/2 weeks we have been focusing on just two areas: 1) classroom routines, procedures and rituals, and 2) Personal interviews. The affect and confidence level in the class is just about right: students are confident that they can learn Spanish and comfortable with the environment we have established so far. The interviews are progressing and the students are picking up more high frequency verbs they will need to communicate in class and read the passel of novels available to them. Students are doing well, but on Friday they amazed me. We were drilling the calm, quiet [...]


"Kindergarten Reading" is an extremely popular part of my Spanish classes at all levels. It is the definition of compelling input. I learned the activity from Susan Gross. Here is my take on it and what has worked for me: When I do "Kindergarten Day" (actually just the last part of one class, one day per week) I try to act like a Kindergarten teacher. The idea of the activity is that you "read" a book to your students in the target language and show them the pictures. What you are really doing is just creating an excuse to talk [...]

By | August 20th, 2015|Compelling Input, Reading, Uncategorized|1 Comment


The classroom library is an integral part of any world language classroom. Telling stories is so dramatic and compelling that reading can be treated as the ugly cousin of language teaching, but it shouldn't. When done right, reading can invigorate your program and save your sanity. And doing reading right is free reading. In too many classrooms, we act as if the kind of reading that we all love to do does not even exist. We act as if the only kind of reading that counts is plodding, over-analyzed dissection of texts, rather than joyful consumption. We want to be [...]

By | August 19th, 2015|Light Reading, Reading, Starting the Year, Weekly Routine|0 Comments


Teachers are always saying that their students just do not like to read. I realize that this may be true, but I also know that when students say that they are just mimicking their peers and elders, and they may not really feel that way--they do not know enough about themselves to have an informed opinion because they have been raised in a culture where reading is changing and few have quiet time to read. They probably just need some help. We need to provide them with the tools and the materials so that they can become readers. We need [...]

Free Voluntary Reading & Differentiation

Over the last three weeks students in my Spanish I classes have been reading self-selected novellas a couple of days a week in class. They chose the books themselves and self-differentiated based on their reading ability and interests. Even though students self-select reading material in my class all of the time, enforcing the idea of choosing something based on comprehensibility and interest is a continual challenge because the idea of reading what you want seems odd for students in school. To support the idea of “comprehensible and interesting” I almost daily highlight the poster I made and posted above the [...]

By | February 12th, 2015|Differentiation, Light Reading, Reading|0 Comments