“Touch seems to be such an important tool for enhancing social cooperation and affiliation that we have evolved a special physical route along which those subliminal feelings of social connection travel from skin to brain. That is, scientists have discovered a particular kind of nerve fiber in people’s skin—especially in the face and arms—that appears to have developed specifically to transmit the pleasantness of social touch… they are connected directly to the areas of the brain such as the insular cortex, which is associated with emotion.” p. 137 Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rues Your Behavior, by Leonard Mlodinow

By |2018-10-25T13:04:01-06:00October 26th, 2018|Categories: Passwords, Quote of the Day|0 Comments


"Si al comienzo no muestras quién eres, nunca podrás después, cuando quisieres."  "If at first you do not show who you are, you will never be able to afterwards when you want to." From El Conde Lucanor, Cuento XXXV, by Don Juan Manuel (Medieval Castilian writer, 1282-1348). The first week of school is a magical and vitally important time. This is the honeymoon period, those brief few days when it seems like every single one of your students like you, like the class and like each other. Almost every year the honeymoon phase will trick you into thinking you don't [...]


Here are the answers to the Spanish 3 passwords post and some of the thinking behind them. My Spanish 3 students, who are very sharp, mostly said that it was easy to remember these passwords and everything about them. Proud of those kids. For more password ideas, plus cultural/historical context and explanations as to WHY passwords word and especially HOW to use them most effectively, see my book, "What's the Password", published by Teacher's Discovery:   “Little by little one goes far.”                     "Poco a poco se va lejos."   This is the [...]

By |2018-05-22T14:29:11-06:00May 22nd, 2018|Categories: Passwords|2 Comments


These contraseñas are ones that we have used to enter the class this year. They are well-known Spanish cultural sayings, quotes by famous Spanish speakers, phrases that require a subjunctive, useful idiomatic expressions, or just for fun. Write in  Spanish. (Answers and commentary will be shared in an upcoming blog here.)       “Little by little one goes far.”                     _ I was born the (#) of (month) of the year (#). “Zamora was not won in an hour.”                             What English saying conveys a similar message? I forgot! / It forgot me! It left me. / It went away from me. [...]

By |2018-05-21T16:30:16-06:00May 21st, 2018|Categories: Passwords, Uncategorized|0 Comments


Using passwords is a joy and a great way to set the tone for each class period, but passwords also yield long-term language results. Last week I  asked the students which passwords they remembered from the entire school year... and as a group, each class remembered them all. Students said them all in Spanish and I compared them to a list I had prepared beforehand from my memory. They remembered ones I had forgotten. I am giving them this slam-dunk test as part of their final exam this week. I expect most students will score in the the 95% range, [...]

By |2018-05-21T08:35:38-06:00May 20th, 2018|Categories: Passwords, Starting Class|0 Comments

‘La Preuve’ and The Case for Multi-Level Classrooms by Gerry Wass

“La preuve que il a existé c’était qu’il était ravissant.”  –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry A year and a half after retiring, I continue to get requests for help about how to run a multi-level language classroom.  Most come from teachers who already find themselves in this situation out of necessity, but others are intrigued because they believe that the model could produce a beneficial shift for them and for their students.  Many teachers are already doing some version and bring their positive experiences to the discussion. One of those recent requests came from Jen Schongolla, directed to both Michele Whaley and [...]