A basic tenet of second language acquisition is that people acquire language by comprehensible input. But too often that has been interpreted as input only; as if the teacher only need talk. All period… Every period… All… year… long. We need to be clear that input alone is insufficient—it must be comprehensible. But how do you know if the input has been comprehended by the students?

Students can get very good at pretending they understand. How can you tell if 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 pay attention. Being able to respond freely is the key. Students need to have ability to respond, permission to respond, and the expectation that they will respond.

The tactics 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.

• 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.

• Rejoinders are short, useful responses in the target language. Rejoinders let students demonstrate active listening, giving them the ability to 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, 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.

• 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.


(Scroll down for German, Chinese 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



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:


Spanish Tongue Twisters:

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 REJOINDERS

Spanish Passwords:

       –Intermediate Level 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.


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

Refranes Wise Sayings

       –Novice Level Spanish Passwords

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.


Bryce’s Password Book for All Levels:

What’s The Password?

Hundreds of Bryce’s classroom passwords have been compiled into a book by Teacher’s Discovery. It includes the why, what and how to make sure the password procedure will work for you. Passwords are a game-changer in the classroom. You can order it here.   Passwords are in Spanish, but the explanations and ideas apply to all language and  levels.