Content-Based Foreign Language Instruction


The main thing that some students learn in a foreign language class is that learning another language is just way too hard for them.  They mainly learn that they stink at it.  They think that becoming fluent is beyond them and that they will never get it.  But they are wrong.  All students can learn another language.  They can learn if their teachers will skillfully ask series of questions that lead them to fluency. We need to believe in this goal and believe that there are good reasons for it and that there is a process to achieve it. It [...]


These are some rules for living (in Spanish and then in English) that I plan on sharing with my Spanish II students next week. We will discuss them and I will encourage them to come up with their own. What would you add or take away? What does your list look like? MIS ONCE REGLAS Y OBSERVACIONES  ¿CUÁLES SON LAS TUYAS? Ser cortés y respetuoso. Leer cada día. No hacer decisiones importantes cuando estás triste, enojado o muy contento No apostar por dinero No tomar préstamos de dinero No confiar en los hombres que usan pantalones blancos Sieres la persona [...]


I love the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare because I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a tortoise--I may be slow, but I stick with it. Stories like this can encourage us to persist in the face of ridicule, rejection and seemingly overwhelming odds.  When we keep working, we not only slowly move forward, we also develop the skills to win in future races. Carol Dweck, in her studies on Mindset confirms much the same message. Stick with it, mis amigos tortugas. Here is the story written in simple Spanish to embolden your students: La tortuga y la liebre [...]


Gerry is staring the Persona Especial interviews with his classes this week.  He and I have been discussing this amazing acquisition activity for a few days and he had some good questions about the process: Okay, Bryce, I'm getting a little better grip on this.  Now I'm wondering about the nuts and bolts of this, like how many questions you start with while you are constructing the whole platform and teaching them to answer them.  Since I'm starting this well behind you, I want to be careful to nurture this through the beginning stages when I'm asking them to change and adopt [...]


¡Cumpleaños feliz! (4x) Happy birthday! ¡Sapo verde eres tú! (4x) You are a green toad! If you say "Happy birthday" with a Spanish accent, it can sound something like the Spanish phrase "sapo verde" (green toad). So when a Spanish speaker hears the Birthday Song sung in English, they may fill in the missing sounds in their mind and think that the singers are saying "green toad". Spanish speakers good-naturedly mock their own accents with this song. "Sapo verde" is now even slang for "Happy birthday" in some parts of Mexico and Central America and many people enjoy singing the [...]

Higher Level Thinking in Level I: COMPARING PATRICIA AND ANA

We can encourage our students to think at higher levels even in low level language classes. My students are doing questions 1-3  below today and tomorrow (broken schedule due to high stakes state testing this week and next).  They will need to re-read a bit to answer the questions well, which is what we want--MORE COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT. Notice that we are NOT forcing output here. They can answer in English. Writing above the level of acquisition is not required--but I bet that some will answer in Spanish. The attempt here is to engage kids with compelling input and thinking. Knowing how [...]