Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
Teaching Foreign Languages K–12
A Library of Classroom Practices
Arabic: Making Plans
Belal Joundeya teaches grades 9–12 Arabic at Lincoln High School in downtown Portland, Oregon, a city with over 600,000 residents. According to the school, minority groups make up approximately 28 percent of the 1,721 students enrolled, and 14 percent of all students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Noted for its academic climate and rigor, the school's college preparatory curriculum features a wide array of advanced classes. The school offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme's curriculum, which includes language acquisition among its six subject groups. In addition to Arabic, which was first offered in 2010, Lincoln offers Mandarin, Spanish, Spanish Immersion, French, German, and American Sign Language. Some students study more than one language.
Mr. Joundeya uses backward design to plan the curriculum: he identifies anticipated student performance outcomes and creates 8–10 units that cover the learning goals. He then considers how to work in activities developed around the Five C goal areas, with particular emphasis on Interpersonal, Interpretive, and Presentational Communication. Mr. Joundeya typically has students complete reading and writing assignments outside the classroom. Inside the classroom, he wants students to practice authentic conversation. They exchange customary greetings with Mr. Joundeya at the beginning of each class and participate in engaging and motivating activities that emphasize speaking in real-world situations. To preserve the immersion experience, Mr. Joundeya routinely employs nonverbal cues such as images and acting. He makes sure all students are conversing in pairs or small groups at the same time so that no one is left out. He walks around the room, listening for opportunities to add something new for students who quickly demonstrate a lesson objective, and to lend support for struggling students.
Mr. Joundeya implements curriculum through a dynamic set of resources, including textbooks, online materials, and videos. He constantly assesses the usefulness of particular items to determine whether he should continue using them or modify his selection.
This class of 20 students included one heritage speaker, whose parents are from Lebanon. The students were at different levels, many having started Arabic together in middle school, and most having studied for three to four years. Leading up to this class, students had been learning to talk about their daily routines and what they do in their free time. Mr. Joundeya introduced this lesson at this point in the unit so that students could connect the idea of "what they do" to the future tense: "What are you going to do?"
To set students' expectations of what they will be practicing in class and at home, Mr. Joundeya posts daily goals on the board. For this class, he linked the objectives to the following Can-Do Statements, which are self-assessment checklists used by language learners to assess what they "can do" with language in the different modes of communication:
The lesson progressed from heavily guided practice to independent practice. The use of choral repetition of target forms (in which students repeat what the teacher says), modeling with a student volunteer, and group work (first in pairs and then in fours) reinforced this strategy. To meet the language goals, students practiced talking about future plans—something they would be doing after school, the following day, on the weekend, or over spring or summer break. Students also had to make or accept an invitation to do something with someone else. During the lesson, Mr. Joundeya made it clear that students should not simply accept or decline an invitation. Rather, they should practice negotiating until they ultimately agreed on a plan. Through practice in engaging with one another as native speakers do in authentic situations, students use language more independently and spontaneously, acquiring language rather than just analyzing or memorizing it.
Key Teaching Strategies
Arabic: Making Plans >
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