Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K–12

A Library of Classroom Practices

German: Holidays and Seasons
Connect to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • If you were teaching this class, what content might you introduce in the next two lessons in this theme?
  • What other thematic units might you teach to beginning students? What cultural concepts could you integrate into those themes?
  • How do you keep all students, particularly young learners, involved in a lesson?
  • How do you integrate songs that are appropriate and appealing to the age of your students? How else besides singing do you integrate music into your lessons?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K–12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

  • Daily Routines (Japanese) and Mapping Planet Earth (French) illustrate multiple activities with young students and feature teachers without permanent classrooms.
  • People Who Help Us (Arabic) demonstrates techniques to keep young students engaged, on-task, and behaving appropriately throughout the class.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom. Where it’s not already evident, reflect on how to adapt an idea that targets one performance range for application to other performance ranges.

  • To prepare a thematic lesson, brainstorm on your own or with a colleague. Many teachers find that creating a concept map (a web) helps them see the many paths a theme may take. Choose and organize the topics under a theme so that each new one builds on or is directly related to the one before it. For example, Ms. Haberlen taught the year, then months, then seasons, and finally holidays. You can identify new themes by looking at what your students are studying in their other classes. For example, in science they may be studying planets, in social studies they may be studying how communities work, and in art they may be making collages. These same themes can be incorporated into a foreign language class to draw upon student knowledge and reinforce the content areas. For example, students can look at different communities in a country where people speak your target language, or students can make collages using authentic materials and incorporate elements of the target culture into the collage.
  • Try to conduct your class entirely in the target language. All beginners, regardless of age, are primarily learning concrete vocabulary and basic structures. Speak at a rate that feels comfortable to your students, and check frequently for understanding by observing and listening to students. To help get your meaning across, use visuals, graphic organizers, and written models. In Ms. Haberlen's class, students always had something to look at -- for example, words, pictures, and Venn diagrams. Teachers of older students can use more sophisticated visuals while relying on students' background knowledge. Let beginning learners know early on that the target language is the language of the classroom. And remember that once you fall back on using English, it is hard to get students to stop.
  • Review a unit that you recently taught to see how you could integrate cultural content. Consider how Ms. Haberlen built culture into her lesson at her students' language competency level: She used a Venn diagram to show the cultural similarities and differences between a German holiday and its American counterpart. Ms. Haberlen's lesson clearly meets the Cultures standards -- Practices (marching in parades, wearing masks) and Products (masks, foods) -- even though she does not address the religious traditions behind Fasching or Halloween, perspectives which older students might explore.
  • Include songs as a regular part of your classes. The songs should be appropriate to your students' language level and appeal to their age group, as well as be representative of authentic culture. Consider how you might include songs that connect to thematic units. For example, Ms. Haberlen's class sang a song about the seasons. Students can also write their own songs or make up new lyrics to familiar tunes.

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