Saturday, October 25, 2008

Foreign language advocacy

In many schools across the United States, foreign languages are still not even offered until high school – yes, high school. As you have also most likely read, this isn’t the ideal time to introduce a new language. Okay, so what do you do if you would like to see foreign languages introduced earlier? Advocate.

First, you’ll need the reasons why foreign languages should be introduced at an earlier age. For a sampling of research, I would recommend the American Council on Teaching Foreign Language’s web site Discover Languages, Discover the World! Here you will find a good amount of information. On their What the Research Shows page, three major areas are listed:

How does language learning support academic achievement?

How does language learning provide cognitive benefits to students?

How does language learning affect attitudes and beliefs about language learning and about other cultures?

For annotated bibliographies of the research in support of elementary school foreign language learning visit this page.

Once you’ve gathered the research from here and other resources such as CAL (Center for Applied Linguistics), then you need a plan. Again, the ACTFL site has information on their Foreign Language Advocacy page.

More resources:

CALPER: Center for Advanced Language Proficiency Education and Research – Language Advocacy

FLAG: Foreign Language Association of Georgia – Advocacy

Sarah Shackelford (French Teacher): Advocacy Links

Glastonbury Foreign Language - Foreign Language Advocacy: A Case for Foreign Languages (The students in this community have studied at least one foreign language beginning in elementary school since the 1950s.)


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Free curriculum online

When I was tutoring, I always tried to find free materials online before purchasing anything. Yes, I'm frugal. One has to be in this day and age.

During one of my searches I ran across Cuadros de familia - A Standards-Based Thematic Unit which is geared toward middle school students, but certainly could be adapted for elementary students which is what I did. It's available in PDF format.

The unit was developed by Katia Parviz-Condon, Donna Kleinman, Joseph Brown and Angela Roa. It was created as a result of a summer institute sponsored by the National K-12 Foreign Language Resource Center at Iowa State University.

It's based on the book Cuadros de familia by Carmen Lomas Garza which is about everyday life in a traditional Hispanic community in southern Texas. She also illustrated the book.

Among the teaching strategies used are Total Physical Response, Gouin Series, magic box, pair activities, language experience story and predicting and graphing. The first three are explained at the beginning. I could go on and on about this, but I would recommend you take a look for yourself.

Another great place to find curriculum is the thematic units page at Here you will find four thematic curriculum units covering El Día de los Muertos for intermediate students, El Bosque Tropical for beginning Spanish students, Convivencia (Medieval Spain) for intermediate students and finally CuentaColombia (Colombian folklore) for intermediate students. They're available in PDF format. Be sure to check out the other teaching materials available not only in Spanish, but also French, Italian, English, Mandarin Chinese and Thai.

Friday, October 10, 2008

VOA Podcasts - video and audio

Since we do not have access to Spanish-language television, I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my listening comprehension. In particular I have been looking for newscasts in Spanish and the ones from Voice of America (VOA) fit the bill.

On this page you'll find three video podcasts:
  • El Mundo Al Día Capsulas
  • ArteKultura
  • Foro Inter-Americano
and two audio podcasts:
  • Deportivo Internacional
  • Buenos Días América
To subscribe using iTunes: from the top menu, choose Advanced, Subscribe and then paste the podcast url into the box. Click OK. Of course, you can also watch or listen to them online.

To supplement the news podcasts, I have also subscribed to their news summaries. I like to look over these before listening to familiarize myself with any new vocabulary.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pocoyó - Servicio Postal de Pato



dibujar - to draw
enviar - to send
recibir - to receive

el dibujo - drawing (el retrato - portrait)
el cartero - mailman
la entrega - delivery
la carta - letter
el sobre - envelope
el sello - stamp (la estampilla is more common in Latin America)
el paquete - package
la caja - box