Question for Language Teachers

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jem, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Apr 19, 2011

    I'm posting a question for my mom. She's in charge of researching/purchasing a new Spanish and French curriculum for her district's middle schools. She is trying to decide whether to stay with the traditional textbook or do something more 'techy'. She was thinking about e-books, a Smartboard program for each classroom or a computer program.

    Are there any language teachers who have recently received new curriculum that they really enjoy? On either side of the paper/tech aisle? If so, what is it and how do you like it? Do you have a dream curriculum that you would want if your district offered it to you?
     
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  3. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Apr 19, 2011

    I don't teach a foreign language, but I can remember taking Spanish in Middle School. Most of our instruction was via a teacher. Sometimes we had listening centers, with people speaking Spanish at us. I could never understand a word they said. Maybe I was a horrible student.
     
  4. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    Apr 20, 2011

    I'm a language teacher. I teach both French and Spanish.

    I'm assuming by curriculum, you mean a program of materials (a textbook set, for example)? Up here, the curriculum is the standards set by the department of education.

    At my school, for French, we have a bunch of different textbook options to choose from. Some years, I pick and choose from the different textbooks available (for one unit, we would use one textbook, for another we'd switch it up). The problem with the textbooks we have is that they are either from the mid 80s (and how exciting is that for a student to learn from?) or the textbook is too advanced for my kids.

    In Spanish, we have one set of textbooks that I absolutely despise. Here and there, I'll choose a section to use, but on the whole, I come up with my own material.

    In terms of what I would like - I would like a set of textbooks that are new AND compatible with my students abilities. I would like a video library of appropriate movies that I could show my kids. I would love a Smartboard, but that's just in general, not just for my language classes :) I would love a bunch of level appropriate (both age and ability) books that I could read with my kids. Ebooks or paper - doesn't matter to me.

    I'm not one who follows a set program. If you gave me a program, I might use part of it here, part of another program there. What I would appreciate is a bunch of resources that I could pick and choose from in order to make the class exciting and fun. There can be lots of boring things about learning a language (grammar, anyone?) so if I can find ways of making it fun, I use it.
     
  5. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Apr 20, 2011

    I'm rarely pleased with traditional foreign language curricula. I think this is a problem with foreign language education--there are so many textbook sets out there, but none of them are great options. When I taught at a high school, I didn't use the textbook at all (nothing was contextualized, concepts were taught in a strange order, etc.). I usually use curricula as vague guidelines, but I write my own activities and tests.

    I like to make use of online materials. There are great resources (FREE ones) with lots of good material.

    I definitely prefer the idea of an online textbook or Smartboard series. I don't think students really need a paper textbook to learn the material! If I were to choose one over the other, I'd go the tech way! I'm sorry I couldn't be of more help to you.
     
  6. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Apr 20, 2011

    These are great answers! It sounds like the teachers will be hired new and the program will be new, so there is a lot of room to be creative. So any suggestions are welcome!
     
  7. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Apr 20, 2011

    I don't like the idea of curriculum either. As frustrating as I find my job of teaching French can be, I do like the way it's set up. I don't have any textbooks, but we have storybooks that we read in French as a class. We do some writing, but the main part of it is oral.

    They follow the seven steps of learning French

    1. Model the phrase you want the students to say
    2. Ask students a question that will elicit the phrase that was just modelled
    3. Have a pair of students model asking and responding to the question.
    4. With partners, have them practice asking and responding to the question.
    5. Ask students what their partner's response was.
    6. Mix up the partners and do step four again.
    7. Do step five again.

    We usually don't do a whole lot of that in one day... I might get them from steps 1-3 in one class, then the next class I might try 1-5, then another class, I'll do 1-7... but we work our way up until we can do all 7 steps... by the time they get through, they've got a pretty decent handle on the content.

    (For example, recently we were asking about sports, this is how it went...)

    Me: Moi, j'aime pratiquer le ballon-volant, et toi, qu'est-ce que tu aimes pratiquer? (I choose a student)

    S1: Moi, j'aime pratiquer le ballon-panier.

    I would do that a couple times with different students, then I would have two students come to the front.

    S2: Moi, j'aime pratiquer le hockey, et toi, qu'est-ce que tu aimes pratiquer?

    S3: Moi j'aime pratiquer le badminton.
    S3: Moi, j'aime pratiquer le badminton, et toi, qu'est-ce que tu aimes pratiquer?

    S2: Moi, j'aime pratiquer le hockey.

    Once this has finished, I have them practice for a very brief time (so they don't have time to revert back to talking English - although they invariably do) in partners. Then I will choose a student and ask:

    Me: S4, Qu'est-ce que S5 aime pratiquer
    S4: S5 aime pratiquer la natation.

    I'll do that a couple times, then move on.

    Then I change the groups, and they do it all over again. It works well in general.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 20, 2011

    We replaced a Spanish teacher with Rosetta Stone.:dizzy:
     
  9. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Apr 21, 2011

    WHAT?

    That makes me sad.
     
  10. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 21, 2011

    Very sad.
     

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