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

French: Chicken Pox
Connect to Your Teaching

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

  • How might you teach a new language to young students with limited literacy in their first language? How is this different from and similar to working with students who are already literate in one language?
  • How might you use children's or young adult literature with your students?
  • What immersion teaching strategies can be used in other elementary, middle, and high school models?
  • In classroom interactions, how do you balance the use of the target language and the use of English for students who have a limited vocabulary but are eager to communicate?

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.

  • Communicating About Sports (Chinese) illustrates oral and written (character) language recognition of new vocabulary.
  • Holidays and Seasons (German) shows the integration of songs into a lesson.
  • People Who Help Us (Arabic) demonstrates how visuals can be incorporated into a lesson to serve different pedagogical purposes.

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.

  • Introduce children's literature to help students understand, reproduce, and recall language in context. A story's narrative -- beginning, conflict/problem, developments toward a resolution, and conclusion -- can help advance the meaning of new vocabulary. Children's books usually have illustrations that help readers make sense of unfamiliar words. Mr. Scott's selection, Arthur a la varicelle, appeals to children because they can relate to the character and to the childhood illness. Mr. Scott did frequent comprehension checks and allowed students to "take over" some of the story with their predictions and solutions. You could also use children's stories with some middle and high school students; success depends upon the dynamics of the group and their interest in the story itself. Students with greater language proficiency can also use the illustrations to lead the story reading with classmates. You can devote time on an ongoing basis to reading sections of longer stories. Many popular children's books are available in numerous languages.
  • Incorporate songs into lessons to reinforce and introduce authentic language, choosing songs that are appropriate for the grade level and the topics you teach. "La varicelle" ("The chicken pox") mentions many parts of the body and repeats phrases with unusual words -- such as itchy, scratch, and jiggle -- that quickly become familiar. These words are fun to say in French, are quickly internalized, and, when spoken using facial and hand gestures, provide an opportunity for kinesthetic and rhythmic learning. Mr. Scott taught the song by first playing it and acting out the meaning himself, and then inviting students to imitate (or reproduce) his gestures and sing along. He also showed the text to students, an activity that could be done sooner with older students. Songs can be used with all age groups, although some classes may be resistant to singing at first. In those cases you may wish to concentrate on the lyrics and not require students to sing at all. Students can act out the lyrics with gestures or movement instead.

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