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

Spanish: Politics of Art
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 do you keep abreast of current cultural issues and present new perspectives in your teaching?
  • How do you use current events and issues in your classes? Does your use of current events vary according to the level of your students?
  • How do you plan for students to assume more control over the amount of language they use?
  • How do you help your students develop critical-thinking skills?
  • How do you promote an understanding of other cultural perspectives?
  • In what ways could you incorporate the arts into your classroom content and connect it to larger global issues?

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.

Performing With Confidence (French) explores student presentations based on research of political topics, and Exploring New Directions (Chinese) illustrates student interpretation and presentation of dissident poetry.

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.

  • Plan for activities that encourage use of both formal and informal discussions within the communicative modes. With advanced students, plan activities that vary in genre, style, and quality and quantity of language and that promote student expression independent of teacher prompting. For example, during the debate on visas, students in Ms. Langer de Ramirez's class performed at different levels of oral discourse within the interpersonal and presentational modes. In the warm-up discussion, Ms. Langer de Ramirez questioned, clarified, and expanded on student responses, many of which were short and elliptical. Then, as students exchanged information and opinions regarding the visa issue, their sentences became longer and more spontaneous. In the debates, they spoke more formally and expressed their thoughts in strong connected discourse. They had less time to prepare their counterarguments, but their presentations still retained a degree of formality. You can capitalize on any burning issue in the target culture and use this format with it: Introduce the topic with a prompt (for example, a letter, article, or news broadcast), establish opposing viewpoints via informal student interactions, and then have a formal debate.
  • Help your students develop a critical understanding of other cultural perspectives by linking historical and current events. For example, Ms. Langer de Ramirez's students had previously studied colonialism in Latin America and applied what they learned to a present-day issue: the visa requirement. Students used terms such as mother country and common heritage during the debate in ways that reflected the positive or negative feelings that today's artists might have about the visa issue.
  • Provide opportunities for students to test their communication skills with a real audience. For example, Ms. Langer de Ramirez organized her lesson so that students could address questions to artists currently living in Latin America. This exchange gave students useful information for the debate as well as practice communicating by email. The exchange also allowed them to use their language skills and cultural knowledge in the community beyond the classroom. To ensure that students did not become a nuisance or violate cultural norms, Ms. Langer de Ramirez collected and reviewed the emails created by the students and managed the sending and receiving of all electronic correspondence. Situations such as this international political protest provide unique opportunities for students to communicate with native speakers. But you can also find correspondents in your own community who will participate in short exchanges. Look for retired teachers, native speakers residing nearby who would be willing to correspond via email on specific topics, teachers you have met at conferences, and the like.

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