Wednesday, July 20, 2022

CI/ADI Podcasts & Vlogs

I have COVID. And if it had not been for some post-nasal drip and slight chest congestion, I would have chalked it up to either a very slight cold or allergies. But to play it safe, I took a home COVID test and indeed, I tested positive (and the COVID line on the test was SO faint to read. Can these home tests be more user-friendly by using emojis or something instead of the lines and letters C & T? 😀 = negative, 🤮 = positive). So now I am forced to stay home (darn, right? lol) with a few mild symptoms - as a result, I am ordering pizza and binge-watching TV - not a bad situation, huh?

So among the many things which I am binge-listening are podcasts! Podcasts are great, because I can listen to them whenever I want and as many times as I want in as many ways as I want wherever I want. Even though my schedule is incredibly busy, podcasts are an easy resource to implement. I can listen to them in my car as I drive, or at the gym, or at my computer as I work. To be honest, there are very few podcasts which I actually listen to regularly, outside of The Real Brady Bros, a Brady Bunch podcast by actors Barry Williams (Greg) and Christopher Knight (Peter), because I am a HUGE Brady Bunch fan. However, last week at IFLT, I discovered two podcasts dedicated to CI/ADI instruction:

  1. CI Diaries by Kristy Placido and Carrie Toth
  2. Teaching La Vida Loca by Annabelle Williamson
I had known about CI Diaries prior to IFLT, but I had never really listened to it. However, Kristy and Carrie did a live episode from IFLT, so I decided to check it out, and it is really good! I knew nothing about Annabelle's podcast until she told me about it last week, and hers is absolute gold too (she does brain breaks in the middle of her podcasts!!)!

And while I was binge-listening these podcasts, I have also binge-watched Sarah Breckley's vlogs - she has so many of them to watch! Vlogs are great tools, because they are visual in nature and allow for the vlogger to connect personally with viewers. Sarah has so many good CI/ADI ideas here which she showcases with video demonstrations.

So please check out these podcasts and vlogs - these two types of tools are great uses of instructional technology and can go so much deeper in content than a regular blog. And no, I will never do a podcast or a vlog, because honestly, I do not like the sound of my voice nor do I want to watch myself on video over and over again. Please stay healthy!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Sex Game 2.0

I am currently at IFLT at the moment, and literally 30 minutes ago, I had a conversation with one of my absolutely favorite people in the world, Annabelle Williamson! Annabelle teaches a Spanish language lab for elementary school students at IFLT, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE watching her with those students, because I learn so much from observing her (as well as some Spanish). Anyhow, I told her that I had stopped by her lab briefly to see what she was doing. She then asked, "Did you see [the students] play your Seis game? I do something different with it." (The Seis Game is the Sex Game in Spanish. Again, in Latin, the word "sex" means "six"!!!). Immediately that got my attention, and Annabelle then showed me what she does with the game - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS IDEA, AND I AM NOW GOING TO DO IT THIS WAY!! I just had to blog about it immediately!!

So the set up of the game is still the same involving dice and a text. The rules themselves have not changed, i.e., students will roll a dice and if they roll a six, they begin writing. However, the difference now is in the worksheet given to students. The way I learned it was to give students sentences in the target language from a known/seen reading, and the goal was to translate the sentences into English as quickly as possible. Annabelle has turned the activity into a reading game instead of one based on translation - she has the story written out for students but now it consists of a cloze sentences with a word bank at the top! So now when students roll a six, they have to pick the missing word from the word bank to complete the sentence and will continue to do this with other sentences until another student rolls a six and relinquishes control of the pen/pencil. Annabelle said to me, "Now it is a reading activity, because students have to read the sentences to know what word is missing."

My example of a Sex Game 2.0 sheet (added 8/12/22)

I am loving this change to the Sex Game, because:

  1. like Annabelle says, the focus for students is on reading and not on translation itself. Thus, Annabelle's modification has transformed this activity into one based on purposeful communication.
  2. it keeps the activity in the target language.
  3. due to the cloze sentence aspect, it requires some higher order thinking for students.
  4. students are receiving repetitions of understandable messages in re-reading the sentences from the story.
So consider using the Sex Game 2.0 version with your students - there is nothing wrong with the original version, and I will still continue to use it. I would love to hear how version 2.0 goes with your students. Thanks, Annabelle!!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Writing Activities

 I have compiled a list of writing activities about which I have posted on this blog and have put this list on a separate page. It now has its own heading on the menu on the blog home page. You may also access it below:

Writing Activities

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

What Does Level 2 Look Like?

As a CI Latin teacher, often I get asked by CI-seekers, "So what does level (insert number) look like in a CI classroom?" On the one hand, I completely understand the practicalities which these educators are asking, but at the same time, I see a mindset which is rampant in world language teaching which needs to be addressed. 

The issue at hand is that we world language teachers tend to view language teaching and acquisition through the lens of textbooks. This view considers language learning to be linear in nature, and that acquisition occurs on a straight-line continuum and that language concepts and vocabulary introduced on Monday will be mastered by Friday. While I can understand the need for textbooks to do this in order to make material orderly and "efficiently-delivered," the truth is that this is not how language is acquired. Textbooks are set up to "shelter grammar, not vocabulary," e.g., if the grammatical topic for the chapter is the imperfect tense, the imperfect tense is pretty much all that is presented in that chapter (with other learned tenses as a contrast) with a LONG list of new vocabulary. As a result, then we assume that like most other disciplines, language acquisition can mastered in a straight-line method. Also when we view language levels through the lens of textbooks, we tend to associate certain grammatical structures with specific levels, e.g., that the subjunctive, gerunds, and gerundives are not topics covered in lower levels but are reserved for upper levels since that is how textbooks arrange their sequence of "acquisition".

So before you dismiss me as a textbook basher, I am not at all, because I understand why teachers use textbooks (I used one and was also a textbook trainer for years!). I am also a firm believer that one can adapt CI principles to the textbook and does not need to completely abandon it. But as someone who has "untextbooked" and does not view levels via a textbook lens, I will say this: language levels are not determined by complexity of language structures per se but maybe more by the level of proficiency in the "amount" of language which students can intake and can output. If CI teachers adhere to the "shelter vocabulary, not grammar" concept, then those language structures which we tend to think are too difficult can actually be introduced in level 1 as part of regular communication. This past year, I went all-in with "sheltering vocabulary, not grammar" with my Latin 2 classes, and I remember thinking halfway through the first semester, "Why do we not introduce cum clauses with subjunctives, indirect statements, and present participles in Latin 1? If I am 'sheltering vocabulary, not grammar,' it seems so natural because these are high frequency structures." And if we stay away from lengthy grammar discussions of these topics, then it is no problem for students to understand them when they encounter them.

When I say that language levels are determined more by the level of proficiency in the amount of classroom language which students can receive and can output, what a level 3 student experiences in the classroom vs a level 1 student will be different purely due to the amount of language to which those students have already been exposed over time. Even ACTFL notes this in that as learners progress in their language learning, the amount of language output and the level of learner language control will increase: from words to simple sentences to more complex sentences to ordered, sequenced paragraphs. ACTFL never mentions that knowledge and use of certain grammatical structures are what determine a level of proficiency! Accuracy itself of the delivered message does not determine language levels per se but rather was the communication at the novice/intermediate levels successfully understood by a sympathetic receptor? Cultural topics will also be probably different between levels, as lower levels focus on "self" and continue to expand to "the community at large" in upper levels. 

To address the original question then of "What does level (insert number) look like in a CI classroom?" In the fall, I will be teaching Latin 2 and 3. In many ways, the two levels will still incorporate the same types of activities and will still be using novellas for their readings. The difference, however, will be in existing student language knowledge, reading ability and output in the language, and my own personal expectations of their proficiency levels. The novellas themselves will be what dictates the specific vocabulary and language structures which I need to cover in class.

So in this blog post, I hope that I have given you something to think about. Believe me, I am still trying to figure it all out too!