#LangBook Week 1

On a typical Thursday night, shows penned by Shonda Rhimes are usually filling up my time from 8pm-10pm. Alas, as the price of Hulu Live increased, my ability to watch live TV slipped away because at $70 a month, I could just sell my soul to Spectrum and buy a cable package instead. Not to worry, my time is being filled with another form of entertainment and that is with my internet friends on Twitter in a lively online discussion named #LangBook. #LangBook is a small corner of the internet where we are currently discussing the book “Common Ground: Second Language Acquisition Theory Goes to the Classroom” by Florencia G. Henshaw and Maris D. Hawkins. Last night was the first night of #LangBook and I don’t want my thoughts to just get lost in the Twitterverse so I decided to blog my answers, as well as tweet them, each week so I can look back on them and potentially edit in the future. So, let’s dive in. 


Side Note: WordPress updated and my fonts are all messed up. I apologize for the crazy mix but I don’t have the patience to continue waiting for it to sort itself out! 

A1: A change I have made is really including the thought process of asking the question “what is the actual purpose of what I am asking them to do and will they use it in the future?” What is the point if the end goal doesn’t lead to them using the language in real life? Why drill a question if you have never once answered it in an authentic situation? No one is going up to someone on the street in Spain and demanding that they can conjugate verbs in the past perfect. My units are all tied back to a real-world context where my students could find themselves if they continue to pursue the language. I couldn’t say that a few years ago. A huge help has been using the VOCES online textbook for authentic resources. The amount of materials that they have is well worth the price. I am usually not a textbook person but VOCES feels more like a resource than a textbook. 

A2: I really love the modified activity on pages 16-17 where instead of drilling the past tense, we are checking off things we did and sharing with a partner. This is something that I do during weekend chat. However, I haven’t taken it a step further as the authors suggest in steps 2 and 3 where learners are comparing their answers with a partner and looking for similarities, differences, and the number of places they went to see who was busier. I have started to adapt my A/B speaking activities that I sell to include an extra step after the information is gathered so it serves a deeper purpose. 



How to soothe and educate with compassion? Let’s see: 

Dear hypothetical person, 

I have totally been in your shoes. I also was in the shoes of your students the other day when I made a mistake when I was creating a worksheet and realized that I used the wrong adjective ending. It has taken me 13 years to be able to identify my own mistakes in language and I still have someone double-check my work just to make sure it is accurate. So just remember that it takes time to learn a language and even more time to be highly proficient. I would recommend having a mindset of “can I understand what my students are communicating” and if you can answer yes, then pat yourself on the back because you are doing a fantastic job! I would also recommend looking at your standards. My standards reference being understood by a sympathetic Spanish speaker. I think a sympathetic Spanish speaker would understand if they made an adjective agreement mistake but still communicated their point. I love the phrase “don’t sweat the small stuff” because, to me, adjective agreement is totally small stuff here. Celebrate the big things like your learners putting together sentences or paragraphs. It is totally normal to have kids making these mistakes this early on in their language career. 


A4: The levels help me make sure that what I am asking isn’t too hard. I am guilty of writing a task that is simply too advanced for the novice learners in my class. This is because I was pushed hard as a novice learner myself and because I was interested and had buy-in, I did well. That isn’t realistic for everyone. 


A5: Up until I read this book, I misunderstood what it meant by “Integrated”…..so now I understand that I need to be doing each part at different times of the unit. I haven’t really jumped into IPAs until this year because our new curriculum uses them for assessment and I like them better than just traditional assessments, but I would like to revisit this question in a few weeks after I do one for our school unit.  I use VOCES Digital and their IPAs are already incorporated into the program and it is really easy to implement from what it seems! 


Week 1 of #LangBook was so exciting and really fun. I hope to see everyone this upcoming week as I am hosting #LangChat and we will be discussing the use of Authentic Resources in class. The next #LangBook will be October 6th and I hope you join us there, too.