AATSP of the Carolinas Fall 2017 Conference
“Learn, Share and Flourish”
Joint AATSPSC and AATSPNC Conference
November 4, 2017 at Winthrop University
Click here to register!
Our keynote speaker will be Prof. Devon Hanahan of College of Charleston. We will also be introducing our brand new competition for students! We are very excited about the upcoming conference and hope to see you there! Please look for registration information soon.
The conference begins at 8:30am with breakfast provided. Keynote starts at 9am. Cost is $30. Full-time students pay $10. Pre-service and beginning teachers are encouraged to attend!
Lunch is on your own and the conference will end at 3pm.
Need help convincing your administration to fund your attendance at the conference? Check out our Administrator Letter.
What I learned while teaching in Tanzania.
By Stephanie Schenck
There have been some changes around here lately! After teaching high school Spanish for ten years, with adult ESL at a community college and English at a bilingual elementary school in Spain sprinkled in, here I am. A full-time student again at Clemson University in the Literacy, Language, and Culture PhD program. (Go tigers!)
Last year, one of my professors asked me what I thought about doing some work in Tanzania over the summer. Me!? Go to Africa? I mean, I have experience with second language acquisition, leading teacher workshops, and have spent time living internationally, so I mean, I do have some knowledge under my belt. Turns out, that is precisely what was needed.
Students in Tanzania speak Swahili and one of over 200 local languages, so they are bilingual to start. Some students may be exposed to English in elementary school, but many are not. Then high school hits and according to Tanzanian law, English is the language of all instruction. This is, as you can imagine, problematic.
The high school teachers, in all subjects, find themselves struggling to teach the content and also teach enough English to make the content comprehensible. That is where Mwangaza steps in. Mwangaza is a grassroots organization that focuses on health and education programs in Tanzania. Every summer, they host a week-long teacher training workshop to help high school teachers learn new ways to reach their students while simultaneously supporting students’ English development. It is a tall order. Yet attendees of Mwangaza go back to their schools armed with many new ideas, strategies, and tools to help their students learn in the target language.
What I learned from this experience is that teaching challenges are truly universal. Student behavior and engagement. How to differentiate with faster or slower-paced students. How to reach the students who have given up. How to inspire students and encourage their progress. All of these topics came up time and again as though they were unique to Tanzanian schools. I assured the teachers that no, these are things we all face. All teachers get tired and all teachers need opportunities to recharge. The week we spent together at Mwangaza was a chance to recharge so that the teachers were ready to go back to their students energized and encouraged.
It was fun to see how all I have learned over the years about second language acquisition was put to the test with convincing these teachers that it was, indeed, possible to make their content comprehensible. It was also fun to discuss how teachers are kindred spirits, no matter where you go. It is a tough job. But stepping out of the classroom to connect with other teachers and get fresh ideas is always welcome.
This November, AATSP will host its annual conference in Rock Hill. It is my hope that, like Mwangaza, our South Carolina Spanish and Portuguese teachers will leave with new tools and ideas to reach their own students. Perhaps our situations are not as dire as those faced by many teachers in African schools. But we do have our own challenges, to be sure, and we also deserve to head back to our classrooms energized and encouraged.
Fall Conference 2017 Call for Proposals
“Learn, Share and Flourish”
This year we will again partner with the North Carolina chapter of AATSP for out Fall Conference. Submit your proposals here.
We look forward to seeing you all once again! More information on even registration to come. Save the date!
By Maggie Dunlap
By far one of the most popular things we do in Spanish class, at all levels, is Música Miércoles (M.M.). I got this idea from Allison Wienhold of Mis Clases Locas. She blogged in 2014 about using music videos to start class on Wednesdays. I was intrigued from the start: a way to incorporate authentic material in the target language, expose students to diverse cultures, AND an alliterative name? Sign me up!
Plus, music was an invaluable resource for me as a language learner. My family moved to Central America in 2005 when my parents accepted teaching positions at a bilingual school in San Salvador, El Salvador. That same year, Reik released their first album. For the uninitiated, Reik is a Mexican pop group reminiscent of The Backstreet Boys. I listened to that self-titled album on repeat until I could sing along. Mimicking the sounds (even though I didn’t completely understand what I was singing) helped me develop intonation and pronunciation skills, and reading along with lyrics in the liner notes helped my listening comprehension. As a teacher, I was eager to replicate these experiences for my students.
Allison Wienhold is the queen of bell-ringers and M.M. started out as her go-to class starter for Wednesdays. Her approach is more structured now and she has a ton of resources available on TpT for purchase if, after reading my glowing endorsement, you’re ready to try it out.
How I use M.M.
“¿Listos para Música miércoles? Necesitan una hoja de papel y un lápiz o lapicero (bolígrafo).”
I ask students if they’re “ready” (listos) a lot in class. When they hear this cue at the beginning of class on Wednesdays, they know they should find a clean sheet of paper and a pen or pencil. I have not in the past collected their notes from M.M. Some like to document the song/artist more diligently than others. You could certainly have them record their work in a journal that you grade for participation or as a classwork assignment.
A PowerPoint slide with the day’s song is already projected as students enter the classroom and find their materials. I purchased an editable PP template from Mis Clases Locas’ TpT store back in 2015. Each slide includes the title, artist, flag of the country of origin (my addition to Allison’s template), two discussion questions, and some instructions. I record the necessary links to the video and lyrics in the notes section. When everyone is “listo,” we begin:
- ¿De dónde es el artista? ¿Cómo llamamos a una persona de _________? (Indicate country of origin, review of adjectives of nationality. I have the flags of all the Spanish-speaking countries on the walls of my classroom and I have found this is one of only times I reference this important cultural element beyond the first unit of Spanish 1. Great review!)
- ¿De qué color es la bandera? ¿Cómo es la bandera? (Discuss colors, shapes, make comparisons. Great potential for differentiation.)
- El género de música es _____________ (Describe the genre of music in as much detail as necessary or refer students to previous learning about the music styles of the Spanish-speaking world.)
- ¿Qué significa el título? (Could be brainstorming and leave open ended to return to after the song, or translate as a class to give context for listening, depending on the level of learners.)
- Escriban las palabras en español que escuchan.
At this point I show the music video associated with the song and students write down any words or phrases they hear in Spanish. Sometimes you have to be pretty creative and/or patient in order to find a song you think students might like that also has a video appropriate for school. I have shown live versions, lyric videos, or only a segment of a video in order to meet school environment standards. Students definitely prefer to watch choreographed music videos over any of those options, but sometimes there’s no way around it. Where to find songs: iTunes; http://www.billboard.com/charts/latin-songs; or Google search for country and genre/artists or country and top 40 ex) Chile top 40; Bolivia pop artistas.
After the video, I ask “¿Te gusta o no te gusta?” and students give me a nonverbal response in the form of a thumbs up. The thumbs get pretty technical: I’ll get half way thumbs up/half way thumbs down and a student will explain, “Well, I like the video and the artist’s voice, but the lyrics were silly.” I always ask for at least two volunteers to explain their thumb vote, usually one that liked the song and one that didn’t. Your expectations for how they explain their opinions can vary by learner level, but some M.M. pet peeves of mine are any misuse of gustar, “No me gusta porque es estúpida,” or something similarly insipid. That does not count as a valid opinion! In an ideal world, a class discussion bubbles up from student opinion.
I then go around the room and ask each student to say a word or phrase they heard in the song. This is quick. We then re-play a portion of the video, audio only, and follow along with the lyrics in Spanish. I just Google “letra” and the song title to find the lyrics online. Be careful – some lyric sites are better than others in terms of commitment to Spanish grammar.
The repetition of the listening comprehension with the added benefit of reading along with the lyrics can create some neat “a-ha” moments when students put two-and-two together, or when they can confirm they heard the right thing. Nicely validating for a language learner! We usually listen through the first chorus at which point I’ll stop, and we try to translate what we’ve heard as a class. This is a great time to discuss word order, idiomatic expressions, slang, and any grammar topics you might currently be learning that appear in the lyrics. Sometimes even vocabulary words pop up.
Depending on your students’ level of interest or your desire to get a discussion going, this whole process can take anywhere from 10 minutes to the entire class period. I’d say we average about 20 minutes for M.M.
Variations on M.M.
- Pick a song for its cultural reference or repetition of a certain grammar topic and really prompt students to listen or look for that specifically as you play the song. Examples: “Hasta que te conocí” by Juan Gabriel to mark his passing at the beginning of last school year; “A Dios le pido” by Juanes for subjuntivo; “Volveré” by Jesse y Joy for future tense; “Ya no sé que hacer conmigo” by Cuarteto de nos for A LOT of preterite verbs.
- Give a prize to the student who hears the longest word, longest phrase, the most words, or the answer to a comprehension question you create based on the lyrics.
- In the fall of 2016, we took the entire middle and upper school on a field trip to see the Hispanic Flamenco Ballet, a traveling dance group that performs traditional Spanish and Latin American dances for school audiences. I used M.M. in the weeks leading up to our trip to introduce the different styles of music we would encounter (and we even learned a few dance steps). There are lots of great video tutorials on YouTube to choose from for this purpose.
- Let your students be the DJ! A culminating project for my seniors this past year was M.M.: ¡Te toca! With a partner, they prepared and presented an entire M.M., from picking the song, to creating the slide, to leading the discussion. Check out my TpT page for a free download of the assignment and rubric.
- Other ideas from Mis Clases Locas:
- As a “welcome back” activity, ask students at the beginning of the year to research songs in Spanish and make suggestions for future M.M.
- Manía musical: This requires a bit of planning, but we did it for the first time this year and it was so much fun! Create a March Madness style bracket of class favorites from M.M. and vote throughout March. Have students log their predictions on their own brackets and offer a prize to the winner. We used Google Forms for voting and Álvaro Soler’s “El mismo sol” went all the way. I almost had a perfect bracket this year… 😛
Throughout the year, I add our M.M. songs to a public playlist on YouTube. If students are working independently, I ask “¿Quieren escuchar a música en español?” and we rock out to our M.M. playlist. Some M.M. picks have even made their way to being played during the Senior Halloween carnival and varsity basketball workouts. No better feeling than when a student tells me they’ve been listening outside of class. Check out our playlists from the past two years and happy listening!
*(Warning: not all videos are appropriate for school viewing or all ages of listener. Use your best judgment).
Looking for Jobs?
The school year is coming to a close and many schools are still looking for qualified Spanish/World Language teachers. Below are a few openings with many others posted at Cerra. If your school district is looking for a Spanish/Portuguese teacher, feel free to send your openings to Trixi at email@example.com for posting here. Feel free to share these openings with others.
Maintaining Your Second Language Skills: Tips from an English/Spanish-Speaking Mom of an English-Speaking Family
By Amanda Gomes
For those of us who are not native speakers of the language we teach, it can be tricky business keeping our second language skills strong! I have found this to be especially true after marriage and kids; it’s difficult to dedicate the same time you did before you truly began “adulting”. Of course, that is if you didn’t end up marrying a native speaker of that language! Obviously this would be the number one way to keep up with the language! So if you’re still out there looking for love… well, you catch my drift. (wink, wink)
For the rest of us, let’s explore some ways we can maintain our second language skills!
Listen to international music.
When I first became interested in learning Spanish, I used to watch VH1 (“bay-otcheh-uno”, the español version) all the time. Eventually I’d have some favorite songs and artists, and would run to the store to pick up their CDs (I KNOW! CDs!). I’d memorize the lyrics and look up any words I didn’t know to figure out the song’s meaning. This was such a great tool for learning, and for practicing pronunciation too! The grammar, vocabulary, and context would often present itself in later real life conversations, and just click. What I found most surprising about this practice was that after a car ride of singing along with some of my favorite Spanish music, my mouth would be so sore from working muscles I didn’t normally use in English! That’s got to be a sure sign that it’s doing something for your pronunciation! And I’ve had numerous conversations where people were surprised to learn that I wasn’t a native speaker; thanks VH1!
Now there are all kinds of music streaming apps like Pandora, and, my family’s favorite, Spotify. We can use these apps to keep our international music on in the background and immerse ourselves in our second language while our everyday lives truck on! Eventually familiar songs will pop out, and you’ll be singing (and maybe dancing) along in no time!
Search for foreign movies and shows on streaming services.
Can you remember life before Google and TV streaming services?! These days you can easily search Google for “Spanish (or Portuguese!) shows on Netflix/Hulu/Kodi (You pick the app too!)”, and get a comprehensive list of shows and their descriptions! If you’re like me, your TV time is minimal, and usually shared with someone who isn’t interested in watching a Spanish movie. (Ugh!) When the rare opportunity to watch whatever I want presents itself, I like to make the most of it and really indulge my interests.
You can also put a new spin on familiar movies by selecting your language of choice in the menu settings! I used to do this for my kids all the time. Seriously, Frozen will never be as entertaining it is in español! “♪Libre soy, libre soy…♪”
Audit classes at the local college or university.
Some colleges will allow people to audit classes. This allows you the chance to sit in on courses without receiving a grade. Typically there isn’t a fee associated with this either because you aren’t receiving credit, but you would need to check with the specific college or university. Some require an official process, while some allow instructors to give clearance. I have audited a Spanish conversation course in the past when I needed to improve my language skills. Enjoy the perks of a class, without the stress of a grade! (High-five!)
Attend church services in the language.
In my community there are churches that offer services in Spanish. Ask around! I have visited a friend’s church many times, and really enjoyed their all-Spanish praise and worship, and service. I’m also Catholic, and the Catholic Church on the other side of my town offers misa en español as well. This allows one the opportunity to meet and connect with a community of Spanish-speaking people which can potentially lead to a number of language experiences.
One thing you want to remember when meeting new people is that it’s important to establish those relationships in Spanish! I have a few Spanish-speaking friends with whom I converse in English! (Boooo!) It’s a strange thing how hard it can be to make the official switch from one language to the other!
Work part-time in the language.
When I was a college student I spent time working for a local insurance agency geared toward my local Hispanic community. Aside from one of the co-owners, I was the only native English speaker on staff. The learning and practice I gained from this employment has been unmatched in my other language adventures! As a single mother, semesters and/or years abroad were not an option for me. Instead, I spent most of six days a week submersed in the language for a year and a half before returning to education.
I often think it would be amazing to work in a Spanish-speaking environment again, and consider this when I’m visiting Spanish-speaking businesses. If it’s something you haven’t done before, I highly recommend you give it a go! Imagine everything in your current work place, but in your second language – language, friends, culture, experiences, AND money – win win WIN!
But it isn’t always about money, right? I mean, we are teachers. Volunteering is another way to improve language skills. A Spanish-speaking friend of mine spends part of her summers off working as a volunteer at a summer camp geared toward Spanish-speaking children in her community. I also entertain the idea of offering English lessons to native Spanish-speakers. Basically anything that gets you involved with the Spanish or Portuguese speaking community is a win in my book!
I’m willing to bet that as a foreign language teacher, travel is something that always peaks your interest! There is nothing more satisfying than proving your language skills in their native land. (Seriously, relevant travel should be automatic PD credit!) However, funding, or finding a travel partner, can sometimes prove difficult. But there are resources out there to help you make it happen! Often times there are available scholarships and summer travel opportunities designed especially for teachers, some of which include travel expenses and actual courses overseas! Here are some links that I have explored in the past:
The American Association of Teacher of Spanish and Portuguese:
South Carolina Department of Education:
Tía Tula, Colegio de Español:
Opportunities to use your second language skills don’t always come easy; sometimes you have to seek them out, or create them! As teachers, many of us are afforded the summers to do our own thing. What better way to spend them than reigniting the passion that attracted us to our language studies in the first place? So go out, make connections, and get creative! ¡Diviértate!
Dr. Marcos Protheroe, Barnwell High School
They came, they saw, they won.
Three students earned Spanish awards for Barnwell High. At the Augusta University Spanish Contest, Loren Eubanks took First Place in the spelling bee. She went through several competition rounds and defeated a college student to take the top prize. The contest was open to all academic levels.
Kimani Pelote won First Place in the singing competition. She sang Porque te quiero (Because I Love You). The selection is a love-song parody from the classic 1969 Spanish textbook Usted y yo by Zenia Sacks da Silva. Perlote sang a cappella during the competition.
Johnathan Carrillo received a bronze medal for his high score on the National Spanish Examination (NSE). He competed against more than 160,000 students in grades 6-12 in the United States. The test measures proficiency in grammar, reading, listening, and vocabulary.
Carrillo competed in the “outside experience” category, which is a higher level of competition than the “classroom experience” category reserved for English-dominant students. Carrillo has had some limited exposure to Spanish at home.
During the present spring semester, Carrillo transferred to Bamberg-Ehrhart High School, but he represented Barnwell High on the NSE, since the test is computer-based. The NSE is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).
Last year, Carrillo won a silver medal on the NSE.
Perlote, Eubanks, and Carrillo are presently Spanish 2 students. Their teacher, Dr. Marcos Protheroe, has taught at Barnwell High for three years. He holds a doctorate in Spanish American literature from the University of Puerto Rico.
Five Tips to Teaching a Language Online
As an online Spanish teacher, I am often asked, “How DO you teach a language online?”
The answer varies from program to program, and it certainly varies from a traditional brick & mortar approach to language learning. Teaching a language online is often more challenging when it comes to interpersonal and sometimes presentational tasks in the language. However, offering language courses online can be beneficial to students. Many students consider speaking into their computer, rather than standing and speaking in front of a class, to be the greatest benefit of an online language course, but there are other benefits as well. In some cases, taking a language online might be the only way that a student can take a language if it isn’t offered at their school, or it won’t fit into their schedule. By offering languages online, we are able to reach more students with greater course offerings.
Here are my top five tips to help you when teaching a language online:
- Communication, Communication & Communication! Clearly communication is important in any online course, but especially in a second language course where students may be trying to learn how to navigate a course as well as learn a second language. Make sure that directions that are related to the navigation of the course are presented to students in their first language. Ideally we want to use the target language as much as possible, but students should be given instructions on how to move within their course in English. I also suggest that teachers find multiple ways to communicate with their students. I tell my students that I will communicate with them in any manner they are comfortable, whether that is Skype, email, text message, or emojis. ☺ I send out weekly messages in at least 2-3 forms of communication so that students have access to the information in several places.
- Be Creative! Sending out weekly communication to students can get just as boring for the teacher as it does for the student! I like to use memes to help convey my messages to students, but I always remind my students that my messages are intended as humorous reminders. Recently I have begun to really make a fool out of myself by changing the lyrics of popular songs and sending them to my students; i.e my version of “Hello” https://goo.gl/QaDV5q or feel free to check out the others https://goo.gl/pLtjDC
- Create a Community – Get everyone involved! Whenever possible get parents involved in their student’s learning. Don’t wait until a grade drops or students fall behind to contact parents. Encourage students to get their parents involved with them in learning a new language. Offer suggestions on ways the entire family can get involved in learning the language and culture, such as eating at a restaurant, shopping at an authentic grocery store, or learning a new dance.
- Give good feedback! In an online course, giving good feedback is crucial to student growth. One of the strengths of online courses is that students do receive some immediate feedback in activities. Make sure that this feedback is well developed and encouraging. Feedback for assignments should not just include corrections, but explanations of errors. When applicable, I include a screencast with my feedback or an audio response using screencast-o-matic.com or vocaroo.com.
- Add an APP! Finally, in addition to coursework, suggest that students add an app to their phone that will encourage additional practice of the target language. Students are much more likely to practice the language in their spare time if they can access it via their phones.
Teaching a language online is extremely challenging, but can be very rewarding for students and teachers, plus it’s a great way to spend time in your pajamas!
Teaching World Languages in Middle School
While some of these ‘tips’ are true to education in general, here I offer my two cents on teaching world languages at the middle school level
- Keep the energy up! You have to remember, they are still kids and thrive on energetic and passionate teachers. Standing at the front of the room and just going on and on will do nothing to inspire learning and creativity in these young minds.
- Build relationships. While this is true for any level, these middle school kids are generally confused and emotional, hormonal drama factories. I do the best I can to greet each child with a high five, handshake, or a quick ‘pound it’ as they enter, and make a point to learn as much about their lives as I can.
- Play Games and competitions! I’ve found that younger kids enjoy competitions and language games more than older students. Whether it be playing Kahoot! Or Quizlet Live to review concepts, or writing/speaking competitions, the kids thrive on competition (keep it civil!) and are learning language at the same time.
- Stick to the target language. ACTFL suggests 90% target language use, and this is especially important for younger children. Their brains are more receptive to language acquisition (I suggest reading up on Chomsky’s Critical Period theories if you are not familiar with them) at the middle school age (compared to high school), meaning they’re much more likely to soak up and retain the language. After all the main focus of class time is comprehensible input!
- Use gestures/act things out! Many times, in order to make myself understood, I’ll use gestures and generally look insane to get the kids laughing, but also understanding what I’m saying without having to dip into English and tarnish the target-language environment that I’ve created in my classroom.