After presenting at a conference recently I had the opportunity to read the evaluations attendee's wrote about my presentation. One attendee suggested that I not assume that participants know the terminology I am using and then went on to list a few terms I used during the presentation that she had never heard before.
Those of us who are trained in performance based teaching sometimes forget where we came from and forget that while we are on that path most of our world language colleagues are not and haven't yet heard "the message." Our job is forge ahead in the journey, evangelize for our cause as well as train others along the way. So, this post is dedicated to that brave teacher who reminded me not to assume to much.
Acquisition - Or language acquisition, is the term used that now replaces "language learning" because it implies that language is a skill rather than information, thus how we teach language must be different than we have in the past. Learners acquire language that they employ to communicate with others.
Assessment - A tool we use to evaluate what language students have acquired, their proficiency level, and/or their ability to perform specific tasks using the target language. Assessment is not a traditional test, rather a communicative scenario created to observe how a student performs using the target language.
Backwards Design - A strategy developed by Wiggins and McTighe in which all instruction is planned by first deciding what outcomes are desired, developing the assessment to evaluate those outcomes and then the instruction that would be necessary to prepare for that assessment.
Comprehensible Input - A strategy used to teach vocabulary in such a way that students can understand it without needing glossing, translation or vocabulary lists. Methods can include using visuals or non-linguistic representations, Total Physical Response (TPR), texts to read, audio to listen to, strategic pairing of vocabulary, and use of cognates. Comprehensible input is often referred to as "C.I."
Legacy Practices - Methods, practices and strategies used in traditional language instruction such as teaching grammar in isolation, using vocabulary lists, conjugation charts and more.
Proficiency (language proficiency) - A student's ability to use the target language to communicate with others, problem-solve and/or meet his/her needs without any support from an outside source.
Target Language - The new language being taught to and expected from a student in a language class.
TPRS - Total Physical Response Storytelling or Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. This blog article was my source for understanding the term better.
Traditional - The description of language instruction prior to the trend of using performance based teaching methods. The traditional language class is teacher centered and textbook driven, largely based on grammar instruction and drills and rarely invites students to speak the language themselves.
(n.) A special place where we remember that students are humans that need to feel loved and important, where their achievements are celebrated every day and where we learn Spanish along the way!
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