Resources, News, Events

ACTFL 2018 Highlights

12-11-2018  All News, Featured Post

It seems like ACTFL 2018 was just yesterday! As we look back on our time in New Orleans, what stands out the most is the passion and commitment of world language teachers from all over the country. We loved meeting all of you and learning from you and with you. We put together this video to show some of our highlights and we'd love to hear from you: what did you learn at ACTFL 2018? Tell us on Twitter using #followtheowl



Catch Wayside at these spring 2019 conferences

12-11-2018  All News, Events, Featured Post

As 2018 winds down, we are already thinking about the many opportunities we'll have to connect with you at language conferences nationwide this spring. Be sure to visit our booth at one of these events to find out about our latest products, get free digital samples, or pick up a cute owl sticker or magnet. Stay tuned for our list of instructional strategy sessions and other events at several of these conferences! 


Upcoming conferences: 

February 7-9 NECTFL, New York, NY Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Langauges
February 7-9 CCFLT, Aurora, CO Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers
February 15-16 AWLA, Mobile, AL Alabama World Languages Association
February 28-March 1 CLTA, San Jose, CA California Language Teachers Association
March 7-8 FLAME, Portland, ME Foreign Language Association of Maine
March 8-9 FLAG, Augusta, GA Foreign Language Association of Georgia
March 12 VFLA, Quechee, VT Vermont Foreign Language Association
March 14-16 CSCTFL/OFLA, Columbus, OH Central States Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages
March 21-23 SCOLT, Myrtle Beach, SC Southern Conference on Language Teaching
March 28-30 SWCOLT, Fort Worth, TX Southwest Conference on Language Teaching
April 4-6 FLENJ, Iselin, NJ Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey


6 ways to build community online

Use the target language to create shared goals and experiences in your classroom
11-19-2018  All News, Featured Post

By Deborah Espitia

Immersing students in the target language embraces all facets of the classroom environment—physical, social, emotional. This immersion encompasses a variety of tangible elements through which we can purposefully use the target language in our own classrooms: print, audio, and video authentic resources; authentic tasks in the three modes of communication—interpretive, interpersonal, and presentational; formative and summative performance assessment; classroom management; teacher-to-student plus student-to-student informal interactions.

While using the target language for curriculum-oriented items (i.e. authentic resources, authentic tasks, assessments) is more easily incorporated into our teaching, we may find it challenging to stay in the target language to establish rapport and build relationships with our students who are at the Novice or Intermediate proficiency levels. There is a sense that the lack of language stands as a barrier to developing those social and emotional connections.

But don't let that stop you from bringing the language into all facets of your classroom.  Staying in the target language creates a more cohesive sense of community, a community that has shared goals and experiences, empowers its members to contribute, provides a safety net for taking risks, and consequently, builds trust, collaboration, and a “can-do” attitude with using the language.

There are many strategies and tools we can use to build community through immersion in the target language. Today, let’s take a look at one tool and six strategies that take advantage of the power of social media.

No, we’re not going to access one of the social media tools that students may use with their friends. We’ll be working in a secure environment that comes with your Wayside product: the Classroom Forum in each Explorer course on the Learning Site. This is one of my favorite tools for building that sense of community with students as well as immersing them even more into the language and culture.

Highlight school events, student achievements and celebrations

Post notices of upcoming school events (i.e., concerts, theater productions, sports) in which your students are participating. Highlight their achievements in these events, but also include what they’re doing outside of school. Provide notecards on which students can share what they’ve done if they’re too humble to post the notice themselves. Also, encourage parents to send in notices and links to photos or online news stories. And don’t forget to post birthdays, along with bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, cotillions, quinceañeras, Eagle Scouts, etc.

Another idea is to feature a student of the week (Nuestro/a estudiante estupendo/a). Include in the post why he or she was selected and encourage classmates to add their own kudos or congratulations.

Share student work

The Classroom Forum is a great spot to display exemplary student work. Take photos of the work and attach them to a post. Upload and share audio or video recordings students have made for a specific task. Create a series of “awards” (i.e. most creative, best use of vocabulary, most culturally authentic) and post multiple works for a given assignment. Have classmates add positive comments and ask follow-up questions about the content or context.

Conduct team challenges

Post a prompt with a list of partner challenges. In groups of two, have students “spin” an online spinner and then complete the corresponding challenge. Include tasks that encourage kindness, collaboration, teamwork, expression, and the sharing of ideas and opinions. Here is an example for Novice learners who have been expressing likes and dislikes:

  1. Write a note of appreciation to one of your teachers.

  2. Talk for one minute to your partner about what you like to do in your free time.

  3. Draft a top-ten list of your favorite things about your school.

  4. Talk about three things you would like to do if given a free-choice activity in language class.

  5. Describe three things you would like to take with you on a month stay in Paraguay (or another country other study).


Share memories

Each month, share class highlights from the previous month. In preparation, take photos of class activities, student work, and students in action (headless shots are my favorite; I don’t post students’ images and they have fun trying to guess who is in the photos). Post the images and have students write captions (i.e., adjectives, rejoinders, simple sentences, complex sentences).  Or post sentence starters and have students submit their versions of the complete sentence. Some examples include (prompts that reinforce language structures serve double duty):

  1. Three adjectives that describe class last week are …

  2. The best moment in class has been ...

  3. Last month, I remember when …

  4. My favorite activity last semester was ...



Select a student blogger or student paparazzi

Have students take the lead in posting a comment, task, or prompt to which classmates can respond. Have a student take photos related to the content under study or of interest to classmates so that they can write captions or design memes.



Pose a Friday 3-2-1 reflection

Choose a day of the week and have students complete a 3-2-1 reflection or task. For example, on Fridays, the following makes sense:

  • 3 words that describe my week

  • 2 things that made me smile this week

  • 1 thing I plan to do this weekend.

On Wednesdays, many students love celebrating Zachary Jones’ Miaucoles:

  • 3 words that describe cats

  • 2 things that cats do that make me laugh

  • 1 name I would give to a cat and why.

Come up with a creative task for the other days of the week and over the course of the school year, use each of them once.

And it goes without saying (but, I’ll state it anyway) that all these posts and responses are in the target language.

So, take the plunge! Immerse your students even more in the target language by using the Classroom Forum to build a positive, supportive language community!

Watch what EntreCulturas "Can Do"

11-19-2018  All News, Featured Post

Watch what EntreCulturas can do! In this brief video, authors and teachers talk about our groundbreaking Spanish language program. See how can do statements help teachers think about student performance in a new way and help students focus on what they can do with the language right from the beginning. EntreCulturas leads with culture, which helps students engage in language learning as they find themselves pushed to communicate on an authentic level. 


Immigration & changing demographics strengthen french programs

06-11-2018  Featured Post, All News

By Elizabeth Zwanziger

June 11, 2018


Five weeks to AATF!

AATF in La Pointe-du-Bout, Martinique is only five weeks away! Here is the convention website. This will be my first time there, and I’m excited to celebrate Francophone language and culture in a new venue.


The French language has traveled from its birthplace in France and settled in many places around the world. We all know about Francophone Africa, Polynesia, and the Caribbean, but do you know that more and more French is being spoken in the U.S. thanks to immigration to many states across the country? Quebec is not the only place in North America where you’ll find French. In this post, I’ll be sharing a bit about the French language situation in what may seem an unexpected location: Iowa.


The Iowa flag resembles the French flag and reflects Iowa’s history as part of the French Louisiana Territory.


Iowa and French language and culture

Iowa has a significant French and French Canadian heritage. French has been the second most commonly studied world language in Iowan schools for many years. However, approximately 20 years ago, many French programs found themselves in danger and were even discontinued due to budget cuts for non-core courses considered as low hanging fruit. Many French teachers who still had positions advocated, promoted, and recruited to fill French classes. Little did we know that things were about to change.

In recent years, there has been an influx of French speakers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, and Angola immigrating to many of the larger metro areas in Iowa. They have come to start a new life, and are enriching ours. A local school has begun a French-English dual immersion program. Banks, hospitals, and grocery stores want to better serve their customers by offering French language translations for their services. Thus, people are seeking ways to study French in order to communicate with our new neighbors, and French programs are holding steady or even seeing growth.


What an exciting time to be a French teacher!

Let me tell you more at my presentation at AATF on Saturday, July 21 from 8:20 to 8:50 in the Fort Desaix room au Carayou. 

Participants will take away knowledge of newcomer Francophone populations around the U.S. and ideas for partnering with members of their own communities to promote linguistic and cultural diversity as well as to bolster French language programs that mutually benefit both existing and newcomer populations.





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