Sunday, February 28, 2010

Japanese: Who is the criminal?

Hi all, Junko here.

Here is an activity using a grammar "something, somebody, someday, anything, anybody" etc. This activity is effective because the grammar in Japanese is a little confusing. They need some activities to use the grammar without thinking too much about the conjugation and everything. Anyway here are the steps.

Divide the class into half. Half of the class will be suspects and the other half will be detectives. Then distribute a schedule to the suspects. There should be a couple of criminals in class.

Last night, the JPNS102 final exam was stolen from Ikeda-sensei’s office…

Detectives, ask each person 3 questions with

“Did you hear/see something at ~ o’clock ?”

Suspects, answer “No, I heard nothing. I did ~ at ~ o’clock” or

“Yes, I heard/saw something.

Detectives, when you know what time the crime happened, go back to the person who did nothing at that time – that’s the criminal! Go ahead to arrest the criminals!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Useful Sites: 200 Words A Day

Hello all, Chris here. I have another site I would like to share. Take a look at 200 Words A Day! They feature several activities and features like the Spanish, French, or German Word of the Day. Enjoy!

Useful Sites: ESL Sites

Hello all, Chris here. Today I have a selection of excellent ESL sites to share! Take a look at the following:

If you have any sites you would like to share with us, feel free to comment or send us an email:

Useful Sites: The Language Menu

Hello all, Chris here. Today I have a very cool website to share with you!

Check out The Language Menu! The site features a wide variety of materials, activities, games, and downloads in pretty much any language you would be teaching. I am also happy to announce that they are one of the first partner sites that we have so you can find a link back to here on their site as well!

I have added a new link section for partner sites which you will find to the right of the posts. I have also added their link to our general teaching sites section. Now go check out The Language Menu!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Describe and Draw

Welcome to another post by Danielle!

The following activity can be used in any language classroom or in your living room as a party game, depending on your needs. Even better, it requires little preparation, set-up, or explanation, and you can use it to fill in a few minutes of class time or to take up half-a-class if your students need practice for an oral exam. The only materials you need are a file of interesting, unusual, funny, and/or expressive pictures culled from magazines and newspapers (mine are all mounted on construction paper for easier manipulation) and scrap paper.


Divide the students into pairs or small groups and give each student at least one sheet of scrap paper and a photo. The students must examine their own picture but keep it hidden from the other members of their group. Each student takes a turn describing his or her photo to the other members of the group using as much evocative detail and precise vocabulary as possible. The other student(s) in the group must draw a picture that captures the description that they hear. They may ask clarifying questions, but they are not allowed to see the picture being described.

After a few minutes, or when the describer has run out of things to say, have the students compare the drawings to the original image and see how close they were to one another. Have them discuss where they went wrong and how the two images are different. Now it's the artists' turn to describe their photos.


If you feel you need to debrief your students or if you are using this activity to prepare your students for a descriptive task on an oral test, you may want to cap off the activity with a full-class discussion of their successes and...not-quite successes.

  • What details did they convey successfully? Unsuccessfully?
  • Which aspects of the pictures were easy to communicate to the artists? Which aspects were difficult to describe?
  • What information was most useful to the artists? Did the order of the elements described make a difference in how easy they were to draw?
  • What could the describers have done differently to make the picture easier to replicate?
  • Was there any vocabulary or grammar that would have been useful to know? (Prepositions to describe the relation and orientation of subjects in the picture? Activity-specific or technical language? Adjectives for color, size, shape, material, consistency, texture...?)
  • What would the students do differently if they had to describe their picture again to a different artist?
That's it! It's really that simple.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Spanish: Newsbites

Hello all, Claudia here,

I would like to share a great site with you today. It's a site designed for Spanish learners of all levels and it's great for practicing reading comprehension and listening comprehension. The site has news stories from Spain and Latin America in Spanish, with audio and built-in glossary, and each article comes with interactive exercises. The podcasts are really interesting and range in all sorts of topics, also, the language is very easy to understand.

Here's how to use the site: you can have your students listen to the podcast, without reading the text, and have the questions for them to answer after they listen. You can also have them only read the text and then they answer the questions or you can have them do all. Another thing you can do if you don't want to use the site during your class time is to give your students the link for them to practice at home.

Whatever you choose to do will definetly benefit your students! hope you try it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Useful Sites: Wordle

Hello all, Jason here.Here's something you might not have seen yet: Wordle. This is an image I created with Wordle using vocabulary from a recent chapter in a German language course.

With Wordle you can compile images of words that you can either type in, cut and paste, or you can also use web pages by entering in the URL. You can then format the layout, colors and edit language settings to put together interesting visual aids for learning vocab, reviewing main words from texts and all kinds of uses in your lesson plan.

Wordle is free, but it isn't as easy as simply saving the images as a .pdf or .jpeg file. Since it generates images with Java, you'll need to take a screen shot of the image and edit it down, or use the handy code that they provide you to directly post the image in your blog or on a webpage.

Friday, February 19, 2010

French: Marseille, 2006 Upper Intermediate & Advanced Learners

Hi everyone, Aurore here! This is a very nice video of most of the nice things you can visit at Marseille, southern France. From a cultural perspective, it is very nice for the students to watch this. Enjoy, sun is always shining there!

Des Racines & des ailes. Marseille, 2006.

1.Quel est l’autre nom de Marseille ?

2.Quand la ville est-elle née ?

3.Où se trouve le présentateur ?

4.A quoi la « Vieille Charité » servit-elle ? (2 réponses)

5.Quand fut-elle construite ? Par qui ?

6.Quels sont les atouts de Marseille ? (2 réponses)

7.Quel est le numéro de l’émission ?

8.Citez quelques attractions marseillaises énumérées.

9.A quand les racines de Marseille remontent-elles ?

10.Quelle est la « surprise souterraine » de la ville ?

11.Qu’est-ce que la « Corniche » ? (3 réponses)

12.Qu’est-ce que le « nid d’aigle » ?

French: Tourism & Vacation Vocabulary (Inter.-Adv.)

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Here is a list of useful vocabulary related to tourism and vacation abroad. It is designed for all levels. I asked my students to choose a French-speaking country, and organize a trip from scratch: book your flights, choose a hotel... Then they had to talk in front of the class and explain what they would visit, where they would stop... They really appreciated it because it is very practical. It made them want to travel in fact!!! Mission completed!

Le voyage, les transports et les vacances.

* Le transport routier : road transport

La voiture : car

Le car/le bus : bus

La caravane : caravan

La remorque : trailer

Le conducteur/le chauffeur : driver

Le passager : passenger

Klaxonner : to hoot

La station service : gas station

La panne : breakdown

L’embouteillage : traffic jam

La contravention : ticket

* Le transport ferroviaire : rail transport

La gare : railway station

Le train : train

Le TGV (train à grande vitesse) : high speed train

Le train de banlieue : commuter train

La voiture-restaurant : dining car

La voiture-lit : sleeping car

Le bagage : baggage/luggage

La carte d’abonnement : travel card

Les horaires : rail schedule

Le chariot : baggage cart

La consigne : baggage room

Le bureau des objets trouvés : lost property office

La correspondance : connection

La voie : line

Le billet de train : train ticket

A l’heure/en avance/en retard : on time/early/late

Composter son billet : to check one’s ticket

S’arrêter à telle gare: to call at such station

* Le transport maritime : sea transport

Le bateau : boat

La péniche : barge

Le pont : deck

Le gilet de sauvetage : life jacket

Le voilier : sailing boat

Le port : port/harbour

La mer : sea

Avoir le mal de mer : to be sea-sick

* Le transport aérien : air transport

L’avion : plane

L’aéroport : airport

La compagnie aérienne : airline

La réception des bagages : baggage reclaim

Le tapis roulant (à bagages) : carousel

La carte d’embarquement : boarding card/pass

La salle d’embarquement : departure lounge

La porte d’embarquement : gate

L’hôtesse de l’air (f): air hostess

Le trafic aérien : air traffic

L’équipage (m): crew

Le bagage à main : hand luggage

Le vol : flight

L’atterrissage (m): landing

L’escale (m): stopover

Le décollage : take off

Les turbulences : turbulence

S’écraser : to crash

Voler/atterrir/décoller : fly/land/take off

* Les vacances: vacations

Le pays: country

La campagne : countryside

La station thermale : health resort

La colonie de vacances : summer camp

La station balnéaire : seaside resort

La station de ski : ski resort

Le bain de mer : bathing

La plage : beach

La montagne : mountains

Le guide : guide

La carte : map

Le voyage organisé : all-in tour

La location : rental

Réserver : book

Annuler : cancel

Vérifier : check

Faire ses bagages/valises : to pack up

Visiter : visit

La location/réservation : booking

Le tarif/le prix du billet : fare

Le renseignement : information

L’itinéraire : itinerary

* Les hôtels : hotels.

La pension de famille/la maison d’hôtes : boarding house

La femme de chambre : chambermaid

Le portier : doorman

Le réceptionniste : receptionnist

Le grand lit : double bed

Chambre pour une personne : single room

Chambre pour deux personnes : double room

Chambre et pension complète : full-board

Chambre avec demi-pension : half-board

L’auberge (f) : inn

L’ascenseur (f) : elevator

Le motel : motel

L’auberge de jeunesse (f) : youth hostel

Le service des chambres : room service

Les chambres libres : vacancies

Climatisé : air-conditioned

Plein/complet : full/booked up

Libre : vacant

Remplir une fiche à l’arrivée : check in/register

Régler la note/partir : check out

Se renseigner sur qqch : to enquire about

French: How to express a judgement of value (Inter.-Adv.)

Hi everyone, Aurore here!! Here is a list of useful vocabulary to express a value judgement. It comes with colloquial expressions too.

Comment exprimer un jugement de valeur?

· En général:

Un commentaire : Comment

Une évaluation, une estimation : Appreciation

Un chef-d’œuvre : Masterpiece

Des louanges (f) : Praise

Exceptionnel, remarquable : Outstanding

Sans précédent, inouï : Unheard of

· Opinion positive sur l’apparence des gens.

Séduisant : Alluring/attractive

Ensorcelant, envoutant : Bewitching

Exquis : Exquisite àdes goûts exquis, un plat exquis

Doué : Gifted

Gracieux : Graceful

Sans pareil, sans égal : Matchless

Raffiné : Refined à des manières raffinées, des goûts (tastes) raffinés

Subtile, léger : Subtle à un argument subtil; une différence légère

Bien habillé : Well-dressed

Bien éduqué : Well-educated

Bien élevé : Well-mannered

· Opinion positive sur les choses et l’attitude des gens:

à couper le souffle : Breathtaking àêtre d’une beauté à couper le souffle

Entraînant, facile à retenir : Catchy àle refrain (chorus) d’une chanson (song) par exemple

Pratique, commode : Convenient

Eblouissant : Dazzling àêtre d’une beauté éblouissante, mais aussi une lumière éblouissante, qui fait mal aux yeux

Parfait, sans défaut : Flawless

Passionnant, palpitant : Gripping à se dit d’une aventure, de l’intrigue (plot) d’un livre

Impressionnant : Impressive

Chic, huppé : Posh à être chic, les quartiers chics ou huppés

Satisfaisant : Satisfactory

Opportun/inopportun : Timely/untimely

· Opinion négative sur les gens et ce qu’ils font.

La honte, le déshonneur : Disgrace

Nul, mauvais : Rubbish, lousy

Arriéré : Backward

De qualité médiocre, de mauvais goût : Cheap

Maladroit, gauche : Clumsy

Banal, ordinaire : Commonplace

Déroutant : Confusing àse dit d’une attitude, d’une réaction

Humiliant : Degrading

Illétré : Illiterate

Qui ne sait pas compter : Innumerate

Méchant/avare : Mean

Radin : stingy

Ridicule : Ludicrous/ridiculous

Qui inspire le mépris : Contemptible

Qui ne rime à rien, futile : Pointless

Scandaleux : Outrageous

Bâclé, négligé : Sloppy/slipshod à un travail bâclé, une apparence négligée

Superficiel, sans profondeur : Shallow

· Opinion négative sur les choses et les gens.

Grossier, vulgaire : Coarse à un langage grossier, une attitude ou une apparence vulgaire

Terne, sans couleur/fade : Colourless à qualifie autant un vêtement qu’une personne. « Fade » (tasteless) s’emploie aussi pour parler d’un plat qui n’a pas de goût

Louche, pas net : Fishy

Criard, de mauvais goût : Gaudy/garish à s’emploie surtout pour une couleur de vêtement trop flashy, qui fait vulgaire

Insuffisant/ inadapté : Inadequate

Sans valeur : Valueless

Qui ne vaut rien/ inutile : Worthless

French: Vocabulary - Expressing your feelings (intermediate and advanced)

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Below you will find a useful list of words and expressions your feelings and colloquial expressions:

Comment exprimer ses sentiments?

· L’émotion.

L’inquiétude (f), le souci: concern, worry

L’état d’esprit (m) : frame of mind

Une crise : frenzy à une crise de colère

L’humeur (f) : mood à d’humeur changeante : moody/temperamental, être de mauvaise/bonne humeur

Un ennui/un problème : trouble

Contrarié, fâché: upset

· L’amour et la haine.

L’engouement (m), la folie : craze

L’aversion: dislike

La pitié : pity à prendre qqn en pitié, avoir de la pitié pour quelqu’un

L’acceptation (f) : terms àaccepter qqch: to come to terms with sth

En avoir assez/marre, ne plus pouvoir supporter : to be fed up with sth

Bien apprécier/aimer/adorer qqch: to be fond of sth

Être accro, mordu : to be hooked on sth, to be addicted to sth

Avoir en horreur/détester : to loathe

· La préférence et l’enthousiasme (m).

Le souhait : a wish

Préféré : favourite àmon dessert préféré

Peu enthousiaste : half-hearted

Hésitant, peu disposé : reluctant

Répugnant : repellent

Facilement dégoûté : squeamish

Las : wary à prononcer le –s. àJe suis las/lasse (f) de faire qqch

Convoiter qqch : to covet à la convoitise

Avoir grande envie de : to crave

Se faire une joie à l’idée de : to look forward to doing sth

· La tristesse.

Le chagrin : grief à être chagriné par qqch.

La malchance : misfortune à être malchanceux

La tristesse : sadness

Le soupir : sigh à soupirer

Le sanglot : sob à sangloter

La larme : a tear

Gémir, se lamenter : to whine à un gémissement

· Le bonheur.

La félicité, le grand bonheur : bliss

L’espoir (m) : hope à espérer qqch

Le soulagement : relief à être soulagé de qqch

Le bien-être : well-being

La confiance : confidence àavoir confiance en soi

Gai, joyeux : cheerful

Se réjouir de qqch : to rejoice

· Le malheur.

L’anxiété (f) : anxiety à être anxieux

Le désespoir : despair à être désespéré

La déception : disappointment à être déçu de qqch, décevoir qqn

Le regret : regret à regretter qqch, exprimer ses regrets par rapport à qqch

Le remord : remorse à avoir/éprouver des remords par rapport à qqch ou qqn

La honte : shame à être honteux de qqch

Le souci : worry

Etre découragé : to be dispirited

Etre fou/folle de douleur, bouleversé : distracted

S’effondrer, craquer : to break down

Décevoir, faire faux bond : to let down

Se repentir : to repent

· La surprise.

Etre étonné : astonished

Être interloqué : dumbfounded

Être sidéré : flabbergasted

Être déconcerté : taken aback

Inattendu : unexpected

Etre dérouté : to baffle

Laisser perplexe : to puzzle

· La peur.

La peur : fear avoir peur de qqch

Etre effrayé de qqch: to be afraid of sth

Redouter qqch: to dread

Faire peur à qqn : to frighten

Reculer devant la difficulté : to shrink

French: Role-Plays for Advanced Levels

Hi everyone, Aurore here! Here are very funny role plays that I have designed for my students!! They enjoyed creating crazy situations and the class and I really had fun watching everyone perform them in the end. You have something about the ups and downs when you live with someone, a mother struggling with her teenager, some friends having fun doing camping until they realize they forgot the tent...

Jeux de rôles.

Jeu 1. Jérôme et Sylvia sont mariés depuis 3 ans. Ils n’ont pas d’enfant. Ils vont se disputer parce que Jérôme a encore oublié leur anniversaire de mariage, alors que chaque année il dit qu’il va y penser pour se rattraper. Sylvia en veut à Jérôme car il sort tout le temps au bowling, et qu’elle n’aime pas ses amis. Jérôme en veut à Sylvia car elle sort tout le temps avec ses copines qui sont de vraies pétasses, et elles vont dans un bar où il y a beaucoup de militaires très glamour en uniforme.

Jeu 2. Manon est mère célibataire. Elle élève seule son fils de 13 ans, Marc, qui est en pleine crise d’adolescence. Il est complexé car il a des boutons, que sa voix n’a pas encore mué, et qu’il est très petit par rapport au reste des élèves de sa classe. Du coup il rend à sa mère la vie impossible. Son dernier caprice : il veut la PS6 qui coûte 600E. C’est beaucoup trop cher, et Manon n’a pas les moyens de lui acheter. De son côté, Marc en veut à sa mère car elle est trop stricte.

Jeu 3. Fabien et Ange partent faire du camping tous les deux dans les Alpes. Ils ont acheté une tente et des sacs de couchage, avec le nécessaire pour faire la cuisine (allumettes, réchaud à gaz….). Ange est étourdi et il a oublié la nourriture. Ils se disputent quand ils sont arrivés en haut de la montagne et qu’ils ont faim. Fabien reproche à Ange d’être tête en l’air, et Ange à Fabien qu’il n’avait qu’à s’en occuper.

Jeu 4. Paris Hilton et Nicole Ritchie ont pour mission de travailler dans une ferme, alors que ce n’est pas vraiment leur élément naturel. Imaginez qu’elles doivent traire des chèvres pour faire du fromage. Que peut-il se passer ?

Jeu 5. Michelle et Christophe sont mariés depuis 15 ans. Leurs enfants sont partis de la maison, et ils ont deux chambres disponibles. Ca tombe bien, parce que le père de Christophe est au chômage, et que ses allocations chômage diminuent de mois en mois. Christophe essaye de convaincre Michelle d’accepter son père à la maison, alors que les deux ne s’entendent pas du tout. De plus, à Noël dernier, le père de Christophe a dit à Michelle que sa nouvelle coupe de cheveux était trop moche.

Jeu 6. Vous êtes deux personnalités politiques célèbres. Vous voulez tous/tes les deux devenir président/es de la république. On vous demande de défendre votre programme, et d’expliquer ce que vous aller faire pour les électeurs.

French: Role-Plays for Elementary Levels (beginners to intermediate)

Hi all, Aurore here. Students love to work in pairs or small groups, this way they get to know each other and this makes a better overall atmosphere. They can practice their oral and written skills in a very fun way. Here you will find 7 role plays for elementary levels. It's easy and you review basic vocabulary like clothes, how to ask questions, how to describe things...

Jeux de rôle.

Jeu 1. Ton frère s’est perdu. Indique au policier son nom complet, son âge, sa taille, la nature et la couleur de ses vêtements….

Jeu 2. Une personne rentre chez elle. Elle surprend un voleur. Mais celui-ci s’enfuit. Tu es le policier qui vient lui poser des questions. Tu demandes à la victime de te raconter ce qui s’est passé, et aussi des informations sur le voleur.

Jeu 3. Un cousin est venu passer quelques jours chez toi. Tu lui décris ton école et il te décrit la sienne.

Jeu 4. Tu veux acheter un cadeau à ta mère pour la Fête des Mères. Le marchand te pose des questions sur ce que tu souhaites acheter et les goûts de ta maman.

Jeu 5. Ton grand frère a un beau vélo. Toi, tu n’en a pas. Tu vas demander le vélo à ton frère, mais il ne veut pas te le prêter. Imagine la discussion.

Jeu 6. Ta copine/copain est en vacances Aux Caraïbes. Tu l’appelles et lui demandes comment se passent ses vacances.

Jeu 7. Un copain te téléphone pour te demander pourquoi tu n’es pas venu à sa soirée d’anniversaire. Il faut que tu trouves une bonne excuse.

Local Events: Don Quixote Film Screening

Hello all, Chris here. Just a quick newsflash regarding a film premiere here in the Lafayette (Purdue) area! Please take a look at the poster for the upcoming screening of Don Quixote!

Useful Sites: Mindzeit

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a useful site with the community called Mindzeit! This site will primarily be of interest to Spanish, French, and German teachers. Nevertheless, teachers of other languages may find items of interest as well. The site contains many useful links and educational products ranging from videos and music to audio books, and on a wide variety of topics as well! Definitely worth checking out. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Group Activities: Planning a Birthday Party.

Hi all, Junko here.

Since my birthday is coming soon, I had my students plan my birthday party, haha.
Here are the instructions.

Planning a birthday party!
In groups of 4, plan a birthday party for someone J Decide when, where, and what to eat,
and what to do at the party. Then someone will choose the best party, and the winning
team will get a prize! You must speak 日本語 when discussing!! Otherwise, there is no

Use the grammar below:
ませんか? Why don’t we?
ましょうか? Shall we?
ましょう Let’s ~

Basically, they had to use only Japanese, and the grammar they learned. After they finished planning, I
asked them what the plans were like, and chose the best one. It was a lot of fun!

Advanced French: Baalbek & Heliopolis Documentary (with questions)

Hi everyone, Aurore here! Since it's very cold at the moment, let's watch some beautiful temples located both in the desert and near the see! You'll find questions with it. Enjoy!!

Dans le secret des pierres. Héliopolis, Baalbek le gigantisme.

1.Qu’est-ce qui subsiste à travers le temps ?

2.Par quel adjectif les « pierres » sont-elles caractérisées ?

3.Quel est le poids de la pierre qui se trouve à Baalbek ?

4.Avec quoi cette pierre est-elle comparée ?

5.Quand est-ce que la pierre de la femme enceinte a été extraite du sol ?

6.Par quels adjectifs les temples sont-ils caractérisés ?

7.Selon les légendes, anciennes ou modernes, qui a pu construire ces temples gigantesques ? (4 réponses)

Advanced French: Documentary and Worksheet on China

Hi everyone, Aurore here!! I wanted to share this documentary about China. Your students are going to love it!! It is a very good way to travel while staying in the classroom!

Des Racines et des Ailes. Chine.

1.Qu’est-ce qui est dit sur la Grande Muraille de Chine ?

2.Qu’est-ce qui est fête dans cette émission spéciale ?

3.Quand cette émission est-elle tournée ?

4.Quand la muraille de Chine a-t-elle été construite ?

5.Quelle était la double fonction de la muraille ?

6.Qui est Patrick de Carolis ?

7.Quel était le pari de Patrick de Carolis ?

8.Combien d’émissions ont-elles été créées ?

9.Que protège la Cite Interdite ?

10.Quelle était la couleur de l’empereur ?

11.Avec qui les empereurs vivaient-ils ?

12.De quoi Confucius a-t-il pris conscience au sommet de la montagne ?

13.Par quels mots laudatifs les Jeux Olympiques sont-ils caractérisés ?

14.Par quels mots laudatifs la ville est-elle caractérisée à l’aube des Jeux Olympiques ?

15.Pendant combien de temps les empereurs ont-ils vécu dans la Cite Interdite ?

16.Citez des exemples de symboles architecturaux de la Cite Interdite. Que veulent-ils dire ?

17.En quoi sont faits les lions qui gardent les portes ?

Advanced French: Video "Les Petits Bilingues" sur l'apprentissage de l'anglais des tous petits with Questions

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Here is a very cute video I wanted to share with you today. It's about French children learning English at a very early age, plus a worksheet of questions! What they sing and the way they do it is just lovely!!!

Les Petits Bilingues. Lyon. France 3, Le Mag.

1. Quels jouets se vendent très bien depuis deux ans ?

2. Pourquoi de tels jeux ont-ils été crées ?

3. Où vont les enfants le mercredi ?

4. Qu’est-ce que « Les Petits Bilingues » ?

5. Quand « Les Petits Bilingues » ont-ils été crées ?

6. Quel est le secret de cette pédagogie ? (4 éléments de réponse)

7. Quelles sont les motivations des parents et des enfants ?

8. Au bout de combien de temps les progrès sont-ils tangibles ?

Geman: Das Oktoberfest

Hello all,Chris here. Today I would like to share some information regarding Oktoberfest which can be used either to provide students with some cultural knowledge or to base a lesson or unit around as well. The information in this post works well with a previous post regarding Munich and Bavaria.

For the best possible source of information regarding Oktoberfest one should visit the following site:

Below you can find several questions for students to answer related to Oktoberfest:


This page contains a thorough list of Bavrian terms with which students are unlikely to be familiar with. This can in fact present an excellent opportunity to teach students about German dialects. It is helpful to have access to audiovisual materials which are spoken in dialect. For an excellent example of a 'Bavarian' dialect please take a look at the following video:

Allgemeine Fragen:
1 Wieviele Besucher gibt es normalerweise beim Oktoberfest?
2 Wieviel Bier wird beim Oktoberfest getrunken?
3 Was ist der Umsatz (in Euro) vom Oktoberfest?
4 Was ist eine Wiesen-Mark?
5 Was kann man beim Oktobefest tun (außer Bier zu trinken)?
6 Wann findet das Oktoberfest statt (Monat)?
7 Wann ist das Oktoberfest entstanden? Und wo?
8 Was ist ein Dirndl?
9 Wann war das erste Oktoberfest?
10 Wie heißt der Platz in München, auf dem das Oktoberfest stattfindet?

Interaktives Quiz:

This should serve as a good introduction to the Oktoberfest. There are of course virtually limitless possibilities for expanding this into lessons and teaching units and all kinds of fun activities which students should find rewarding. Enjoy!

Questions and comments welcome!

News: Banner Added!

Hello all, Chris here. Just a quick update regarding the site. As you can see, we finally have our banner (and site logo) up and running. You can see it in the upper right side of the site. This is still an early version of it which we hope to replace in the next few days with an improved image. Stay tuned and thank you for your continued interest in the site!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Group Activities: Story Chains

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share an activity I like to do in conjunction with practicing past tenses. In German this would be das Perfekt (conversational past) or das Präteritum (narrative past). This activity provides students with a creative way to utilize and practice the past tense. Most recently we reviewed the Perfekt so I will use that as an example here.

First I divided the students into 4 groups. You may wish to use more groups if you have more students so that the size of the groups will be smaller. I have found that it can take too long for the students to finish the activity otherwise. There always needs to be an even number of groups for this activity.

Once the students are organized into groups you will have groups 1 and 3, and groups 2 and 4 sit across from each other in rows.

The students will be given a common sentence with which to begin their stories. For example I recently used the following as our chapter was thematically focused on Munich:

Ein amerikanisher Student ist nach München gegangen / An American student has gone to Munich.

The first students in groups 1 and 3 will begin by adding a sentence to continue the story. Once they are finished they will pass the paper they are writing the story on to the person from the other group sitting across from them. Each student will attempt to add a sentence to the story. Thus, the story can take many twists and turns and it may become increasingly difficult for the subsequent students to continue it. The story will continue to be passed from group to group until everyone has had a chance to add a sentence to it. All additions should attempt to use the past tense if possible.

An alternate approach would be to just have the students pass the story along within their own group. The goal could then be to see how many times the group could have each member add to the story within a given time or to have the group report the story by writing it on the board once they have cycled through once.

Questions and comments welcome!

Teaching Strategies: Organizing Groups

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a few tips with regard to organizing your students into groups. It may seem pretty easy to oragnize your students into groups, and really it should be. However, students often end up working with the same classmates over and over which can lead to students getting tired of 'group work'. To add some variation to group work as well as adding some language practice into grouping process I regularly use the following:

Randomizing Groups: To ensure that students are always working with different combinations of their classmates (to avoid repetition) I like to randomize the groups. I have also combined some language practice with this process! To organize students into groups I will first announce how many groups we will have and how many students per group there will be. Then I tell my students that we will begin by counting from 1 until we reach the group's maximum size - 4 or 6 or 8 for example. This is of course done in the target language so that whenever there is group work the students are also practicing their numbers. This is less important at more advanced levels but provides an excellent practice opportunity for beginners. It also requires the students to pay attention as they will have to find their group partners after everyone has been assigned a number.

To further ensure random groups I always try to vary the group size from activity to activity. In other words I might use groups of 4 in one class session only to use groups of 8 in another. You can also add further randomness to the groupings by choosing which direction you will have the students count. For example you could start on one side of the classroom and then go up and down the rows. Or you could start at either the front or back and go across the rows.
  • What other ways could be used to organize students into groups?
  • Besides numbers, what other language component could be added when organizing groups?
  • How do you use group work in your classes?
Questions and comments welcome!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spanish: Estereotipos

Hello everybody, Claudia here,

When teaching about stereotypes I have found this guessing game quite fun. What you need to do is get your students in small groups of 2 or 3 people. Have small pieces of paper with different stereotypes written on them.

Once the students are arranged in groups you go around each group and put one of the papers with the stereotype on each students' foreheads, post-it notes work pretty good for this.

Then, in each group the students have to describe the stereotype on one person's forehead so that he or she can guess which one it is. They continue until everyone in the group has guessed his or her stereotype.

This activity is really fun for students and can be adapted to many other topics. One variety I have also used is to have the person with the paper be the one asking questions trying to get information to guess his or her identity. You can also use pictures of famous people, city names or pictures, animals, etc. In other words, you can easily adapt this game for any level.

I hope you try it out and let me know how it works for you!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

German: Rheinheitsgebot & Bierbraugesetze

Hello all, Chris here. When teaching a unit on Munich and Bavaria one part of German culture that virtually all students tend to be aware of is that of German Bier. Many students have heard of the famous Hofbräuhaus. To help provide students with some background information on German beer and the attendant laws and regulations regarding brewing, the Rheinheitsgebot, I found this website to be useful: Reinheitsgebot und gesetzliche Bestimmungen. Questions and comments welcome! Enjoy!

News: Purdue Linguistics Association Symposium 2010

Purdue Linguistics Association 
Symposium 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Special Session: Language Diversity

Guest Speaker: Dr. Alan Yu, University of Chicago


We invite submissions for abstracts in any area related to linguistics

· Submit 500-word abstract online

· All graduate students welcome

· Due Thursday, February 25

For more information, visit our website:
or Google “Purdue Linguistics Association”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Marketplace Speed Date Shopping

Hello from Danielle!

The activity I'm using in my inaugural post is designed to practice the subjunctive in Spanish adjectival clauses. These instructions might look complicated, but really, this is a fairly easy game with minimal preparation necessary.

Basically, the way the activity works is that half the students are designated as "vendors" and the other half as "customers." Customers create shopping lists of specific items and go searching for them in the market. The challenge is to use the subjunctive or the indicative in adjectival clauses when asking for the items on their lists depending on whether the customers know an item to be available or not.

I chose flowers as the commodity in my market, but you could use just about any object you might buy in a marketplace or shopping center: clothes, food, pets, artesanía... The only stipulation is that all members of the chosen category must describable with the same adjectives. Clothes, for example, might be divided by type: shirts, pants, skirts, and hats, and the corresponding adjectives that might apply to each item could include: colorful, big, small, fashionable, cheap, purple, striped, cotton, and so forth.


I have used a PowerPoint slide to present the basics of the information outlined in this section. The table below indicates the variety of items (in this case flowers) available for sale or purchase. I have filled it out to indicate the choices a vendor might make.

Before the activity begins, vendors and customers must make the following preparations:

Vendors choose 5 of the possible varieties of flowers that they will have in stock, and ONE (indicated by the star in the table) "special." I give each vendor a half-sheet of scrap paper, which they can fold in half into a table-tent. On the side that faces the customers, they write the name of the flower that’s on sale (they can be creative with their tablero and advertising). On the side facing themselves, they write the names of all the flowers they have chosen (as a memory aid more than anything).

Customers make a shopping list of three types/colors of flowers that they want to put into a bouquet. They write their choices on another bit of scrap paper (keeping them honest and from changing their bouquet choices when and if they can’t immediately find the flowers they need).


The speed-dating set up is really versatile and you can use it for any situation/conversation set up where you want to get students to talk one-on-one with a variety of their classmates. For this game, the set-up is modified as follows:

The vendors (in blue) are set up in a row (simulating flower kiosks/stalls in a market), and the customers (green) each sit facing one of the vendors (sort of like the set up for pirámide). If there is an uneven number of students in the class, there may end up being two customers to a vendor or two vendors to a customer. After a minute-ish of talking to the first vendor, (you can decide how much time is enough) stop the transactions and have all the customers get up and move on to the next vendor (the vendors stay put, the customers all move one desk to the right or left).


The customers can see on the "tablero" of the vendor which flower is "a la venta". If that is one of the flowers s/he needs, the customer can ask for it by saying something like:

Necesito los claveles que SON azules.
(A bit stilted sounding, perhaps, but it IS a grammar practice activity, so sometimes awkwardness is par for the course.)

If they are looking for a flower that is not mentioned on the tablero, they can request it with a sentence like:
Busco unas margaritas que SEAN rojas. ¿Las tiene?
I often model the sentences or put up an example sentence or phrase on the board that they can follow along with until they are comfortable making up their own (and hopefully they eventually will be).

Each customer can ask an individual vendor for as many of their desired flowers as they have time to request. They are limited only by the amount of time in each segment of the speed dating.


After it seems that one or two (or however many, on your discretion) customers have collected their desired bouquets, you can declare the successful clients winners and call an end to the first round of the game. I usually base this off of whether or not there has been sufficient time for each customer to get practice making requests. If a student finishes after talking to only one or two vendors, I might give him or her an extra bonus flower to look for while the others have more time to practice and gather their bouquets.

At this point, the vendors get rid of their tableros and become customers, and the customers pick up a sheet of paper to make a tablero and take over a kiosk space. The students all prepare again, choosing flowers to sell or collect according to their new position.


Spanish: Trabalenguas 1

Hi everyone, Claudia here,

I would like to share a few Spanish tongue twisters for you to use in your classes. Students have lots of fun with tongue twisters, even though they find them hard too! This is a good way to get your students to work on their pronunciation and laugh while they are at it! It also helps if you try to say them really fast and make mistakes, that way the students don't feel like they are expected to be perfect.

Try it out and let me know how it goes, enjoy!

Pablito clavó un clavito
en la calva de un calvito.
En la calva de un calvito,
un clavito clavó Pablito.

Tres tristes tigres
tragaban trigo en un trigal.

Yo compré pocas copas.
Pocas copas yo compré.
Como yo compré pocas copas,
pocas copas yo pagué.

El que poco coco come, poco coco compra;
como yo poco coco como, poco coco compro.

Erre con erre cigarro
erre con erre barril.
Rápido ruedan los carros
cargados de azúcar al ferrocarril.

El arzobispo de Constantinopla
se quiere desarzobisconstantinopolitanizar.
El desarzobisconstantinopolitanizador
que lo desarzobisconstantinopolitanice,
buen desarzobisconstantinopolitanizador será.

News: TPR Book Release

Hello all, Chris here. If you have ever tried Total Physical Response (TPR for short) in your language classes, never heard of it, or just want to learn more about it, then I would recommend checking out the new 7th edition of James Asher's Learning Another Language Through Actions. Comments welcome!

  • Do you use TPR in your language classes?
  • How often do you use it?
  • Is it effective?
  • What problems have you encountered?
  • Are the students receptive to it?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

German: Munich Links

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a set of links which will be useful for anyone teaching a unit on Munich. The links cover everything from the city of Munich's own website - which is a great gateway for all things Munich-related, as well as several sites of famous places in and around the Munich area. If you have any other links that would be useful and Munich-related, please feel free to share them. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Games: Verb Battleship Template

Hello all, Chris here.

Today I am adding the blank template for Verb Battleship. Check it out below. You can save the picture and print off as many copies as you need! For a description of how to use this game in your classes click here.

This game is for purely educational purposes and no infringement of any kind is intended of Milton Bradley's rights to Battleship.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spanish: Calentamiento Global Video

Hello everybody, Claudia here,

I would like to share a video on global warming I have used in the past when talking about this topic in my classes, I find it very useful. There are many activities you can use as a follow up that would vary depending on the level of your class.

The video takes a few seconds to start. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

German: Step Into German Website

Hey all, Chris here.

Today I would like to share an amazing website that German teachers will find especially useful! Check out Step Into German for an excellent site that makes incorporating German music into your courses both fun and easy! (without having build up a large music collection of your own)

The site features music from all across Germany and for every song and music video there are worksheets available as well! The site is well-designed and easy to navigate. In other words, you can jump right in and incorporate it into your lessons!

Are there any sites like this for other languages? If you have any related links please feel free to comment on the post and share with us! What types of lessons and activities can you plan by integrating music in your classroom?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

News: Goethe Institut Sommerschule in Elmhurst

Hello all, Chris here.

For anyone interested, the Goethe Institut runs a Sommerschule in Elmhurst, Illinois. You can find more info on the Indiana AATG page. Enjoy!

German: Verb Battleship

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a fun activity I created back in 2003 to help my students with conjugation. Almost everyone has heard of and/or played the strategy game of Battleship. Originally, Battleship was actually a pen and paper guessing game. I decided to take that approach when I adapted it for verb conjugation. The pronouns go across the top of the grid while either the teacher or the class chooses a set of nine verbs which will be used. The game is flexible in that you can target specific groups of verbs, such as separable prefix verbs in German, irregular verbs, or even different tenses, depending on where the current focus in your courses.

Each student receives a copy of this sheet (to save time) or you can draw this example on the board and have students copy it on their own if time is not an issue. As it would be impractical to have your students use the little plastic ships and hit markers of the board game, students will mark the location of their ships with Xs as is indicated at the bottom of the template. Each X represents one square on the grid. The number indicates how many of each ship a student has. Students should place their ships in the bottom grid and ships may only be placed either vertically or horizontally. Students will guess where their opponent's ships are in the upper grid.

In order to make a guess a student must pick a verb and then conjugate it by choosing one of the pronouns. If the guess is correctly conjugate the opposing student will either say hit (Treffer! in German) or miss (Daneben!) or sunk (Versunken!). If the guess is incorrect the opposing student should provide the correct answer and may then take their turn. Students should alternate after each guess. The teacher should circulate among the students to make sure students are only providing information for correct conjugations and to help students with any questions that may arise. Students should keep track of their guesses as well as their opponent's guesses in some reliable manner (generally just drawing a small circle works).

As an added challenge teachers could require students to form an entire sentence with the conjugate verb.

The game can be a bit time consuming the first few times you use it in class. It definitely saves time to print of the sheets for the students beforehand. The game will also easily work for most other languages and I will add a blank template for others to use as well. Feel free to download the picture and print it off for your own use.

This game is for purely educational purposes and no infringement of any kind is intended of Milton Bradley's rights to Battleship.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

German: Zungenbrecher 2

Hello all, Chris here.

Today I will share a second set of common German tongue twisters for use in your German courses:

Wenn dein Dackel zu mein Dackel noch mal Dackel sagt, kriegt dein Dackel von mein Dackel so eine gedackelt, daß dein Dackel nicht mehr ""Dackel"" sagen kann

Der froschforschende Froschforscher forscht in der froschforschenden Froschforschung

Zwischen zwei spitzen Steinen saßen zwei zischelnde Zischelschlangen und zischten

Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmützenabzeichen (a famous German compound word)

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz (another lengthy compound)


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