Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Japanese: Do you think she is full Japanese or half Japanese?

There are lots of "Half(ハーフ) Japanese" celebrities in Japan, meaning that one of their
parents is not Japanese, so that their appearances are a little different from "full" Japanese.

Those singers, actresses or celebrities in Japan tend to be very popular in the media.
Anyway, it was fun to have students guess if the pictures shown below were "100%Japanese" or "Half Japanese"!

Do you think that person is Japanese?
多分、日本人でしょうね。or ハーフだと思います。
Maybe she is Japanese. / I think she is half.

German: Erster Tag - Icebreaker

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like share one of the icebreaker activities I often use on the first day of class to help students get to know one another, and to provide them with a chance to use their language skills right away. The activity takes the form of an interview, however, to add a twist to it, the teacher can make the students have to find a specific person to interview by writing a specific detail into the top blank. For example, Find someone who is not wearing jeans. This ensures that students will not just interview the person sitting next to them or a friend they have in class but rather it forces them to get up and move about, in some cases having to ask their fellow students if they are the correct person. The instructor should take a few minutes before class begins (as the students are walking in) to create pairs ahead of time by matching up the people in the top blank. In other words, Student A must find a student who is the tallest person in class (Student B) while Student B must find someone who is wearing a sports shirt (Student A). Then the instructor would try to create more pairs for the other students in class. The students themselves will not know about the pairings ahead of time of course. The interview itself consists of nine questions and is provided below.

Erster Tag – Wer sind deine Nachbaren?

Finden Sie jemanden der _______________________

Danach stellen Sie ihm/ihr die folgenden Fragen. Zum Schluss werden Sie diese Person der Klasse vorstellen.

1.      Wie heißt du? ____________________________________

2.      Woher kommst du? _______________________________

3.      Wie ist das Wetter in ___________/ den USA?__________

4.      Gefällt dir das Wetter?      Ja     /        Nein

5.      Was machst du gerne am Wochenende?


6.      Was für ein Auto fährst du/möchtest du fahren?


7.      Was ist dein Lieblingsessen? ________________________

8.      Gefällt dir Deutsch?            Ja     /        Ja

9.      Etwas interessantes: _______________________________

Japanese: Which city is it?

This is a good activity for beginning students to use various structures.

Work in a group of four. One person will select any city in the world without telling the rest of the group. The others will ask questions about various characteristics of the city to find out which it is. Use yes/no questions.
Is it in the west of the US?
Are there many people in the city?
Are there famous food there?
Is sushi tasty there?
東京ですか?Is it Tokyo?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Directions and Commands: Map Activity

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share an exciting set of activities which can be used in any language classroom. As the textbook we use in our fourth semester German courses is centered around each chapter being a stop in a different German city, I felt it would be a good idea to familiarize students with an actual city map, how to find the information and to practice following directions as well as providing directions for others.

As one of the chapters we cover is Hamburg, I decided that this would be the best opportunity for me to use this activity. While in Hamburg, I picked up several copies of Hamburg City Maps from the university there. Those who do not have immediate access to city maps could try using Google Earth instead.

After some discussion on Hamburg's history and various important locations in the city, I proceeded with the first part of the activity. It helps to have a large picture file on hand for give students a feel for a given city. Textbooks are limited by the number of pictures they can include, and even accompanying materials such as videos can only offer a limited glimpse. While in Hamburg I managed to visit most parts of the city and took several photos all over the city.

For the first part of the activity I created a series of places in the city that the students would have to visit. I divided the class into several small groups of approx. 4-6 students and each group also received a map of Hamburg. Then I gave them all the same starting point and then provided them with step by step directions to visit the various places as if they were traveling on foot.

Zu Fuß durch Hamburg (Teil 1)

Sie sind bei der Ubahnhaltestelle Klosterstern (Finden Sie Kosterstern auf dem Stadtplan)

Finden Sie die folgenden 6 Plätze in Hamburg und beschreiben sie wie man zu Fuß von Platz zu Platz kommt.

1 Von Klosterstern, geht zu der Universität Hamburg. Ihr findet die Uni bei Von-Melle Park.

2 Nach der Uni, geht zu den großen Park Planten und Blomen

3 Nach Planten und Blomen findet das Heiligengeistfeld wo der Hamburger Dom ist.

4 Danach geht zur Reeperbahn und sieht euch die Nachtklubs an.

5 Von der Reeperbahn geht zu den Landungsbrücken am Hafen.

6 Vom Hafen findet zuletzt die Mönckebergstraße. Geht zu der Europa Passage und geht einkaufen.

There are of course many different places one could choose for this activity, and you could even provide each group with a different set of directions and locations to visit.

Zu Fuß durch Hamburg (Teil 2)
For the second part of the activity students were required to ask a partner for directions from one location in the city to another. As the students would not be too familiar with all the locations in Hamburg, I urged them to focus on those locations discussed in the textbook as well as those we discussed while I was showing them pictures of the city.

An example could be something like:

Wie komme ich von der Mönckebergstraße zum Hafen?

or if you wanted to be more precise, you could ask for the shortest route:

Wie komme ich am besten/am schnellsten von St. Pauli zum Jungfernstieg?

Using the map, students would then provide step by step directions for their partner. It is also a good idea to review some of the associated vocabulary one would use with directions. I will be adding a little vocabulary review sheet to this post so stay tuned.

As mentioned above, this activity could easily be used by any language. You essentially just need to pick a relevant city for whichever language you are teaching and actually have some maps available. As an alternative you could try using Google Earth although you would likely have to do this activity in a computer lab. Another alternative way to do this activity would be to use local city maps or even campus maps if you're teaching at a university. Hopefully the above activity has been helpful to you. Comments welcome!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Video: Japanese Figure Skating in French

I believe this one is in French.... correct?

One of the great Japanese figure skaters, Mao- Asada,
got the gold medal in the world championship and beat her rival, Kim Yuna!

Anyway, the video is French, so it can be used in French classes to dictate. Or in Japanese classes students can make their own narration in Japanese.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

French: Documentary - The Architectural Development of Shanghai (Advanced)

Hi everyone, Aurore here. This is a very interesting video about the development of Shanghai. It comes with a worksheet. It is quite long but there is no problem to understand what the various speakers say. The vocabulary is very thematic, and the video can lead to a discussion about the changing nature of cities, and of works of art in terms of architecture. You can refer to the opera in Sydney, or the buildings in Dubai.

Des Racines et des ailes. Shanghai, 2007.

1.Combien de migrants rejoignent la ville chaque année ?

2.Par quel mot est caractérisé Shanghai ?

3.Quel nouvel art de vivre Shanghai doit-elle inventer ?

4.Depuis combien de temps Margaux est-elle à Shanghai ? Quel est son métier ?

5.Quelle est la caractéristique principale du quartier qu’elle présente aux téléspectateurs ?

6.Comment la ville se développe-t-elle ?

7.Quelle est la hauteur de la 4ème plus grande tour du monde ? Combien d’étages comporte-t-elle ? Pourquoi ce nombre ?

8.Quelles sont les deux subdivisions de l’hôtel ?

9.Par quelle expression la vue panoramique de l’hôtel est-elle dépeinte ?

10.Combien de personnes travaillent dans l’hôtel ? Citez des noms de métiers relatifs à l’hôtellerie.

11.Quels services/prestations sont proposés par l’hôtel ?

12.Expliquez cette obsession de la hauteur qui imprègne la culture chinoise.

13.Quelle est la pièce-maîtresse de l’hôtel ? (+ détails)

14.Expliquez quelle est la « prouesse technique » évoquée dans le reportage ?

Friday, March 26, 2010

French: Funny Video (Intermediate to Advanced)

Hi all, Aurore here. Here is a funny video for your students about the danger of downloading videos in France. My students loved it and understood it very well. Enjoy!

Spanish: Reading Activities

Hi all, Claudia here,

Today I would like to share a fun way to review chapter or text readings with your students. I have found that follow up activities for texts are hard to come up with, especially fun ones. What you can do is prepare some questions on the assigned reading, it can be as many as you want and can range from very simple easy questions to more complicated ones.

You arrange your class in a circle and have a small soft ball with you. The idea is to pass the ball around the circle as in playing Hot Potato, but you use music instead of calling hot potato. So you play some of your favorite Spanish music and in the mean time your students pass the ball around until you stop the music.

The student holding the ball when the music is paused gets to answer one of your questions about the reading. It's up to you if you want to display the questions on a screen or read them to the students. Of course if that student doesn't know the answer you can ask the rest to help out and then you play the music again!

Students really like this activity and it works really well for morning classes when your students are still a bit sleepy!

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010

German: HSV

Hello all, Chris here. Today we have a guest post from Christiane which continues the soccer theme from my previous post for FC Bayern. Christiane has prepared some materials for HSV since we are currently covering Hamburg in our courses.

Here we have the HSV fight song as well as a video version of it!

Wir wollen viele, viele Siege
1) Das Spiel ist hart, der Weg ist weit,
nichts kommt von allein.
Drum schlägt bei uns an jedem Tag
das Herz für den Verein.
Und träumen darf ein jeder ‘mal
und gerade heute hier.
Der HSV ist wunderbar
und das, das feiern wir.
Wir wollen viele, viele Siege.
Und daß das Team zusammenhält.
Wir wollen viele, viele Siege.
Und daß uns nie die Hoffnung fehlt.
Auch wenn nicht jeder Schuß ein  Tor wird
Und wir ‘mal schlecht nach vorne spiel’n.
Die Nummer eins geworden
wird niemals untergehen.
2) Der Blick nach vorn’
Und wir sind stolz auf unser’n HSV.
Die schönste Stadt, das Stadium.
Und alles Schwarz-blau-weiß.
Oh HSV, oh HSV
Wir stehen hinter dir.
Wir lieben dich und bleiben treu.
Was immer auch passiert.
Wir wollen viele, viele Siege…..
Here is another HSV-related song

Update: The Language Teacher's Toolbox reaches 100 Posts!!!

Hello all, Chris here. Today we have reached another milestone with our 100th post! The site is growing at a steady pace, so let's keep up the good work! I encourage our followers to comment more on the various posts and start discussions. Keep spreading the word about the site!

There are also some exciting plans in store for the site & community in the near future as we will be looking to release our first set of Language Teaching Materials over summer! Stay tuned!


French: Eldorado des retraités français (Advanced)

Hi everybody, Aurore here! This is a short ducumentary about a cultural phenomenon: the French used to buy a house in Spain to retire there, now they are moving to Morocco because it is less expensive. There is also a worksheet. You can then debate about where people retire in the country you live (Florida...)

Le Maroc : Eldorado des retraités français.

1.Combien de retraités français il y a-t-il déjà au Maroc ?

2.Par quoi sont-ils attirés ? (3 réponses)

3.Que peut-on voir au Salon de l’immobilier de Montreuil ?

4.Que veut dire l’expression « couler des jours heureux » ?

5.Quel est le budget du couple ?

6.Où veulent-ils s’installer ?

7.Quels sont les avantages de s’installer au Maroc et non sur la Cote d’Azur ? (2 réponses)

8.Quelle était la spécialité du promoteur immobilier lillois dans le passe ?

9.Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé en Espagne ?

10.Quel est le problème soulevé à la fin du documentaire ?

French: Conjugation of Past Tenses (Intermediate to Advanced)

Hi, Aurore here. Here is an exercise on verbs most French learners dread but find useful at the same time.

Les vacanciers étaient tous très contents de leur séjour. Leur voyage en Corse _______ (s’être/passer/bien), la plupart _________(être/enchanter) des beaux paysages qu’ils _______ (avoir/voir). Certains ________(avoir /prendre) des coups de soleil, ils _________ (être) tout rouge. Ils _______ (se dire) qu’ils _______ (aimer) bien revenir en Corse pour y passer d’autres vacances, et qu’il leur ________(falloir faire) d’autres visites qu’ils ________(ne pas avoir) le temps de faire.

s’était bien passé - étaient enchantés - avaient vus - avaient pris – étaient - se disaient - aimeraient -faudrait faire - n’avaient pas eues

German: FC Bayern

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share another video that would be useful to those doing a lesson on Munich and/or Bavaria. I am of course talking about the best German soccer team of all time, FC Bayern!

Check out the song Stern des Südens below and then visit the team's homepage at:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

French: Slang - Dictionnaire des Banlieues + Worksheet

Hi everyone, Aurore here. This is a very interesting video on the language used by youngsters in France. Students find it interesting because it refers to their own subculture. So it is both interesting on a linguistic and cultural point of view. Enjoy!

Dictionnaire Langage Banlieue.

1.Que signifie “Alcatraz” quand vous êtes en banlieue parisienne?

2.Quelle est l’idée des 10 jeunes ? Comment ont-ils eu cette idée de projet ?

3.Quels sont les 2 sens du verbe « piquer » expliqués ici ?

4.Pendant combien de temps ont-ils travaillé sur ce projet ?

5.Quel est le résultat de ce travail ?

6.Qu’est-ce que les jeunes ont découvert à propos des mots qu’ils employaient ?

7.Comment appelle-t-on un policier ? Pourquoi ?

German: Zungenbrecher 3

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to continue the series of posts with the third set of German tongue twisters. Enjoy!

Der Schweizer Schweißer schwitzt und schweißt.
Der Schweizer Schwitzer schweißt und schwitzt.
Schwitzend schweißt der Schweizer Schweißer.

In Ulm und um Ulm und um Ulm herum.

Wenige wissen, wieviel man wissen muss, um zu wissen, wie wenig man weiß.

Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut,
Brotlaib bleibt Brotlaib,

Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Japanese: Hip Hop - Nujabes

Hi all, Junko here.

Today I'd like to share some videos of Nujabes. He was an internationally known Japanese hip-hop track maker who just passed away last month. I don't know what kind of activity I can do in class, but at least I can introduce it as a part of contemporary Japanese culture!

Local Events: ESL Workshop 3-26-10

Hello all, Chris here. I just got the following in my inbox and I thought it might be of interest to those in the Purdue area:

"Introduction to University and Community Resources for English as a Second
Language (ESL) Students

Friday, March 26, 4:30-5:30 pm, PHYS 114
This presentation will provide non-native speakers of English an overview of
university and community resources available for learning and practicing
English as a Second Language (ESL), including resources for informal
conversation as well as help with academic writing.
To register for workshops, please go to

Thank you,
Christal Musser"

Wordle: Hamburg Chapter

Hi All. Jason here. Here's another look at a wordle image that incoporates vocabulary from a chapter on Hamburg in fourth semester German. This chapter focuses on the worlds of business and media in Hamburg.

Yes, you too can create your very own Wordle image using vocabulary or key words from texts in your language classes. Just go to Wordle and click on "Create" on the top menu bar. There you can create your Wordle using pasted text, or even enter in a web address and have Wordle compile you an image from a online article, or wiki page.

You can post your image to a public gallery, or with a little work, you can save the image as you see above. This involves taking a screen shot (just hit "Prnt Scrn" ) of your finished Wordle. Paste the screen shot into Microsoft Paint (Ctrl-V), crop, and then save in a format of your choosing.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Local Events: "Developing and Assessing Classroom Activities for a Messy World"

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share some info about an upcoming lecture at Purdue which may be of interest for fellow language teachers. The lecture is free of charge and will take place this Thursday, March 25, 2010 from 3:30-4:45 p.m. in LWSN, Room B-151.

The lecture is "Developing and Assessing Classroom Activities for a Messy World" and is being presented by Professor Heidi Diefes-Dux and DR. Matthew Verleger.

The following is a brief description of the lecture taken from their flyer:

"Students graduate into a messy world. Program objectives represent the discrete skills identified as being necessary to succeed in that messy world. Developing activities for the classroom that engage students in that messiness while still enabling faculty to adequately assess for those program objectives is hard. this conversation will present an open-ended problem development and assessment strategy that has been implemented and researched by the presenters for the past eight years to help students learn to solve problems in the messy world."

I will be attending the lecture and will post my thoughts on it later on Thursday. I hope to see some of you there!

Spanish: ArteHistoria

Hi everybody, Claudia here,

I would like to share a very useful website with lots of resources for Spanish teachers. I came across this site a while ago and they were very welcoming to us using their site as a teaching tool.

The website is called ArteHistoria and their main objective is to promote cultural difussion through a rich collection that includes texts, videos, biographies and images of a wide range of topics in art and history. This is a great resource especially for those teaching advanced Spanish language or culture classes.

Also, the creators of ArteHistoria have made available a YouTube channel that includes a large selection of their videos with Spanish subtitles. This might be more fit for those of you who think your class needs something a bit less advanced.

I really hope you check out the site and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 15, 2010

German: Americans' Image of Germany Reaches New High

Hello all, Chris here. I came across this article which reveals some interesting facts regarding how Americans view Germans and Germany. From the article, "Americans hold Germany and the German people in higher esteem today than at any time since September 2002, according to the results of a survey commissioned by the German Information Center." There are of course several more details in the article which shows that German continues to be an important language in America. This importance of German and Germany should be kept in mind when language programs consider budget cuts, especially given the current economic climate.

German: Lerne Plattdeutsch Video

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a fun little video for German. This video is part of a series that pokes fun at the various German dialects. This time around it is Plattdeutsch! Take a look and enjoy!

Monday, March 8, 2010

French: First Day of Class - How to introduce yourself?

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Here is an activity you can do for the first class. The students have the questions and answers to introduce themselves to the class. The questions are both conjugated at the "tu" and "vous" forms. It is easy for everyone to follow, the students learn quickly about their classmates and they can remember the spelling of the words

Comment se présenter ? How to introduce yourself ?

Comment vous appelez-vous et quel âge avez-vous? Comment t’appelles-tu et quel âge as-tu ?
--> Je m’appelle X et j’ai X ans.

Où habitez-vous ? Où habites-tu ?
--> J’habite à X.

Avez-vous des frères et sœurs ? Combien ?
--> J’ai XX frère(s) et XX sœur(s), ils ont X ans.

En quelle année êtes-vous à l’université ? En quelle année es-tu à l’université ?
--> Je suis en Xème année.

Quelle est votre spécialisation (major) et votre option (minor) ? Quelle est ta spécialisation et ton option ?
--> Je me spécialise en X, j’ai choisi X comme option.

Où avez-vous appris le français ? A l’école, au lycée, à l’université, ailleurs ? (somewhere else) Où as-tu appris le français ?
--> J’ai appris le français à/au XX.

Avez-vous déjà visité la France ou un pays francophone ? (French-speaking country)? As-tu déjà visité la France ?
-->Oui, j’ai déjà (already) visité XX.
-->Non, je n’ai jamais (never) visité XX.

Avez-vous un emploi ? (job) Où travaillez-vous ? As-tu un emploi ? Où travailles-tu ?
-->Oui, j’ai un emploi, je travaille à/au XX.
--> Non, je ne travaille pas/je n’ai pas de travail.

Que voulez-vous faire après vos études ? Que veux-tu faire après tes études ?
--> Après mes études, je veux (I want)/ je voudrais (I would like) XX.

Qu’est-ce que vous aimez faire quand vous avez du temps libre (free time) ? Qu’aimes-tu faire quand tu as du temps libre ?
--> Quand j’ai du temps libre, j’aime (I like)/ j’adore (I love) faire XX.

Quel est-votre plat préféré (favourite dish)? Quel est ton plat préféré ?
--> Mon plat préféré est le/la XX.

Quel est votre film préféré ? Quel est ton film préféré ?
-->Mon film préféré est XX.

Quel est votre chanteur/chanteuse (singer)/groupe de musique préféré ?
-->Mon chanteur/chanteuse préféré/é est XX.

Qu’avez-vous fait pendant les vacances ? Qu’as-tu fait pendant les vacances ?
--> Pendant les vacances, j’ai fait XX, je suis allé/e à/au XX.

French: French Children Learning English

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Here is a video about French children learning English at school. It is easy to follow, then you can debate about whether such schools are popular in the country in which you are, if your students would be interested in putting their own children in such institutions... You will find some questions to go with it. "Head, shoulders, knees and toe, knees and toe!!" My students found it really cute... it is!!!

L'anglais à trois ans...c'est fastoche!

1.Pourquoi l’anglais est-il plus facile à apprendre pour les enfants ?

2.D’où viennent les animateurs ?

3.Qu’est-ce qui change d’avec l’enseignement d’une école classique ?

4.Quel est l’avantage apporté par ces cours ?

French: Song Lyrics - Paroles Saez Jeune Et Con

Hi everyone, Aurore here. Here is a video that worked well in my class. At first your students can watch it and describe what they see; you can also ask them about the words they manage to understand. Then you give them the lyrics, and they have to complete the blanks. The vocabulary is easy, the singer is well known, and you can ask the students to listen to some other songs. That's spreading culture... Enjoy!

Paroles Saez Jeune Et Con

Encore ________se lève sur la planète France
Et je sors _________ de mes rêves je rentre dans la ________
Comme toujours il est ___________ du soir j'ai dormi tout le jour
Je me suis encore couché trop ________ je me suis rendu sourd encore

Encore une ________ où la jeunesse France
Encore elle va bien s'amuser puisqu'ici rien n'a de sens
Alors elle va danser faire semblant d'être _________
Pour aller gentiment se __________ mais demain rien n'ira mieux

Puisqu'on est jeune et con
Puisqu'ils sont _______ et ________
Puisque des hommes crèvent sous les _________
Mais ce _______ s'en fout
Puisqu'on est que des pions
Content d'être à ________
Puisque je sais qu'un jour nous gagnerons à devenir fous (bis)

Encore un jour se lève sur la _________ France
Mais j'ai depuis longtemps perdu mes _________ je connais trop la danse
Comme toujours il est huit heure du soir j'ai ________ tout le jour
Mais je sais qu'on est quelques ________ à chercher l'amour encore

Encore une soirée ou la jeunesse France
Encore elle va bien s'amuser dans cet état d'__________
Alors elle va danser faire semblant d'exister
Qui sait si l'on ferme les ________ on vivra vieux

Puisqu'on est jeune et con
Puisqu'ils sont vieux et fous
Puisque des hommes _________ sous les ponts

Mais ce monde s'en _________
Puisqu'on est que des ________
Content d'être à genoux
Puisque je sais qu'un jour nous nous ____________
Comme des fous (bis)

___________ un jour se lève sur la planète France
Et j'ai depuis longtemps perdu mes rêves je ________ trop la danse
Comme toujours il est huit heures du soir j'ai dormi tout le jour
Mais je sais qu'on est quelques milliards à __________ l'amour

Sunday, March 7, 2010

German: Ballinstadt Museum und Fragen

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a link to the Ballinstadt Museum in Hamburg. The site features a great deal of useful information and provides some excellent opportunities for a cultural/historical lesson! Take a look at the site - Ballinstadt.

As a simple followup to the video here are a set of questions (with special thanks to Jason!) for discussing the video:

Warum will der Erzähler die Heimat verlassen?

2. Wann ist der Erzähler geboren? Was geschah in diesem Jahr?

3. Was dachten damals alle?

4. Was meint dieser Emigrant, ist die Hauptsache?

5. Wo befindet sich der Heimatort des Erzählers, welches Jahr ist es?

6. Warum litten (leiden: to suffer) die Menschen in den kleinen Orten?

7. Wie viele Leute wanderten damals aus, und was liessen sie zurück

8. Welche Vorstellungen hatten die Menschen von Amerika?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Teaching Approaches: Task Based Learning

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a useful video I found. For those of you who have heard of 'task based' learning or teaching but are not quite sure what it is, or for those who have never heard of it, this video does a good job of providing some background information. Have any of you used Task Based Learning or taken a course that was taught with this approach?
  • What are the pros and cons of Task Based Learning?
  • How does this compare with Communicative Language Teaching?
  • Which do you prefer and why?

EFL: Listening Skills Video

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a useful video I found which focuses on helping students with their listening skills. In particular he discusses the usefulness of music in his classes. The video is geared towards EFL teachers but I think the content could be applied to for any language teaching situation. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Group Activities: Sentence Builder Board Races

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a fun activity that is applicable for any language and/or level! Everyone should be familiar with board races -whether as a language student or using them as a teacher. Typically board races are used as a vocabulary knowledge test or to test individual grammatical points. I have recently used a variation of this game since I noticed my students needed a bit of review and practice of both grammar and sentence writing.

To setup the activity I did the following:

1 Preparation: Using note cards, I wrote down a large variety of possible grammar/sentence configurations (about 50 different variations!). An example would be: 2 adjectives, preposition, past tense. There are many possibilities here and teachers could focus on a narrower range of grammar items if they wish to practice specific areas with their students.

2 The Game: I randomly divided the class into four roughly even groups. To begin, I read one of the cards aloud twice. Then, a student from each group would run to the board and attempt to write a sentence using the grammar items I specified. Should a student be unable to write an answer they may ask another student from their group to come and help them. The first student to write a correct sentence will earn a point for their group. The game lasts several rounds. I generally would spend 10-15 minutes on the game. Every student should have the opportunity to go to the board at least 2x.

3 Followup: A good activity to serve as a continuation from the Board Race would be to move students into a structured writing activity such as creating a short story in small groups. The teacher could provide the beginning of a story and each group would write their own addition to it. The teacher could further specify which and how many grammatical points should be included. Alternately, either of these activities could serve as a warmup for reading a text (especially one that employs specific types of grammar).

Questions and comments welcome!

German: Useful Site - Das Erste

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to share a useful site for German. Check out Das Erste which contains an extensive media (video) library of all of their TV shows. There is really a treasure trove of useful material here, ranging from informational shows, to comedy, drama, and cartoons for children.

You could integrate news programs into more advanced classes in preparation for having students create their own news reports, or create your own mystery in the class and have students participate in their own Krimi. The choices are virtually limitless. Enjoy!

Questions and comments welcome!

Monday, March 1, 2010

News: 2010 Impressions So Far

Hello all, Chris here. Today I would like to offer up a bit of a review of the progress we have made only two months into the new year! While I did start the site up in late 2009 and we did have some posts during those first few months, the site did not really get underway until January! From a humble little group of followers and contributors we have seen rapid growth in the past two months! The number of followers has blossomed to over 25 and we are closing in on 30! We now have followers across North and South America. We should soon have some from Europe as well as Asia.

I am happy to report that we have been adding to the Links section on 3 other teaching sites as of now! Truly we are starting to create a presence.

We have also shown strong growth in both the number of posts and the number of our contributors who have posted regularly. The goal for January was to reach 25 posts which we have met. The February goal was to at least match if not break this goal which have easily accomplished! Not bad for the shortest month of the year!

Nonetheless, we cannot rest or become complacent in any way. We will set even higher goals for March and beyond! For those of you who are followers, I would encourage you to tell your friends and colleagues who are also language teachers about the site! Also, everyone is encouraged to participate. If you are a follower please feel free to comment on any of our posts and let us know what you think, or if you have anything you would like to share with the site, please feel free to email us at and we will work to get your material posted and of course we will credit you in the post. For those who are contributors I would encourage you to keep up the good work and keep the posts coming!

In the next few weeks we will be adding some exciting features to the site that have to remain secret for now! Stay tuned!

Thank you,

Christopher La Cross


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