5 Wonderful Tips for World Language Teaching

5 Wonderful Tips for World Language Teachers

World language teaching can be engaging and exciting. Rachelle Dene Poth teaches how she helps students learn to interact and converse in a second language.

World language teachers can have challenges with teaching students. Particularly when many want to use technology translators instead of learning the language. However, Rachelle Dene Poth has experience engaging and exciting students in her Spanish classroom From building relationships to using technology, she shares how Spanish teachers can engage students in learning. She uses augmented reality and virtual reality along with basic teaching concepts that apply to any world language classroom.

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Episode 777

5 Wonderful Tips for World Language Teaching

Rachelle Dene Poth
Spanish Teacher and Author - Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction

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Rachelle dene Poth discusses powerful tips for world language teachers
Rachelle Dene Poth discusses powerful tips for world language teachers.

World Language Teaching Resources Mentioned in this Podcast

Rachelle Dene Poth - Bio As Submitted

Rachelle Dene PothRachelle Dene Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview Junior Senior High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting.

She serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and serves on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of four books, ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” (EduMatch) and “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” In 2020, Rachelle Dene published with ISTE “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World.”  She recently published Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction.

Rachelle is a blogger for Getting  Smart, Defined Learning, District Administration, NEO LMS, and the  STEM Informer with Newsweek.

Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

ThriveinEDU is also a weekly show on Learningrevolution.com on Wednesdays.

5 Wonderful Tips for World Language Teaching - Transcript Episode 777

00;00;00;05 – 00;00;03;18

John Davis (Announcer)

This is the 10-minute teacher podcast with your host Vicki Davis.

Sponsor – Advancement Courses

00;00;03;19 – 00;00;19;08

Vicki Davis

Thank you, Advancement Courses, for sponsoring today's show. Stay tuned at the end of the show for a special discount to save 15%. On engaging in meaningful online professional development. And I'll also share my personal experience when I took a course from Advancement Courses last year

00;00;19;09 – 00;00;26;25

Vicki Davis

Today we're talking with Rachelle dene Poth. We've had her on this show before, and she is awesome.

Rachelle dene Poth’s New Book for World Language Teachers

00;00;26;25 – 00;00;32;08

Vicki Davis

And Rachelle, you have a new book for World Language Teachers. Tell us about it.

00;00;32;14 – 00;01;14;14

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Yeah, so thank you for having me on again. First of all, it's always good to talk to you. And I'm excited about this book because it is the first book I've written specifically for world language teachers, which I've been teaching Spanish for a long time. It's called Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction, and it's a mix of strategies for in-person and digital instruction because I wrote it all of last year (2020-2021) and at the start of this past school year and just trying to think of what can we do as world language educators when we might be shifting between environments or even if we're not just to open up a lot of more opportunities for our students. So it was fun to write and challenge a little bit, think of different ideas that I could try with my students, and then include that into the book. So I enjoyed it.

00;01;14;15 – 00;01;24;12

Vicki Davis

Rachelle, We're going to talk about five wonderful tips for world language teachers, and I'm sure some of these will be in the book. But you have a lot more tips than this. So what's your first?

Tip #1 – Start the Year Building Relationships

00;01;24;12 – 00;02;17;08

Rachelle Dene Poth 

My first, and this is something I've said I wish I knew years ago, was the importance of starting the year by building relationships. And I would always dive right into learning the language and everything.

But over the last probably ten years, I've focused on building those relationships. How essential that is for us as teachers to get to know our students, and then, more importantly, for students to get to know one another and to feel comfortable because learning a language, it's you don't want to speak in front of everybody else, you're afraid to make mistakes. And I found, and this is for adults, too, that the more that we feel comfortable in our environment, the better it is. And so, I focused more on doing some different icebreakers using just no tech or just using some technology.

If we haven't been in person to get the kids to know each other and get to know the real me as a teacher and form that relationship between us.

00;02;17;08 – 00;02;22;25

Vicki Davis

Listeners know that I always say you have to relate to educate. So that's where we start. Could you give us one of your icebreakers?

A World Language IceBreaker Idea

00;02;23;10 – 00;02;58;05

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Yeah. So this year, I did something a little bit differently. I did some questions, but some I use as a Google form, and I put some “would you rather” questions. I put some open-ended responses, things that I would be interested in and that I could share with students.

Like “if you could go anywhere, where would it be?” Or “what's something that you're worried about, about learning a language?” So there was a nice mix so I could get to know them, but I could also use it to address some of the concerns they might all have without them knowing who said what those concerns were. So it helped for a couple of days, and it was a lot of fun to do those questions, too, because I jumped in and answered.

00;02;58;16 – 00;03;00;06

Vicki Davis

Fine. Okay. What's your second?

Tip #2 – Have a Backup Plan for Assignments

00;03;00;07 – 00;03;48;12

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Okay, so my second one is because you always have to have a backup plan. You need to have ideas that are either no tech or low tech or involve a lot of tech because, as we've seen, especially in this past year and a half now, plus we need to have a lot of different ideas.

I am so having something that you use in class like I would use a lot of station rotations and hands-on materials, which was challenging to do in a virtual environment. So then I had to think of, well, how do I do that?

So then using some of those digital spaces, breakout rooms, and collaborative boards where students can still feel connected, but they have an opportunity to do a lot of different activities. If you have that digital space and it doesn't work, what are some other options?

And then, of course, something in between. So that's always my like low tech, no tech, high tech to create more opportunities for our students.

00;03;48;12 – 00;04;00;14

Vicki Davis

That's great to have each of those in your toolkit because sometimes you never know. You may have a day, and you end up with many kids in quarantine, and you have to kind of punt and change that lesson a little bit.

So that's awesome. Okay, so what's your third tip?

Tip #3 – Build Essential Skills for Communicating Face to Face

00;04;00;19 – 00;04;45;13

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Okay, the third tip is especially for language educators helping students because, for years, I thought I had to teach them Spanish, but I realized that they're not all going to go on to be Spanish educators. I need to help them to build their essential skills.          

And that comes down to learning to communicate in Spanish, but just in general and setting up ways for them to write and interact and speak and become comfortable with speaking in front of others. So using in-class space to have them work together and build comfort and confidence, but also having those digital tools that we know, like a Flip Grid where if we're not together, I can talk to them, I can give them feedback. They can figure out how to interact with one another in those digital spaces. And, you know, there are so many benefits beyond the language, of course, social-emotional learning skills.

00;04;45;21 – 00;04;53;22

Vicki Davis

Well, it's about conversation and relationships and, you know, being able to communicate with people in another language is very important. Okay. What's your fourth?

Tip #4 – Do Something Different: Mix Up Your Teaching with Cool Tech

00;04;53;22 – 00;05;38;01

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Do something totally different, like a break away from. I'll give you an example. For years I have been teaching Spanish, and I also teach a STEAM course, and we do augmented reality and virtual reality. And my Spanish students kept seeing these cool projects and said, “Why can't we do this?”

And I said, “Because I'm teaching you Spanish.” And so, ever since they pushed me a little bit, it led me to break my tradition and try things that were not necessarily in that Spanish teaching zone. So I encouraged people to bring in augmented and virtual reality because those are great options.

But even for some people used to standing in front and talking like you stations, I had no idea what I was doing, but figure out something you're doing and how could you mix it up a little bit?

It might be messy and chaotic, but it's worth it.

How Rachelle Uses AR and VR in Spanish Class

00;05;38;03 – 00;05;40;13

Vicki Davis

So how are you using AR and VR in Spanish?

00;05;40;14 – 00;06;11;10

Rachelle Dene Poth 

The first way was I used Cospaces at the end of the year, and the students worked together in groups and were narrating about their childhood. They could collaborate on that same project together and use their VR headsets or their phones to explore not just theirs but the other classmates.

And they remembered it so much more because it was like they were picking the objects, and they were being intentional about the conversations and just collaborating with their peers. So I was nervous about it at first, but it went so well that it's something that I've continued to do every year.

00;06;12;01 – 00;06;13;16

Vicki Davis

Oh, that's awesome. And what's your fifth?

Tip #5 – Letting Students Lead Helps Improve Language Learning and Leadership

00;06;13;16 – 00;07;14;11

Rachelle Dene Poth 

They were getting out of the way, letting students lead more, and giving them a chance. And I started to do this years ago with students at a technology showcase. I took about ten students to a local technology showcase in Pittsburgh, and they just presented about tools we were using in Spanish, why they liked them, and what they helped them do better and shared their projects. And over the years, we leveled up and went to the state level, and eventually, I wasn't introducing them; they were presenting, and then they were presenting to our students and our school, our teachers.

And so whenever we give the students a chance to get out, we get out of the way, and they get up in front. It helps them build that confidence, not just in our classroom, but that carries moving forward with them.

And again, things that I wish I had known years ago. And as language teachers, there are so many ways for us to do that, like using stations or just helping them work with a peer, whether in person we can do it virtually too.

There are many options, but giving them that chance to build their leadership skills is in addition to learning Spanish. It's something that we can do in our classrooms.

How to Help Students Who Struggle with Anxiety About Learning a New Language

00;07;14;17 – 00;07;42;10

Vicki Davis

So these are five beautiful tips. But let me ask you a question. And I deal with this in technology, and I'm sure you deal with this also as you teach a world language. What do you do with the students who walk into your classroom with anxiety and say, “I can't learn Spanish,” and I have some who walk in and say, “Technology doesn't like me.” So that's the technology version. How do you get them past their anxiety so they can start learning?

00;07;42;17 – 00;08;33;00

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Yes, that's a great question. I share my own experiences about how I struggled with some of my classes. The other piece is just really making time to talk to them. I had a student even recently where I just said, “I can't do this. I can't write in Spanish. Can I use a translator?” I said, “No, you don't need to. Just chunks, just piece by piece. If you make mistakes, that's okay; it will be fine.”  And then, in other cases, some students who don't necessarily want to speak up in front of the class using tools like that enable you to record a message. And sometimes, they're okay with that. It helps them feel like, “I made this. If I made a mistake, I could go back and do it”. 

And then once it's their end product, they're okay with it being shown in the classroom, which helps them build their confidence and, you know, work with them one on one. But that's why I think those relationships are so essential that they feel comfortable expressing that. And they also have that support in the classroom, not just from us but from their peers.

00;08;33;18 – 00;08;51;15

Vicki Davis

Well, and even having video, I've seen our Spanish teacher allow students to create a video, and students would really, really practice and do so much better than if they were put on the spot and had one chance, you know, once and done so. Giving multiple options is such a great idea.

00;08;51;24 -00;09;01;28

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Yeah, it's something I hear all the time. “I can't do this. I won't be good at it.” And it's just I say, “one day at a time, one thing at a time. It's okay. I'm here to help you. No worries. We've all been through it.”

Why Do Students Still Need to Learn a Language with the Technology Translators Available Now?

00;09;01;28 – 00;09;16;05

Vicki Davis

So last question. What do you say to the people who say, okay, so we've got Google Lens, we've got all these translation services that are coming that are either here or on the way. Why do students still need to learn a language?

What's your answer?

00;09;16;09 – 00;09;52;25

Rachelle Dene Poth 

Because technology may not always work, it might not always turn around the one you're used to using. And it applies to so many areas of life that you don't realize. Even as an adult, there are words that I come across when I'm reading in English that I can understand because I have French and Spanish. 

And if people had told me in high school, you're going to be a Spanish teacher; I would have laughed because I was taking French. I mean, who knew? You don't know where it will come in handy, and you need to have those skills and not rely on the other technology.

It's nice to have those as something you know; when you need an answer, you need to rely on and trust yourself in your capabilities to learn the language.

00;09;53;09 – 00;10;02;15

Vicki Davis

Thank you so much. Rachelle, it's Rachelle dene, Poth. And the book is Your World Language Classroom: Strategies for In-Person and Digital Instruction.

Sponsor – Advancement Courses is How I Earn my CEU Credits

00;10;02;15 – 00;10;32;08

Vicki Davis

Last year, when I needed to take a college CEU course, I chose Advancement Courses and learned so much about teaching computer science in the classroom. I recently wrote about this on my blog called Seven Reasons Advancement Courses has Excellent Teacher Professional Development

Signup for a new course at Advancement Courses and use the code COOL15 to receive 15% off your Advancement Courses purchase. Thank you, Advancement Courses, for excellent PD and for sponsoring today's episode.

00;10;32;15 – 00;10;44;08

John Davis (Announcer)

You've been listening to the 10-minute teacher podcast. If you like this program, you can find more at coolcatteacher.com. If you wish to see more content by Vicki Davis, you can find her on Facebook and Twitter under @coolcatteacher.

Thank you for listening.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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