January 23, 2019 | #EarlyLang

Encouraging Language Learning Beyond the Classroom
from January 23, 2019

On January 23, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed the value in seeking target language experiences outside the classroom, types of activities to suggest, and the role of technology.

Q1: What are the goals/purposes in seeking TL experiences outside the classroom?

Studying a language should not be confined to the classroom. It is meant to be a tool that students can use in all aspects of their lives. Participants noted that seeking outside TL experiences allows students to find a purpose in their studies, to become motivated to continue their studies, and to gain a wider perspective about the world and other people. Several participants pointed out that cultural experiences are also important, language and culture being so linked; these types of experiences could be eating different foods, reading folktales, or learning from a relative.

Q2: What activities do you recommend for students to seek authentic language and cultural experiences outside of class?

@MaestraAubreyCT, “I direct them towards authentic restaurants, museum exhibits, books, sharing with their family … interested to learn from others on this one!”

@MundodePepita, “I really encourage my students to share what we are doing w family (including pets!)-read our mini book to your dog, or share the project we did w parents, make a recipe w family at home, sing a song w sibs etc.”

@SECottrell, “I like to assign follow-up interaction with videos too, like Zamba or Lola Aventuras.”

@reyesjessica6, “It can be something as simple as looking at everyday household items that are labeled in different languages. As for culture, my students like to share their own family traditions.”

@teachmerussian, “I like to cook so I always have a recipe in mind! And it brings families together too!”

Q3: What technology resources help learners experience target language and culture outside of class?

Although technology can be a great tool, several participants voiced concerns. One has limited access, primarily limited to links and location photos. Another participant mentioned partnering with another school to allow students to talk to each other but is concerned about privacy. Participants suggested a number of websites and apps that are helpful such as Boomalang (https://www.boomalang.co/), a video chat site, Google Expeditions, and Edpuzzle (https://edpuzzle.com/) for authentic videos.

Q4: What strategies help #earlylang learners improve their TL reading skills when they’re not with us?

One suggestion is to remind students they can use reading strategies that they use for L1 reading. Another participant suggested watching videos in the TL with English subtitles to aid comprehension. Other participants mentioned having students follow printed text that matches an audiobook and suggesting how families can support their students through videos, or trips to restaurants and museums.

Q5: What are some special considerations for #earlylang learners in out-of-class TL experiences?

One main concern is the age of many of the learners. They are too young to seek experiences on their own. They are not able to be independent in the community; they need adult support to engage with others. Very often, their families do not have the time or the means to travel or to connect within the community or in places where the TL is spoken. Teachers can try to create opportunities within the school, during Open House, assemblies, and other special events. Finally, whatever the means, it must be accessible and interesting or students and families will not continue with future activities.

Q5: Reflaction (reflection + action) How will you encourage out-of-class TL language and cultural experiences among your #earlylang learners after tonight’s chat?

Teachers can maintain their enthusiasm about language experiences and be intentional in providing suggestions for these experiences.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Sara-E. Cottrell (@SECottrell), and our co-moderator, Jenny Delfini (@JL_Delf), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to EMC School (@EMCSCHOOL) for sponsoring tonight’s chat.

Want to vote for our upcoming #Earlylang topics? https://t.co/l1VbHqzLU1

This week’s chat is

sponsored by:

EMC School

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with NNELL, please go to


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#EarlyLang chat, please go to the

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