October 9, 2019 | #EarlyLang

Running an #earlylang Program on a Shoestring
from October 9, 2019

On October 9, language teachers from grades K-8, and beyond, met for the biweekly EarlyLang chat. Participants discussed budgets, how to determine where to spend funds, and resources which give the most bang for the buck. Participants also gave suggestions on where to find financial resources outside school and which places to get materials at affordable prices.

Q1: In what areas do you spend your program budget and how do you prioritize your allocations?

     Budgets vary with some teachers having an actual department budget and others having to submit requests for supplies. Those whose schools purchase supplies generally spend it on consumables, books, and manipulatives. Classroom supplies such as dry erase markers, glue sticks, pencils, and folders are also part of many teachers’ budgets, whether from school funds or their own. Some other expenses includes subscriptions to teaching websites used for instruction and small whiteboards.

Q2: What are your “must have” resources? Which ones maximize your budget the most?

Must haves range from classroom supplies to websites. Several participants mentioned stuffed animals and puppets, books, cardstock, sheet protectors, and containers to house all these resources. ClassDojo and YouTube are also essentials.

Q3:What (re)sources have you successfully leveraged (tapped into) outside of your school budget to boost your program?

Grants and awards are ways to get funds. Several participants mentioned received grant funds for various purposes. Grants can cover programs, projects, and conferences, among other expenses. Parents are often excellent resources, for needed supplies, classroom help, or volunteering for big events. The PTA can also be a source of assistance. Finally, other teachers are usually willing to help with ideas or lending materials.


Q4: What are your favorite places to find materials/resources at affordable prices?

Dollar stores, the dollar aisle at Target, and thrift shops topped the list. Thrift shops in particular are good sources of realia, games, and props that language teachers appreciate. Library books sales are a good source of many kinds of books. Other books sources include online sites such as Epic!, Unite for Literacy, and Cuentos para México. Teachers Pay Teachers can provide some useful materials. Finally, social media can be a source of materials, through a direct request or a group such as Facebook’s Buy Nothing groups.


Q5: Tell us your best/worst story about saving money on things for your classroom!

@SenoritaBasom, “I borrowed another teachers Guess Who game so my students could make up notecards to play in Spanish. It was a hit! All I had to buy was notecards and some students already had them.”

@MundodePepita, “When crayon boxes are 25 cents a piece, man do I go wild! Walmart used to have them every year, but the last few I haven’t seen them that cheap.”

@MaCristinaRV, “I bought sets of brightly colored, blank notebooks at Target and sliced them in half, and my students created the cutest mini books for “las cinco vocales.”

@TarniaCovooper, “random finds are great, like the pink zebra print maracas I found at Good Will years ago. I also love to raid other teachers giveaway piles. Have found hats and games there. Best though might be my friend who gave me a bag of plastic fruit.”

@rrrrrrrrrrrrosa, “I’d like a moment for the big colored pompoms I bought for the colors/numbers unit and have forgotten to use for THREE STRAIGHT YEARS they’re literally still in the bag?!”


Reflaction (Reflection+Action) What are your takeaways from this evening?

There were only a few reflactions. One participant reminded everyone that it is the teacher and his or her attitude that influences language learning, not the materials. Another commented on finding the balance in using the many resources available. Finally, another teacher gave a book recommendation, Lessons from Nothing, a book of language teaching activities that promote cooperation.

Thank you to all who participated in this #EarlyLang chat! Thank you to our lead moderator, Julie (@MundodePepita), and our co-moderator, Jenny Delfini (@JL_Delf), for helping to guide the conversation. Thanks also to our image card creator Valerie Shull (@windycitysenora).

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