Core Practices of World Language Teaching


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Core Practices of World Language Teaching

Lucas Hoffman, Sylvania Southview HS, OFLA President-elect

How do we help our students become proficient as fast as possible?  Would you like to help lead in world language teaching?  How do we help bring all Ohio teachers and students on board with communicative language teaching?  Check out what happened at LILL 2015.

This summer, several OFLA board members and Ohio world language teachers attended LILL (Leadership Initiative for Language Learning) 2015, the first national institute for language leaders, held on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, Ohio.  LILL is a collaborative project of ten national and regional organizations, including  ACTFL, CSCTFL, and the TELL Project.

The focus of LILL 2015 was two-fold: to grow new leaders in the language learning profession, and to foster growth through effective language teaching.  At the heart of the week’s work was to present and reflect upon six core practices of world language teaching.   Dr. Eileen Glissan described these core practices, also known as high-leverage teaching practices, as being a set of “activities that are essential for skillful beginning teachers to understand, take responsibility for, and be prepared to carry out in order to enact their core instructional responsibilities (Ball & Forzani, 2009, p. 504).

It is important to stress that these core practices are not necessarily innate skills by current world language teachers.  Given the major shift to communicative language teaching away from isolated grammar and vocab, teachers should be mindful to purposely learn, rehearse, and adopt these practices.  Dr. Glissan warns teachers that these practices cannot be learned by observation alone.  These research-based practices drive forward student learning.

In this fall Cardinal article, I’ll begin by sharing about core practice #1.  This first core practice is at the heart of our job as language teachers: teaching students to use the language.

Core Practice #1: Use the target language (TL) as the vehicle and content of instruction 90%+ of the time.

What does this mean for you?

Teach students to use the language; we’re no longer teaching about the language! Create learning experiences for your students that are authentic and meaningful.  Also, know that simply using 90% TL is not enough.  It is essential that you use comprehensible language.  Our goal as language teachers is to create meaning-making.  Dr. Glissan reminds you to avoid English translation.

What does this mean for your students?

ACTFL’s position statement on the use of TL in the classroom challenges both teachers and students to shoot for the 90%.  Students should interact with both you and other students in the TL; of course, this requires you to create regular experiences where students can interact with each other in meaningful ways.

Some examples or resources to consider:

Use a Language Pledge

Greensburg Salem School District “Survivor” Game

Señora Speedy’s TL Contest

Strategies by #LangChat participants

In the upcoming Cardinal newsletters, I’ll share about the five remaining practices.

Core Practice #2: Design and carry out Interpersonal Communication Tasks for pairs, small groups, and whole class instruction.

Core Practice #3: Design lessons with Functional Goals and Objectives using the Backward Design model.

Core Practice #4: Teach Grammar as a Concept and use in context.

Core Practice #5: Implement Interactive Reading and Listening comprehension tasks using Authentic Cultural Texts of various kinds while scaffolding to promote interpretation.

Core Practice #6: Provide Appropriate Feedback in speech and writing on various learning tasks.

If you are interested in learning more about these core practices,  check out the ongoing conversation on Twitter.  Other fellow LILL participants have started the work of sharing out about the six core practices.  For example, see Wisconsin LILL participant Andrea Behn’s thoughts here.

More information on the LILL Institute can be found here. Stay tuned for more information if/when a LILL 2016 may be announced.


Ball, D.L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009).  The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education.  Journal of Teacher Education, 60(5), 497-511.

Glissan, Eileen.  “Leadership Initiative for Language Learning.”  The Ohio State University.  Ramseyer Hall, Columbus, OH.  21 July 2015. Presentation.


This entry was posted in Vol. 54, No. 1 - Fall 2015. Bookmark the permalink.

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