My Episode Recommendations: A Guest Blog Post from Luci Galvan

This guest post comes from Luci Galvan, an elementary language teacher in California. You can find Luci on Twitter @lucijgalvan

 

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Luci and her husband at Machu Picchu!

I do my best to squeeze in as much professional development as I can on a regular basis.  There are many excellent resources out there for us to continue our growth as educators, but it is impossible to fit them ALL in.  With We Teach Languages I feel like I benefit from literature I have not yet read, from national conferences I have not yet attended, and from the experiences of expert practitioners all at the same time. Needless to say, I love this podcast!

A few of my favorite episodes refer to FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) teaching as well as foundations for new teachers.

 

Episode 8 – Building Classroom Practices and Intercultural Competence in Early Language Learning with Dorie Conlon Perugini

While this is one of the shorter episodes, it has been one of the most influential in my learning. Before listening to the episode I did not know that The National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL) existed. Finding NNELL and beginning to follow other FLES teachers online made me feel like I was not alone. As Dorie mentioned, we FLES teachers are not overly common and it can be a challenge to find others to collaborate with. I started learning from the NNELL webinars, #EarlyLang Twitter chats, and a wealth of resources shared out by this amazing community of educators referenced in the article Blogs to Watch.

Dorie’s commitment to teaching intercultural competence in the primary grades is inspiring, and I look forward to reading her book  Teaching Intercultural Competence Across the Age Range.

 

Episode 19 – Finding Your Professional Community and Staying in the Target Language with Caleb Howard

Caleb Howard is another inspiring FLES teacher.  After listening to this episode I had a deeper understanding of the resources provided by ACTFL. I had known of ACTFL and the 5 C’s, but I was not very familiar with foundational information including the proficiency levels, the standards, the Can Do statements, and other publications. This episode led me to read and research ACTFL resources at greater depth in order to build my foundation.  

I also found Caleb’s episode liberating. Not only did he confirm that you cannot go it alone, he spoke to the value in each of our experiences, saying we need EVERY voice. We need to share not only success but also our struggles. Caleb shares so much with the community through his site Tuesdays Tips for Staying in the Target Language. In many ways his episode provided me with the roots I needed to help myself and my students to grow more organically.

 

Episode 32 – Reflective, Principled, Proficiency-Oriented Teaching with Walter Hopkins

I already knew Walter was wonderful from Tea with BVP but when he said, “no one is going to have a perfect lesson all of the time,” I realized just how wonderful he is! Perfectionism and I are well acquainted, but some imperfections are inescapable in teaching. Walter provided an antidote to my perfectionism: REFLECTION. After this episode, I started filming myself teaching. My husband, who also happens to be a language teacher, and I would watch back the video to find areas for growth. If watching yourself teach doesn’t make you reflect and improve your practice, I can’t imagine what would. Reflection has become integral in my teaching and I have grown exponentially as a result.

It can be easy to get sucked into the status quo, but Walter proposed that we should be principled instead. What is important for our students to learn and be able to do? What guides our choices as educators? The answers to these questions should become our guiding principles and receive our focus as we make instructional choices.

Walter finished the episode by explaining how his university used backward mapping and proficiency goals to develop their program and how they continue to evolve as they reflect on their students’ progress. I am now advocating for this model within my department.

Looking back at these episodes, as I write this, I realize how deeply the We Teach Languages podcast has impacted my professional growth and practice. These episodes have shown me where to look, what to research, who to contact, and what to reflect on. 

Book/VLM Giveaway!

Post your takeaways, comments, or questions about episode 69 with Leslie Grahn, and you will be entered to win a copy of her forthcoming book co-authored with Dave McAlpine The Keys to Strategies for Language Instruction (ACTFL, 2017) OR a seat for her VLM (Virtual Learning Module) Engaging All Learners.

You can submit your questions on social media via Twitter or Facebook (just make sure to tag @weteachlang). Or you can post your takeaways in the comments section of the episode on our website weteachlang.com.

If you have any questions or need a little help getting your entry posted online, please reach out! You can email, call, leave a comment under this post, or use our contact form!

Please spread the word and encourage your brilliant colleagues to listen to Episode 69: Engaging all Learners with Leslie Grahn and submit their takeaways by September 17th! We can’t wait to hear from you!

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Guest Blog Post on the GlobalSL Blog!

Did you get a chance to listen to episodes 59 and 60 with Richard Kiely and Eric Hartman? If not, now might be a good time to go back and have a listen before you jump back into the classroom for the new school year. In those episodes, we discussed community-engaged global learning and, in particular, their recently published book on the topic. If you generally put a lot of thought into how your students engage L2 communities both inside and outside of the classroom, I think you will love the interview.

I (Stacey) was excited when Richard and Eric extended the opportunity for me to write up some of my thoughts about the interview in a guest blog post on their GlobalSL (global service learning) blog. Would love for you to you to read my reflection, and add your own ideas either in the comments section below or on Twitter or Facebook. Looking forward to hearing from you all!

Click here: Guest post on the GlobalSL Blog!

A little vacation…

For the next two weeks, the volunteers behind We Teach Languages will be taking a little vacation and will not be publishing new issues of the newsletter, but we WILL continue releasing episodes on Fridays and we WILL look forward to hearing your feedback on Twitter, Facebook, and on our website at weteachlang.com.

We hope you all are enjoying some well-deserved R&R, and we’ll see you poolside!

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Community-Based Global Learning Book Giveaway Winner!

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Back in May, we asked you all to send us your questions about service learning and community-engaged learning to win a copy of the new book Community-Based Global Learning: The Theory and Practice of Ethical Engagement at Home and Abroad (Stylus, 2018).

Listeners sent in lots of wonderful questions, several of which will be answered on episode 60, and we are excited to announce the winner of a free book:

Congratulations Sophia Chen from New Jersey, USA

8oaenwr9_400x400Sophia Chen is currently teaching Chinese at a public high school, and is passionate about helping students to acquire language, and using technology to facilitate its acquisition. She and her students are planning for a global service in summer, 2019.

We hope you enjoy your book from Stylus Publishing, and we cannot wait to share your global learning questions with the world on episode 60.

On behalf of the podcast, we’d like to thank Eric Hartman, Richard Kiely, and Stylus Publishing for providing the book for this giveaway.

If you are hoping for more chances to win, stay tuned. We’ll be hosting another book giveaway coming up this fall!

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FAQ: Two guests on separate episodes said contradictory things. Who is right?

In this post, Stacey answers a question about guests who may seem to say contradictory things.

As part of this podcast, I have invited several dozen different teachers and researchers to talk publicly about their ideas, practices, and beliefs about language teaching. My guests often have very specific approaches, and perhaps a few cases would vehemently disagree with each other. In my mind, this is good. I see the show’s diversity as one of its key strengths. I would not invite someone onto the podcast if I couldn’t find any common ground with them at all. However, I am genuinely interested in hearing diverse viewpoints and discovering points of commonality.

As someone who teaches and researches in the field of second language acquisition and teaching methodology, I don’t believe there is just one right way to teach language. There are many amazing teachers out there, and their firsthand accounts are often inspiring for me, if not always replicable in my own classroom for whatever reason. There is a lot of interesting research out there, and all of it, every bit of the data researchers have ever collected, is only understood through a process of interpretation. I interpret data through my own frame of reference. Other may disagree with my interpretation. We hash out our disagreements in the research literature, and sometimes on social media!

I don’t happen to want this podcast to be a place where we argue for our own position. I hope it can be a place where we learn from each other, and where we don’t have to agree with each other on every point in order to learn from each other.

You may occasionally hear a guest say things that you don’t agree with. I hope you keep listening and consider things from another perspective.

You may occasionally hear guests who contradict guests from other episodes. I hope we can reflect on those differences between perspectives, try to make sense of how both came to their perspectives, and trust that both individuals have good intentions.

You may occasionally hear me say things that seem to disagree with what you know or what you have heard from a podcast guest. I hope you will reach out to voice your ideas. I would genuinely love to hear from you!

Check out episode 53 with Diego Ojeda and Sara-Elizabeth Cottrell and Midweek News & Updates Issue 13 for a couple of really great discussion about professional disagreement, perspectives, and how we treat each other online. I would also recommend this past week’s episode 58 with Steve Smith and episode 56 with Martina Bex for great perspectives on how we can make room for multiple perspectives.

If you have questions about the show, about language teaching, about me, or about any topic related to this podcast, please reach out. I’d be very happy to hear from you.

FAQ: What recording and editing equipment do you use?

In this post, Stacey answers a common question about what the interview process is like.

If you are going to be a guest on the podcast, we’ll make an appointment to meet in person or on Skype or Google Hangout or a similar tool or another free online service. I use all free and low-cost tools for the whole thing. Every once in a while I actually get to be in the same room with the person I am interviewing, but usually, we are in different states or even countries. I have experimented with a few methods, including using the recording feature in Google Voice calls, but over time I have settled on a system that works for me.

I usually meet the guest on Skype or Google Hangout, and I do all the recording on my end with a free recording tool called CallNote that I have been incredibly impressed with. CallNote gives me separate tracks, one of the guest and one of me, that I can then mix during editing, or I can choose a single track with both participants. The sound quality is usually excellent as well. I also record my end with a little Zoom 1 recorder (that I bought on sale…really really on sale). I recently bought a cheap pop-screen and handle accessories for my Zoom and they have made a huge difference in audio quality as well. It’s a great, portable, cheap option, and I highly recommend it. Another key for doing internet interviews: I ask my guests to find a quiet place with excellent internet connection and use headphones or even earbuds with a mic. Headphones are a big plus for audio quality.

I use Audacity (free, open-source) for editing. I originally learned how to use Audacity during a one-hour consult with the awesome educational technologist where I work, and have continued learning with hundreds of hours of practice (thousands? millions?!? 😉 just all my spare time for the last year or so) and a few YouTube tutorials.

There are also some cool facilities on my campus that I occasionally make use of, like a recording studio that I have finally learned how to use unsupervised, although I still feel like they should not allow me to use their nice equipment without a chaperone! (For real, why do they let me touch the expensive equipment?!?!) If you have noticed that the audio quality has gone up over the first year of the podcast, that is directly correlated to my own skill level going up as I slowly but surely learn new skills. I’ll be honest, this weekly podcast schedule is brutally fast-paced at times, and the episodes aren’t always as perfect and flawless as I would like. But without a production team or a budget, getting episodes out on schedule often means just doing my best and hoping you guys like the show enough to extend grace when the production values fall short.

I can tell you a few things for sure:

-I will keep doing my best to put out great weekly episodes.

-Because I keep learning and improving, my best will get ever so slightly better each week, and quite a lot better each year.

-I am committed to keeping the costs low, and will use free and low-cost tools whenever I can. It’s just in my nature to choose the open-source and the free over fancier, more user-friendly alternatives.

If you have questions about the show, about language teaching, about me, or about any topic related to this podcast, please reach out. I’d be very happy to hear from you.

 

FAQ: If I am a guest on the show, what is the interview process like?

In this post, Stacey answers a common question about what the interview process is like.

Once you have agreed to be a guest on the podcast, the actual interview process is pretty easy (well, I think it is anyway). I use all free and low-cost tools and try to make the whole thing as pleasant as possible for the guest. Every once in a while I actually get to be in the same room with the person I am interviewing, but usually, we are in different states or even countries. We can meet on Skype or Google Hangout, and I do all the recording on my end using a great free tool called CallNote. You just need to find a quiet place to chat with excellent internet connection, and if you have headphones or even earbuds with a mic, that is a big plus for audio quality. Recording a 20 minute interview usually takes about an hour between chatting to get things set up and the recording itself. I edit a ton, so we can do multiple takes on anything you need to, and I can take out anything that doesn’t quite work.

In most interviews, something technical goes wrong or some element is less than ideal. I am comfortable with that, and have always found that with a little good humor and patience, my guests and I can work through any obstacle.

From the time I first ask you to be on the podcast to when the episode actually airs, a couple of months may go by. I hope when your episode does air, that you feel really proud of it and want to share it with all of your friends and colleagues. In fact, you may even become a contributor and submit interviews with other language teachers you know. That would really be a best case scenario.

If you have any other questions about the interview process, please let me know! I would love to answer them in a future post.

If you have questions about the show, about language teaching, about me, or about any topic related to this podcast, please reach out. I’d be very happy to hear from you.

 

FAQ: How do you choose your episode guests?

In this post, Stacey answers a common question about how she chooses her guests.

My choices are guided in equal parts by serendipity, networking, and a commitment to diversity. I have my own professional network of teachers and researchers that I draw on, but I also meet people in interesting settings, follow leads on the internet, sometimes listeners suggest people, I run into folks at conferences…so many ways interviews come about. There are a couple of factors that help make sure we always have a diverse set of interviews on as many levels as possible.

One–> I encourage people to submit contributions. Why should I be the only one interviewing people? I only know the people I know. But you all know so many amazing teachers. If we work together, we can cover more ground, represent more diverse voices, and generally do better work.

Two–> I record way in advance, usually 4-6 weeks, but sometimes longer. That means I always have a pipeline of episodes ready to go, and I can organize the episodes to represent different kinds of diversity.

Is there a kind of language teaching or a voice that the podcast is missing? I would love to hear your ideas and get your submissions. Reach out to talk about your ideas!

If you have questions about the show, about language teaching, about me, or about any topic related to this podcast, please reach out. I’d be very happy to hear from you.