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October/November 2014

Intermediate-Level Spanish Curriculum
Acceso is an interactive curriculum for intermediate-level learners of Spanish, and the website says that the materials on the site “are provided freely to the public and are intended as a replacement for commercial textbooks.” The instructor resources include a unit-level breakdown of assignments, daily lesson plans, student handouts, detailed writing activities, and participation rubrics. Acceso says that it is a work in progress, and among its short-term goals are to provide hands-on training for graduate teaching assistants to use technology in creating and refining the curriculum, and to provide an online forum for instructors to collaborate and discuss innovative pedagogical approaches to language teaching and learning. The long-term goals include serving as a model that can be applied to other languages.

U.S–Russia Program
The United States–Russia Program: Improving Research and Educational Activities in Higher Education provides grants that demonstrate partnerships between Russian and American institutions of higher education that contribute to the development and promotion of educational opportunities between the two nations, particularly in the areas of mutual language learning and cooperative study in all subject areas. The U.S.-Russia Program is administered cooperatively by the U.S. Department of Education and the Russian Ministry of Education and Science. According to the website, “Language learning is a very important component of this program. Students in this program should have the opportunity to learn in both languages—English and Russian.” It further notes that some of the projects might develop content-specific language programs—such as Russian for engineering—which train students to function in their specific topic areas, but since the most successful projects build language learning into the program from the beginning, working closely with the foreign language department to ensure that student language competencies are adequate is the best way to ensure success.

Free Language Learning Apps
FunEasyLearn recently launched its Learn Chinese 6,000 Words vocabulary app as an addition to its existing free language learning apps for Android Smartphones. The other languages include English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish.

Latin Teacher’s Blog
James Hosler, Latin teacher at Central High School in Saint Joseph, MO, writes this blog on two of his current obsessions: Standards-based grading and Teaching Proficiency Through Reading and Storytelling (TPRS). He also writes about topics such as comprehensible input, differentiated instruction, Latin pedagogy, personalization, and technology. In addition, he shares videos and TPRS scripts on the blog.

LessonPlanet has thousands of online lesson plans and worksheets, and the Languages section (click on Browse Resource Directory under the Find Resources tab) has resources for Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Latin, Russian, and Spanish.

Socrative Classroom Tool
Socrative calls itself a smart student response system that empowers teachers by engaging their classrooms with a series of educational exercises and games. Its apps run on tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Teachers can log in and select an activity that controls the flow of questions and games, and students log in and interact in real time with the content. For pre-planned activities, a teacher can view reports online as a Google spreadsheet or as an emailed Excel file. The website has a blog where teachers share ideas and strategies for using Socrative in the classroom, including second language classrooms.

Visual Dictionary in English, French, and Spanish
The Visual Dictionary combines dictionary definitions with illustrations and is searchable by 17 themes that include art and architecture, food, society, sports and games, and science. A section on the virtual human body was recently added. The Visual Dictionary is available in English, French, and Spanish.

What You Can Do with German
A German professor responded to the question, “What can I do with that?” through this site, which is “dedicated to profiling professionals who use German in their jobs, so that students can see real-life, concrete examples of what people are doing with German.” Those profiled include an automotive manufacturing and engineering supply firm general manager, a U.S. Naval Officer, a study abroad coordinator, an academic research scientist, and a high school German instructor.

Hebrew for Beginners
The HebrewSpeaker blog offers beginning Hebrew lessons, as well as a tutorial for writing Hebrew on a Mac. There are also links to other Hebrew language resources.

Resource for Teaching and Assessment
EdSteps, by the Council of Chief State School Officers, gives teachers, parents, and students a web-based resource for comparing their student work to that of other students. The public library of student work samples is in five key skill areas: writing, global competence, creativity, analyzing information, and problem solving. EdSteps is still undergoing development, but the Global Competence section of the site currently offers a free resource for educators who want to incorporate global competence into their classrooms, Educating for Global Competence: Preparing Our Youth to Engage the World, by Veronica Boix Mansilla and Anthony Jackson.

Textivate Blog
Textivate ( is an online facility for creating and sharing interactive browser-based activities based on any text put into its textbox (texts of up to 500 words and/or up to 200 matching items). It is used by a number of language teachers, and the Textivate Blog provides ideas, information, news, suggestions, examples, and demonstrations related to the Textivate website. The blog has video tutorials, worksheets, user guides, images, and exercises.