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CoBaLTT Participants

Example 4: Wall of the World:
How we are the same and different

by Dawn Breutzman


The learners are kindergarten or first grade Japanese students who are at the novice-low level (ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 1999 & 2001) in reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. Although the students are beginners in terms of exposure to both written and spoken English, most are able to identify and write the uppercase letters of the alphabet. Many have had previous exposure to English in a private language school and are able to orally recite colors, numbers, and very basic vocabulary. The students can read and write using the Hiragana syllabary, one of the three writing systems employed in Japanese. Some may be able to read Katakana as well. All will have a base vocabulary of simple English words such as orenji (orange), boru (ball), boto (boat), etc. by virtue of the numerous loan words that now form a permanent part of the Japanese language.

Instruction takes place at a small private language school in suburban Japan. Class size is kept small with a maximum of 8 students per class. Students may be of different ages, as in this case where 5 and 6-year old students learn together. The class meets once a week for 45 minutes. Each class is preceded by a 15-minute warm-up with a native Japanese-speaking instructor.

The Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) will be used upon completion of a unit entitled "I am special. You are special". The unit encompasses four lessons that emphasize recognizing and respecting what makes us all special. The content and language goals for the unit are:

Content/culture goals:
Students will:

  • identify abilities, preferences, and physical attributes that make them unique.
  • recognize similarities and differences between themselves and classmates/friends/family.
  • demonstrate an initial understanding of how differences are acceptable and interesting.
  • demonstrate a basic awareness of lifestyles different from their own.

Language Goals:
Students will:

  • use the present tense to talk about themselves.
  • practice sharing personal information and opinions.
  • ask questions to get information about others.
  • make comparisons between themselves and others.

Three authentic texts will be used to relay the message that we all have certain abilities, likes, and dislikes. Some of these we share with others, some we don't. We can be proud of our abilities and preferences and respect the same in others. The texts I Can by Susan Winter, I Like Me! by Nancy Carlson, and It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr, provide students with the opportunity and language to find similarities and differences among themselves in terms of abilities, personal preferences, and physical characteristics.

Overview of Task:

This overview of the IPA tasks will be written in the students' L1 and read aloud to the students.

The principal has asked that the students of the school create a "Wall of the World" so that we can all learn more about ourselves and the people around us. Each class will have a different responsibility. Our class will show everyone how we can be the same as and different from the people around us and throughout the world.

First, we will read a book about people all over the world.

Next, with a partner, you will ask questions and share personal information. You will find things that are the same about you, and things that are different about you.

Finally, you will create a poster that has a picture of the world with you, your partner, and people all over the world. You will use the poster to tell the class about yourself, and how you are the same and different from your partner and people all over the world. Your poster will be hung on the "Wall of the World" for the entire school to see.

The IPA tasks will be ordered as follows: Interpretive-Interpersonal-Presentational. The interpersonal task will precede the presentational task so that information obtained in the interpersonal task can be incorporated into the presentational task. The interpersonal task will require students to compare and contrast information with a partner. I would like them to incorporate this information into their final project. This will necessitate listening to and learning about the other person. I would like them to develop a slightly deeper understanding of another person and share that information with the class. This will be someone that they haven't been paired with before so they will be interacting with and learning about someone "new".

One class period will be devoted to preparation and execution of the interpretive task. There will be some overlap in the presentational and interpersonal tasks, as students will work on the construction of their presentational poster while I assess pairs completing the interpersonal component. Upon completion of the interpersonal task, students will be expected to include their partner's personal information on their own poster. Thus, those that begin work on their poster before completing the interpersonal component will have to work on the "Me" and "People all over the world" parts first.

As the class meets only once a week, a week will elapse between tasks. The schedule will be as follows:

Week 1: Preparation for IPA, Interpretive task, feedback.
Week 2: Review structures, Interpersonal task, other students work on poster for presentational task.
Week 3: Finish posters, group feedback on interpersonal task, review structures and prepare for oral presentation.
Week 4: Oral presentations with posters, feedback.

To ensure that sufficient time is given to each task, the pre-class warm-up will be omitted on these days and each class will run for 60 minutes.


ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. (1999 & 2001). Retrieved March 6, 2005.

Learning Strategies. (2002). From class handout, pp. 56-58.

National Standards in Foreign Language Education Project. (1999). Retrieved March 6, 2005.


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