ACIE Articles Make Versatile Training Aids

The ACIE Newsletter, November 2005, Vol. 9, No. 1

by Michele Anciaux Aoki, Ph.D., Project Director, Washington State Coalition for International Education, Seattle, WA

In August 2004, I was invited by Pacific Lutheran University to coordinate a six-day language immersion workshop for over thirty teachers and administrators from Sheridan Elementary and Stewart Middle School in Tacoma, Washington. Working with a team of three dynamic and experienced immersion teachers from Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma (representing Japanese, Spanish, and French), my goal was to model the intensive “boot camp” experience that a wonderful teacher from Fairfax County, Virginia, Regla Armengol, had created for our Spanish immersion teachers when we launched the John Stanford International School in Seattle in 2000.

Sheridan Elementary began its language program several years ago and currently offers partial immersion in Japanese, Spanish, and French. Stewart Middle School had just completed its first year offering partial immersion, content-based instruction in Japanese, Spanish, and French in 6th grade. The purpose of the intensive summer workshop was both to prepare new immersion teachers to teach in an immersion setting and to ground the entire staff in the principles of language immersion. In addition, the workshop was intended to be a team-building experience that would help create the basis for good working relations among the teachers and across languages and schools in the coming year.

At first it was challenging to think of ways to organize the workshop to meet the needs of this mixed audience, but in reviewing materials available on the web, I realized that the ACIE articles would be a great tool. I reviewed the list on the website and chose a variety of articles – some pragmatic, some theoretical. The pragmatic ones, with concrete strategies for classroom lessons, would appeal to the immersion teachers, while the theoretical ones would fill in gaps in understanding of immersion for the non-immersion teachers and administrators.

I printed several copies of each article. Then, on the first day of the workshop, I posted the articles on the wall and gave the workshop participants a chance to select an article to read and report on to the group. Participants who chose the same article formed a team. The teams ended up crossing languages (French, Spanish, Japanese, and English) and grade levels (K-6). This gave the participants a chance to have fun and get to know each other better. Teams were able to meet several times during the week to review their articles and plan their presentations.

Over the next five days, we interspersed the article presentations with the other workshop speakers and activities. It worked great! Because the teams were creative with their presentations, the teachers in the audience had an enjoyable time, while being exposed to the valuable information in about a dozen articles. For the non-immersion teachers, it was also eye-opening to realize they could report on an article that was about a language they didn’t know.

Here are some examples:
The team presenting “A Dozen Activities for Promoting the Use of Spanish Outside of School” added their own suggestions to the list and tailored them to their neighborhood where, for example, there is a Spanish-language grocery store near the school.

The team presenting “Teaching the Geography of Francophone Africa” was thrilled that something as mundane as prepositions could be taught using content (i.e. by talking about locations of countries in Africa in relation to each other).

Based on comments from the participants’ evaluations, the articles and presentations were well received. Here are some responses to the question “What did you like best about the workshop?”

  • Articles on things to do in the classroom.
  • The information [in the articles] was research based.
  • The opportunity to encourage my peers and to finally get some clear definition of immersion.
  • All the practical, applicable ideas/theories were also top on my list.
  • I walked away with valuable … strategies that will enhance my teaching.
  • I developed a ton of curriculum ideas listening and reading on my own this week.
  • Building on This Idea

You don’t have to wait for a six-day immersion “boot camp” to use this idea. How about meeting up with your teachers at school and assigning teams of three to read and report on an article at your next teacher meeting? You could focus on the best practices or perhaps points for parents. This would be a good way to show the non-immersion teachers that there are lessons in good teaching and communications for everyone to learn from immersion.

Articles chosen for the workshop are:

    The Bridge: From Research to Practice:

  • Developing Oral Proficiency in the Immersion Classroom
  • Help! They're Using Too Much English!: The Problem of L1 vs.
  • L2 in the Immersion Classroom
  • Immersion Teaching Strategies Observation Checklist
  • Integrated Curriculum: Designing Curriculum in the Immersion Classroom
  • Integrating Language and Content Instruction in the Immersion Classroom
  • Is Immersion Education Appropriate for All Children?
  • Maximizing Language Growth Through Collaborative-Creative Writing
  • Teaching Learning Strategies in Immersion Classrooms
  • Using English Achievement to Promote Immersion Programs

  • Best Practices

  • As Much Fun as Recess! Using Drama for Form-Focused Primary Instruction
  • Draw, Tell, Write, and Read
  • Teaching the Geography of Francophone Africa
  • Immersion ABCs
  • Key Concepts of Successful Immersion

  • Points for Parents

  • A Dozen Activities for Promoting the Use of Spanish Outside of School
  • Homework in an Immersion Classroom: Parental Friend or Foe?
  • Why Immersion?

Thanks to ACIE for providing such valuable resources!

Editor’s note: Dr. Anciaux’s training ideas can be adapted to a school-wide staff development plan so that immersion teachers remain apprised of current research and best practices in immersion education. As in Dr. Anciaux’s workshop, a jigsaw strategy in which staff members participate in an “expert” group and a “home” group allows everyone the opportunity to focus on an area of personal interest while being exposed to a greater range of ideas. Over a period of time, the “expert” group members explore a selected reading, discussing the text and making connections to their own practice. Later, in their “home” groups, made up of teachers from each “expert” group,

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