Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Good Way to Increase Your Language Skills

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

One way to increase your language skills and cultural knowledge is to read authentic texts. For example, magazines, newspapers, etc. found online are great resources to do this. Don’t worry if you don’t know every word. Try to pick out cognates, words that you do know, and graphics to form meaning of the text. Finally, an added plus to reading texts in other languages is that it helps your reading skills in your native language by utilizing strategies such as previewing and pre-reading.

Check out this website about cognates:





The Power of the Bilingual Brain

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

According to a Time Magazine article, learning a second language can produce a nimbler mind.  Research is increasingly showing that the brains of people who know two or more languages are different from those who know just one – and those differences are all for the better.  Studies show multilingual people are better at reasoning, at multitasking, at grasping and reconciling conflicting ideas.  They work faster and expend less energy doing so, and as they age, they retain their cognitive faculties longer, delaying the onset of dementia and even full-blown Alzheimer’s disease.

Día de los Muertos

Monday, October 21st, 2013

We are coming to a VERY fun time of celebration and cultural education in World Languages class.  Spanish students will learn about Día de los Muertos and the related festivities.

Don’t be afraid of El Día de los Muertos – the Day of the Dead.  This is a happy holiday.

It is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd in Mexico and parts of Central America. This ancient holiday began as a day of thanks for the harvest. It later became a time put aside to remember our ancestors and people we love who have died.

On the first day, relatives clean and prepare the graves of their loved ones.  Flowers are placed on the graves or in vases with cards.  The special flower for the Day of the Dead is the marigold. Then they create an altar somewhere in the house. These altars are not places of worship. They serve the same purpose as a scrapbook or a photo album. Pictures of the departed, along with favorite loved objects and other mementos are placed on the altar. The rest of this day is spent making the favorite foods of this person (or persons.)

On the second day, families have big celebrations at their homes. They serve the food they made the day before. They decorate and eat candies shaped like skulls. Friends stop by and people dance, sing and share stories to remember the good times spent with their loved ones.

The holiday also expands to the town. There may be parades and floats and costumed characters in the streets. Coffins are carried with dressed-up fake skeletons inside. It is quite a celebration for everyone – young and old!

Many superstitions have been added over the years, but for the most part, this ancient holiday is as it always was – a time of remembrance and love. So, don’t be afraid of the El Día de los Muertos. This is a happy holiday!

By participating in traditions such as making chocolate caliente with el molinillo, eating Pan de Muerto, and creating an alter of marigolds, students will understand both the practices and perspectives associated with this holiday.  (Click here for additional information about teaching culture in the langauge classroom).  At the same time, through comparisons of Halloween traditions and Día de los Muertos traditions, I hope we come to a better understanding of what it looks like to celebrate and remember our loved ones.

As we celebrate along with the Latino community, students will learn traditional poems and songs from different countries, such as Los Esqueletos and Triqui, Triqui Halloween.  To deepen your understanding of this custom, you may enjoy a two part BBC series found in the links below:

For those of you in the Atlanta area, consider visiting the FREE Day of the Dead Festival at the Atlanta History Center on October 27th from noon-5PM.  This would be a great experience for student learners and your whole family!

Images from:


Julia Kuipers, UED Spanish Teacher

Modes of communication

Friday, October 11th, 2013

World Languages students have just concluded their first unit, “Getting to know each other.”  To assess learning, students had to demonstrate three modes of communication. (where developmentally appropriate i.e. there was not as much of an emphasis on writing with younger students) The three modes of communication are interpersonal (speaking with someone else), interpretive (in this case, reading a text), and presentational (in this case, writing a paragragh or for the younger grades, presenting a scripted project).

To the right is a picture of an “I can” stamp sheet that helped students keep track of what they could do at any given time in the unit. Once they demonstrated that they could consistently say one of the “I can” statements, they received a stamp!

The World Languages team has been very pleased with the growth of the students’ communication skills thus far! Looking forward to Unit 2!


Madame Parks

World Languages

French K-6

Hispanic Heritage Month

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month


From mid-September through mid-October, Trinity students recognize the contributions, culture, and heritage of Hispanic Americans.

See the numbers behind the country’s Hispanic population:

53 million: The Hispanic population of the United States as of July 1, 2012. Hispanic Americans make up 17 percent of the U.S.’s total population—the largest minority group in the country. Only Mexico has a larger Hispanic population than the U.S.

11.6 million: The number of Hispanic family households in the United States in 2012

65 percent: The percentage of Hispanic-origin people in the United States that have a Mexican background.

47 percent: The percentage of New Mexico’s Hispanic population as of 2012, the highest of any state.

2.3 million: The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in 2007, which generated $350.7 billion.

37.6 million: The number of U.S. residents, age 5 and older, who spoke Spanish at home in 2011.

• 22.5 percent: The percentage of elementary and high school students that were Hispanic in 2011.

3.7 million: The number of Hispanic Americans who had at least a bachelor’s degree in 2011.

1.2 million: The number of Hispanic/Latino Americans who are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.


Posted by Carrie Peralta

The power of Music and Movement

Monday, September 16th, 2013

The UED and EED French and Spanish students are learning so much so quickly this year!! I am constantly amazed how rapidly their brains can absorb and retain information, especially when it is introduced with a song or movement. I hear my students singing the “bonjour” song in the hallways and the “Hola a todos” song in the lunch room. Music and movement is such an effective way to learn a new language!


Below is a few of links to some of the songs we use in class that you can also explore: There are many more!






Get to singing and moving to get to learning!


WL Status Updates

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

At the beginning of the year, I like to check in with students using a “WL Status Update,” which may resemble a certain social media platform.  Even though I have known some of them for years, students are constantly changing and I am constantly learning more about who they are as language students and who they are as people.

Below I included some responses from my Sixth Grade students and a brief reflection.



What’s on your mind?

Student Response:

  • “My mind is wondering if Spanish is going to be hard this year.”
  • “The ¿Cómo estás? song”

My Reflection:

It turns out that at any given moment my students could be thinking about food or sleep or gym class.  Maybe they are thinking about their friend who’s moving or a soccer game this weekend.  Maybe they are excited for Spanish or worried about homework.  This is a good reminder to me that students bring their experiences and emotions into the classroom.  I am ready for Spanish teaching, but maybe they are not ready for Spanish learning.  As a teacher, my goal is to help them to get in the proper mindset, while extending grace and respect when they need a little break.



What do you like best about learning a language or culture?

Student Response:

  • “That I can communicate with people in other countries.”
  • “My favorite thing about learning a different language is speaking in it.”
  • “The best thing is that if I go to a Spanish speaking country, I will be able to have a conversation.”
  • “The best thing about learning a language is when you visit a different country, and you notice your understanding and speaking!  The payoff is AMAZING!”

My Reflection:

Kids get it.  Languages are not about grammar rules or vocabulary.  A language is a way to communicate, and that’s something to get excited about!  Students are not concerned with what they KNOW about Spanish; they are concerned with how they can USE Spanish. 



What are you most excited for in World Languages? What are you nervous about?

Student Response:

  • “I’m excited about all of the activities, but nervous about remembering.”
  • “I’m excited about learning a new language.  I’m scared about forgetting the new words I learn.”

My Reflection:

The students consistently shared a passion for speaking and using the language.  This is more than another subject to study; the students recognize that Spanish is an important skillset to harness.  At the same time, many Sixth Graders expressed nervousness about forgetting words, especially in conversation situations.  I love this honesty and vulnerability.  This is a great cue to me as a teacher.  My students are both excited and scared to speak.  They want to use the language, but they are anxious about failure.  It’s my job to create a safe space to practice conversational skills, while at the same time this is a great teachable moment for the process of language growth and expectation that at times we will forget words, and that’s totally fine!  It’s our responsibility to push ourselves in each and every class.




What would you like your language teacher to know?

Student Response:

  • “I understand a lot.  I always forget what to say in a conversation.  I understand, but I can’t think of the word, which is frustrating.”
  • “I really want to become fluent in Spanish.”
  • “I often get frustrated at myself when what I’m doing isn’t perfect.”
  • “I would prefer homework to be kept to a minimum.”
  • “I am committed to learning my language.”

My Reflection:

I love this open-ended question.  The responses varied from wishes to concerns to requests.  I think this is a great way to check in with students time to time.  I love giving them a voice to share something that maybe isn’t natural to bring up in class.  Again, it’s a small glimpse into who they are and what they are about.



Explain how you would divide the responsibility of learning between you, your parents, and your teacher.

Student Response:

  • “I have the most [responsibility] because in order to learn a language you have to be willing to learn…My teacher has the second biggest part because teachers help and push me.
  • “…Teachers have the second most responsibility for your learning because they have to teach you the language.  The teachers have to make up a lesson plan that would make sense to you.”
  • “You have to take in what the teachers teach you, [you] have to study, you have to remember to study, you have to remember to do your homework and so on.  You definitely have the most responsibility.  Your parents and teachers just have to help and teach, and I have more responsibility this year because I am older and more mature.”
  • “I am most responsible for my language learning skills.  For example, I can choose to listen to Mrs. Kuipers or not.  I can choose to follow directions or not.”

My Reflection:

The majority of Sixth Graders said that the student holds the most responsibility (in comparison to teachers and parents) for their learning.  I love starting the year with the understanding that they hold the power to learn.  Many people see language as a natural ability.  You know it or you don’t.  You have an affinity for language or you don’t.  I see language as a skill that can be learned.  With time and commitment to their own language learning, they will be successful.


Julia Kuipers, UED WL Teacher- Spanish

French Convos

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Performed Sixth Graders
World Languages

Bienvenue! Bienvenidos!

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

As we begin yet another year at Trinity, fresh faces flood the halls eager to learn, play and explore. Returning teachers tell stories about their summer and share excitement about the new school year over lunch or coffee in the lounge. Here at Trinity School, both teachers and students have the good fortune of living and working in a community with an enormous amount of vibrancy and warmth. Returning from summer is not a chore, but a welcome change for most, presenting teachers and students the opportunity to re-immerse themselves in the academic environment. As our community acclimates for the new school year, the World Languages team is thrilled to roll out a new language learning experience for our learning community.

This year, students enter class the first day and hit the ground running. French and Spanish classes start the year speaking almost entirely in the language they’re learning, aka the target language. From games, activities, exercises to even procedural and behavioral expectations, each facet of class time is devoted to the learning, exposure and practice of the target language. Each member of the World Languages team is committed to maintaining near complete teacher-student instruction in the target language, only using English to facilitate group activities early on in the school year. As students are exposed to their target language more and more, we hope to not only build an adamantine language base for our community of learners, but a sense of eagerness and excitement toward the exploration of our local and global communities.

Although the goal for our students is to learn and absorb as much of the target language as possible, we seek to preserve the wonder and excitement that students have towards learning and speaking another language. With that being said, get ready for a stellar year with World Languages and our team!

-Brad Williams; World Languages teacher for K, 1st, and 2nd

Mazanita del Peru

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

As we kick off a new school year, Second Graders enjoyed playing a name game from Peru.  Take a look at the video:

Mazanita del Peru

The rhyme goes: Mazanita del Peru, ¿Cómo te llamas tú? (Little apple from Peru, what’s your name?)

Not only are the student playing a fun game and practicing introductions, they are following directions that are given completely in Spanish!  This is just one example of what it looks like for World Languages teachers to use the target language and engage children sin Inglés (without English).