What Everyone Needs to Know About Language Proficiency

What Everyone Needs to Know About Language Proficiency

Inside: What is language proficiency? What does it mean for my Spanish classroom?

Last year I wrote a post explaining why I was throwing out my Spanish textbook. Of course, throwing it out was the easy part. But what to do next?

I’m writing this series because I remember so clearly what’s it’s like, to be on the edge of that cliff– poised to jump into textbook-free land, with a mind-boggling array of choices below. I just wanted someone to hold my hand, help me sort it all out, and put me touch with the experts. And that’s exactly what I’d like to do here.

So, here’s my after-story to going textbook-free. I found I had three major tasks in developing a plan for the year: figure out our objectives, research how students acquire language, and then choose methods and develop content. Here in Part 1, I’ll share how I formed a big picture and zeroed in on targets for each class. (more…)

March Madness Bracket Activity

March Madness Bracket Activity


My students love to express opinions. I play a simple game in which we review any vocabulary by marking one side of the room as “Me encanta” and the other as “No me gusta.” I just call out words (could be foods, hobbies, classes– anything!) and they move to the side of the room that matches their feelings about it. It’s always a hit and a great filler for those times when you finish early or need a brain break. (more…)

My Spanish Classroom

My Spanish Classroom

Mi clase de (1)

We have already been in school for a month, but I was putting this post off until I could take better pictures of my salón. That hasn’t happened, like many things on my to-do list… ah, the life of a teacher and mother.

I am teaching every period this year, with no planning period, and I’m trying to be as organized as possible to deal with paperwork and keep things in their place. I moved rooms, as well as taking on some history blocks, so I was going for a streamlined look that would be calming for me and for my students. My room is tiny, but I love it. Here’s the grand tour:


Update: I couldn’t get decent lighting for better pictures, but this year (2016) I covered all my days of the week, alphabet, numbers, etc., posters. I have so little space and like a clean look, so they had to go to make room for my high-frequency verbs. Not as cute, but definitely more useful.

Sweet sixteen high-frequency verb posters in Spanish

I tried for a maps, chalkboard and burlap theme with lots of blue and green.


I had the students write their names on popsicle sticks for randomly selecting students to call on, or to quickly create groups. These are just tin cans covered with maps. I have them write both their real names and their Spanish names to help me learn both.

popsicle sticks
This is a shoe organizer from IKEA that I’m using for flashcards, game cards, and other games that don’t store well in a hanging file.


spanish classroom decoration

Another update: now that my classroom is proficiency-based and comprehensible-input driven (and I’m only teaching Spanish), it was time for a bulletin board update.

Proficiency-inspired bulletin board for my Spanish class, with some class guidelines.

This is one of my favorites. I play LOTS of games– bingo, board games, etc. These are magnets from IKEA that I fill with bingo chips and dice. If I have a group that finishes early, or everyone playing games, I just grab a tin for each group and it makes for easy clean-up too.

interrogative posters in spanish
game pieces
Storing scissors, glue, and extra pencils in these drawers has also been great. I just pull out the entire drawer and set it in the middle of the table. I used to store all my game chips together, scissors together, etc., and spent way too much time passing out materials. Again, thank you Pinterest!

My quotes aren’t in Spanish, but I do have the printable available if you like them! You can click on them at the end of the post.

I liked this quote I found in an article at CiRCE . It comes from a Latin quote: Fortiter fideliter forsan feliciter, and I wanted to remind my students in our results-oriented culture that their attitude, hard work, and habits are more important than just the outcome. And, hey– I need to see this everyday.


This is another Pinterest find that has been GREAT. The tabs are numbered 1-31 and whenever I hand work out, I drop any leftover into the file that goes with the day of the month. If any students are absent, they can quickly find the work by looking for the day they missed. At the end of the month, I empty them and file them wherever they should be. I can’t tell you how many times this has already been a lifesaver!


For some classes, I have to fit a lot of students in and it is tight. I am constantly using groups and have found that tables work best.


And that’s all! Here are the those quotes, too:

augustine quote

chesterton quote

cs lewis quote

jim elliot quote

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