Nothing is worse (or almost nothing is worse) than sitting through a boring professional development session where the guest speaker is paid a lot of money but their message affects relatively few teachers. It is especially tragic when there are free or open sources for professional development that are intended to be incredibly helpful for a specific group of teachers.
On the Teaching & Learning Spanish Blog I read a very short blurb on Foreign Language Teaching Methods – an open course from the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Language Technology Center. The online course is based on the actual methods course that the university offers. Each module focuses on a different area of teaching a foreign language: Being a Foreign Language Teacher, Speaking, Writing, Reading, Listening, Vocab, Grammar, Pragmatics, Culture, the Language Learner, Classroom Management, Technology, and Assessment.
The modules are perfect for a busy learner. Each of the audio/video clips are in the 5 minute range. There are thought provoking questions as transitions between the materials. The course offers many resources so that the teachers can get the most out of their professional development experience as possible – like transcripts, or follow up materials. All the written part is straight to the point, not grandiose in their choice of words.
I only had time to check out the section on teaching listening to a foreign language student. But I plan on sitting outside this summer with my laptop checking out the rest of the resources offered. So I will probably have some more insight in the next month. This was a great resource found through the Teaching & Learning Spanish Blog.
Footnote – the name Texas Language Technology Center captured my attention, so I looked into what else they offered. They have a list of other useful links and resources – technology for teachers to use in Foreign Language education.
The Methods course is only one of their many projects:
The Spanish Proficiency Exercises have amazing potential for the classroom. The audio samples come from native Spanish speakers from many backgrounds and many countries. Each of the sections I looked at also provided additional resources for a teacher – like transcripts, key vocab list, related grammar lists, etc. The audio was available in RSS form or as an iTunes download. So it will be very accessible to the students.
It is also one of the few times I wish I taught French and not Spanish. Another one of the projects is a French Grammar Guide.
Tex’s French Grammar (la grammaire de l’absurde) is a globally popular pedagogical reference grammar that combines explanations with surreal dialogues and cartoon images.