Beyond the Classroom - Keeping Students Engaged at Home

As much as coming to class and participating every day is vital to progress in language acquisition, so is supplementing daily lessons with at-home review.  As language teachers, we spend a great deal of time encouraging our students to use the language outside of class, including sharing the many ways in which one can do that.  Here are some of the tools and ideas I have used to encourage at-home French use.


I know many language teachers have sung the praises of DuoLingo.  When students finish a task on the iPads early in my class, I often allow them to go on DuoLingo.  By using it in class, students are more likely to use it at home.  At the beginning of the year, I allow them to sign up for an account in class.  DuoLingo is a great supplement for the curriculum.

Languages Online

Languages Online is a series of games and worksheets created by the government of the Australian province of Victoria.  If I have a few minutes at the end of class, I sometimes pull up one the games and have a students play.  Then I post it on Edmodo for students to play at home.


I am quite fond of TinyTap.  Not only do I use it in class, but I post the activities on Edmodo for students to play at home.  I also linked to many TinyTap games for students to play for their long-term assignment (see below).


Quizlet remains one of my favorite vocabulary studying tools.  What makes it so indispensable is the fact that the words are pronounced for students while they study.  While the voice is a bit robotic, it's pretty accurate and you can't beat the fact that it's all automated.  Some of my students make Quizlet sets on their own to study from, I also post my sets on Edmodo for students to access.  Playing scatter (above) is great for the last few minutes of class or if a student finishes a task early.  I like students to see or play the game in class, which increases the likelihood that they will play it at home.

Any time I show a YouTube video in class, I share it on Edmodo and on my blog.  If students want to watch it again, I remind them that they can watch it at home, and many students often report that they share the videos with siblings and parents.

I just started using Edmodo this year after our school stopped using our previous LMS.  I really like it as a great way to communicate with students.  I post homework on the blog as well as resources.  I also award badges for various achievements, such as the ones below:

Besides the badges above, I also award badges for good behavior and other non-French related achievements.  Students who earn 5 badges get a homework pass.  Many of the badges above are for the use of French outside of class.  Unfortunately, many students forget that these opportunities are available to them, as they are mentioned once at the beginning of the year, and although I do mention them from time to time, they are not a daily part of our class routine.  I intend to do more with the badges next year, as I think they are a nice alternative to extra credit.  I will be making some cooler prizes (perhaps some of the privileges other teachers have suggested on their blogs) and probably lowering the number of badges needed to get them (5 badges can be difficult to earn).

Personalized Learning Goal

Shortly before April break, I thought it might be a good idea to give students some sort of independent assignment to encourage the use of French outside of class.  This was a one-time assignment, but the idea was that hopefully some students would develop study habits from this and continue these activities of their own volition.  I gave students a list of possible assignments, most of which just required a parent signature.  Students had a lot of fun with this.  Among other things, I had students report back that they watched their favorite movie in French, spoke French on vacation with a friend, talk to Siri in French, and talk to a French-speaking relative in French.

One of the resources I created for this assignment was a list of games students could play.  Some of them we had already played in class, but I also included many new ones, some with new vocabulary for students to acquire.  The games came from TinyTap, Languages Online, EdPuzzle, and Kahoot.  I reminded students that with the proper equipment (a computer or laptop and one device for each player), they can play Kahoot at home.

While I am constantly working on new ways to encourage the use of French at home, I think the advent of all these new tools and games in the last few years has really helped. What are some of the ways you approach this challenge?

P.S.:  Many of the tools I have written about in this post I have also covered in more detail in the iPad Diaries.  Head over there and take a look!

You may also want to read my post on keeping a blog.

Quel personnage de Disney es-tu ? A Reading, Writing, Speaking Activity

This activity is based on Amy Lenord's Superhero Talk Read Talk Write Lesson.  I took elements of her lesson and adapted them to suit a 7th grade French class.  When I taught this lesson, students were working with adjectives and using the verb "to be" in context.  While the goal with Amy's lesson was to have students work with an authentic text, I chose to create the text for my lesson.

I liked the idea of having students take a personality type quiz, since this piques their interest, so they will be more compelled to read the text carefully.  I decided to go with Disney characters since I felt I could flesh out their difference better in the quizzes I was making.  I made a quiz for male characters and one for female characters.  Students could take whichever one they wanted or even both, but this way students could be matched up with a same-gender character if they wanted to be.  You can try them out yourself below (the first one is for boys, the second one for girls):

After students took the quiz, I had them decide if they felt they like the character to whom they had been assigned or would prefer to identify with a different character.  In Amy's lesson, she had students discuss with a partner if they agreed or disagreed with the results, but this proved a bit too challenging for my students.  I had them look at the below list of adjectives.  They had to circle 5 adjectives that described them, then x out 5 adjectives that really didn't describe them.  Then, they put a star next to 5 adjectives that described their character (the one they were assigned or a different one), and an x next to 5 adjectives that really didn't describe their character.  These adjectives might be some of the same ones they chose for themselves, but some may be different.

After looking over the adjectives, students started on the venn diagram below, comparing and contrasting themselves with their character.  They could use they adjectives they circled, but they could also add additional ones.

Students finished the venn diagram for homework and read the results to each other the next day, as their partners tried guess which character they had chosen.

While I really went in my own direction with this lesson, the inspiration comes from Amy's creative idea.  How might you further adapt this idea to suit your own classroom?

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