All-In-One Activity for the World Language Classroom: Yes.  No. Maybe?

Last Updated on 2019-05-23One Activity:  All-in-one and done? Could there be such a thing? Sometimes being a world language teacher is overwhelming.  We do it all…speaking, listening, writing and reading. These are all essential elements of an effective classroom making it all-in-one!   In addition to all of these moving parts, we want our students to connect[…]

Back-to-School Activities for the World Languages Classroom

Last Updated on 2018-08-28Do you want to spice up a little your old “what did you do this summer?” activity for the first day of class? Or do you prefer to avoid it altogether? Here are some ideas that I am going to use in my classes. What happened in the world this summer? Headlines[…]

Students speak more when using Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-07-11Students speak more when using Extempore A little over a year ago, I blogged about the results of a survey on the role of Extempore in boosting confidence to speak among advanced learners of Spanish. Three quarters of the students reported feeling more confident to speak in the target language after a[…]

Whole Class Speaking Activities: Dos and Don’ts

Last Updated on 2018-08-28Have you witnessed a time when ALL your students were actively participating in the target language in a whole class discussion? Unless you teach highly motivated graduate students in small classes, I’m afraid the experience of a successful whole class discussion is not very frequent. And by successful I mean that the[…]

Unique Scavenger Hunts for Your Classes

Last Updated on 2017-07-11Do you need a couple of fun activity ideas to fight end-of-the-year boredom? Do you love scavenger hunts for language learning? If you answered yes to both questions, this post is for you. Scavenger Hunt Idea # 1 Have students record short videos about a personal experience (for example, your best summer[…]

What’s For Dinner?: Paired Dialogue Task Ideas

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A few months ago, we posted about the benefits of student-centered paired speaking activities on Extempore. There are a ton of reasons to promote these sorts of activities in your classroom, but the most convincing one of all, I think, is that they give the teacher a snapshot of his/her students’ authentic spoken abilities at[…]

Dear Abby, How Can I Practice the Imperative?

Last Updated on 2017-11-27First things first. Your students probably have never heard of the Dear Abby advice column. Maybe you haven’t either. But that’s OK; it still provides a good context for your students to practice using the imperative mood in the language that they’re studying and it can be accomplished very easily on Extempore. I’m actually[…]

The Challenges of Assessing Cultural Competency in the World Languages

Last Updated on 2017-01-16We all know the importance of the 4 big skills in a world language class: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. Encouraging the development of each one in our students brings with it a unique set of challenges, approaches, and assessment methods. (And, given our classroom time constraints, we probably also know how hard[…]

The Problems with World Language Presentations and How to Fix Them-Part 2

Last Updated on 2016-12-04Hopefully you read our post last time about the problems that many students encounter with giving presentations in a world language classroom. I wrote a little bit about how a “speed-dating” or “marketplace” format can actually put students at ease and promote a fun, more vibrant, and more engaged classroom atmosphere on[…]

The Problems with World Language Presentations and How to Fix Them–Part 1

Last Updated on 2016-11-27You’ve probably had to walk the plank before. Uh oh. Presentation time. You know, where it’s your turn to trudge up to the front of the class and start speaking in front of everyone. Maybe you’ve been assigned to talk about a national dish, or a traditional dance, or a famous artist. It’s bad[…]

Dear Diary: the Preterite and the Imperfect on Extempore

Last Updated on 2016-11-13If you teach Spanish (or French, for that matter), you know how mighty the battle can be for students to learn and use correctly the two verb forms used to talk about actions in the past. Yep, I’m taking about the preterite and the imperfect. Just mentioning those two words often sends[…]

Spice up the Classroom with a Cooking Competition on Extempore!

Last Updated on 2016-10-16These days you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a cooking show. Some of them are the competition type with the red-faced celebrity chef screaming at the contestants. Other cooking shows are more of the travel type where a host visits a particular restaurant to publicize the hard work of regular[…]

The Best of the Best: A Speaking Activity on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27When I was growing up, my hometown newspaper ran an informal column in which the readers themselves could write in highlighting a product or item that they used at home that had proved beneficial to their lives somehow and that everyone else should check out: powerful vacuum cleaners, super-duper TV remote controls,[…]

Let’s Go to the Mall Today: Paired Dialogue Task Ideas

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A few weeks ago, we posted about student-centered paired activities meant to develop speaking skills in the classroom. We mentioned how beneficial these role play or dialogue tasks can be: they foster autonomy, responsibility, creativity, peer-teaching, fun, and authentic language output. Today I wanted to give a quick example of one that I’ll certainly[…]

6 Tips for Improving Pronunciation with Extempore

Imperfect or non-native-like pronunciation can often be a huge roadblock towards effective communication in a world language classroom. Many learners are highly aware of their accent and feel embarrassed by it even if they are otherwise motivated students. This pronunciation anxiety frequently leads them to reject opportunities to communicate in meaningful ways.  It’s really a shame because very few[…]

20 Fun How-To Tasks to Get Your Students Talking

Last Updated on 2017-12-09Although students and teachers occupy the same space throughout much of the day, it won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear that the two groups often have different experiences at school or even in the classroom itself. During free periods, at lunch, or after school ends, students are carrying out tasks or[…]

Paired role plays with Extempore: Student-centered in-class practice

If you read our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we talk a lot here about using Extempore for regular speaking practice at home as a way to reinforce skills learned in the classroom, to build fluency, and to develop confidence. Although those are undeniable benefits of our app, students and teachers can also use Extempore[…]

Ditch the Language Lab: Go Anywhere (and Everywhere) with Extempore

Last Updated on 2016-07-22We live in a mobile world. We take our devices everywhere we go and do countless daily tasks on them. And increasingly, mobile technology is becoming part of daily life in education as well. So, why, when it comes to language learning, are so many of our lessons still so “non-mobile”? The language lab,[…]

Assigning Speaking Practice over the Summer with Extempore

Last Updated on 2018-12-12If there’s anything that teachers and students can agree on, it’s that summer vacation is…what’s the word? Amazing? Phenomenal? Ecstatic? But, as we all know, there’s a price to pay.  Our language students–at any level–get more than a little rusty. Those preterit and imperfect endings get mixed up, commands get forgotten altogether. All those[…]

6 Image-based Extempore Tasks to Get Your Students Talking

Last Updated on 2017-11-27We’ve all heard the cliché: a picture is worth a thousand words. But with Extempore, the expression might actually have some literal truth to it! That’s because our app allows teachers and students to use images to kickstart a discussion in the target language. Obviously, an audio prompt from a teacher most closely mimics[…]

Breaking Down the Affective Filter and Building Confidence with Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27I see it every year (and sometimes, sadly, every day). The stammering, the shaking hands, the downcast eyes, the fear. For some students, the world language classroom is a place of total anxiety and dread–a place that, if possible, they’d flee from as fast as possible. And no amount of kind, encouraging[…]

Conversation Starters in Spanish from TakeLessons.com

Last Updated on 2019-03-28Are you a beginning learner of Spanish? Do you just need some help getting started with a conversational partner? Or are you a teacher of beginning Spanish trying to get your students to use the language? Well, we wanted to take a moment to post a quick, handy guide to starting your conversation in[…]

Study Abroad Spoken Journals on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27A while back, I was rummaging through some personal belongings, and I stumbled across my old study abroad journal that I kept while studying in Madrid. Unsurprisingly, my reactions to its 15-year-old contents ranged from utter horror to belly laughs to nostalgia. The rediscovery of my journal got me thinking. Since my semester[…]

Using the Subjunctive to “Solve” Environmental Problems

Several of our blog posts have been bigger picture recommendations for how Extempore can help you more effectively and efficiently assess student learning. Well, this time, let’s try looking at how a classroom activity with a specific learning goal in mind can help improve speaking (and listening) skills. In the second semester of my high school Spanish 2[…]

Eight Ways to Differentiate your Speaking Activities

Last Updated on 2018-08-28There’s been a lot of talk these days in educational circles about differentiating instruction. In some ways, we world language teachers have been ahead of the curve here, partly because it’s inherent in our classrooms to some degree. In other words, we teach different skills–listening, speaking, reading, and writing–in an assortment of ways, so providing[…]

Using Extempore for Project-Based Learning

Last Updated on 2017-11-27If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve probably noticed that we often emphasize Extempore’s unique ability to elicit spontaneous speech and provide one-to-one, student-to-teacher interaction. In this post, though, I want to highlight how Extempore can also facilitate meaningful peer-to-peer interaction, especially in classroom environments, such as those implementing project-based learning, where these interactions serve as key[…]

Building a Thematic Sequence of Speaking and Listening Practice on Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Recently, my Spanish 2 students and I were exploring a unit based around city life. In it, we learned the names for various places in a city (restaurants, museums, parks, different types of shops, etc.),  practiced asking for and giving directions, and discussed topics such as the cost of living and the benefits and drawbacks[…]

Using Extempore as a Window into Culture

Hopefully, if you’ve explored our site or if you’ve read our previous blog posts, you can see pretty clearly how Extempore helps your students hone their skills in and out of the world language classroom. But learning a new language isn’t just about memorizing conjugations and new vocabulary–it’s also about developing target language cultural competency. That’s part of[…]

Five Topics Students Like to Talk about in the Foreign Language Classroom

Last Updated on 2018-02-14If there’s something we all like to talk about, it’s ourselves. Topics related to one’s own life experience are almost certainly guaranteed to spark conversation among students of all ages. Now, not all life experiences are equally suitable as conversation topics. The best are the ones for which everybody has something to[…]

Five Tips to Reduce your Grading Load When Assigning Oral Homework

Last Updated on 2017-11-27Most of us teaching languages in the US are lucky to work in environments that are technologically suitable for assigning oral homework. In 2016, it is hard to find a foreign language instructor who does not teach in a smart classroom with Wi-Fi access. Many schools distribute mobile devices to their students at[…]

Tips to Assign Oral Homework in the Foreign Language Class

Last Updated on 2017-11-27In a previous post on adding speaking opportunities outside the classroom we explained the reasons why assigning oral homework in the foreign language classroom simply makes sense. As self-evident a need as it may seem, however, completing oral assignments regularly outside of the classroom is not something that students may be used[…]

High School January Pilot – Survey Results

Last Updated on 2016-02-15During the month of January, Extempore ran a pilot with 100 High School students at Western Christian High School, in Iowa, United States . The pilot took place during finals on three Spanish sections. Each final exam consisted of 10 graded questions with all Extempore Parameters enabled: time to review the prompt[…]

Promoting Student Responsibility and Risk-Taking with Extempore

Last Updated on 2017-12-08All world language teachers have surely encountered the student who is content to sit back in class and allow others to speak up first. Maybe he’s naturally soft-spoken or maybe he’s anxious about making a mistake. Whatever the reason, some students take a back seat in class and, in turn, deprive themselves[…]

Authentic Assessment in the World Languages Classroom with Extempore

Last Updated on 2019-02-26On a previous post we stressed the importance of using authentic tasks in the World Languages classroom and we gave some examples of authentic speaking tasks that could be assigned via Extempore. If we decide to use authentic tasks for instruction, then we should also use authentic assessments and evaluate our students with instruments that[…]

How to Get your Shy Students to Talk? Change the Context.

Last Updated on 2017-11-28Any teacher would love to have just the right activity or the perfect strategy to get every single student in the classroom to actively participate in class discussions. Foreign language teachers especially are always searching for the magic trick that will make their students talk non-stop. It’s often the case that regardless of[…]