Communication and Connections

Communication and Connections is part of a five-part video series: Learning Languages Other Than English: A Texas Adventure, that was produced in response to teachers' requests for examples of what TEKS for LOTE implementation actually looks like. The videos are centered around scenes from LOTE classrooms across Texas and include interviews with students, teachers, parents, and administrators. This video focuses on the interrelationship of the Program Goal of Communication and one of the other goals: Connections.

The Communication and Connections video study guide offers suggestions for how to use the videos in a variety of professional development contexts. It contains background information on the changes brought about in LOTE instruction as the TEKS for LOTE are implemented and individual workshop units focusing on the program goals highlighted in each video. Resources include worksheet masters, suggested activities, workshop facilitation tips, and supplemental reading lists for participants.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Video 1 Transcript

Communication and Connections (part 1 of 2) - Learning Languages Other than English (2001)

(Singing in Spanish)

These third-graders at Lunna Elementary in Garland are just starting out on the long but rewarding road toward proficiency in a second language.

You'll see more of them and you'll meet other students and educators from around the state as we continue the adventure of Learning a Language Other Than English.

You'll see educators teaching students how to communicate in a second language using the program goal of connections to access information and to reinforce other areas of study in the target language and you'll see examples of what some of the most successful language teachers in Texas do, to implement the connections program goal in their daily lesson plans.

Any examination of how languages taught in Texas begins with a mention of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Languages Other than English. The TEKS for LOTE are the standards which describe what all students should know and be able to do at various stages within the LOTE discipline.

These standards are organized around five program goals, often referred to by educators as the five C's.

First and foremost is Communication, in LOTE classrooms students are striving to use a second language and communication is the vehicle language learners use to become proficient.

The other four goals stem from the use of the target language in the classroom. Students learn about the cultures associated with their second language and gain valuable insight into perspectives of the people of that country or region.

Learning a second language students make connections with other subject areas and connect to access information in the target language.

Students who make the comparisons between there second language and culture and their first language and culture developed insight into the nature of all languages and cultures.

Finally students are encouraged to take their second language out into the community, to use it with neighbors here at home or in communities abroad.

It is the acceptance of and implementation of these five program goals into daily lesson plans that Texas educators believe is a key to obtaining advanced proficiency for all language learners.

(Conversation in Spanish)

Clearly communication skills are the primary focus of language study.

Through the communication goal students develop the skills necessary to master the content of the other four program goals.

These skills include listening speaking reading and writing as well as viewing and showing.

Communicative proficiency derives from control of three modes of communication, interpersonal, interpretive, and presentation.

Students need practice in all three types of communication in order to satisfy their most commonly expressed reason for taking any language class, to learn to communicate.

The first thing that I do when I do my lesson plans, I think about the communications going to take place between the students at this level interpersonal communication is the most important, that they be able to give the information that they want to give and more importantly they receive the information that they want to receive.

So that's where I start.

From that point I want to bring in culture, I want to bring in new vocabulary, I want to bring in connection with students that they don't have already. That being the students who don't speak the target language, in this case Spanish. So every thing resolved around interpersonal communication.

If at some point then we can get to other kinds of communication, interpretive communication, Communication of presentation type, that's good too but at this point it's the interpersonal communication that is most important. It's what they want to do, they want to learn how to speak Spanish.

The primary mode of communication is the Interpersonal Mode where there is a direct exchange of communication between individuals either listeners and speakers or readers and writers.

(Speaking Spanish)

At Churchill High School in San Antonio these students are involved in a mock job fair.

They're demonstrating proficiency in the interpersonal mode of communication, speaking and listening.

This mode of communication requires active negotiation of meaning between the individuals and calls for a natural pattern of adjustment and clarification in order to be successful. Another form of interpersonal communication occurs between writers and readers. When both writer and reader have access to one another.

In Hidie Kirby's German II class at Cinco Ranch High School near Houston her students are emailing student in Germany. The two groups of students are thousands of miles apart, but utilizing the technology available in today's language classroom they are able to be e-Pal's in their target language using their computers.

The students are communicating in the interpersonal mode. They're developing the skills of reading, at the same time developing the skills of writing.

Another mode of communication is the Interpretive Mode.

In this form of communication the communicated source, the speaker or writer is not present.

The listener or reader must determine for themselves the meaning of what is being communicated, using the skills of listening and reading.

At Cambridge Elementary in the Alamo Heights School district these first-grade immersion students rceive a full dose of all three modes of communication in the target language, right from the first day.

The interpretive mode occurs during reading time.

For these youngsters, full comprehension of what they're reading is still a ways down the road, but they're interpretive skills are already being enhanced and they're developing viewing skills, using pictures to help interpret what they see and read.

In today's LOTE classroom more advanced students can take their Interpretive skills to the Internet.

In Vince McGee's Latin One class at Lake Highlands High School in the Richardson Independent School District, students research a project in their target language on the computer.

The teacher is available to help students navigate the Internet, but the students themselves must apply what they've already learned in order to interpret whatever meaning the Internet writer or author may be trying to convey.

The third mode of communication to be mastered by language learners is the Presentation Mode, which calls for the creation of formal messages, public speaking, or an editorial for example. To be interpreted by listeners or readers where there is no opportunity for active negotiation of meaning between listers and speakers or readers and writers.

At Rayburn High School in Pasadena, these French four AP students are making presentations to their classmates that compare cultural similarities between young people in the US and France.

(Student presentation in French language)

Current fashion trends for teenagers is a popular theme, and the presenters use the skills of speaking and showing. In this example as is often the case, more than one mode of communication is occurring in the LOTE classroom.

Here as presenters communicate in the Presentation mode the rest of the class or audience uses the Interpretive Mode to view and listen to the presentation.

I want the kids to be able to go to a foreign country, check into a hotel and ask for a clean towel, get tickets to an opera.

Maybe not the opera, but get tickets to something that they'are interested in.

To be able to use the language and I think that's where the text has driven us, to make this useful to them.

Acquiring a language other than English becomes more relevant and engaging to students when it serves as a vehicle for the development of ideas an acquisition of information on topics from other disciplines.

Using another language to make connections with other disciplines, provides learners with the skills and interest to look beyond the limits of their immediate circle of experience.

In achieving the program goal of Connections, students use their target language to gain access to information and to reinforce other areas of study.

For an example of how the program goal of connections can be implemented in the daily lesson plan.

We visited a French level three classroom at Cinco Ranch High School outside Houston.

On this day teacher Robert Swope is talking about the weather.

(Speaking French)

Asking his students to access information in the target language, to connect with subjects like math science and geography.

(Teacher speaking in French language to students)

The students must attempt to read and understand a typical weather map that folks in France might find in their daily newspaper.

These language learners connect with math when they convert temperatures from celsius to fahrenheit.

They connect with geography as they locate and identify the different regions of France and discuss the climatic and ecological differences of those regions. You could do the connection with mathmatics through ah, through calculating the difference between celsius temperature and fahrenheit temperature if we have the formula for that. And that addresses cause objectives also, that are important.

I tried to make a connection through the sciences also, by talking about how pressure is measured. When we talk about literature, we tie that into themes that they've studied in their English classes. Just a a myriad of different ways to make connections.

Having taught languages in the Katy district for eighteen years, teacher Swope has seen the transition from a grammar and vocabulary based curriculum to the more proficiency based approach, he's delighted! I think it's a important that, we started to focus on the five C's because I really think that is where language teaching needs to go. It's always been near and dear to my heart to run a class room that way.

It's good to see validation, through the research that is.

That's exactly what's been found to be successful.

To share that with all teachers and encourage that in everybody, and very happy to see that.

Another teacher who asks her students to connect to the real world is Sherry Harris at Taylor High School in Katy. During her sixteen-year teaching career, Sherry has often traveled to Spanish-speaking countries.

In her Spanish II classroom students use the authentic materials Sherry has brought back, to access information in the target language. I'm always begging and barrowing and stealing, phone books, and invitation and different things I can find from my trips or friends that live in the target language countries.

So I try to bring things into the classroom that apply to things we are learning and that particular unit of study, but also that the kids have a hands-on feel for that they're really looking at something authentic, and to have them to see what how much language they've learned and to see what they can do with the language that they've learned. I think it makes them feel good about what they're able to do, even at level two. Sherry believes anytime her students can make a connection to the real world, it enhances their language learning. I like to also along the cconnections line, get them out on the Internet, see newspapers or whatever and let them see how or talk to people that are out in the real world. Look and see how that being bilingual it's really going to help their careers and help them in the future.

Using a second language to connect with other disciplines also provides students increased access to the whole range of information available from original sources, through print, video, and especially the Internet.

(Instructions in Spanish)

At Sandra Day O'connor High School outside San Antonio, long-time educators Zenda Gutiérrez embraces the new technologies available to teachers and students in the LOTE classroom. This is the way the students learn now.

Those of us who have been teaching for many years have seen the change in the technology. I can remember when we were doing technology and we thought it was really great that we had a TV. You know when we had a Boom Box.

We now know the technology is really the way the students get their information, they get it quickly they enjoy this, they think differently than we did say twenty years ago, I see that they learn differently and so therefore this type of technology is very important for their learning. In her State of the Art Language Lab,

Zenda has her students making connections by accessing information directly from Spanish-language web sites. In this instance in Venezuela.

(Instructing student in Spanish)

They have a certain amount of information that they need to find from these websites, and from the links that are in these websites.

It requires that they've read the information in Spanish. It requires that they interpret information that they use it in understanding the information.

It builds a great deal on their reading comprehension skills. and uh... helps them make connections between English and Spanish, because a lot of time I likely will tell them to look for the cognates. Look for the words that look like English, look for the words that are going to help you understand, because you are not going to understand every word.

Ms Gutiérrez is another educator who has made the transition from the days of grammar and vocabulary based language curriculum, and she says along the way per students have been a major part of her success.

As you teach your students, you can learn from that, they enjoy that. They'd like to be able to show you, no Ms Gutiérrez you need to do it this way.

This is how you get there. I think it's a great way to build rapport with your students. It is alittle bit difficult. I would not tell you, honestly that it is not, it is. It's not an easy thing, you have to be ready to take on the challenge, and be ready to change your mind set.

Change the way you feel.

Video 2 Transcript

Communication and Connections (part 2 of 2) - Learning Languages Other than English (2001)

It's not an easy thing. You have to be ready to take on the challenge, willing to be ready to change your mind set, change the way you think about doing a lesson and being ready to be innovative.

Students make connections in different ways at different grade levels.

In immersion based language programs students developing language skills by using the language as a medium for learning other school subjects.

They not only connect to other subject areas, they use their target language to access information.

(Student and teacher conversing in Spanish)

Wonderful examples of how immersion students make connections occur daily at Cambridge Elementary in the Alamo Heights School District.

In one of Texas' few full immersion programs these first graders are just beginning down the road toward proficiency in a second language, for them the program goal of connections is vital.

They're required to connect with all their other subject areas and to access information, everything they learn, in the target language, and all of this begins right from day one.

Joyce Ramos - Teacher
It's a little difficult - like the first day.

When the kids come in because - they are totally - They know that they are going to be learning a foreign language. But I guess because they think that they're going to hear a little bit of English and when I walk in. The first thing in the morning they hear (Speaking in Spanish) "Buenos dÍas". I introduce myself in Spanish and everything else - just completely in Spanish. The kids are in shock at first, but we do a lot of fun - game type activities and they adapt really well.

By the end of the first hour or by the end of the first day of school they've pretty much stroll into the classroom, just like any other class.

For teacher Joyce Ramos the challenge of communicating with these young people also begins on day-one.

(Reading in Spanish...)

She must by whatever means possible connect the students with their other subject areas so they can access the information they need.

Dan Bolen - Assistant Principal
The teachers must use many strategies and techniques which help the students understand what they are trying to save them.

They have to use body language, they have to use pictures, they have to use can kinesthetic clues, they have to use different types of visuals or visual clues, they become actors or actresses.

They conduct plays, they do what ever they need to do in order for the children to understand what they're trying to say to them. A lot of times it's funny because even if the first graders, they know certain terminology in Spanish that they don't know in English.

Whenever they ask me questions in English they stick in the Spanish words and it's funny because sometimes they just start saying basic little sentances in Spanish. Like they're beginning to think in Spanish but they're just not at that point yet, but I'd say by third grade they definitely are.

These first graders can also make a connection to technology and access information in the same way their order brothers and sisters might on the Internet.

They're developing the skills of reading and listening and are already making the connections that will allow them to master their required curriculum, in both their native and second languages.

The Interesting discovery that we have made, is that the emergence students are doing just as well in their English development, as all of the other students on our campus who have received English only instruction, from the time they came here. In other words, what we're seeing is that to learn in a second language, to learn the curriculum in a second language, does not harm their native language, that being English. As a matter of fact, what I think we'll see in the long run, is that it helps it.

In addition to acquiring information in the target language teachers and students can use their second language to connect directly to other subject areas.

Teacher Jane McCurdy encourages her Spanish IV AP class at Lake Highlands High School in the Richardson district to make connections to literature and art through Spanish Authors and Playwrights, and Artists.

Teacher - Jane McCurdy
I'm a lover of the fine arts, so I think sometimes the kids love what the teacher loves, so I had the kids act out little segments of (spoken in Spanish) "Servante La heta neow" and one little chapter of (spoken in Spanish) "Don Quixote" or the Miracle of Guadalupe so they learn a little bit of culture through drama, through art.

In today's lesson students are connecting the several subject areas including art and history.

They're being asked to imagine themselves as part of a famous painting and then to express their feelings about the experience.

They've had a little bit of history, art history, social studies, customs of the eighteenth century versus customs that now, and certainly culture Spanish culture and culture during the time and they are getting communication at the moment because they're going to do a dialogue.

They are taking a walk within the painting so they are going to express what they see and feel inside the painting, So it's pretty inclusive.

Teacher McCurdy also takes advantage of her location, helping your students make connections with the real world resources available around Dallas and Fort Worth.

Jane McCurdy - Teacher
The reason we are doing this lesson for today is because each of the kids are doing a research project on an individual artists and the reward after take a massive, very difficult test, that they're all aware of.

The day after the difficult test we're all going to the Dallas Art Museum, because there is a Mexican art exibit there.

They have a lot of wonderful opportunities. We've gone to the Ballet Folklorico and do things outside of class also.

Another educator who makes the extra effort to connect her students to other subjects and to relevant information is Irma Minjares of the Garland Independent School District.

Irma Minjares - Teacher
(Speaking in Spanish to students) Ola...

(Spanish speaking) Excelente!

Irma is lead teacher for the forty two school elementary Spanish program in Garland.

She teaches this class of Lula Elementary and then helps right curriculum for the twenty other Elementary Spanish instructors in the district. In today's lesson these third-graders are learning about sentence structure. Making a connection with terminology they use during language arts class and thus reinforcing their knowledge of important class objectives.

Irma Minjares - Teacher
(Speaking in Spanish to student)

I consider the text in the language Other Than English for Communication and Connections.

I knew that the children have been having lessons in subject and predicate and I knew that I could connect into the Language Arts for third grade. I also considered the third grade text, and that is the simple Subject and predicate.

Today they were learning the two parts of a sentance. So that it ties in with their text for third grade and language arts and the TEKS for LOTE for foreign language. I was combining both text.

The Garland district has made a major commitment to i'st Spanish language program. With first through fifth grade programs on all forty two Elementary School campuses.

Ms. Minjares sees to it that daily lesson plans for the entire district implement at least one of the five C's. In this instance making the connection to a variety of subject areas in the target language.

Irma Minjares - Teacher
We connect to math, we use activities where we play games with flash cards, we learn addition, multiplication, division subtraction, all in Spanish. We connect to Science in Science we teach the Weather we teach Seasons, the Calendar.

We also teach the geographical features we connect to music of course, Which is one of their favorites. We connect Social Studies very much so.

(Speaking in Spanish)

(Singing in Spanish)

Finally Marian Newland is one of the most experienced language teachers in the Fort Worth Independent School District.

She's making the rounds in her Spanish three Spanish four Native Speakers classroom.

Marian Newland - Teacher
(Speaking Spanish...)

Marian is asking her students to make connections to Spanish Art History.

Marian Newland - Teacher
The History connection is relatively obvious, they have uh... had to do some investigation on some periods of time in Europe, that they don't normally study in World History, because the uh... this is often passed over in their history classes. Also they are making connections with art and learning about the major artists of the last two centuries.

These juniors and seniors are native speakers of Spanish and are considered excellent if not proficient speakers of the target language.

The challenge for teacher Newland is to connect these students with information that helps them explore their own rich heritage.

Marian Newland - Teacher
It's almost impossible to separate the connections because uh... we always begin our activities with the activating prior knowledge, using prior knowledge that they have. Doing investigations if they are not aware of what the background might be.

I encourage them to make observations, careful observations, which I think you saw.

They learn to do this in other classes. uh...

Now that we're in High School and these are Juniors and Seniors many of them them have had experienced doing this before and now they're applying the same strategy to the foreign language class.

This is a group of native and heritage speakers and they are making their connections now with maybe part of their own heritage that they're not aware of before.

As we've seen making the connection to other subject areas and connecting to acquire information, all the target language, are keys to the success of language learners and educators in Texas.

Irma Minjares - Teacher
Well in the connections especially I feel that they're able to see how language is such a important part of anything we do in life. If I can see them see the similarities in one language and the other, you know they feel like there's more consistency in what they're learning, more use, for them to be able to apply that in their life.

Fran Maples - Teacher
We're following the TEKS that are written for foreign languages.

So that we address all five C's in all of our lessons and we're also tying into the TEKS and the TOS objectives, for Language Arts and Social Studies and at the younger years even for math.

So we know that our delivery system is delivering a better development of communication.

And as we've learned the program goal of Connections is only the beginning.

I think that a good lesson often has many C's involved because just for example today with the report card activity they had to search for information, make the connection into how a report card is.

What it looks like in Mexico compared to what they're use to seeing as a report card that they know, and then we talk about it later and we discussed it. We make comparisons, we apply the grammar and vocabulary they've learned.

They're able to expand upon it, You can push them as far as they can go.

Thank you for watching Learning Languages other than English

Texas Adventure Communication and Connections.
For more information about any of the topics discussed or to contact any of the individual to help in the production of this video. Please contact the Languages Other than English Center for Educator Development at their website at or contact LOTE director Lillian King Meidlinger at 1-800-476-6861 or contact the LOTE unit at the Texas Education Agency at 512-936-2444