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March 22, 2024

Writing Strategies for Your World Language Classroom

With increasing numbers of heritage and native speakers in our World Language classroom, it’s essential to determine strategies for differentiating instruction for all learners. Resources and strategies for meeting the needs of students who are heritage or native speakers can be found in some unexpected places, like resources originally created for ELL learners. For example, Colorín Colorado is a terrific resource with ELL content that is readily-adaptable for use in the World Language classroom.

Another great resource to review is, “Improving Writing Skills: ELLs and the Joy of Writing,” by Kristina Robertson. This article includes great information on how to differentiate writing activities and discusses adapting writing for 3 different levels of learners, such as:

  • The general population of students learning the target language
  • Students who are heritage or native speakers who can read and write in the target language
  • Students who are heritage or native speakers who can speak the target language but not yet write it You may find that what you create for literate speakers may be very useful for use with students identified as gifted and talented or for those who seek a challenge

After reading this article, put these practices into action by adapting a writing activity you are currently using to meet the needs of students who are heritage or native speakers.  If you have an idea for a new activity, now is the time to bring it to life! We suggest you include the following elements in your activity:

  • Identify the class you will be using this activity in, ie, Second Year Mandarin, or Portuguese Honors 4.
  • List any resources you will use, including authentic resources.
  • Develop the procedure you will use to present the information to your class.
  • Be sure to include specific reference to how you would differentiate this for the following three levels:
    • Level A–least rigorous
    • Level B–aimed at the majority of learners
    • Level C–intended for literate heritage/native learners and those desiring a challenge

Here’s an example of how your activity might look:

  • Introduce the French terms for parts of the body via TPR or modeling, followed by a game of “Simon Says” or something similar.
  • Practice this vocabulary with students over the course of several days prior to this lesson.  Students will need to be familiar with the written terms for this lesson to succeed!
  • Watch the video with the song Jean Petit qui danse – French and English subtitles.mp4 to the class via the video.
  • After watching the video, level the writing activities as follows:
  • Learners will copy the lyrics of two lines later in the song, in French, exactly as it is written. 

    Be sure to make it clear that spelling and punctuation will be assessed, since this is a writing lesson.
    Learners will receive a copy of the longest line of the song with blank spaces left for the body part vocabulary.

    Students will fill in the blank spaces with the correct words in the correct order, spelled correctly. /td>
    Learners will write a paragraph in French about Jean Petit or a similar character, who is scratching the various body parts of his dog.

    Be sure to make it clear that spelling and punctuation will be assessed, since this is a writing lesson.

    Looking for more strategies? Course 5576: World Language Differentiation for Heritage and Native Speakers will expand your toolkit to include the Language Experience Approach (LEA), oracy, and a wealth of differentiation possibilities; many of which can also be used with students identified as gifted and talented! Explore ways to meet the needs of both students who are heritage or native learners, along with general language learners, in the same World Language classroom with this practical course.




    About the Author

    Betsy Butler (she/her) is a Professional Learning Specialist at Teaching Channel. She holds a B.A. in English, a Master’s in Education, and has been teaching since 1992. Betsy uses her three decades of teaching experience to write and revise our courses while selecting the perfect accompanying texts. Her specialty areas include ELA, special education topics, behavior management, and mental health.

    Fun Fact: Betsy’s daily conquest is solving the New York Times crossword puzzle!

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