Kelly Neckels Teaching Philosophy One of my primary goals as a foreign language teacher is to help students see the value of language learning beyond the classroom. In order for successful language learning to occur, it is important to attend not only to student thinking, but also to affective and motivational factors. I hope to create a positive classroom environment in which students feel safe to participate in classroom discussions, take risks, test hypothesis, and even make mistakes. To increase the motivation of my students, I will use authentic texts as well as a variety of activities and instructional strategies. I will take a communicative approach to teaching Spanish, emphasizing student engagement with the language as well as with other learners. Such collaborative learning gives students an opportunity to learn from each other, as well as increases the amount of language practice that can be accomplished in a single class period. Students should see themselves as a community of learners, striving for communicative competence and the ability to use the language in meaningful ways. Communicative competence, however, has multiple components that require different types of activities and instruction. I will seek to balance time spent practicing new structures and grammatical features and time practicing procedural fluency, only providing error corrective feedback during speech in the former. While feedback is essential for student learning, it should not interrupt communication. Afterwards, however, I will provide students with specific and meaningful feedback that will help them move towards proficiency. While speaking is an integral component of communication, I believe that language proficiency involves the integration of all four modalities: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Regardless of the modality, I will bring authentic texts into the classroom to increase student interest and allow them a window into the target culture. Students at any level are capable of interacting with and making sense of these texts with proper preparation and scaffolding. After all, it is the task that determines the difficulty, not the text. I will carefully choose each activity so that they all work together towards a common goal or purpose. This is essential for students to see the value in what they are doing, to see how they could use the language outside of the classroom. In my classroom, vocabulary will play an integral role in student learning, for without words, communication is impossible. Learning words in a second language lacks the level of complexity of learning words in a first language, because the learner does not have to learn the concept behind the word. Rather, words in the target language are not all that different from synonyms of existing words in the learner's memory. In addition, research shows that vocabulary is more resistant to loss than grammar for second language learners. When teaching vocabulary, I will provide lots of visuals and utilize multimedia whenever possible. Pictures are easier to remember than words, so this will aid in learning and retention. While grammar is also an important for communication, it should be taught within a context, for grammar is not an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. For this reason, I will focus on form in my classroom, emphasizing meaning over structure. I will embed grammatical lessons within a context so that it will be easier for students to make sense of and remember. I will utilize both deductive and inductive methods of teaching, depending on the specific grammatical structure. Using the language and testing hypotheses is a great way for students to learn grammar, though this is different from a traditional approach. Kelly Neckels Nevertheless, it is far more important for students to use the language than to just talk about it, so I will give students lots of opportunities to practice using various structures. Allowing students to make discoveries and come to their own conclusions about the language and the grammar gives students a more active role in the learning process. I will continually assess my students and use the information to adapt and modify my lesson plans. This is essential to provide my students with the most effective learning opportunities. Through formative assessment, I can gauge levels of student participation, knowledge, and proficiency and provide feedback that will help them hone their skills. When giving summative assessments, I will use a variety of test items. It is essential that my tests actually assess what was taught and reflect the learning goals of the class. In order to insure alignment of learning activities and assessments, I will employ the strategy of backward design. First, I will establish learning goals and objectives. Then I will determine the best means to assess whether or not students have reached these goals. Lastly, I will come up with appropriate tasks and activities to prepare students for these assessments. Assessment allows me to gauge where students are at, which helps me determine what they most need and what I should do next. My practice and beliefs as a teacher will always be evolving and changing, as I continue to learn more about the language, how students learn, and what it means to be an effective teacher. I will strive to connect my practice with research, and continually reflect upon and analyze my teaching in order to support student learning to the best of my abilities. As a Spanish teacher, I hope to impart a passion and appreciation for language to my students through rich, meaningful tasks and by showing them that they are all capable of learning another language.