Coding and World Languages

This month we want to focus on ideas that can help teachers integrate coding and design with World Language classes. Below are a few sites that you can use, depending on the language and the coding levels of you and your students.

Gamifying Your World Language Classes

This is an article from Edutopia about how to keep students focused on the target language while using games and programs like Quizlet and Kahoot! These strategies can easily be applied to keeping students focused on the target language while learning to code.  The points they address include:

  • Making the play relevant (in this case, coding). If students see the coding as a time filler or a one-off, they won’t be as invested in using the target language. Choose your coding activities carefully.
  • Encourage peer support in the target language - students can partner code and help each other but in the target language.  This really encourage students to think in the target language while learning to code.
  • Establish routines and rules in the target language - help them with sentence/question stems and the verbs and nouns they will need to learn basic coding and to ask for help.

CodeClub

Code club is a wonderful site that contains coding projects and tutorials in Scratch, HTML and CSS, Python, Raspberry and Sonic Pi and micro:bit.  You can select French, German, Spanish, English or 24 other languages at the top of each project page and then gain have access to all of the projects in the target language.   The projects in each coding language range from easy to challenging and contain a curriculum and skills map so you can plot out your lesson to meet your curricular needs.

Unicef Coding Challenge (French)

The Unicef Coding Challenge is a contest to get students to learn about what it’s like to be a Syrian child living in a war zone. The project consists of students watching a few videos to learn about the lives of a pair of children, Malak and Moustafa, in order to create an Animation in Scratch using code to demonstrate their learning or to teach others about life for Syrian children. Even if the contest has expired, it’s a great example of using code, and integrating content in a World Language class. You can adapt this learning to any topic, such as the environment, or even making a travel animation about places, foods, cultures that student are learning about. The rules, Scratch sample animations and contest are in French but you can adapt these ideas to any target language. We suggest making a couple of sample animations yourself to guide students in the process, and using videos in the target language to introduce the content.

Scratch

MIT’s block-based programming language offers tutorials and tips, remixes of stories, games and animations and a supportive community. Just select a language at the bottom of the screen.

Algoblocs (French)

Algoblocs is a French block-based programming site that teaches different programming concepts with mini-modules that students can use in-class and out. Also contains an area for teachers where you can create student accounts and monitor student progress.

 

Why Teaching is the Best Profession (With a Nod to Social Media)

We’ve always had a pretty strict rule for ourselves when it comes to being friends with current students on social media - NO.

For former students, however, we don’t have a problem with social media connections. In fact, as international teachers we started on Facebook to maintain connections with students that we were leaving when we decided to move to Thailand.

Today we have former students who have gone through many of major life’s milestones - marriages, jobs, deaths, births, etc. So far, no divorces that we can think of.

Frequently social media reminds us why teaching really is the best profession.

More times than we can count we’ve been left speechless in the classroom when a student has made some incredible intellectual leap. A connection, an inspired idea, a brand new insight about something - they happen all the time when you create the time to explore and analyze ideas. And we’re not just talking about those kids for whom everything is easy; we’re talking about pretty much all of them. When there’s time to talk and time to examine (and time to listen) amazing things happen.

It’s a true privilege to be witness to/part of the development of someone in that way. Most of our students figure out how much that means to us when they learn to hear us masking the cracking of our voices or when we suddenly turn our backs and face the window for a moment to hide our silly sentimentality.

But social media has allowed us the incredible opportunity to see that development continue long past the time our students have left the classroom. When you go online and you read the posts of:

  • A former student arguing for a just society in the wake of a Trump presidency;
  • Another doing field research in the Amazon;
  • Someone confronting and dismantling racism;
  • An advocate for (all) gender equality;
  • Or a young parent doing everything possible to raise a child…

How can you not think teaching is the best profession there is?

[And though we sometimes have mixed feelings about social media, we wouldn’t be able to witness these things without it.]