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March 11, 2014

Teacher Tuesday: Using History Lesson Plans as a Foreign Language Teacher

The study of world languages can complement a variety of subjects.  Students in language classes have the unique opportunity to study literature in its original format, see the history of a country through the eyes of its citizens, or broaden their knowledge of maths and sciences while also learning another language.

Here at passports, we churn out a number of history-based lesson plans every week.  Lessons with a wealth of information that you, as a teacher of another subject area, may not be an expert on.  How, then, can you use these to your advantage?


Each academic summary is designed to familiarize the reader with the covered topic.  Are you a French teacher?  Read about Haussmann and the birth of modern Paris! Italian teacher?  How about an overview of Dante’s Divine Comedy?  You can search for History lessons related to specific countries here.


AP History lessons are designed to be discussion-based.  Students read a variety of primary and secondary sources, using them to fuel discussion and understanding of the material.  Search for versions of the given primary sources in the target language — they’re out there!  You can choose to provide the entire class with all of the documents, or split up the class into smaller groups and assign a different document to each group.  The latter gives students a chance to become an expert on their document, then teach the rest of the class about it in the target language.


Group readings require structure and assessment, especially in a World Language class.  One way to achieve this is through the use of literature circles.  Split the class up into groups of five or six, and assign each student a different role.  Use this as a chance to play to your students’ strengths — hands-on learners may like to be an Illustrator, while stronger personalities may fill the role of Discussion Director.  Create bookmarks or worksheets with the below information to remind students of the duties for each role:


Write down at least five questions for group discussion.
All questions should be open-ended, and require more than a simple yes or no response.  Focus on ones that come from your own reactions during the reading.  What questions will inspire your group to share their own opinions, feelings and reactions?
During the discussion, encourage other group members to participate!  Ask them follow-up questions, and give everyone a chance to give their opinion.
After the discussion, write a 3-5-sentence response to each of your questions, taking into account what your group discussed.


Find at least five connections between the reading and the world today.  Connections may relate to actual events, your life, a movie, or other readings.
Discuss these connections with your group.  Does your group know of any other connections to add to your list, or would they like to add on to some of your connections?
In complete sentences, write a one-paragraph explanation of each connection.


Jot down the main ideas of the reading on a piece of scrap paper.  Make sure to only highlight the most important points — don’t delve into details!
In complete sentences, compose a one-page summary of the reading using these highlights.
Give your summary a title that conveys the main idea of the reading.


Find or create an image that relates to the reading.  The image may be a drawing, a single picture or a collage of pictures, etc.
In complete sentences, write a paragraph about how the image relates to the reading.  Also, write one or two discussion questions relating to the image and the reading.
Without reading your paragraph or discussion questions, show the image to your group.  How do they think it relates to the reading?  After everyone has shared their opinion, share your explanation and discussion questions.


Find at least five quotations or passages from the reading that you find interesting or significant.  Quotations or passages may be surprising, controversial, highly descriptive, crucial to the understanding of the reading, or something you feel may be misinterpreted and should be clarified with the group.
Cite each quotation with the correct format.
In complete sentences, write a paragraph for each quotation or passage, explaining what the quote means and why it is interesting or significant.
Point out each quotation or passage to the group.  What is their reaction to it?  What do they think it means?  Is it interesting or significant?  Why or why not?


During the reading, write down any unknown words or phrases.  Look up the translation or definition for your group, so you all can better understand the reading.
On a separate sheet of paper, write down each word and where in the reading it was found.  Copy down the sentence the word was found in, and the translation or definition from your dictionary.  Then, formulate your own sentence using each word correctly.

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passports Educational Group Travel partners with teachers across the United States to provide high-quality educational travel experiences to their students. Educational tours visit destinations around the world - primarily France, Italy, England, Spain and Costa Rica - at low, guaranteed prices.

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