Dana Gaska


Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2015 taught by Zhang |

About me

At Yuanmingyuan, Beijing China 在圆明园

My name is Dana Gaska. I am currently employed by OHM BOCES where I have been a Mandarin Chinese teacher for six years. I learned how to speak Chinese while studying for my undergraduate degree at UAlbany. I teach Chinese via distance learning using synchronous video. This year I am teaching about 100 students from 7 different school districts. This type of teaching has taught me to be extremely flexible in my teaching plans as not only do the inevitable technological hiccups occur, I also deal with simultaneous classes with two bell schedules, different snow days, field trips, and all the other minor scheduling issues that suddenly become a problem when involving multiple schools. While it poses its challenges, I do find this type of teaching to be rewarding and fun.

My Topic/Purpose

My topic is target language instruction in the foreign language classroom. The purpose of this course is to give language educators the tools needed to have engaging language classes conducted in the target language.

Topics covered:
1. The benefits of high target language usage
2. Strategies for staying in the target language
3. Student Corrections in the target language (when and how much)

Learning outcomes

Participants will be able to:

1. Identify strategies for target language use in the classroom
2. Use comprehensible input to give explanations
3. Design a short lesson conducted in the target language

Needs Assessment

The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) has recommended that teachers of foreign language use the target language for at least 90% of instruction. According to research (LeLoup, J. W., Ponterio, R., & Warford, M. K., 2013) however, many educators struggle to reach this level of target language use in the classroom. There are a myriad of reasons for the gap in expectations and reality. Most teachers are aware of ACTFL’s recommendations and the research that points to the use of target language being important, but they are hindered by misconceptions and lack of specific training in the topic.

Gathering Information:

In order to determine what teachers already knew about teaching in the target language, I surveyed 5 teachers of foreign language. Questions looked to determine the teacher’s attitudes towards target language use in the classroom, their view on the importance of using the target language, strategies that they were employing in their classrooms, and obstacles towards using the target language 90% of the time.

Results of the Survey

From looking at the results of the survey, I concluded that all of the teachers were aware of the importance of using a high level of the target language in the foreign language classroom. All of the teachers fell short of their own personal goals, many of which were lower than the 90% recommended by ACTFL. Many of the teachers had misconceptions about using the target language, including that you need to use more English at the lower levels, or you should translate what you say into English after saying it in the target language. They all had some strategies that they employed indicating that they did think about the topic. However each teacher listed several obstacles as to why they could not complete their goals.

Survey File

Analysis of the Learner and Context

This course is for language educators seeking guidance in increasing target language use in their language classes. It is primarily created for teachers using a synchronous distance learning setup to teach, but it will also be useful for traditional language teachers in a brick and mortar education setting.

Context All instruction for this course will be conducted online. Learners will need a computer with access to the internet. For some activities a microphone will be useful for teachers to record their voice in order to listen to the playback.

Performance Objectives

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Identify several misconceptions to target language use in the classroom
  • Identify several strategies teachers can use to increase target language use
  • Troubleshoot issues related to target language use in the classroom
  • Design a short activity with emphasis on target language use

Task Analysis

Unit 1 Assumptions and misconceptions-laying the groundwork

1. The learner will take a quiz to identify their beliefs about target-language use. 2. The learner will understand common misconceptions about in class target-language use. 3. The learner will decide on a theme and skill for a lesson they will create.

Unit 2 Strategies for target language use-Building your walls

Curriculum Map

References and Resources

LeLoup, J. W., Ponterio, R., & Warford, M. K. (2013). Overcoming resistance to 90% target language use: Rationale, challenges, and suggestions. NECTFL Review, (72), 45-60.