The Digital Polyglot

A publication of the Inland Empire World Language Association since 1985

August, 2012


Calendar of Events
Back to School Ideas
First Day Activities
IEFLA Welcomes Bethany Thompson, Polyglot Editor
IEFLA Board Openings
Tech Corner
Free Spanish Activities for your Students
Songs for Days and Months
Favorite Book
Job Openings


CLTA Calendar of Language Events

LA STARS Early Start program, Occidental College
Registration deadline September 1. Meets on five Saturdays: September 15, October 6, October 20, and November 10, 2012. Professional Development Seminars (5 Different strands to choose from: Peace Makers and Trend Setters, Enhancing Instruction Through Technology, Using Film for Spanish Speakers, ELD Standards, AP Language and Culture Exam). Download information and registration form Registration deadline extended to September 1.

MCLASC Mini-conference
October 13, 2011, Heritage Christian School in North Hills, near Cal State Northridge, from 8:00 am to 12:45 PM.

I E STARS Professional Development Seminars
Nov. 3, Day 1 of a five-day series. Other days: Dec. 1, Dec. 6, Jan. 12, Feb. 2 at Cal State, San Bernardino. Three strands to choose from. Additional information and registration materials will be available on September 1.

CLTA Conference
February 27-March 3, 2013, CLTA Conference Hyatt Orange County Garden Grove, CA

ACTFL Convention
November 16-18 2012 ACTFL Convention, Philadelphia, PA. http;//

Back to School

As you head back to school here are some ideas to keep you innovative and creative:

Harry Wong:  Who couldn’t use a refresher of Harry Wong’s The First Days of School?   Check your first day lesson plans and procedures against the First Ten Days of School

Speaking of Procedures….
Some ideas for bathroom breaks:

  • Give out a paper with a certain number of bathroom passes per quarter.  Once they’re gone no more bathroom.
  • One pass per class:  If it’s out, no one else may go.
  • Require students to surrender their cell phones before they leave to cut down on erroneous bathroom trips.
  • Have students pay you in “participation points.” The more they participate. the more trips they can take to bathroom.


First Day Activities: 

Try these ideas on the first day.

Learning Names:  Have students make up their own name cards (i.e. a manila folders cut in half vertically, then cut into about six inches, to make a two-sided fold like this /\  so, you can get two name cards from one manila folder.)  Have them put their "Spanish" names on them in LARGE print and place them on their desk so the names are facing you in front of the room. Circulate around the room, pick up a student's name card and call on others to spell the name you are holding.  Another activity that I've used every year is a chaining activity:  Estudiante 1 says: Me llamo Elena. Estudiante 2 says:  (Ella) se llama Elena. (Yo) me llamo Paco. Estudiante 3 says:       (Él) se llama Paco.  (Ella) se llama Elena.  (Yo) me llamo Cristina.  You can go through the whole class or you can just do a row at a time.   (Pam Middlebrooks via FL Teach)

People Bingo: Make squares filled with descriptions like has blue eyes, has a big family, lives in a city (Jen Bonn via FLTeach)

The Name Game: I teach them how to say, "My name is... What is your name?", and then have each one ask the neighbor and then let each one say the names of all the people who came before. (Jen Bonn via FLTeach)

ID Card:  Have level 3 or 2 students fill out a "carte d'identité" the first day of class.  Again the emphasis is on vocabulary review and not on grammar - so most answers are lists of words or phrases.  After filling out their own ID card information they hand the card to a classmate who then introduces them to the class.  Surprisingly enough they do a great job of putting their thoughts into complete sentences naturally.  I do not have them write any of the introduction down, they just ad lib while looking at the paper.  Some of the questions are: name, age, height, weight, date of birth, place of birth, best qualities, faults, favorite activities, least favorite activities, physical characteristics, nationality etc. (Jody A Krupski Via FLTeach)

Oven Mitt:  Students stand in a circle and you (or a volunteer) go in the middle holding an oven mitt. Students put one hand behind their back and one extended towards the middle of the circle. Each student say their name, going around a couple of times. Then, the person in the middle calls on a name. The student whose name is said has to say someone's else name before you slap his/her hand with the oven mitt. So the goal is, when your name is called to call someone's else name before your hand gets slapped. You play for a few minutes until they know each others names. If your group is too large, split them into two circles.  Be careful: the oven mitt can not be thrown at people's face, and students need to vary the name they say. Otherwise you have some students that always call on the same person and don't learn the other names! (Veronique Walters via FLTeach)

M&M Game
Hand out a small packet of M&Ms (or Skittles) to each student.  In groups students take turns taking out a piece of candy to eat.  BUT before they can eat it, they must say something according to the candy color.  For example:

Red candy: favorite hobbies
Green candy: favorite foods
Yellow candy: favorite movies
Orange candy: favorite places to travel
Brown candy: most memorable or embarrassing moments
Blue candy: wild cards (they can share anyone they choose)

Take it up a notch and have one color for asking a question or different colors for different tenses.  This activity is adaptable for all levels!  And best of all you get to eat candy!

IEFLA Board Welcomes Bethany Thompson

IEFLA's new Polyglot Editor is Bethany Thompson of Apple Valley High School. Bethany, a veteran French teacher, is no stranger to IEFLA. She has served on the IEFLA Board and CLTA Board, and participated in a teacher exchange program teaching for a year in Strasbourg, France.

IEFLA and all the teachers in the Inland Empire are very grateful to Bethany for taking the position as editor of the Polyglot. Bethany is replacing Katherine Thornburgh who moved to Northern California due to her husband's job transfer. IEFLA says, "Welcome, Bethany! Thank you!" and "Best wishes to Katherine in her new location."

Would you be willing to be a contributor to the Polyglot? If so, contact Lewie Johnson at

IEFLA Board Openings

IEFLA Board currently has several openings for members-at-large, contributors to the Polyglot, and treasurer/membership chair. IEFLA's board meets only once a month at Cal State San Bernardino. If you would be willing to take part in the board meeting and support world language instruction in the Inland Empire, please contact Lewie Johnson at


Tech Corner 

Each month we will explore a different aspect of technology that can help you in your classroom. 

This month:  Dropbox

Tired of having all of your files on different computers?  Can’t find what you want and what you need?  Would you like to have all of your files with you all of the time.  Dropbox is a cloud based syncing service and is free for the first 2GB.  Go to and watch the video to see how Dropbox can sync all of your files. 

How to use Dropbox:

  1. Check with your school site’s tech administrator to see if you can install Dropbox on your school computer.  (If you can, proceed to step two.  If you can’t, throw yourself on the floor, and scream and yell in the language you teach until the tech administrator changes the answer to yes.)
  2. Create a free account at
  3. Download and install Dropbox on all the computers you use.
  4. Move your files into your new synced file folders!


Internet Translators
Sick of reading translated sentences this like:  je suis écriture?  Use the Bad Translator (  with your students to show them what happens when the computer translates from one language to another.

YouTube Clip of the Month
Lucy is arrested in Paris and no one speaks English!  Ricky comes to her rescue.  (With subtitles)  (

Web Lesson of the Month
Do you have a great Web Lesson you want to share?  Send your lesson idea to Bethany Thompson at

Languages in the News
Utah’s Secret Economic Weapon- (Hint- it’s language!)  Check out this article at NPR about why Utah’s job market is booming.

A Little Pedagogy
The Right and Wrong way to learn a language.  From Stephen Krashen 


Free Spanish Activities for your Students

Prepare your students with our famous karaoke.  Now with new Ennio's songs Lyrics and activities included as PDF files. Suitable for Spanish I, II, III and IV. Use it in your classroom and see the reaction.   Organize contests to motivate your students.  It is the most exciting way to learn Spanish. Use it in your classroom, with a projector, or at home.

How to use the Spanish Karaoke: Select a song from the drop down menu.  Use the controls on the left to play/pause the song.  Click on the progress bar to jump to another part of the song.  Download Lyrics sheets and Worksheets.

Check out CLTA on Facebook and on Twitter @cltatweets


Days of the Week Song

To the tune of "My Darling Clementine"

Hay siete dias,
Hay siete dias,
Hay siete dias en todo.

Domingo, lunes,
martes, miércoles,
jueves, viernes
y sábado.

The Months

To the tune of Yankee Doodle:

enero, febrero,marzo, abril
mayo, junio, ju-lio,
agosto(quickly), septiembre, octubre,
noviembre, dici-embre.

Spanish Teachers - My new Favorite Book

There is a fairly new book out (2006 copyright) that you should know about (and I recommend buying).

It is called "A Frequency Dictionary of Spanish" by Mark Davies.

I just got it and can't put it down (sort of). It gives the top 5000 most often used words in Spanish, listed in descending order of importance. It tells the methods they used, but essentially, care was taken to include oral
discourse (about 1/3 of all text used), fiction and non-fiction from Latin America and Spain from (mostly) the last ten years. It also has "break-out" boxes that organize very helpful lists of words by theme. In addition, the
same words are listed alphabetically, and alphabetically by part of speech later in the book.

Having studied some frequency usage in my graduate studies, I am going to insist on a review of our curriculum during the summer to be sure that we are including the most important words and that we are reviewing them often. In English, the top 1000 words make up about 95% of all discourse. If you break that down (assuming the numbers are similar in Spanish), we would need to teach 6.9 new words per week if we made it our goal to reach a 1000 word vocabulary in students by the end of 4 years. Or, to be aggressive, we could teach (contextually, of course) and reinforce 14 new words per week and get it done in two years!

I took a class from Mark when he still taught at Illinois State University. It was great. He is great. I have known about the book coming out for a couple of years, and it has met and exceeded my expectations!

At the very least, the book is a great addition to your dictionary library, as a double-check to see that the textbook you use is actually using the most useful words in a given section.

Some snippets...

-the most often-used words are el/la
-trece, a word I teach in first semester, is the 2115th most often used word, whereas aunque (a word my Spanish 3 students struggle to remember) is number 117. [this also illustrates the danger of ONLY using frequency...trece belongs in an important context]

The link above should get you there on Buy the softcover; it cost me $30, whereas the hardcover is $100.

ISBN: 0-415-33429-2
Routledge Press


(Jeremy VanNieuwenhuyzen - FL Teach)

Position Openings

Looking for a credentialed teacher of a lesser-taught language

To whom it may concern,

I am the department chair of World Languages at a public high school in Southern California. We are currently looking to start a new language program and I was wondering if you might be able to help us reach out to credentialed teachers of lesser-taught languages such as Russian, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, etcetera.  We are looking for a passionate educator who can build a program by building solid relationships with adolescents.

The deadline to submit applications is, unfortunately, this Friday (August 17, 2012).

If your program works with students who have earned teaching credentials and you have a way to contact them then please pass on the following link with further information about the position:

Thank you,
Mike Peto, Temescal Canyon HS
Lake Elsinore, CA

Beaumont High School is looking for a French/Spanish teacher.  Contact Jesse Amaya 909-363-6353

SPANISH TEACHER - 60% One Year Temporary, Escondido Union High School District, 8/16/2012 4:30 PM Pacific. For information and application go to

The Polyglot is a publication of the Inland Empire Foreign Language Association. For questions or comments, contact Bethany Thompson, editor, Would you like to help with the Polyglot? Contact Bethany Thompson, editor, a