Learn to leverage a language instruction circle in 20 minutes

By the end of this instructional video you will be able to:

  • Plan for a circle in your classroom using materials and ideas for activities ready-made for you
  • Build community in circle with your students
  • Engage in supported communication with you students

I first learned about the idea of the circle as community-building through Developmental Designs, a curriculum developed through a non-profit called The Origins Program. The method endorsed daily circles in homeroom or advisory. Using the circle as an approach to build community acknowledged that students can only learn when they feel safe in their relationships with teachers and other students. Developmental Designs tells us that relationship building doesn’t happen unless structures are put in place for it by teachers. Currently, many educators are using Restorative Justice circles. I found that when my students are familiar with sharing in a circle, there is a level of comfort that helps make it work in language class.

Using circle to promote language proficiency has a similar yet different intent. In the World Language community we hear from Stephen Krashen, a linguist, that language is best learned in low-anxiety environments. The community building brought about by circle facilitates trust and feelings of safety. Later, through the work of Darcy Rogers and the rest of the team at Organic World Language (OWL), I saw World Language best practices added to the circle, for example using the target language for instruction. Since OWL started giving workshops in 2009, I have seen other language teachers take the circle and make it their own. There is a lot of support out there for you to build your own practice of a language learning circle. My goal is to get you started and then hooked and next leveraging your own circle!

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