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Tips for Planning a Successful WLD Session

The information on this page is intended to help you plan for your World Languages Day Session. The following suggestions are based on student and teacher evaluations of previous World Languages Day sessions, and on the experiences of faculty and staff who have led successful sessions.

Planning Your Session
Logistics and Practical Hints for a Smooth Presentation

Planning Your Session

Questions to get you started :

  • What are your goals for the session? What do you want the students to learn? To remember?

  • Why should a high school student study your target language?

  • What are potential practical applications of studying the target language?

  • What is interesting, unique, or useful about learning your language?

  • How can you fully engage the students in your session?

  • Are there ways that you can link your topic to topics that are already familiar to students?

  • What are some aspects of the target culture(s) that you can highlight?

Some ideas for the format of your session:

  • Know your audience: American high school students ages 15-18. The students may not have any experience with the language, culture or country you are sharing. Unless the class is designed for current  learners (certain French, German and Spanish classes only), please do not assume any prior knowledge.

  • American high school students appreciate variety. Please do not plan an entirely lecture format. Some discussion, pair work, or other kinds of interactivity will work well.

  • Consider involving your undergraduate students in your session. High school students respond very well to their slightly older peers.

  • Incorporate music, dance, food, or cultural artifacts into your presentation. (However, if you wish to include dance, please contact Wendy Johnson to make sure your assigned room will allow enough space.)

  • Teach a mini language lesson.

  • Have students make or do something.

  • Look over session descriptions from previous years to get ideas.

  • Based on student feedback from previous years, we know that energy and enthusiasm of presenters is contagious – if you are excited about what you are sharing, the students will be too!

  • Use visual aids (video clips, posters, clothing, realia, etc.)

  • Consider breaking up your session into smaller parts to help keep students’ attention and help with the flow of the session.

Planning your session

  • Consider teaching a few words or phrases of your target language even if language learning is not the focus of your session.

  • Welcome students to campus and encourage them to consider attending our university and studying your language. Be an ambassador for UW-Madison.

  • Introduce yourself and your connection with the target language/culture(s).

  • Tell students the goal(s) of the session so they know what to expect.

  • Consider including a “warm-up” activity.

  • Give students a chance to demonstrate what they have learned.

  • Allow time at the end for student questions.

Logistics and Hints for a Smooth Presentation

  • Visit the room you have been assigned in advance so you know what to expect and can plan accordingly.

  • Run through your presentation in advance to check timing and to make sure it will go smoothly.

  • Remember to have a back-up plan in case there are unforeseen technical difficulties with AV equipment.

On the Day of Your Session - Thursday, November 14, 2013

  • Arrive 15 minutes in advance to make sure everything is in order for your session.

  • Use the entire 40 minutes allotted for your session (have extra activities prepared just in case).

  • A volunteer will be assigned to your room to help things run smoothly.

  • Have fun!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss ideas, please email outreach@languageinstitute.wisc.edu or call Wendy Johnson: (608) 262-4077




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World Languages Day 2013 was funded in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this project do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The Wisconsin Humanities Council supports and creates programs that use history, culture, and discussion to strengthen community life for everyone in Wisconsin.




World Languages Day is a program of the UW-Madison Language Institute
Robert Howell, Director


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