Here it is. I’m openly against a “review unit” in the world language class (or any class actually).
(If you love them, keep reading. You might change your mind. If not, we can still be friends even if we disagree.)
I’ve tried starting the year with a review, and here’s what I’ve found. Review seems to divide the class into two groups: the few who remember everything and the rest who forgot it all. I also think it can be boring for the ones who actually remember last year’s content and it can be frustrating to those that didn’t get it as well then (and likely don’t feel confident about it now). Not a great way to win them over.
So why do teachers do it? I think they want to get an idea of what students learned from another teacher, and what really stuck with them. I think it helps them know where to start and what students need more help with. We should find these things out – but let’s do it with style! Proficiency is about communication and what you can do with the language, not isolated knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, or rules. Who cares what they know. I want to see what they can do. So let’s start the year with something both students and native speakers are actually talking about, something that helps them connect with the target culture, and something that gives you as the teacher, insight on how you can help them improve.
This is a unit idea that I would use for returning high school language students (at the intermediate profiency levels) to start with something new and recycle the old. Plus, I added some ideas for authentic resources you could use for each lesson (because it’s REALLY easy to find authres for units that are relavent).
Warning: This post may take you down a rabbithole reading about the upcoming season of your favorite show and/or get you hooked on a new one.
AP Connections: Science and Technology, Contemporary Life
Want to see if they can understand opinions and give their own?
I can understand opinions about popular shows and give my opinion about them.
I can identify positive/negative reviews about a show.
Want to see how well they can describe people?
I can give basic information about key characters in a popular show.
*ASL teachers: You’ll love the video below about Millie Simmonds who stars in 2018’s A Quiet Place. (Recommended by ASL teacher – Matt Hochkeppel)
Want to see if they can compare two different things?
I can compare series produced in different countries.
I can compare my favorite show with one from another culture.
I can compare characters.
I can compare different seasons of the same show.
Want to see if they know their numbers?
I can talk about salaries, production costs, and release dates from my favorite Netflix show.
*BTW…The pay for the Stranger Things cast is outrageous. It is very talk-about-able.
I can order key events in a Netflix series when I read.
I can retell what happened in an important episode.
Want to see if they can ask questions?
I can interview a native speaker about their Netflix/entertainment preferences.
I can find out about a new show in a conversation.
Want to see if they know commands?
I can explain to someone the steps on how to use Netflix for the first time.
Want to show them something relevant from the target culture?
I can investigate which Netflix shows are most popular in other countries.
I can compare a show from (target culture) to another show I know.
*Are you curious about which shows are most popular in other countries? You need to watch the video below.
I can predict what will happen in the next episode/season.
*Show a trailer from a show from the target culture. What’s going to happen? What’s your prediction?
Want to see if they know subjunctive?
I can recommend a show to someone based on their preferences.
Have native speakers visit, tell about their personality, favorite movie or show, and then let students pick a new show to recommend for them.
Want to measure their vocab (prior knowledge) + still learn something new?
This unit would probably cover a ton of traditional vocabulary (places, names, descriptions, events, ages, nationalities, clothing/style, jobs, etc) and but also push students to learn new words/phrases/jargon like:
Episode, season, documentaries, series, director, leading actor, writer, trending shows, release date, new arrivals, genres, recommendations based on your viewing history, binge-worthy, download, stream, award-winning, starring, based on, reboot, etc.
Moral of the story:
I know why language teachers do a review unit, but I think there’s a better way to start the year. Start fresh. Start stong. Keep moving forward.
What links, social media accounts, websites would you recommend for a Netflix unit?
What other themes or units have you used to upcycle at the start of a new year?
Share your ideas and inspiration below.
Confession: I had WAY too much fun playing with these ideas, researching, and looking at authres about these shows. If it’s this entertaining for the teacher, I have to believe students would love it, too. Remember, you know your school/students – choose shows/resources that are appropriate for your classes.