Develop Connections

Reading Club

Modified from an online reading club for young adults through the NY Times, this activity is meant to engage students in reading about and discussing current events and interesting articles in the target language. It is meant to be a recurring activity (e.g., 4-5 times a semester), allowing each group of students the opportunity to choose an article over the course of a term. In groups, students are to select a recent article (instructors can either pre-select a range of appropriate articles or point students to news sources in the target language) that they would like the rest of the class to read. The group must also generate a discussion/opinion question that they would like the class to respond to. As homework prior to the day that this activity will be done, each student must read the article and write a response to the discussion question on a post-it. The post-its are placed on the walls around the room. Students are then given time to move around the room reading each other’s comments and responding by leaving a new post-it below the original response. Once students have had time to respond to 2-3, they can go back to their original comment and see the reaction of the others. This can then lead into either small group or whole-class discussion about the reading.

For a nice example of how this activity works online, visit the NY Times Reading Club for an article about whether or not character can or should be taught in school. Such readings will certainly generate interesting intercultural discussions from which students can learn a lot about themselves and others while engaging in academic language and skills.

An alternative to this activity could be for the instructor to select an article for the class to read. A useful resource for French articles is Les Clés de l'Actualité, a French news source intended for younger audiences.

Instruction Mix-Up

Type up the instructions for a culturally relevant task (e.g., recipe, craft project, dance). Cut up the instructions into strips and tape them up around the classroom. Put students into small groups. Without any writing, students must gather all the information from the strips of paper around the room, reconstruct the instructions, and if appropriate, complete the task. You may find it useful to provide a demonstration (or video) prior to having students do this activity so that they have a point of reference.

Sample Activity

Poetry Pairing (from The Learning Network at the NY Times)

This is a great resource from the NY Times that pairs a picture with a poem and a related news article and asks students for their reactions. This asks students to read a variety of texts and make connections not only between the texts, but also to themselves. For example, this pairing related to marriage and the role of women in society is sure to inspire lively discussions and encourage students to reflect on personal or social beliefs. They also offer teaching ideas for how to use these groups of texts in class.


Everyone loves silly-libs where two people work together and one person requests nouns, adjectives, adverbs, proper nouns from the other to plug into an incomplete passage. Once complete, the silly passage is read and laughs ensue.

A variation includes asking student to first identify the parts of speech needed for each blank. In this variation, two different silly-libs are created A and B. Both groups first figure out their respective parts of speech, then ask their partner to supply the words to complete the silly-lib.

Sample Activity Spanish

Connecting the Dots

To help students make active guesses while reading, the teacher prepares a worksheet with two columns using a complete text. Column one has sentences from the text and column two has a choice of sentences that are likely to follow. Students must guess which sentences most logically follow the next by making active predictions and guesses. After connecting the dots (sentence to sentence), students will form the entire text.

Activity from: Grellet, F. (2010). Developing reading skills. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sample Activity


Students receive authentic tweets from Spanish speakers (e.g. singers, news from the target country, actors, poets, athletes). After reading the tweets, students create a hashtag for each tweet to summarize the main idea of that tweet. For example, a tweet such as "My daughter just left her first tooth for Ratón Pérez" would receive a hashtag like #micerule or #allgrownup

Sample Activity Spanish


Provide students with a sheet of traffic signs and their corresponding text. Working in pairs, ask students to decipher the meaning of the signs. Students may then compare and contrast international signage with U.S. signage, hypothesizing about areas of commonalities or differences. Additionally, students could attempt to draw what an equivalent U.S. sign looks like. This may be a good project for students who are around 16 years old and have taken or will take driver’s education coursework.

Extension: have students take photos of signs they see in other languages in their community.

Sample Activity Spanish

Sample Signs Spain

Scavenger Hunt!

Weather permitting, create a list of items for students to find in nature, for example “Find something green” or “Draw the tree in front of the library.” This activity may be used to highlight commands, nature vocabulary, prepositions, and more. For ELLs, this may be a unique way of getting to know local flora and fauna.

Sample Activity Spanish