HAeB – Teaching Materials

Included here is a selection of sample activities that are currently in use at Hunter College. They can be used as specific lesson plans or broader activity outlines that take into consideration the specific needs and goals of Heritage Language Learners. The content of these activities aligns with our Arabic program’s design and goals. Please feel free to use them as they are, or to adapt them to fit the design and goals of your own program.

Traditionally, language teaching has been organized around the acquisition of the four main skills of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. However, as of 2012, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) instead emphasizes teaching centered on the different modes that language learners use to achieve certain communicative goals. These modes of communication are interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. The modes differ based on whether it involves: (1) the active negotiation of meaning between two or more speakers (interpersonal), (2) the interpretation of a one-way (not actively negotiated) message produced by a third party (interpretive), or (3) the creation of a one-way message that is communicated to a third party (presentational). Each mode of communication requires different communication strategies on the part of the learner. An example of the interpersonal mode of communication is a face-to-face conversation between two speakers where clarifying questions can be asked; another is a text message conversation between two people. Examples of the interpretive mode of communication are a learner reading information on a website, watching a video, or listening to a song. Examples of the presentational mode of communication are: telling a story, writing a report, or giving a PowerPoint presentation. See page 7 of the 2012 ACTFL Performance Descriptors of Language Learners External link. for more detail about modes of communication.

In a general sense, both performance and proficiency describe what a speaker knows about and can do with another language. However, ACTFL distinguishes between the two terms, providing guidelines for three ranges of performance and proficiency: novice, intermediate and advanced. Proficiency refers to how well a speaker can communicate in spontaneous, non-rehearsed interaction with native speakers in real-world situations. Assessing a speaker’s proficiency is not dependent on how, where and when these abilities were acquired (i.e. whether these abilities were learned at home or in the classroom setting). Performance, on the other hand, refers to a learner’s ability to use language that is learned and practiced in the classroom. Even though performance is practiced in classroom settings, instruction should nevertheless concentrate on task that resemble communication found in the real world. In the classroom, teachers should challenge their students using controlled and supported activities that target the next level of performance to help those students to gradually attain these outcomes. This pdf document provides details descriptions of what speakers should be able to do with language in the various modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational) at the various ranges of performance (novice, intermediate, and advances). See pages 14-19 of ACTFL’s Performance Descriptors.

Teaching Materials to Download

Immigration and Emigration

​Modes of communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative and Presentational

Proficiency/Performance range: Intermediate to Advanced

Poetry and Music

​Modes of communication: Interpretive, Presentational

​Proficiency/Performance range: Intermediate to Advanced

Tell Me a Story

​Modes of communication: Interpretative, Presentational

​Proficiency/Performance Range: Novice to Intermediate

The Place I Live

Modes of communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative and Presentational

​Proficiency/Performance range: Novice-high to Intermediate-low

What does a student need to do in order to graduate on time?

​Modes of communication: Interpersonal and Interpretative

​Proficiency/Performance Range: Novice-high to Intermediate-high

What Matters for Arab Americans Today?

Modes of communication: Interpersonal, Interpretative, and Presentational

​Proficiency/Performance Range: Intermediate to Advanced*

*While this activity is intended for Intermediate to Advanced level learners, you can adapt it to the proficiency level of the students by modifying the function and text type. We highly recommend assessing the proficiency level of the students at the start of the course to ensure learning goals reflect feasible proficiency development expectations.

What’s in the news? (media Arabic)

​Modes of communication: Interpretative and Presentational

Proficiency/Performance Range: Intermediate to Advanced

You’ve Got Mail!

​Modes of communication: Interpretative, Presentational

Proficiency/Performance Range: Novice-high to Intermediate-high


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