Encouraging Speaking without requiring it.

What I learned from Byrce Hedstrom at iFLT 2019…

I had the EXTREME pleasure to attend iFLT 2019 in Tampa, FL. It was a starstudded event and it will take me a while to process (and blog) all that I took in. So here is the beginning of a series of takeaways.

Encouraging speaking in the TL without requiring it.

We talk INPUT (listening & reading) all the time. It is our mantra that COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT is the way that our students acquire language. So our classtime focus is (and should be) INPUT, INPUT,  and more INPUT.

Sometimes the word OUTPUT (speaking & writing) can be treated as a bad word. I suspect that comes from the years and decades of language classes focusing on “FORCED OUTPUT” which is requiring writing & speaking before students have received LOADS of input. And then requiring that OUTPUT to be grammatically perfect which all research says is ridiculous and not appropriate for any language learner.

But… does that mean our students shouldn’t speak? … uh no. That is also ridiculous. Can you stop a 2-year-old from speaking once they start? (Really? Can you? Someone let me know if you can?) It is a CUP RUNNETH OVER situation when it comes to speaking. It happens. Sometimes it is slowly. Sometimes it takes longer than you planned. But it will happen.

Does that mean there is nothing we can do to encourage SPEAKING?

Encouraging is different than requiring. Encouraging means giving your students the tools to express their thoughts even in small chunks in a low anxiety environment.

Bryce Hedstrom held a session on encouraging speaking through CALL & RESPONSE, REJOINERS, and PASSWORDS. Here are some of my notes.



The teacher says something that the students then respond back. 

Example: Teacher – “¿Qué pasa calabaza?” Students – “Nada, nada limonada.”

Use call response to begin class, get attention & to end class

Use call and response as transitions but ALSO use a SPECIFIC call & response to signal students to move and/or prepare to a specific activity. 

Call & response can be cultural sayings, traditional songs, cultural proverbs or simple sentences.




Wanna see the AMAZING Alina Filipescu teaching and also see how she uses call & response (including responding to sneezes)???? CHECK IT OUT.

*** When a student sneezes then an assigned student calls out “SALUD” (Bless you.) and the class repeats but then the student continues to add the same from all different languages like German & Korean.

FRENCH Call and Response –




Short expressions to give students a way to communicate in the target language. It is a way for them to show they understand and contribute.

Post phrases that YOU will use in class. And not ALL of the phrases at the same time!!

You can tell students “Can’t blurt out in English! But here are some things you can say in SPANISH without having to raise your hand!”

Here are ideas from Byrce on what rejoinders to include. Think about how your students could express the following…



Bryce Hedstrom’s signs (I have these & love them!)

PDF of rejoinders in French from Successful French Classroom



a useful phrase that students say to you as they enter your classroom

“Passwords have revolutionized my teaching.” – Bryce Hedstrom

“Creates community, connections & communications” — Bryce Hedstrom

Give them the password on Friday before & the password is good for a week (practice on Friday)


muy amable His first password of the year because of the expression promoting kindness


Todavía eres chévere (You’re still cool.) Teacher – Y tú también (And you too.) – Uses at the end of the year when kids need to hear  it because they are tired, sensitive & discouraged

** The password could be in a funny voice and/or emotion.

It is not a stern “check them off” at the door. You are looking at them in the eye, smiling, showing them you are glad they are there.

Elementary Teacher – I use A-E-I-O-U and the students respond “El burro sabe más que tú.” (for the first 4 months because not seeing them every day.”

“It is more about the connection than even the language.” – Bryce Hedstrom



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