Today's Objectives

  • Students will "map" their own interests, passions, and concerns.
  • Students will analyze the content, professional purpose, target audience, and pedagogical applicability of a variety of different academic journals.
  • Students will "map" the field of world language education.
  • Students will identify potential research topics.

Today's Guiding Questions


1) How do professional resources and academic journals give us insight into the nature and challenges of teaching and learning world languages?
2) What is a concept map?
3) Why do some researchers believe that concept maps are a good strategy for developing better research?
4) How can we leverage the information about world language education that is embedded in professional materials to begin to map the field, identify our interests, and position ourselves within the field?
5) How can you use a concept map to brainstorm research topics?

Today's Can Dos


1) I can clearly and concisely explain my professional expertise, the contextual factors of my current professional situation, and my professional goals.

2) I can identify areas of personal and professional interest to me.

3) I can describe key hot topics and general areas of research interest in the field of world language education.


4) I can identify the target audience, purpose, and pedagogical applicability of articles in academic journals.

5) I can brainstorm potential research topics based on my understanding of the nature and content of the field of world language education.

Today's Tools

Concept Mapping Tools
  • Bubbl.us - (Heavily used in the edtech community w/ K-12 students - easy to use - limited formatting - esp. good for elementary, special flash effects are fun at first)
  • Exploratree (Templates)
  • Freemind (Free from Sourceforge, but requires download)
  • Gliffy - (Heavily used in the edtech community w/ K-12 students - very robust (but ugly) interface. Allows you to upload your own images, includes many libraries of images, shapes, etc.; also allows you to do floor plans)
  • Mindomo (Real-time, collaborative mind-mapping with chat; Beautiful interface, not quite as intuitive as some of the others, but can handle attachments of multimedia, documents, etc., and produces a more professional product)
  • Mindmeister - [Collaborative, online, real-time mind-mapping with wiki-like features (i.e., history, etc.)]
  • Webspiration - (Looks similar to Inspiration & Kidspiration - free trial, then you have to pay)

Today's Activities


ACTIVITY 1: Identify relevant factors of your current context.
  • Professional background/Current context
  • Why are you pursuing a M.A.? (3 sentences or less)
  • In which M.A. program are you enrolled?
  • What are your professional goals/plans after you graduate?
  • What is your name?

ACTIVITY 2: Map the field.
  • From the perspective of students - What would students say they learn in class?
  • From the perspective of teachers - What topics do you think would be important to include in a methods course for new teachers about teaching and learning foreign languages?
  • From the perspective of professional trade books - What is the purpose of each of the books you examined? What does this suggest about what teachers think they need v. what methods texts and universities think they need?
  • From the perspective of researchers - Read several of the titles from your journal aloud. Would you care about reading this as a teacher? How could it help you with your teaching? Why did it get published? How does the style change depending on the journal and the target audience of the journal?
    • Modern Language Journal
    • Foreign Language Annals (FLAnnals)
    • Calico Journal
    • Professional Handbooks of Research on Technology, Assessment, etc.
    • The Language Educator


ACTIVITY 3: Brainstorm topics with which you can personally connect.

a) Brainstorm a list of topics that you might like to explore. (If you aren't sure, explore the links on this page for some examples of what people are talking about in the news re: world language education.)
b) Use the questions below to guide you.
c) Divide a sheet of paper into two columns.
d) In Column 1, list as many topics of interest to you as you can. (If you use the first three questions below to guide you, your answers can include your personal hobbies and interests--even if they are not related to languages or education.)
  • What do you care about or love exploring (in general)?
  • What are you passionate about (in general)?
  • What do you find exciting (in general)?
  • What facets of world language education do you enjoy reading about or learning about?

e) In Column 2, list as many topics that worry you as you can.
  • What challenges are you experiencing in your classroom?
  • What upsets you about education or teaching/learning a foreign language?
  • What do you wish you could change about language teaching/learning?

ACTIVITY 4: Create a concept map of possible research topics.


  • How do I organize my concept map?