Skip to main content

ONE ALTERNATE ROUTE TEACHER’S APPROACH TO INTER-DISCIPLINARY LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION

The Rutgers Alternate Route Program supports teaching candidates from a variety of backgrounds, including world language teachers. As part of our required courses, alternate route teachers complete a course of study focused on teaching literacy across the curriculum and integrating mathematical skills into discipline-specific classes. Our goal is to help teachers of diverse content areas consider their responsibility in the development of math literacy and language arts literacy skills in their content.

In an effort to better understand the unique experiences of world language teachers, we decided to interview one of our teaching candidates on her experience thus far. Megan Ehrenfeld is an alternate route candidate in her second year of the program. She has been a Spanish teacher for five years and is currently a Spanish Teacher at Madison High School in Madison, NJ.

DESCRIBE A SUCCESS YOU’VE EXPERIENCED INTEGRATING SPANISH INSTRUCTION WITH MATH AND LITERACY.

“I have taught multiple levels of Spanish and recently in the Spanish One, I did a unit on ‘school’. I didn’t just want to teach the students vocabulary for pen, pencil, and paper so I looked for a medium to enhance instruction. I found the documentary, “On The Way to School” that follows four children and the journeys they take to get to school. One of the children, Carlito, goes to school in Argentina and the children were exposed to school-related Spanish vocabulary. Within the school unit, the students reviewed elements of math as they described school schedules and telling time.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU SHARE WITH A TEACHER WHO WANTS TO TRY A MORE INTER-DISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO TEACHING THEIR WORLD LANGUAGE?

“First think about the unit that you are working with. Is there an interesting medium, like a video or story, that you could integrate into the lesson? The added medium should be at the center of the lesson. For example, I used a short story by a native Spanish author as the starting point for our unit on communicating in the past tense. I was able to use the story and directly connect it to the learning objectives of the unit. We also used the same short story to add to our study of Spanish expressions, review story elements which is related to literacy, and connect the story’s theme of immigration to current events. While students practiced certain grammatical elements, the vehicle for learning was the short story and our discussions always contained a cultural focus. The selection of the short-story built on students’ previous experience with a previous text we had used to practice the past-tense which was a simpler story.”

NOW A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOU, HOW DID YOU END UP PURSUING YOUR SPANISH TEACHING CERTIFICATION WITH THE RUTGERS ALTERNATE ROUTE PROGRAM? 

“I had a wonderful connection with my high school Spanish teacher. So much so, that she attended my wedding last year! I was a Spanish major in college and lived in Spain for one year. After graduation, I worked in a law firm and found that I was not happy. Through some encouragement of my Spanish teacher, I went back to school to get my Masters in Spanish and live again in Spain for a year. While getting my Master’s degree, I was recruited by a private school to be a Spanish teacher, and I worked there for five years. I realized last year I wanted to have access to a wider job market, and decided I to get my standard teaching license. I found the Rutgers CESP alternate route program.”

In addition to sharing her experience with us at the Rutgers CESP Alternate Route Program, Megan recently shared her best practices with interdisciplinary instruction at the Northeast Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (NECTFL) where she did a presentation entitled, “Secrets of Short Stories: Unlocking the power of short stories as an authentic resource – A case study”. She will present again on this topic in March at the Foreign Language Educators of New Jersey (FLENJ) annual conference.

Megan Ehrenfeld
For questions or to connect with Megan, contact her at ehrenfeldm@madisonnjps.org.

Check out the following related blog posts: 6 Peer-Recommended Web Resources for Foreign Language Teachers 


If you’re considering following your passion in a subject to become a teacher like Megan, Rutgers Alternate Route can offer you the support and training you need. Visit the Rutgers Alternate Route website to learn more about the program. To keep up with more encouraging stories like this, be sure to follow Rutgers Alternate Route on Twitter for more information and stories from the education field.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA Type text.

Sharlene Laud

Sharlene LaudSharlene Laud has extensive experience in education from K-12 to higher education. She currently serves as Sr. Program Coordinator at Rutgers University's Alternate Route Teacher Training Program at the Center for Effective School Practices. Follow her on Twitter@shadualz