I first learned about Baile Viernes (Dance Friday) from
Allison Wienhold’s original post, and I’ve never turned back. I’m so thankful that she shared her ideas and resources for language learners to build community, get some oxygen in there brains, rest their flat booties, have a cultural experience, and have some fun!

However, most teachers I collaborate with regarding dance days seem to have participation issues. They want all to dance, they only hear complaints, and they want it to work SO BAD!

I have some strategies to share that work for me, and I hope they will improve the comfort level of the students in your classes. These simple tricks will get more (not all) students on the dance floor. I promise. 🙂

VIDEOS

  • Start with Just Dance videos. Many students have done these exact dances at home, so it’s not such a stress to do them together. Do a simple YouTube search for “Spanish/French/etc. Just Dance”. If you don’t want to search for hours, here is Allison’s list, and here is my list.
  • After students are more comfortable, I sprinkle some target langue Zumba videos.
  • Finally, I start integrating videos with more authentic moves. Just type the words “dance” or “choreography” in your target language with a song title, and the videos will appear.
  • Try to select videos that are super easy. Can you get 50% of the moves in your living room at home? If not, save them for second semester.
  • I make sure all of my videos have male dancers for the first couple of months. I’m not saying all boy students think dancing is for girls, but it could help male students to see dancers who look like them.
  • Strive for genre diversity so that the music is a reflection your diverse students.

PRIVACY

  • What happens in SLA class stays in SLA class!
  • Turn off the lights.
  • Close the blinds.
  • Close the curtains.
  • Close the doors.
  • No filming allowed. All of my videos with student dancers were initiated by enthusiastic students. Once in a while you get super lucky with a couple of hours who LOVE to dance!

POSITIONS

  • Life is easier now that we’re deskless, but I understand it can be hard to change.
  • I always dance in front on the side, and I go ALL OUT!
  • The students who LOVE to dance stay in the front row and aren’t allowed to turn around. Eyes forward! They are the models, but should not be able to critique the less-confident dancers behind them.
  • The hesitant dancers stay in the middle. They are motivated by the front row, but also aren’t allowed to turn around to see the back row of students who aren’t really participating.
  • The students who don’t want to participate at all just pretend! I will never ask them to dance, because my goal isn’t humiliation. They stand in the back and slightly face the right direction once in a while. They have permission to be annoyed, but aren’t allowed to complain and ruin the mood. In a few weeks you might be shocked to discover that some are moving their arms and laughing! Either way, they aren’t sitting, and they are aren’t completing a worksheet. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! Happy getting down!

Sarah Breckley

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