LaTeS 2023 Archive

Sara Lee, Small Changes – Big Impact, Classrooms Strategies for More Inclusion, and Melanie Mello, Performance-Based Activities for the World Language Classroom.

Fall 2023 LaTeS, October 28:

Small Changes – Big Impact, Classrooms Strategies for More Inclusion

Presented by Sara Lee (Arizona State University), AZ Teacher of the Year 2023; SWCOLT Teacher of the Year 2024

See what attendees had to say about this LaTeS event here!


Dyslexia, ADHD, autism – shall we even bother to learn a second language?


Learners with disabilities often worry that their struggles will be multiplied in the world language classroom. However, the opposite can be true. Learning a second language means focusing on communication and culture instead of spelling tests and reading speed.

How can we as teachers help these learners reach their potential and minimize the impact that their disabilities have on language learning?

This workshop will focus on strategies that teachers can use to support students with different disabilities in the classroom. We will also examine how assessments can be adjusted and what ‘fair’ grading looks like.

Teachers are invited to share their experiences with learners with disabilities, and we will discuss how to create a more inclusive classroom and achieve this with just minor changes to our daily routine

Bio: Sara Lee is an Associate Teaching Professor at Arizona State University for German in the School of International Letters and Cultures. She is a dyslexia consultant for the AATG and a Coach and GEM (German Educational Multiplier) for the Goethe Institut. As a certified K-12 teacher, she has taught elementary to high school students and developed a program for dyslexic middle school children to learn German. Her research and teaching focus is learning languages with disabilities and bilingual teaching and learning. In addition, she is the director of the CEFR language tests through the Goethe Institut in Arizona. Her current research project is the development of an error analysis to determine dyslexic tendencies in language learning based on the neurological and linguistic fundamentals of language learning.

Spring 2023 LaTeS, April 6:

Performance-Based Activities for the World Language Classroom

Presented by Melanie Mello (award-winning teacher and teacher-trainer, specializing in language acquisition and theater-pedagogy)

See handouts and slides here!

Description: Recent studies found that participation in performative play can lead to significant improvement in cognitive functions, such as visual and auditory memory. This is because when we act we enter a state of full concentration and simultaneous relaxation allowing the brain to enter a processing mode in which previously stored information can be linked to new information improving retention (Ganz et al, 2020). Additionally, Drinko’s research on improv and neuroscience (2013) shows that performative practices help improvisers communicate more engagingly and interactively; accelerating language learner’s progress in proficiency in the interpersonal mode of communication.

In this workshop, participants were introduced to several performance-based activities and concepts connecting improv, neuroscience, film, and language acquisition in theory and practice. After a couple of warm-up activities through which participants learned how to control their voice and use their body to convey status and express feelings, they tried out several proven improv activities to explore firsthand how students’ communication and collaboration skills can be further developed through improv.

During the second half of the workshop, participants were introduced to two drama-based pedagogical concepts developed by Ingo Scheller – Rollenbiographie and szenische Intpretation – that can be used in a variety of classroom activities. These ideas were connected to a lesson focused on the study of a film. Both methods focus on the actor’s dramatic interpretation of the behavior patterns, feelings, and experiences of the character they represent based on their own personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. In small groups participants came up with their own dramatic interpretations of a “challenging” situation as presented in the movie Sachertorte (2022), a Vienna-based rom-com.


Bio: Melanie Mello (M.A in Education) is an award-winning teacher and teacher-trainer, specializing in language acquisition and theater-pedagogy. In 2023, she was named Distinguished Alumna in Humanities and Fine Arts by her alma mater, California State University, Chico. She has taught German at the Saturday school, middle school, high school, and collegiate level since 2008 teaching classes ranging from beginner German to the graduate level. Melanie is currently co-authoring the intermediate level book in the Interkulturell series with Wayside Publishing. She is a German Educational Multiplier and Coach with the Goethe-Institut’s Teacher Training Program where teachers receive mentorship tailored to their needs.