toth classroom1

In Carrie Toth’s Classroom, proficiency is the focus!

In 2006 I began to dabble in teaching with comprehensible input through TPRS.  I had been to a one afternoon workshop and I knew just enough to be dangerous!  Even with all the blending of the textbook, mistakes, and missed opportunities, I knew my students were more interested in language than they’d ever been before!

Ten years have passed and I learn more and more every year!  From colleagues who share on Twitter and Facebook to those who share at conferences around the country, I love having the opportunity to grow because my growth leads to student growth!

With the Danielson evaluation on the horizon, I needed a way to collect data on my students.  We are a Dual Credit district and our admin does not want to pursue AP, so I decided to try the AAPPL from ACTFL!

In 2014, I administered the AAPPL for the first time.  My students had read 3 novels in level 1, 3 in level 2, 2 in level 3, and 1 in level 4.  Their results were good (I have heard it estimated that the national average after 4 years is around an intermediate low)!  

27% had an intermediate high in reading… but 27% also had an intermediate low and several even placed novice high!  


Listening was about the same (students report that the reading is the easiest part of the 4 section test).  Still a high percentage in that Intermediate low range!!!


In 2015, I added some novels.  We went to four novels in level 1, three in level 2, 3 in level 3, and two in level four.  Our results seemed to reflect the change with some improvement in the number of mid to high intermediate scores!  We jumped to 40% intermediate 5 and 40% intermediate 4!  

4 3

This year, 2016, I am not teaching level 1 and they are not reading novels, we read 4 in Spanish 2, four in Spanish 3, and 3 in Spanish 4.  The scores were unbelievable!  If you ever doubted the power of using comprehensible language and reading material (including FVR) in your classroom, these are the scores of my entire Spanish 4 class this year.  I have 35 of the 58 who began in Spanish 1 remaining in the fourth year!  This year I had 6 of 35 fall in the Advanced Low category in reading and 1 of 35 in listening!  67% were intermediate 5 (high) in reading… and 66% in listening!  

5 reading 6 listening

I love how easy it is to set up and administer the AAPPL.  I test all seniors in these two categories and those who want to try to get the IL state Seal of Biliteracy can choose to take the speaking and writing sections as well.  Our students need a minimum of an i5 on the test to earn the seal, I’m hoping for a big class of students who are #2bilit2quit (our IL Seal of Biliteracy slogan!)  Check out @BillyBiLitSeal on Twitter and follow our hashtag if you want to bring the seal to your state!

Carrie Toth is a Spanish teacher from Illinois with over 20 years of teaching experience. She was the 2014 Central States Teacher of the Year. Carrie has authored La Calaca Alegre, La hija del sastre, and Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos. She blogs at and can be found on Twitter @senoraCMT. Join Carrie this summer as she presents at the iFLT conference in Chattanooga, Tennessee!

  • Eve
    Posted at 15:01h, 17 March

    This is a fantastic blog post. I forwarded it to my colleagues in the hopes they will want to implement more novels as well. We are in our first year of reading class novels and I have so many questions! My two biggest questions – Do you teach all new vocabulary for each chapter? How do you do it? Also, I have the teacher guides for the novels I want to teach, do you do the comprehension questions for each chapter? That seems like it would get repetitive. I want to do more reading but feel really like the novelty could easily wear off.

  • Kathy Griffith
    Posted at 22:16h, 25 March

    This post is very inspiring. I only taught 2 novels in each of my Spanish 2 and 3 classes this year. I thought I’d be able to teach at least one more. There’s so much to teach, and I’m having trouble fitting it all in. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Señora Skinner (@SenoraSkinner)
    Posted at 11:12h, 06 April

    Carrie you are an inspiration! Thank you for being an advocate for World Language and for all of your support. Sharing your data and your journey to proficiency has been a huge help for our department. ¡¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!!

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