Hands On Foreign Language Learning

for elementary and middle school learners

Learning Stations in the Foreign Language Classroom

Published / by kellharr / 4 Comments on Learning Stations in the Foreign Language Classroom

How many of you want your students to speak more in the target language?  All of us do!!!  I starting using “learning stations” with my students in grades 1-5 and have continued to use them with my middle schoolers.  Why do I use them?  Learning stations are a fun way to mix up listening, speaking, writing and reading.  By having short tasks, students feel a sense of accomplishment.  They also are a nice change of pace to keep things fresh and new.  Plus, my students LOVE hands on activities.  Once you build up your bag o’ tricks of station tasks, your kids will always be kept on their toes and loving what you put out for them.  They’ll even request their favorite station!!!

Some things to consider…

•How long should the stations to be?

•How many stations should there be?

•How often should I work stations into my classes?

•What should I do for stations?

•What if my students will not stay on task?


On the elementary level I had 40 minute classes.  My students sat at five different tables therefore I usually made five stations.  I would allow three minutes to explain each station, the rotation and ask for questions.  I would then set a timer for six minute rotation which would allow for a 30 second clean & rotate and a four minute clean up.  Once your students get used to this is moves quicker and smoother.

On the middle school level I have fifty minute classes.  I usually have my students do a five minute DO NOW assignment as they walk in the door, quickly explain the stations and then have 7-8 minute stations {if we are to complete the rotation in one day} or longer stations if we complete the rotation in two days.

Stations are also a HUGE hit on the day or two before vacation, on Halloween or any other high energy day throughout the year.

****I always make time for a quick explanation, factor in rotation time and time for CLEANING UP.


I have had some fun with mixing this up with my middle schoolers.  You know middle schoolers, you have to keep them on their toes to avoid the eye rolls.  So…this year I had LARGE classes.  We had six rows of five desks each.  Therefore this was my basic configuration:

I would make three copies of five different stations.  The students would rotate to the station behind them with the group in the back moving up to the front row.

Another configuration to work in small groups:

The students in the pink group would cluster their desks together.  We also did groups of six occasionally and at the very end of the year I made FIFTEEN different shorter stations for pairs to work with.

For smaller classes it is so much easier to be creative with your configurations.


I see my students 4x a week.  I like to work them in every other or every third week.  There are times when we do them every week and at the beginning of the year I do stations as a warm-up.  I pick out 5-8 activities and students warm-up with that activity for five minutes.  They get a new activity each day and it helps me review topics or vocabulary.


There are sooooooo many options.  Here are some of my favorites:


If you have an issue with students not staying on task try pairing a station with a game that they are familiar with {checkers, tic tac toe, Connect Four, etc}.  By doing so, it helps the students STAY in the target language BECAUSE if they use English their partner gets to have two turns in a row in the game.  EX: Create a question station paired with Connect Four.  Student A creates a question in Spanish for Student B to answer.  Student A gets to insert a game piece into Connect Four.  Student B creates a question for Student A in English so Student A get to put two pieces into Connect Four.  That motivates just about all of my learners to stay on task.

What kind of stations do you use?  I’d love to hear about them and add them to my classes.

 Thank you for stopping by and reading about my learning stations.




  1. I love this! I am a middle school French teacher, and I can see this idea being a huge hit among my students. I also like how you motivate students to remain in the target language by allowing the student’s opponent in the game to take two turns. As we know, kids at this age are very competitive, so I can see how this would work! If you are interested in checking out my blog, please feel free to join at teachinginthetargetlanguage.com. I would love to collaborate with you. Additionally, I look forward to reading more of your posts! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Such great Ideas! I am also a middle school teacher 5-8 next year. When doing the celebration unit I did a carroussel type activity with my kids hiding various activities in giant plastic eggs!
    The class went so fast and they reviewed vocabulary, worked on circumlocution, conjugating in the present, past and future. I did all this with Spanish and I am thinking of creating another carroussel for my French students around the topics of the house. Would be happy to share ideas. I know we somewhat connect over Instagram, but remember the blog too!

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