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I walk into class holding a stack of papers and hear, “I like your drip, Madame.”

My drip? What is dripping? I stop and investigate further this term that all of my students seem to understand.

“Tell me more,” I say.

“You know, like … your fit, your drip.”

Interesting. I ask, “Can I be dripping?” My students erupt in laughter.

“No, it’s only drip.”

“Okay, so I can’t use this as a verb—it’s just a noun, but it’s used to describe. And to be clear, you’re referring to my clothes.”

“Exactly. Your drip.


Working around high schoolers, we hear and learn a plethora of words and terms we would have otherwise ignored. As linguists, we pay attention to the language students are using, and how they use it. I do this not to be cool, but rather to be able to engage my audience.


It was with great enthusiasm that Oxford announced the 2023 word of the year … drumroll please … rizz. Yes! Finally, we’re making language fun and exciting! And this fun and creativity is exactly what our students crave.


Did you know there is a growing list of universities offering courses centering around Taylor Swift? A article notes that students are turning towards these courses because they make learning more relatable by discussing current events.[1]


Strategies for success that you can use today:  

  • Create a simple survey for your students to take to identify the issues they care about most: Banned books? Dress codes? Social media? Mental health? Misinformation? This can be scaffolded from novice-low to advanced-high. This could be a collaborative, in-class survey or a bell-ringer. The goal is to use this data as a launching point for engagement in your class.


  • Use a trending image to engage your students, like one of Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift together. Our students have a lot to say about this modern romance. Will they get married? Did you see them at the last Chiefs’ game? Will they break up and will she write songs about him?


  • Make content culturally relevant for our kids. Have students share what they know about prominent Hispanic women who have had a significant impact on their communities (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rigoberta Menchu, and Sonia Sotomayor, for example). Provide authentic material in the target language about each figure, preparing students to engage in higher-order thinking as they compare both figures. As an extension activity, teachers can have students do role-play activities to engage in the target language. These role-plays can include:
    • Courtroom Scenario: Groups of students take on the role of lawyers and present different sides of an argument before Justice Sotomayor.
    • Press Conference Simulation: Students play the role of journalists, asking questions related to an issue, advocacy, or a current event.
    • Mock Interview: Student interviewers ask questions related to Menchu’s life, work, and home community. Students can replicate this with other prominent cultural icons.
    • Town Hall Meeting: Students play community members discussing issues that are important to them and why, while other students playing the role of Ocasio-Cortez listen and respond.
    • Instagram or Twitter Feed: Simulate a social media interaction between your students and an important figure like Sotomayor or Ocasio-Cortez. Students can create online profiles representing constituents. They make posts and comments about issues or points that affect their community, while other students respond as Sotomayor or Ocasio-Cortez.
    • Biography Interview Podcast: In pairs, students create a podcast where they play the role of an interviewer or an important figure, then engage in an interpersonal conversation. Teachers can even have them respond to questions from other students.


Please join us at Rizzing to the Challenge: Best Practices for the Next Gen in World Language Education. In this dynamic virtual presentation, stand out presenters Christen Campbell and Justin Seifts will share proven strategies about how they bring in contemporary icons to hook their students while using the target language. They will share how targeting student interests can be used as a springboard for deeper engagement and as an opportunity to discuss more complex issues such as inequality, gender identity, and race. Attendees are guaranteed to come away with resources that will add some rizz to their next class.


If you’d like to learn more about the best practices for the Next Gen in World Language Education, please click here to watch the recording of Christen Campbell and Justin Seifts’ webinar.





By Justin Seifts and Christen Campbell


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