LEARNING STRATEGY: Use Graphic Organizers
STANDARDS: Communication 1.3


Language:Any language. Examples in German, Italian, Spanish.

Proficiency Level: Beginning, Intermediate

Brief description of the activity: Students will make presentations about families. To avoid any learner anxiety about private family matters, you may decide to have learners create a fictional family rather than describe their own. Students can also create trees for fictional characters like Harry Potter or Bart Simpson. A graphic organizer in the form of a family tree chart can help them plan and present these talks. The teacher creates and shares her family tree. She then gives the students blank family trees so that they can create their own.


  1. Students will develop presentational speaking skills.
  2. Students will be able to use vocabulary related to family.
  3. Students will be able to use graphic organizers to help them clearly arrange information to learn and present.

Language focus: Speaking and Listening

Materials:Vocabulary worksheet with names of family members, family tree chart filled in by the instructor, blank family tree charts for the students.

sonSohn figliohijo
daughterTochter figliahija
brotherBrüderfratello hermano
sister Schwestersorellahermana
grandfatherGroßvater nonnoabuelo
grandmother Großmutter nonnaabuela


  1. Introduce the content
    Tell students that they are going to make a presentation about family members and relationships. A graphic organizer in the form of a family tree chart can help them plan and present these talks.
  2. Introduce and model the learning strategy
    Create your own family tree before class. Show the students the family tree diagram that you have prepared , carefully pronouncing the names and relationships a you points them out on the tree. For example, "This is my father William" (Das ist mein Vater, Wilhelm) and "This is my mother Ann" (Das ist meine Mutter, Anna). In more advanced classes, you might add a personal comment about family members.

    Tell students that creating charts and diagrams can help language learners to remember and present new terms and concepts. Creating a family tree diagram can be very useful for learning family terms because the graphic organizer emphasizes the individual words and clearly shows the relationship between words.
  3. Practice
    Give the students blank family trees so that they can create their own. Have them present the tree to a partner and then, if you have time, have them present them to the class. Ask learners if using a graphic organizer made it easier for them to learn and present family vocabulary.


  1. Learners can build on this lesson by learning additional family vocabulary such as aunt (Tante), uncle (Onkel), cousin (Kusin), grandson (Enkel), granddaughter (Enkelin), great grandfather (Urgroßvater), great grandmother (Urgroßmutter).
  2. Learners can us a variety of graphic organizers such as timelines, charts, maps, graphs, illustrations, and diagrams to present and store new target language information. Remind learners that using graphic organizers are great studying tools because they can make associations with images.

    Students can use graphic organizers to learn other vocabulary such as animals.

Teacher Resources (to help teacher enhance activity):
A variety of blank family tree charts can be found on the Web http://genealogy.about.com/library/free_charts/bl_family_tree.htm