Authentic resources are created by and for the target language users either for information or entertainment. They are texts that students can read, listen to, or view in the target language. Much attention is paid to written authentic text.
For this post, let’s turn our attention to building students’ interpretive skills with authentic text for listening and viewing.
As indicated by the infographic below, listening has many benefits which include increasing literacy, fluency and motivation.
When considering having students listen or view authentic text, we must first anchor ourselves in the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements that describe what students can do in the Interpretive Mode at the various proficiency levels.
Novices can: identify words and phrases, some isolated facts, and the topic or gist of an authentic text that is composed of simple sentences that is listened to or viewed.
Students at the intermediate level can: identify the main idea and some details from short straightforward authentic text and conversations.
Here are some examples of novice-level listening/viewing activities:
- Spanish- During a unit on the theme of school, students listen to and watch a 30 second commercial about back to school sales at Arrocha, a store in Panama:
During their listening/viewing, students are asked to:
- circle all of the words/phrases they hear in the commercial based on a word cloud of words created on Wordle or Tagxedo
- circle each vocabulary word/phrase they hear and draw a line to the backpack
- complete a cloze activity with the commercial transcript.
2. French- During a unit on the theme of describing people and things, students listen to and watch a Coca Cola commercial called “Du bonheur pour tous.”
While they listen to and view the commercial, in addition to bullets one and three listed above (circling key words in a word cloud and doing a cloze activity using the transcript) an alternative activity might be:
- Students are given two columns of adjectives/descriptors. As they listen to/watch the commercial they connect the opposites.
For links to authentic commercials in the target language, go to:
Or, go to my Pinterest boards that have target language commercials sorted by language:
Types of authentic text that might be listened to or viewed include:
- songs/music videos
- video clips
- movie trailers
- news clip
- live or recorded interviews
- live or recorded performances
- animated short films
- fine art
The approach for teaching students how to listen to or view an authentic text (with audio) is very similar to that of teaching students how to read an authentic text. Students listen/view for words they know, words that sound like words they know (cognates), and figure out meaning of words based on context.
Students’ comprehension can be bolstered before listening or viewing (with audio) by using typical before reading strategies:
- Students make predictions about the authentic text
- Students brainstorm connections with and ideas and questions about the topic of the authentic text
- Students list what they already know about the topic of the authentic resource
Similarly, students can use during reading strategies for listening and viewing (with audio) as well.
- Students take notes about authentic text as they listen/view
- Students record new vocabulary gained from the authentic text
- Students use a graphic organizer to record ideas while listening/viewing
What makes listening and viewing very different from reading as an interpretive skill, is that the text (unless the transcript is provided or there are subtitles) is not visible to the student. To overcome this challenge (of not being able to see the words), students can be taught skills for capturing ideas they listen to through the use of a variety of strategies.
Supports and Scaffolds for Students During Listening and Viewing Tasks
Cloze activities are those that use the script for a text with words or phrases omitted. The task of the student is to listen to the text and fill in the missing words and phrases. A great source for cloze activities for Spanish based on music is Zachary Jones’ website called Zambombazo. He calls the activities “Clozeline.”
Here’s an example:
Here’s a cloze activity example in French for the song by Gerald DePalmas called “Mon Coeur Ne Bat Plus.”:
Graphic organizers assist students in capturing what they have heard/viewed and classify those ideas into topics/themes. A great example is a 5W’s (who, what, when, where, why) and 1H (how) graphic organizer. Here are some examples in Spanish below:
And here’s an example in French:
Or, the organizer might be where students record events from the text in sequence. Here is an example in French:
and one for Spanish:
For more examples of graphic organizers, click here
Visual Notetaking or “Sketchnoting”
Visual notetaking or Sketchnoting is a strategy whereby students draw symbols and pictures to indicate their understanding of a text. The result is a visual version of the text that was listened to or viewed.
Here’s an example in Spanish:
For more on how to teach listening skills, explore the slideshow below:
Viewing authentic resources without audio
Included in the examples of authentic text are visuals like photographs and fine art.
How do we teach students to interpret text like pictures?
Some strategies students can use when “reading a picture” are:
- describe what they see (what is going on, who is doing what)
- make connections with the visual
- describe how the picture makes them feel
- express an opinion
A great scaffold/support for students to practice how to interpret a picture is a “Picture Description Frame.” Here’s an example below for Italian. Students lay the “frame”(with the center cut out) over the picture and use the expressions around the perimeter of the frame to help them describe the visual either through speaking or writing.
Here’s an example for French:
During a unit on leisure activities, students view the painting called “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat.
The students overlay their “description frames” onto the image.
Then, the students use the prompts around the frame to assist them with describing the picture either orally or in written format.
This tool and ones for other languages can be found at the link below by scrolling down to the bottom of the webpage:
To find out more about viewing comprehension strategies, check out the resource below: