Using authentic text with young language learners can present multiple challenges. Students in Pre-kindergarten, Kindergarten and the primary grades are often not yet literate in their first language. As a result, using authentic resources that are heavy in written text are not appropriate to use with most young learners.
Early language learners can benefit from being read to by the teacher. Picture books provide visuals that support the students’ understanding. Through picture books, teachers can model ways to derive meaning from text using reading strategies such as guessing meaning using pictures and guessing words that look or sound like their English equivalent. In addition, young language learners can interact with websites and apps that offer picture books that, in some cases, can be read to students. Some examples include:
Songs, Rhymes, Finger Plays and Poems
Because songs, rhymes, and poems often have repetition and rhyming words, they are very user-friendly for young language learners. Adding gestures to songs, rhymes, and poems will assist students in comprehension of the text.
One source for target language songs and rhymes for multiple languages is called Mama Lisa’s World:
On YouTube, you can find children’s songs in the target language (but can be difficult to verify as authentic) which contain a video component, like the following example:
At the very heart of the raison d’être of cartoons is to engage young children. Cartoons in any language appeal to young language learners. There are many target language cartoons available online through YouTube and can be aligned to thematic units such as family, celebrations, travel, and making friends.
Click the image below to visit my webpage where I have linked several cartoon series in various languages.
Visuals for Speaking and Writing
Although not all visuals can be verified as “authentic text,” there are visuals available that have target language contexts. The Pinterest board linked below offers a selection of visuals that can be used for practicing the interpretive mode, leading to both speaking and writing prompts.
The best infographics to use with young language learners are those that are highly visual balanced with minimal written text. Here is a link to my Pinterest board called “Authentic Text for Young Language Learners.”
Interpreting pieces of art can be the basis for speaking and writing prompts for young language learners. Not only are visuals a type of text, but by being fine art, a cultural context is added. When students describe a painting, they can talk about the colors, the items in the picture, their location in relationship to one another (prepositions of location), the time of day, weather, describing the people in the painting, etc.
A great example is VanGogh’s Bedroom at Arles:
Students can describe the colors they see, the items in the room, and their position in the room.
The student learning can be extended by then learning about the artist.
To add to your resource toolbox, there are coloring pages online (free download) for famous artwork:
For more examples of artwork relating to the bedroom (house) click the image below: