Basing learning centers on authentic text: Part 2



This is a follow up blog post to my post on April 23, 2018, “Basing Learning Centers on Authentic Text.”

Learning centers allow students to work independently with content they have learned in the various skills areas: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.  Centers also provide the opportunity to students to experience tasks that are at varying challenge levels while interacting with authentic text.

Skill-based centers allow students to put vocabulary words and grammar concepts into practice through guided reading, speaking, listening and writing activities.  Centers allow students to work either independently or collaboratively with their peers, and also facilitate more meaningful one-on-one time with their teacher.

Why implement learning centers?

  • Increased student motivation
  • Meaningful learning opportunities
  • Fosters independence
  • Challenge advanced learners and heritage speakers
  • Students working independently on activities that may have otherwise been teacher-led
  • They are fun!

Steps to thinking through learning centers

  1. Gather examples of authentic text on the theme of your choice to be used at centers as enrichment at the end of the unit.
  • video
  • infographic
  • poster
  • article
  • visual
  • commercial

2. Think about how each center might focus in one skill (listening, speaking, reading, writing)

3. Consider how students will capture their learning

  • Graphic organizers
  • Journal entries
  • Recordings
  • Photos
  • Notes page where students accumulate information

4. What will the follow up activity look like?

  • Group discussion
  • Speaking or writing performance
  • Jigsaw sharing

Tips for planning and managing centers

  • Practice each center as a whole group
  • Model use of center materials
  • Have generic directions for each center type and switch out content
  • For small spaces, centers move not students
  • For large classes, duplicate centers
  • “Ask three before me” strategy
  • Red, Yellow, and Green stoplight


Example of learning centers for novice-level Spanish class on the theme of clothing:


Writing Center: 


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Listening/Viewing Center:


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Video link:

Tiered activities:   Tier A        Tier B     Tier C



Reading/Writing Center: 


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Que ropa llevar infographic:

Tiered Activities:  Tier A      Tier B      Tier C

Speaking Center: 
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Visit my website for additional resources for learning centers:
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World Language Centers Weebly site created by my colleague, Heather Sherrow:
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Music as authentic text


Music is a universal language.  Using authentic musical selections with language learners can be very motivating to students and a friendly way for students to hone their listening skills.  Songs lyrics can be presented in written format, as an audio clip or as a music video (sometimes with subtitles).  And, at times, students may be familiar with the artists.

Why use music as authentic text in the language classroom?

  • Includes repetition
  • Reinforces pronunciation
  • Shows language structures in context
  • Connects to culture, history, current events
  • Can be used as a classroom management strategy
  • Improves listening skills
  • Motivates students’ interest in the target language
  • Reinforces grammar and syntax
  • Encourages creative thought in the target language

Konig, Patricia.  “Language Can Be Music to Students Ears.”  The Language Educator, 2011.

Strategies using music as authentic text

Here are some examples of lesson activities you might use as processes for interpreting songs:

Alternate Title: Invent a new title for the song.

Alternate Verses: Given every other verse of the song, imagine the missing verses.

Before and After: Imagine what happened before and after action(s) in song.

Category Lists: Place words heard in specified categories. Variation: Given lyrics, read and place words in categories.

Chronological Order: Given a list of actions in song, decide probable order of occurrence. Listen to verify correctness.

Cover Design: Draw a CD cover to represent theme in song. Variation: Given a CD title, imagine the cover. Cover Speculation: Make conjectures based on CD cover.

Dialogue Adaptation: Adapt song to a dialogue.

Figures of Speech: Locate similes and metaphors in lyrics; discuss.

Four Corners: (1) After hearing song, go to designated corner of room (“love,” “like,” “don’t like,” “hate”) and discuss impressions. (2) Line up to show degree of like/dislike for song; discuss. (3) Rotate partners in inside-outside circles to share opinions about song.

Grammar Recognition: Raise hand/card or stand when you hear a selected grammatical feature in song (specific tense, gender, subjunctive, etc.).

Guess the Title: Listen to song and try to guess title. Imitate the Songwriter: Write a new song on the same topic or change original lyrics.

Incorrect Lyrics: Correct lyrics as you listen to song (listen for extraneous words or substitutions).

Key Words: Take word card or picture and stand when/if you hear your word in song. Variation: Given a list of possible words, check off if you hear a word in song.

Letters: Write a letter to the singer.

Lyrics Modification: Substitute other logical words for underlined words in song.

Motivation: Speculate about reasons for writing song.

Name That Word: When music stops before end of song, tell last word sung. Variation: Predict next word.

Predictions: Before hearing song, predict which words might logically fit in lyric blanks or which words would rhyme.

Ratings: Listen to snippets of songs to rate/compare.

Stories: Narrate or write out story from song. Variations: (1) Retell from another person’s point of view. (2) Write as a newspaper article.

Title Associations: Given song title, brainstorm list of words you might expect to hear in song; check off list as you listen.

Video Speculation: Imagine video of song.

Word Search: Given list of words, listen for synonyms/antonyms in lyrics.


Examples of tasks using music in multiple communicative modes

Songs not only provide practice in the interpretive mode for students, but can also serve as a springboard to interpersonal and presentational tasks.




I invite you to visit my website where on the page entitled “Authentic Resources,” you will find multiple links for songs in the target language, often aligned to vocabulary and grammar points:

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Many of our language colleagues have aligned popular songs in the target language to grammatical structures that they demonstrate in context and have generously shared those lists/databases with the rest of us.


Clarisse Les chanteurs français et leurs chansons (crowd-sourced database)


Ten Songs with Hidden German Grammar Lessons


El mundo de Birch Spanish amazing music database!!!