How do I select authentic resources for my language classroom?

My previous post addressed the ways you can search for authentic resources for use in your language classroom.  Now, let’s explore criteria by which you might select the resources that are the best fit for your learners, your learning targets and your lesson plans.

One model I can offer is the four “A’s”.  Those four overarching themes for choosing authentic resources include:

  • Authentic
  • Accessible
  • Appealing
  • Aligned

Authentic:  Authentic resources are prepared by and for the target language users, not for language learners and are created solely for the use of target language speakers for pleasure or information.

Accessible: Authentic resources should be appropriate to the students’ age and proficiency level and at an appropriate level of rigor or challenge.  They should be rich in visual support, cognates, and known words and should be linked to students’ background knowledge.

Appealing:  Authentic resources should be connected to real life, be interesting to students, and grab their attention.  They may be novel, humorous, and tech-based.

Aligned: Authentic resources should be matched to learning targets, offer opportunities for students to practice interpretive skills, and can act as springboards for interpersonal and presentational tasks.  They are sources of comprehensible input and are examples of vocabulary, language structures, and culture in context.

 

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You can download a PDF of the document above by clicking here.

How do I find authentic resources for my language classroom?

One of the challenges to implementing authentic resources into instruction for teachers is the time it takes to find them.  Using a generic Google Search can be arduous and time-consuming.

Using a Google Search in the target language will render the best results.  Some examples include:

Spain: https://www.google.es

France: https://www.google.fr

Germany: https://www.google.de

Italy: https://www.google.it

China: https://www.google.com.hk

Another tip for finding authentic resources is to search the topic or theme you are teaching followed by the type of resource you are looking for in the target language.  For example, if you are searching for infographics for your German students on the topic of vacations, you would search “Urlaub infografik.”

Here are the results I received in that search:

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In addition, searches can be done on You Tube using the topic/theme in the target language.  For example, if you are looking for videos for the theme of “Back to School” in Spanish, enter “regreso a clases” into the search bar in YouTube.  Here are the results I received:

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“Work smarter, not harder” is an adage that most educators aspire to because time is always a challenge.  In my experience, I have come to realize that language educators are part of a community that regularly practices “professional generosity.”  Sharing and collaboration are valued in our profession.   Many of our colleagues have posted the authentic resources they have gathered online through applications and websites that are public, the most popular of which is Pinterest.

First, if you are not a member of Pinterest and are interested in using it to find resources,  I encourage you to become a member (at no cost).

Once you are on Pinterest, search for a topic or theme in the target language.  Often you will find a whole Pinterest board that someone has put together on the topic or theme which contains multiple types of authentic resources.  If I want to find authentic resources for one of the AP Global Themes for my French class, for example, I search in Pinterest for “Défis Mondiaux.” (Global Challenges).  Here are the results of that search:

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Once you have used Pinterest several times, you may find a “Pinner” that you want to “follow.”  Following a Pinner means that you will regularly have access to his/her boards on Pinterest.  For example, a great Pinner to follow on Pinterest if you are a novice level Spanish teacher is my good friend and colleague, Señora Sherrow:

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Finally, I invite you to follow me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/grahnforlang/

I have created boards on general topics relating to language teaching (Resources for Elementary World Language, World Language Advocacy, World Language Pedagogy, Centers, etc.).  I have also created Pinterest boards for authentic resources, either organized by text type (memes, infographics, commercials) or by theme.

Some of the themes include:  Ecotourism, Back To School, Bullying, Tiny HousesImmigration, Pets, Homelessness, Poverty and Hunger, and Natural Disasters.

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For more links to authentic resources, you can go to: https://wlrecipe4rigor.wikispaces.com/Authentic+Resources

Using authentic resources in the language classroom

ACTFL includes in the Guiding Principles of Language Learning six core practices.  One of the core practices is “Guiding Learners Through Interpreting Authentic Resources.”

When we talk about the value of authentic resources in world language instruction, several questions arise:

What are authentic resources?

How do I find them?

How do I select them?

How do I store them?

How do I incorporate them into my teaching?

Over the next few blog posts, I will attempt to address each one of these questions separately.

  1. What are authentic resources?

Authentic resources are created by and for the target language users either for information or entertainment.

Authentic resources include:

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in addition to: fine art, photographs, charts, maps, schedules, etc.  Since the advent of the Common Core, the idea of “text” has been expanded to include anything students view, listen to, or read.

Some examples:

Meme:

    69833b55c0e823253da091dc54a83cdb.jpg

Poem:                                                   Chart/schedule:

503576f7d7e8fe0f29ec81947ed21503.jpg      d9fbc77bd31fbb70a105a101f7900ec5.jpg

Comic strip:

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Commercial:

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Infographic:

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Brochure:

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Audio clip:

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