Teaching Grammar in Context Using Authentic Resources- Part 2

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This is a sequel to my first post on “Teaching Grammar in Context Using Authentic Resources” posted on April 13, 2018.

In that post, we explored several of the approaches for teaching grammar in context:

Many of the above mentioned strategies allow students to use an inductive approach to figure out the “why” and “how” of grammar in context.  Some have more structured protocols than others.  Which one you choose depends on your students, the particular grammar point you want to highlight, and what works best for your teaching.

As we know, ACTFL’s Core Practices for World Language Learning include “guide learners through interpreting authentic resources” and “teach grammar as a concept and use in context.”

ACTFL Core Practices

For this post, let’s turn our attention to examples of how authentic resources that might be used to teach grammar in context, thus combining two of the core practices.

The most natural way for students to gain an understanding of grammar in the target language is for them to see it being used in context.  Context carries meaning for students in lieu of learning “about” grammar in isolation, often in English.

In no way do the Core Practices imply that grammar or structure are no longer important to language learning.  Looking closely at the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, beginning at the Intermediate High proficiency level (in the case below for interpersonal communication), students must be able to exchange information and interact across various time frames.  At those levels, language learners must have structural understanding to be able to communicate in a variety of tenses.

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Memes and quotes

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A great place to start with teaching grammar as a concept and using it in context through authentic resources is to use memes and quotes.

Memes (although they cannot always be verified as authentic) are examples of grammar in context mixed with humor.  Many of them involve cats, dogs, and characters from television and movies.

A series of memes that are examples of a particular grammar point can be shown to language learners to have them draw conclusions about how that particular structure works.

Here are some examples below for adjectives in French:

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One way to approach this task is to give small groups of students one meme.  Students analyze the meme first for meaning.  What is the meme trying to say?  Students use the visuals, cognates, words they already know, and words that may be related to ones they know to help them unlock the meaning.  The teacher circulates in the classroom and assists students with guessing the meaning of words with which they are unfamiliar using target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce their meaning.

Then, students’ attention is directed to the adjectives in each quote/saying and the students draw conclusions about:

  • the gender of the nouns being described
  • the position of the adjectives (before or after the noun)
  • the endings on the adjectives and what they say about the nouns they are describing.

The teacher might follow up with asking students to change the nouns in the memes. For example, in the meme with the giraffe, students can rework the quote to include a noun that is feminine, plural, etc.

The small groups of students may then be asked to create a meme of their own using ideas from the examples.

Visit my Pinterest page to see collections of memes and quotes for multiple languages or click on the images below for particular languages (French, German, Italian, and Spanish):

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Tweets and other social media posts

The tweets below are authentic social media posts that all demonstrate the comparative in Spanish.  The teacher searched for them in Twitter by inputting phrases like “más que” and “menos que.”  Consider how a teacher might initially have students interact with the tweets as an interpretive task (deriving meaning from them) and then use the same tweets to examine how the comparative works in Spanish.  Students may be asked to highlight or circle the items/ideas being compared in each sentence and draw conclusions about what determined the ending of each adjective.

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Poems and song lyrics

Poems and song lyrics are types of authentic text that are very friendly to teaching grammar as a concept in context.  Many of our language colleagues have aligned popular songs and famous poems in the target language to grammatical structures that they demonstrate in context and have generously shared those lists/databases with the rest of us.

French:

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

German:

Ten Songs with Hidden German Grammar Lessons

Spanish:

El mundo de Birch Spanish amazing music database!!!

For more links for target language music aligned to grammar points, go to:

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An example of a poem that French teachers often use as a great example of grammar in context, is “Déjeuner du Matin” by Jacques Prévert

The entire poem is embedded with examples of the passé composé in context:

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Example in practice:

In an intermediate German class, the teacher shows a meme “It’s enough for me that I know that I could if I wanted to” to gain students’ attention and to spark a review of the use of the subjunctive in German.  Students are asked to brainstorm descriptors of the frog (confident, lazy, smart, etc.).  The teacher asks the students to tell why they chose the various descriptors.  If necessary, the teacher models an example (I think he is _____ because _____.)

frog

The teacher draws the students’ attention to the verbs in the meme and their tenses.   She tells them that they will be listening to a song with a similar title and theme, “Wenn ich könnte wie ich wollte,” by Howard Carpendale.

The students are given a cloze activity with the lyrics to the song where all of the subjunctive forms (and other phrases) are removed and the students fill in the verb forms.  As they listen to the song, they check their answers and fill in other missing phrases.  The students share their answers in small groups and then listen a final time with all lyrics complete.

The teacher then provides a chart where the students fill in the present tense, imperfect tense, and the subjunctive verb forms (the verbs in bold all appear in the song):

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As an extension activity, students are led through a guided writing task where they plan, peer edit, and write the final draft of a journal entry entitled “If I could, I would…”

Teaching listening and viewing skills using authentic resources

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.

audio infographic

https://ebookfriendly.com/improve-reading-skills-infographics/how-audio-increases-literacy-infographic/

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.

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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:

  1. 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:

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Or, go to my Pinterest boards that have target language commercials sorted by language:

French:      Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 10.45.21 AM

German:    Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 10.46.59 AM

 

Spanish:   Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 10.48.42 AM

Types of authentic text that might be listened to or viewed include:

  • commercials
  • podcasts
  • songs/music videos
  • video clips
  • movie trailers
  • news clip
  • live or recorded interviews
  • live or recorded performances
  • animated short films
  • fine art
  • photographs

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

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:

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Here’s a cloze activity example in French for the song by Gerald DePalmas called “Mon Coeur Ne Bat Plus.”:

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Graphic Organizers

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:

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And here’s an example in French:

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Or, the organizer might be where students record events from the text in sequence.  Here is an example in French:


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and one for Spanish:

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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:

niños siria

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.

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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.

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The students overlay their “description frames” onto the image.

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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:

https://www.grahnforlang.com/scaffolds-and-supports.html

To find out more about viewing comprehension strategies, check out the resource below:

viewing strategies

Selecting high interest authentic resources to engage language learners

21st-century-kid

http://www.thinkfinity.org

What topics are of high interest to 21st century language learners?

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Current fads like fidget spinners?

Protecting the environment by recycling?

The impact of natural disasters?

Immigration?

Bullying?

Sports?

Women’s rights?

Homelessness?

Cellphones?

The best way to find out what your language learners are interested in…

is to ask!

Imagine that you are beginning a unit on the topic of school.  What interests your students about schools in the target language country/countries?

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The slide above shows some examples of authentic text you might select for your students based on what they are interested in learning about:

More questions students may have:

  • Do the students have to wear uniforms?
  • What do they have for lunch?
  • What supplies do they need for school?
  • Do they use cellphones/technology in their schools?
  • Are their backpacks heavy like ours?
  • Do they have after school activities?

These questions provide a rich context for the “school unit” as the teacher plans tasks and activities for the daily lessons.  In addition, students feel empowered that the teacher asks them about their interests and may be more engaged in class tasks because they feel that they have contributed to the plan.

FYI- For more authentic resources on the topic of “back to school” for French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, go to:

Implementing K-W-L Charts

K-W-L charts are a more graphic way to collect information from your students about their interests.  K-W-L is a strategy developed by Donna Ogle (1986).  It is set up in three columns:

  • “K”- What I know
  • “W”- What I’d like to learn
  • “L”- What I learned

What students write in the “K” column reveals what students already know about the topic.  It may include vocabulary words, phrases, beliefs, and misconceptions.  Teachers can use this information to recognize knowledge students bring to the topic and use that information as a starting point for the unit theme.

Student thinking recorded in the “W” (What I’d like to learn) column gives teachers information about how to craft lessons that will address students’ interests, and therefore should increase student motivation and engagement.

Here are some examples of K-W-L Graphic Organizers in Spanish, French, and German:

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Using high interest authentic resources as lesson hooks

A lesson hook is another way of naming what Madeline Hunter referred to as the “anticipatory set.”  It is the first thing students see and do when the lesson begins.  The lesson hook has several purposes:

  • grab students’ attention
  • directly relate to the lesson objective/target
  • tap prior knowledge
  • reinforce previously learned material
  • connect or combine learning
  • extend or enrich learning
  • show grammar in context
  • add a cultural component

When selecting an authentic resource to act as a lesson hook with student interest in mind, consider using

  • humor/jokes
  • current events
  • novel visuals

The lesson hook authentic text can be used as a jumping off point to any number of learner-centered tasks like interpersonal exchanges or a free write.  They can also begin a conversation about grammar and syntax in context.

Some examples:

Meme (in French)    fish

 

Cartoon/comic strip (Spanish)   cell

 

Commercial (in German):   572c061963c68682b6239981ae8c1190

 

Art:    26585b0c91b49b034e5e608b852530a1

 

Quote (in Chinese):  8e698c49d851a389075224943d626935

 

Example classroom scenario:

In a novice high/intermediate low level Spanish class, during the unit on leisure activities, the teacher has discovered that many students in the class are fans of FIFA and/or play on the school soccer teams.  Guided by the interests of the students, the teacher shows two infographics from a Pinterest board called “Radiografías Mundialistas” to review with students how to express comparatives and superlatives in preparation for a performance assessment where students must compare and contrast two texts.

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https://www.pinterest.es/notimex/radiografías-mundialistas

The teacher begins by asking yes/no and either/or questions about the infographics and then spirals up to who, what, when, where questions. Based on student performance, the teacher may elect to increase the rigor of questions by including how and why questions with students justifying their responses.  She uses comprehensible input strategies to review key words in the target language such as:

the same as                                        larger

as many ____ as                                 smaller

more _____ than                                the most

less _____ than                                   the least

better                                                  but

worse

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The teacher then puts students into pairs.  Each pair selects two countries’ soccer teams from the Pinterest board and read the information on the infographics for those teams (ex.Uruguay and Suiza).  They work together to glean the similarities and differences between the countries and teams.  The teacher provides them with a list of the expressions reviewed earlier in the lesson.

Each pair creates a quiz using Google Forms that consists of the two infographics, three true comparison statements about them, and two false ones.  Classmates take each pair’s “quiz” through the Google Forms.

 

Students participating in target language discussions about authentic text

As students move across the proficiency continuum, a great goal to work toward is to have students conduct discussions in the target language about the authentic texts they have interpreted.

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As is described in the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements, students work toward being able to participate in discussions once they reach the intermediate high proficiency level and beyond.  It is important that we begin to build students’ skills early on in their language learning experience, beginning with highly scaffolded, simple discussions to more in-depth, spontaneous ones.

In the interpretive mode, beginning at the intermediate high proficiency level, it is expected that language learners can “understand the main message and some supporting details across major time frames in conversations and discussions.”

In the interpersonal mode, beginning at the advanced level, speakers “can maintain spontaneous spoken, written, or signed conversations and discussions across various time frames on familiar, as well as unfamiliar, concrete topics, using series of connected sentences and probing questions.”

So, how do we put novice language learners on the pathway toward being able to participate confidently in discussions in the target language?

Building students’ discussion skills

From the novice level, students can participate in discussions in the target language about authentic texts they have interpreted if those experiences are:

  • well-modeled by the teacher
  • highly scaffolded

Types of discussions students might have include:

  • making decisions
  • solving problems
  • expressing opinions
  • creating a product

Scaffolds for discussion skills might include:

  • graphic organizers on which students have taken notes about the authentic text, ideally set up to assist them in the discussion.  For example, if the intent of the discussion is for students to compare and contrast two ideas, a Venn diagram might be the most appropriate graphic organizer to use.  Here’s an example of an organizer in Italian:

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  • expressions lists that support students’ conversations.  For example, if the purpose of the discussion is to express an opinion about the authentic text, sentence frames/starters would be provided.  An example in French is below:

and one for Spanish:

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http://marruecospanish.blogspot.com/2016/10/como-expresar-una-opinion-o-valorar-un.html

  • protocols for discussions: taking turns, using gambits or conversational fillers, building off of what group members have said, assigning group roles, etc.
  • a routine or strategy that serves as a framework for the discussion.  Click on the image below to explore a variety of discussion strategies.

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Example classroom scenario:

In an intermediate level Spanish class, the teacher shows this quote by Pablo Neruda during a unit on Personal and Public Identities.  The teacher asks students to write a summary statement in the target language about the quote.

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https://nadienosentiende.com/2016/09/09/lobos/pablo-neruda-muere-lentamente-quien-no-viaja-quien-no-lee-quien-no-escucha-musica-quien-no-halla-encanto-en-si-mismo/

Then, the teacher gives each small group one part of the quote:

  • Quien no viaja [someone who doesn’t travel]
  • Quien no lee [someone who doesn’t read]
  • Quien no escucha música [someone who doesn’t listen to music]

Students work in groups to discuss the benefits of traveling, reading, and listening to music and each student records their group’s ideas on a graphic organizer.  When ready, students move to mixed groups to share their group’s ideas. They conduct a conversation with their classmates using the “Bounce” strategy in the target language.   Additional ideas generated by the group are added to the graphic organizers.

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As an extension, student groups are given the choice of:

  • Creating an infographic on the benefits of traveling, reading, listening to music, etc. using tech tools such as Piktochart
  • Creating their own version of the Neruda quote
  • Researching Pablo Neruda
  • Polling their classmates about the benefits

 

Technology tools for interpretive tasks using authentic text

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Authentic texts provide real world contexts for language learners.  They are motivating and engaging to students because they are relevant and meaningful to native speakers of the language.  This blog post explores ways to marry technology tools with the interpretation of authentic resources.

First, we must acknowledge that all language teachers and language learners do not have equal access to technology in their schools and institutions.  Some examples of technology accessiblity might include:

  • one teacher desktop computer for teacher use only
  • several desktop computers in the classroom
  • access to a laptop/tablet cart/set that can be signed out for use
  • access to a computer lab that can be reserved
  • a BYOD policy (Bring Your Own Device) where students may use their own laptops, tablets, or cellphones in school
  • one to one devices provided by school/district

Our 21st century learners view technology as a natural part of their every day lives.  Technology is a tool for collaborating, for creating and curating, for communicating, and for doing research.

When selecting technology tools to implement into classroom activities, consider the SAMR model.  The SAMR model was developed in 2010 by Ruben Puentedura to describe the four levels of technology integration.

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http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/11/13/SAMR_FirstSteps.pdf

As you can see from the SAMR framework, technology integration can transform and enhance the task at hand.  What is the purpose of the technology tool being used?  How does it enhance the student’s experience/learning?  When reflecting on integrating technology into your lesson plans, the rubric below may be helpful to you:

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Examples of technology integration with authentic resources:

Before listening, reading, viewing activities:

  • Students make predictions about the authentic text using text features
  • 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

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During listening, reading, and viewing activities

  • Students take notes about authentic text as they read

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  • Students record new vocabulary and definitions from the authentic text
  • Students create flashcards for new vocabulary from the authentic text

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  • Teachers check students’ understanding of the authentic text

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  • Students write text messages or tweets about the authentic text

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After listening, reading, viewing activities

  • Students record a summary of the content of the authentic resource

 

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  • Students create a poster/infographic about the text of the authentic resource

 

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  • Students retell the content of the authentic text in a story format

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  • Students create a comic strip about the content of the authentic text

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  • Students create a game about the content from the authentic text.

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  • Students respond to a prompt about the text and respond to classmates’ posts

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  • Students create an interactive presentation about the authentic text

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For more ideas for integrating technology with the interpretation of authentic resources, click the image below:

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Using authentic text as a springboard to interpersonal tasks

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What we know about brain-friendly teaching, is that the brain likes experiences that connect to one another.  As we plan lessons for our language learners, we should keep this idea in mind.  How do the tasks or activities I’ve planned for students to practice the new content connect to one another?

As we consider the use of authentic resources in our classrooms, how can those interpretive tasks naturally connect to productive language experiences in the interpersonal mode?  The authentic text, whether it be a video, an infographic, or a poem, gives students a context for their interpersonal interactions, in lieu of inventing isolated, unrelated scenarios.

The interpersonal mode of communication

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In the interpersonal mode, students spontaneously share information and ideas with others.  Learners interact and negotiate meaning with clarity and cultural sensitivity.  Students are expected to begin, carry on, and end a conversation without a written script, relying on the knowledge of the language they have acquired and using skills to communicate even when they do not understand.

Scaffolds and supports for interpersonal tasks

To support students, especially struggling and reluctant learners, providing scaffolds and supports for them to persevere through an interpersonal task may be the key to building their confidence in their own communication skills.  Some examples of scaffolds and supports might be

  • modeling the interpersonal task before students try it themselves
  • providing suggested sentence starters and frames
  • pairing struggling students with students who are more confident in productive activities
  • circulating in the room and giving positive feedback to students, especially those who typically struggle, for their efforts

Examples of interpersonal activities

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There are many activities or strategies that teachers plan to give students interpersonal communication practice and experiences.  Strategies provide a structure or framework for interpersonal interactions.  Here are a few examples:

Information Gap Activities

Inside-Outside Circles

Password

Discussion Continuum

Think-Pair-Share-Square

Three Step Interview

People Bingo/Find Someone Who

Accountable Talk

Speed Dating

Fan-N-Pick

Sample Classroom Application:

For a novice level Spanish class, the teacher selects the infographic, “Qué significa cada emoticon” (What each emoticon means) to enrich the students’ language for describing how people are feeling.  Each student is given a copy of the infographic or access to it online.

 

The teacher leads the class through highlighting the adjectives in the infographic.  He encourages students to guess the meaning of words with which they are unfamiliar using target language examples, circumlocution, and visuals, etc. to reinforce their meaning.  The teacher makes connections between the highlighted descriptors and the work they have recently been doing with gender and number of adjectives.  He asks the students to draw conclusions about how the highlighted adjectives in the infographic change to describe various people.  The teacher does a guided charting activity with the students.

The teacher displays a list of simple situations in the target language on the document camera, using known vocabulary and lots of cognates. (You just won the lottery!, Your team lost the soccer match. You got a perfect score on your math test.).  Each student selects one situation and creates a web of feelings about that topic, using vocabulary from the infographic.

In small groups, students interview each other about how they would feel in each of the situations using the infographic and the web they created.  Group members may use an expressions list provided by the teacher as support for this interpersonal activity.

  • I would feel _____.
  • I agree.  I disagree.
  • Me too./Not me.
  • I don’t know.
  • How does that make you feel?
  • What do you think?
  • I think that…
  • I hate when that happens!
  • No way!
  • Of course!

 

Tiering authentic text to meet the needs of all learners

As was discussed in my last post, “Tiering tasks for authentic text to meet the needs of all learners,” one way of differentiating tasks to meet the needs of all learners when interpreting authentic text, is to tier the task.  Another approach would be to tier the text.

Here are some simple steps to tiering authentic text:

  1. Look for multiple pieces of text at varying levels of difficulty or complexity on the same topic.

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Here are three examples on the topic of Bullying in French.  Determine which text will be for the lowest, mid, and highest tiers.

tiertext1   tiertext2

tiertext3

 

2. Decide whether you will tier the tasks as demonstrated in the previous blog post or design a generic task that will work for all three tiers like the one below:

tiertext4

 

Example scenario for tiering authentic text:

Students have a graphic organizer and one of three infographics of varying challenge levels on the topic of the physical activity level of children in Canada during a unit on healthy lifestyles in an intermediate level French class.  Students are assigned an infographic based on their readiness level or may select an infographic.  Students record information gleaned from the text on their graphic organizers.

 

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Afterward, students are placed in mixed readiness groups of 3 or 4.  In their small groups, students conduct an interpersonal conversation with their peers about what they learned from the text using their graphic organizers.  Ideas acquired from group members are added to individual students’ notes on the graphic organizers.

The teacher may provide helpful phrases and/or sentence stems in the target language to students as a resource for their conversations.

  • According to the infographic…
  • It is interesting that…
  • I am surprised that…
  • Typically…
  • Generally…
  • In my opinion,…
  • Both
  • On the contrary
  • On the one hand/on the other hand

As a follow-up, student create a presentational writing product comparing their family’s level of physical activity with information from the infographics.  The students are given a blank Venn diagram graphic organizer to plan their writing.

If you’d like to explore more examples of tiered text, visit: https://www.grahnforlang.com/tiering-tasks-and-text.html

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For more detailed information about tiering, download the Tiering Guide below:

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Basing learning centers on authentic text

Through learning centers, students have the opportunity to demonstrate independence in their language learning in all of the skills areas: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.   At each center, students interact with content in a variety of ways through a range of modalities.

Learning centers can also be a venue by which students interact with authentic text.  To start the process:

  1. collect authentic text (memes, quotes, infographics, comics, articles, commercials, videos, etc.) on the unit topic.
  2. decide which skill area each authentic resource logically would match (ex. a commercial for the listening station).
  3. design the task students will do at each center with the authentic text.

To vary the challenge level at each center, more than one resource or text may be available to students.  Advanced learners and heritage speakers might interact with a more challenging text and struggling learners might have a text that has more visuals or cognates.  Those choices are all based on students’ proficiency levels and their level of mastery of the content.

Here’s an example of what learning centers based on authentic text might look like:

In a novice Spanish class, the teacher has developed a set of learning centers for the students at the end of the unit around the Can-Do statement of “I can describe myself and others.”

Speaking center: Students select between two infographics about the characters in the TV show, The Big Bang Theory”, and the movie, “Monsters Inc.”  They select one character and give clues to their group members about the person.  Group members guess which character their classmate is describing.  The teacher provides a useful expressions card at the center which includes suggest sentence frames and vocabulary for students who need the support.

 

Reading center: Students read the transcript to the commercial, “Sin gol, no hay fútbol.” They list opposites they find in the transcript.  At the end, they are to tell what they think the commercial is about using their own words.  As an extension, the students watch the video.

 

sin gol wksht

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Listening center:  Students watch the music video “Somos Uno” and complete a tiered cloze activity (multiple versions where fewer or more words are missing) for it.  The extension activity is for students to create a new verse of the song using the song as a model.

somos uno

(created by Heather Sherrow (hsherrow@hcpss.org)

Writing center:  Students choose to interpret one of two memes called “Soy única” and “Pequeñas Cosas.”   They use the meme as a guide to create a similar one about themselves.

 

If you are interested in learning more about implementing centers into your language classroom, a great site to visit is: http://worldlanguagecenters.weebly.com/

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On that site, you will find guidance on how to create, organize, manage, and implement learning centers in your classroom.

 

 

How do I incorporate authentic text into my daily lesson plans? Part 1

ACTFL, in its Core Practices for World Language Learning challenges language educators to “guide learners through interpreting authentic resources” and speaks to the implementation of tasks using authentic text that are interactive, are focused on comprehension, and include the appropriate scaffolds and support.

ACTFL Core Practices

https://www.actfl.org/guiding-principles

What do high quality lesson plans include? Activities that…

When thinking about how to embed authentic text into lesson plans, let’s first reflect on some examples of how to plan lesson activities that are high quality.  Lesson activities should…

  • be aligned with the learning goals and targets
  • have a common thread or connection
  • be engaging and relevant to students
  • provide practice in all three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive, presentational).

Thinking about activity types in a lesson plan

How do authentic resources fit into my lesson plan?  Let’s begin with thinking about your lesson plan in terms of the activity types:

  1. Introductory activities

Introductory activities include warm-ups (bellringers, do now’s, etc.), lesson hooks, and introduction of new vocabulary or language structures.  It is important to note that not all introductory activities occur at the beginning of a lesson plan.  Some examples include activities or tasks that:

  • gain students’ attention
  • tap into students’ prior knowledge
  • connect new content with prior learning
  • provide input of vocabulary and structures
  • engage students in an inquiry process about new content

 Scenarios for using authentic text in introductory activities

Scenario #1:  Provide input of vocabulary

Early in a unit on the world of work and careers in a novice level French class, the teacher uses an infographic, “Les professions qui font rêver les Français,” as a lesson opener.  She chose this authentic resource due to its visual support and cognates.

The teacher asks some initial questions about the infographic.  Some sample teacher questions:

  • Who is a famous _____?
  • Who works with students? With animals?  With numbers?

The teacher asks the students to talk about the infographic with their partners.  Students are given sentence frames and conversational phrases to assist them with their partner conversations.

  • ____ percent think that a ____ is an ideal career.
  • I agree/disagree.
  • In my opinion, I think _____ is an ideal career.
  • I’d like to be a ______,
  • Really?
  • Not me.
  • My _______ is a ______.

Using the infographic, the teacher leads the class through charting the gender of the career words and drawing a symbol for each.  To extend their use of language, students practice using previously learned descriptive adjectives and school subject vocabulary with the career words.  This information is added to the charting activity.  The teacher gives the students sentence frames:

  • A _________ needs to be _____.
  • A _________ needs to be good at _______.

Screen Shot 2018-02-06 at 12.15.12 PMLater in the lesson, students will be introduced to additional vocabulary related to careers and will add them to their charts based on the patterns explored earlier in the lesson.

As a follow up, students create a guided writing product on a career of their choice with the help of sentence frames provided by the teacher.

Scenario #2: Gain students’ attention

The teacher of an intermediate level Spanish class selects the meme, “¡Quítamelo!” (Get off of me!) to gain students’ attention at the beginning of class.  Students are asked to do a free write about the story behind the photo.

scen intro 2

http://www.risasinmas.com/quitamelo/

The teacher gives the students guiding questions in the target language to assist them with their writing:

  • Who does the bird belong to?
  • Where did the bird come from?
  • Why is the bird on her head?
  • How does the girl feel?

Then, students are asked to share their ideas with their partners/small groups.  Small groups vote for the best description and those are shared with the whole class.

Next, students are asked to come up with alternative titles for the photo in a command form (affirmative or negative).  The teacher addresses any gaps that arise regarding placement of direct and indirect object pronouns in affirmative and negative commands which has been addressed in previous lessons.  If needed, the teacher responds by showing various examples to clarify the forms.  The teacher may also remind students of the diffrerence in placement of object pronouns in declarative statements.

As a follow-up assignment, students create their own meme using a positive or negative command form with direct and/or indirect object pronoun.

Scenario #3: Connect new content with prior learning

For a novice level Portuguese class, the teacher selects the infographic, “Pense Antes de Comer,” (Think Before You Eat) to connect prior learning of food vocabulary and numbers with the new content about healthy lifestyles and exercise.

The teacher begins by reviewing the food vocabulary from the infographic by asking questions such as:

  • Do you like ______? Who likes _______?
  • Do you eat /drink ______?

She then uses either/or questions to check for comprehension (ex. Which has more calories, a milkshake or 2 pieces of pizza?)  She asks students to act out what they think the various exercises suggested in the infographic are.

The teacher provides sentence frames to assist students working in pairs or small groups in interpreting the infographic through writing sentences in the target language:

  • ___________ have ______ calories.
  • If you want to eat ______, you have to do ______.

The teacher points out the use of the infinitives in Portuguese for “wanting to ___” and “having to ___” phrases in the target language.  The teacher asks students to apply the structure to other verbs they know.  Their ideas are recorded on the board/document camera.

The teacher challenges students to come up with a summary sentence about the infographic in the target language.  As an extension, students do research to add a row to the infographic.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series where we will explore ways to use authentic resources in guided practice activities.