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.
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:
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 ______,
- 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 _______.
Later 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.
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.