Students learning a new language from a traditional textbook can often miss out on how that language is used in real life. After all, textbook language can sometimes differ dramatically from speech and writing in a Spanish-speaking country.
This presents an opportunity to bring authentic learning resources into the language classroom or distance learning environment to enhance the experience. Authentic learning resources are materials that were not created for language learning purposes, that is, they were developed for a real-world scenario and typically from the native country. Resources can range from television commercials on Spanish-speaking channels, newspaper/magazine articles, songs, and more.
However, using authentic resources requires a lot of research to discover which materials would be suitable for a language lesson. Not only that but deciding how to integrate those authentic materials into a lesson scenario and making them accessible to all students is not an easy task.
Here are 3 ideas for incorporating authentic resources into your language classroom:
- Locate videos from a well-known television personality in your native country of choice (i.e. food network shows are often a good choice). These programs will show native speakers conversing and, in turn, show your students how they may actually use the language (when traveling abroad) to order food at a restaurant or perhaps from a local food kiosk. Show the video to your students first with no sound to get them to use visual cues to build understanding before they hear Spanish.
- Locate a newspaper from a Spanish-speaking country (print or digital) and have students compare a popular world news topic from that newspaper to their local newspaper. First, have students look at headlines, visuals, graphs, and other features to get ideas of what they will read. Then have them look for cognates and other words they know and highlight them. Students can then read and compare and contrast each newspaper’s perspectives on the same story.
- Locate a popular children’s picture book series from a Spanish-speaking country and assign them as reading homework. Have students scan for vocabulary they are familiar with but also have them collect & record new vocabulary words that are unfamiliar in a journal and have them interpret their meaning from the pictures shown.
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