Chiming in on the #authres conversation

One thing that I have been slacking on since having a baby is #langchat and Twitter.  Although I love it, when I was pregnant, I couldn’t even stay awake until 8 pm, and now, sometimes I feel like I barely know which night is Thursday night!  There was an awesome conversation on Saturday about authentic resources.  Check it out here on Storify thanks to Laura Sexton!  Martina Bex chimed in here on her blog as well.

I thought I would throw my two cents in.  I definitely see the purpose of authentic resources, and I use them in my class.  Recently my students managed to navigate the RENFE website by themselves!  While the overall activity is a task, they were still reading an authentic resource- a website.  I also believe that there is something to be said about using what you know to figure out texts.  Many times, my students want to know every single word instead of figuring it out themselves.  (Perhaps something else I can work with them on?!) I think authentic resources demonstrate that.  Plus, I think it is important to realize that authentic resources do not have to be long, written articles in the target language.  They can be websites, menus, infographics etc.  These are perfect for beginning language learners because they are short, and they have pictures and chunked language.

However, I use TPRS novels in my classes as well.  They are great!  Every student feels successful.  My students start out terrified that they will read a novel in Spanish, but they realize that they can.  My students want to read more advanced, interesting novels.  They don’t want to read something in Spanish that is targeted to infants all of the time just because it is authentic.  There is definitely a disconnect between the reading ability of my students in English and Spanish.  I believe that the novels bridge that gap successfully.  As others have said, this is also why my students are able to read authentic resources- because they have read comprehensible texts.

My overall thought is… why can’t we use both?  Isn’t there inherent value in both?  Plus, some students will enjoy one reading over another.  What are your thoughts?  I would love to hear more input about what you use in your class.

2 thoughts on “Chiming in on the #authres conversation

  1. I feel exactly as you do about the #authres! And I AM drawn to showing kids they can handle a whole novel in the TL…but I find it hard to commit to a topic enough to justify purchasing novel sets I may only use once, when there’s so much FREE stuff that is just like what kids will see outside of class!

    1. I agree- although it can be daunting to find all of the free stuff. I have found that in reality students can read the novels quickly, so they can be as short or as long as you like. I can get through a novel in Spanish I in about two weeks if I am in a hurry. I have also stretched it out to a month- but that seemed a bit cumbersome for everyone.

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