ACTFL Reflections: Authentic Resources

ACTFL Reflections: Authentic Resources

This ACTFL, I really wanted to make sure that I had a chance to see people who I don’t get to see all year.  Therefore, my sessions weren’t focused on one single thing, but I ended up with a few key strands that I can develop and focus on this year.  One of the first ideas was about authentic resources.  Many people shared some places to get more ideas for authentic resources.

Anna Gilcher and Rachelle Adams shared to use pictures of signs (which Laura had mentioned before, and I haven’t gotten around to using!)  Also, they discussed how important it is to find authentic resources with kids voices via YouTube or other sources.  This idea is echoed throughout other sessions as well.  Anna and Rachelle also use cooking videos that have the directions in the video.  These are some of my favorites!  (One activity that I did with this was provide a checklist for students to use when they were watching a video and they could check off the ingredients that they saw in the video.)  They also used a calendar of holidays from various countries.  If you talk about the calendar with your students, this would be a great add-on to this activity!  You could hand out a copy of list and have students find the important dates.  Finally, they discussed the importance of finding authentic perspectives when looking at authentic resources.  Make sure you aren’t just looking at countries like Mexico and Spain.

Another session that I attended was by Krista Moody, Nan Pickens and Jean Weitz.  They have used promotional travel videos before.  I love using these because they show the beauty in each country.  (I made this for a unit on Cuba.)  They also mentioned Top Chef Junior which Stacey also just blogged about some of her activities.  (Speaking about finding videos by kids your students’ ages!) Another fun resource that they shared included this No Me Llamo Así video.  Some other general guidelines that they mentioned included finding authentic resources that have pop culture, a sense of humor or discuss social justice.

In both the sessions by Anna and Rachelle and another session by Dorie Conlon Perugini, LJ Randolph and Stacey Margarita Johnson (presentation here), they discussed some new ideas on how to use authentic resources in class.  Anna and Rachelle explained that you should have a communicative purpose for the authentic resource.  You can think about what students can say or write after the authentic resource.  This took me forever to figure out.  You shouldn’t find an authentic resource for the purpose of using an authentic resource but really think about what you want your students to get out of it and what they will be able to communicate about it.

Stacey explained that with authentic resources you can have activities that are either focused processing or thorough processing.  With focused processing, students might pick a few pieces to understand.  With thorough processing, students really understand the whole resource.  While both have a purpose and place, you have to be mindful about what you are choosing.  You also need to see how your students react to the resource.  If they really like it, you can do some more thorough processing.  However, if you have chosen a resource that is based on social justice, you don’t want students to just skim and scan it but rather use more thorough processing.  One way to do a thorough processing activity is to have students compare two resources.  You can also use comprehensible teacher talk to pair with authentic resources.  It doesn’t have to be either/or!  (Stacey mentioned my post on how to use authentic resources with learner novels here.)  Another activity includes classifying vocabulary from the resource.  For novices, you can provide various points of view and have students choose one and justify it based on language from the text.

Some other ideas that they mentioned included using the reflection technique: I see, I think, I wonder.  Also, students can reflect on a time that they have felt the same way as the author.  With novice learners, you may have to have them do this reflection in English, but it is important to do.  Once they do this, you can follow up with some questions in the target language.  Finally, one of my favorite ideas was using an authentic tweet and then using it as a sentence stem to have students discuss when they felt the same way.

These sessions gave me a lot of think about when I am using authentic resources.  Feel free to share your reflections about authentic resources as well!


3 thoughts on “ACTFL Reflections: Authentic Resources

  1. Hi Maris, I just went to see the video about Cuba, but the written part has many, many mistakes.  I thought I should let you know. Best regards, Cecilia

    1. Thanks! I didn’t realize that I shared a version that a student had edited (and added responses to!) I just deleted their responses, so it should just show the videos and questions now.

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