The power of authentic resources

By Ed Weiss

During my teaching career, I always had a true affinity for the use of authentic materials.  All the research indicates that student proficiency increases with exposure to a variety of authentic materials.  Perhaps even more compelling than the research, is the memory of my secondary education.  My teachers were well trained and had clearly mastered the language, but those were the days of grammar-centric world language classes.  Verb conjugations and vocabulary lists were featured aspects of instruction.  My only memories of authentic materials were posters from Air France and SNCF and the weekly arrival of Paris Match magazine.  The tasks that we were assigned were essentially decontextualized sentences accompanied by verb form drills.  The curriculum was primarily based on mastery of forms with minimal real life applications of language skills.  From a student perspective, we didn’t know any better.  We couldn’t envision an intercultural, multimedia course with internet access to enrich and connect with students.  Our teachers were limited by their lack of resources and the pedagogical philosophy of that era. 

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4 types of authentic resources and how to use them effectively

By Cristin Bleess
Instructional Strategist

In Part 1 of our series on authentic resources we talked about the basics of authentic resources. Today we are going to take a deeper dive and look at how your students can interact with these great resources to learn vocabulary and grammar in context.

Authentic resources are an excellent way to provide the needed input for learners to begin to acquire new vocabulary or language structures. By showing examples of how the language is actually used, students are not learning the information in isolation, but rather with meaning attached to it, embedded in context and culture. As they interact with the resource, they are seeing how and why it is used in different instances.

In classrooms using a proficiency-driven instructional method, the teacher moves from being the provider of all new knowledge to the co-constructor of that knowledge. Instead of front-loading our learners with all the words or rules they could possibly ever need, I am proposing using authentic resources to show them how the language is used by native-speakers and letting students organize that new knowledge in a way that is meaningful for them.

Let’s look at some examples:

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Authentic resources: what they are, where to find them, and how to use them

By Cristin Bleess
Instructional Strategist

Authentic resources. That buzz word seems to be everywhere these days. It’s thrown around as if it were a beach ball in Miami. They are mentioned in ACTFL’s Six Core Practices. It is assumed that everyone is using them, or at least knows that they should be. But, do they? Let’s talk a bit about the basics of authentic resources: what are they, where to find them, and how to use them.

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