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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The case for interculturality

By Ed Weiss

As world language teachers, we all use various aspects of culture to enrich our curriculum and engage our students.  My love of French began in another era in classrooms where grammar ruled the day.  My true appreciation of languages truly blossomed when I spent time in France and was immersed in the language and culture.  I absorbed language as I grew as a person by learning about and appreciating the differences between my native culture and the new, exciting culture of France.  Looking back on a lifetime of teaching, a philosophy that I have come to embrace is that language teaching without culture is inaccurate and incomplete.  The idea of interculturality allows students to discover language via authentic cultural interactions just as you would in the target language country.

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