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Authentic Input

Using authentic material to teach foreign language.

Gen Schulz

on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of Authentic Input

Concept 1
Present in both the Illinois state standards for foreign language and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language’s (ACTFL) proficiency standards is the goal that students should be able to communicate fluently with native speakers in a natural setting. In order for this to happen I believe that students need a great deal of authentic input in the target language (Spanish). Typical text book programs do not provide authentic reading or listening opportunities. They are primarily simplified texts or texts created specifically for the purpose of learning Spanish. Texts are not authentic unless they have been created for native speakers with the purpose of informing, entertaining, persuading, etc. Music, movies, TV programming, literature, books, magazines, the news, informative pod casts, and many others are all examples of authentic materials. Exposing students to these types of reading, audio, and visual materials will greatly improve their comprehension and ability to communicate within a natural context (one not created in a classroom).
Out of the Theoretical & into the Classroom
Don't teach in a bubble;
Authentic Input = Authentic Output
Using Authentic Materials in Foreign Langauge Classes to Improve Proficiency.
Illinois State Board of Education - Foreign Language Standards (ISBE.org)

STATE GOAL 28: Use the target language to communicate within and beyond the classroom setting.

Why This Goal Is Important: At the core of foreign language learning is mastery of the four basic communication skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.
In modern languages, the ultimate goal is to attain the ability and confidence necessary to interact with fluency in oral and written contexts with native speakers.
This communication may occur both in person and through technology. This interaction in the target language is central to all curriculum and instruction in the modern languages. On the other hand, in classical languages, the goal is to focus more on linguistic structures and textual studies with much less emphasis on oral communication.
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 (ACTFL.org)

“Knowing how, when, and why to say what to whom”

All the linguistic and social knowledge required for effective human-to-human interaction is encompassed in those ten words. Formerly, most teaching in foreign language classrooms concentrated on the how (grammar) to say what (vocabulary). While these components of language are indeed crucial, the current organizing principle for foreign language study is communication, which also highlights the why, the whom, and the when.
So, while grammar and vocabulary are essential tools for communication, it is the acquisition of the ability to communicate in meaningful and appropriate ways with users of other languages that is the ultimate goal of today’s foreign language classroom.
To Simplify or not to simplify?
Concept 2
I believe in order to successfully have an authentic classroom at any level, language and literature must be taught side by side. The use of literature and other authentic materials in the language classroom will ensure that students are exposed to the language in its natural state. In addition, the study of language in the literature classroom will increase student understanding and increase interaction with the texts. This is not, however, commonly accepted practice and unfortunately the language/literature divide still exists in many programs and classrooms at all levels.
Language / Literature Divide
"It is by now widely accepted that presenting and practicing grammatical structures and vocabulary within meaningful contexts in beginning- and intermediate-level foreign language (FL) classes is important for language acquisition." (Frantzen, 2002, p. 109).
However, Scott goes on to say that these authentic materials tend to not be literature, which is generally avoided in beginning and most intermediate FL classes. While I believe all authentic materials have a place in the classroom, I also believe that literature should be one of them!
Literature can be introduced through many means, and allowing the students to build background information on the author, time period and situation the book was written, characters, etc will increase reader confidence and make the text more accessible. The search for and sharing of information could be group work as preparation for a new piece of literature. I found many websites, pod casts, videos, and interviews on a variety of Spanish-speaking authors that were credible and helpful.
This is the first page of the novel Aura by Carlos Fuentes. While it is a major work of literature, the language is not overly complex, the structure and vocabulary are accessible, and the page is not dense or intimidating.

Students could complete prereading activities in groups to prepare to read the first few pages.

The practice of prereading and working cooperatively to construct meaning in a foreign language class is supported by Lucia Osa-Melero in her article A Cooperative Analysis of the Impact of Cooperative versus Textbook-based Individual Prereading Activities on the Reading Comprehension of Students of Spanish published in Hispania.
Taking it into the Classroom
Schultz describes a lesson in which the students are starting a fairly complex novel in French. The beginning scene describes a landscape in great detail. Understanding this description is crucial to the understanding of the book. After the students read the scene, in groups they discuss what they believe the landscape looks like and then make a drawing to match. All groups present their impression to the class and as a whole class the final landscape is decided upon. This is a great prereading activity to increase understanding and background knowledge. It makes the text less intimidating and increases student confidence while staying true to the authentic text. (Schultz, 2002, p. 20).
Language belongs in the world!!
Print Material & Literature
Videos, TV & Movies
Pod Casts & Music
There are many resources on the internet that students can access to hear authentic Spanish. Pod casts and popular music are just two of the options. It is important that teachers create a list of safe and useful sites to help students sort through the mass of information and potentially inappropriate material.
Videos, TV, and movies expose students to not only the language signals, but also mannerisms and cultural nuances.
Authentic print material exposes the students to the natural structures and style of the language.
Articles from People en Espanol
Reading Comprehension

Objectives: Students Will be Able to:
• Make predictions about the text by asking questions about the title, pictures, and bold print.
• Read for comprehension by questioning the text as they read.
• Categorize the questions they have asked and then determine if they are answerable or just for discussion.
• With a group answer the answerable questions and discuss the discussion questions.
• Reflect upon this activity and determine its usefulness in helping them to understand a new text in Spanish.

For Further Comprehension – an extension of the lesson:
• Using a Reading Guide, list the main ideas of the article including textual support.
• Write a summary of the article based upon the main points.

Bringing the lesson into the world:
• Relate the main ideas of the article from People en Español to realities in our own city/neighborhood.
• Research for local programs that have the same or similar mission as the one described in the article in People en Español.
"...some critics have hypothesized that the use of simplified texts to assist L2 learners may actually be counterproductive because these texts may not allow the learners to graduate to more advanced texts that have sentences of natural length, more complex structural patterns, and more deeply embedded linguistic cues different from those of simplified texts, (Honeyfield, 1977; Mountford, 1976)." (Crossley, et al., 2007, p. 16).
"Long & Ross (1993) summarized this position by addressing the idea that the removal of complex linguistic forms in favor of more simplified and frequent forms must inevitable deny learners the opportunity to learn natural forms of the language" (Crossley, et al., 2007, p.16).
"... if linguistic modifications, such as simplified syntax and vocabulary, helped comprehension, they did not do so consistently" (Crossley, et al., 2007, p. 17).
"Support for the use of authentic materials in the L2 classroom also centers on the idea that L2 learners are at a disadvantage when they use textbooks developed from idealized data and inauthentic texts that abridge the target language to the point of distortion" (Crossley, Louwerse, McCarthy, & McNamara, 2007, p. 18).
Swaffar tells us that simplified texts are more closely related to the L1 than the L2, students are reading "in terms of native language equivalency" (Swaffar, 1985, p. 15) which reduces understanding and proficiency in the L2. She also believes that students will learn the L2 best when it is taught through the other content areas. Therefore, language teachers should be using authentic L2 reading, science, math, history, etc. material in order to teach Spanish. What a great way to make connections for students across the curriculum!
"In short, what is missing in most of our current available textbook reading materials is one of the essential predications of language proficiency; linguistically authentic comprehensible input presented in a fashion which allows students to practice decoding message systems rather than individual words" (Swaffar, 1985, p. 17).
"For foreign language learners, reading to identify information systems decreases dependency on knowledge of vocabulary by encouraging the reader to chunk phrases and sentences in terms of logical associations" (Swaffar, 1985,p. 22).
A study conducted by Todd Hernandez and published in the Modern Language Journal concluded that; "First, students can improve their L2 speaking proficiency during a one-semester study-abroad program. Second, there is a positive relationship between students' integrative motivation and their interaction with the L2 culture. Third, student contact with the Spanish Language has a significant effect on their speaking improvement. The data confirm the importance of focusing on at-home and study-abroad learning activities that foster students' integrative motivation and interaction with the L2 culture" Hernandez, 2010, p. 600).
"Authentic video [...] provides student viewers with an abundance of target language samples, used in context by native speakers" (Weyers, 1999, p. 339).

All of the videos above were found on YouTube. The top two have many different speakers from different Spanish speaking regions and would pair nicely with a lesson on accents. The bottom video is an interview of Carlos Fuentes. The interview is in English, but would work as good background information before starting an authentic text by this author.
Cooperative prereading activities help students create background knowledge and comfort before reading an authentic text. (Osa-Melero, 2012, p. 312).
Concepts and Support
The BIG Idea!
Incorporating authentic texts into all aspects of foreign language teaching and integrating language and literature instruction at all levels!!
Where does the BIG idea stem from?
The Standards!!
How do we know?
The Evidence
How do we know?
More Evidence
How do we know?
Even more Evidence
How do we Know?
The Evidence Continues...
Integration Support
What do the Experts Think?
"Byrnes (2007) summarized this language-literature division as a "pointless distinction between language instruction and content instruction" and interpreted this distinction as arising from "a long-standing tradition in Western thought of separating language from knowledge" (p.38) (Weber-Feve, 2009, p. 454).
Integration Support
More Experts
Integration Support
Keep the Experts Coming
Integration Support
Experts, Experts, Experts
Studies have shown that literature has been kept out of the the beginning level classroom in part because the teachers feared that students at that level were not ready for the complex literary text. However, students have proved them wrong and now teachers are learning new ways of incorporating literature into early language instruction.

"For beginning levels, for example, Frantzen argued that research has demonstrated that authentic literary and other reading materials, in addition to their well recognized value as input, can serve as one type of meaningful context in which to practice and present structures and vocabulary" (Weber-Feve, 2009, p. 455).
Integration Support
A Bit More from the Experts
In addition, as McBride points out, "En vez de adjustar los materials que se usan en una determinada tarea didactica, se puede cambiar lo que se pide que el estudiante haga con la muestra (Hoven 1991; Lynch 1988)" (McBride, 2012, p. 318).
Language / Literature Divide
To Simplify or not to Simplify
In order to easily demonstrate the differences in a simplified versus authentic text I have decided to use video. Both videos portray young adults in conversation. The first is created specifically for teaching Spanish. While the speakers appear to be native, the language and interaction are careful and deliberate, not at all natural.

The second video is an interview from MTV en Espanol. The conversation is fluid and natural.

While the second video may seem intimidating to a beginning student. If the teacher gives the listener a purpose this fear can be diminished.
Lesson Ideas

If the goal is to increase the students' proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and comprehending Spanish through the use of authentic material, then the lesson plans must incorporate these types of materials. The typical textbook can no longer drive instruction.

While any exposure to authentic language (written and oral) is beneficial to student learning, I propose a regular and frequent pattern of use. I believe that at a minimum each unit should incorporate at least one piece of authentic reading and a corresponding auditory/oral tool.

For example, if the reading material for the unit were an article from People en Espanol, the corresponding auditory tool could be a YouTube video of an interview with the subject of the article.
Taking it into the Classroom
Lesson Ideas
Taking it into the Classroom
Lesson Ideas
Lesson Ideas
Taking it into the Classroom
This video is of the author, Carlos Fuentes, reading his novel Aura. It would be a great way to connect spoken language to written language.

Students can be given specific sounds to listen for in order to identify their written form.
Additional Lesson Idea:

Oral comprehension of an authentic video.

SWBAT: Listen to a native speaker of Spanish and demonstrate comprehension through a variety of written and spoken exercises.

Process: Prior to listening to the video, students would be given or will have researched information on the topic. They will also be given a purpose for listening, (what information, structure, sound, etc. they need to identify). During the video they can follow along in their books while listening.

Goal: To increase comprehension of spoken Spanish in an authentic situation.
Additionally, in groups students could create visual depictions of what they perceived the scene looked like, draw it, and share it with the class. (Schultz, 2002, p. 20).
While the integration of authentic texts in the foreign language classroom is necessary for student proficiency, such an integration would only diminish rather than augment student learning without the simultaneous teaching of literacy strategies.
"How do we make sense of this...?
Taking it into the Classroom
Lesson Ideas
How Do We Know Its Working?
How Do We Know Its Working?
How Do We Know Its Working?
The following is from the study Videos mashup para ensenar pronunciacion y cultura by Kara McBride; "Cuando se mezclan diversos archivos digitales, se crea lo que se llama un mashup. Un video mashup puede incluir recortes de otros videos, imagenes y archivos de sonido. Realizada adecuadamente, la yuxtaposicion de materiales puede servir como una forma de elaboracion de un tema central. Ademas, las tecnicas de edicion del video permiten la segmentacion de los materiales que, al realizarse con objectivos didacticos en mente, peude ser el andamiaje adecuado que ayude al estudiante a entender una muestra de habla autentico" (McBride, 2012, p. 318). Its describes a process of creating a new video from segments of others to create a central theme. The study revealed that exposure to these types of authentic materials, in addition to the results below, improved students self-efficacy.
Students that participated in this study with the video mash-ups self reported significant increases in their pronunciation, comprehension, and knowledge of the L2 culture. More significantly, their professors reported an even greater increase in the above for these same students!
Professors Responses
Example video mashup from the McBride study.
How Do We Know Its Working?
Magazines in the target language are another good source of authentic language. The articles, advertisements, and photographs are all texts around which to create an authentic lesson.
Joseph R. Weyers published a study on the effects of exposure to authentic video on communicative competence in the Modern Language Journal. His results (shown at left) demonstrate that after watching telenovelas students had reportedly higher listening comprehension, oral proficiency and confidence in speech than the control group. Thereby making a strong case for their use in meeting the standards for foreign language teachers.
There are many ways that teachers can determine if their students are benefiting from the use of authentic materials in the foreign language classroom. These are just a few I have used!
There are many resources out there that can be used as is, or easily adjusted for your classroom.
How does content area literacy relate to foreign language teaching? I did not know how to answer this question when I began studying content literacy. Due in large part to a long standing language/ literature divide and a well accepted practice of simplifying texts, the typical language teacher would not need to be that well versed in literacy strategies. Literature is not normally taught until the higher level language classes when students are asked to focus on plot and characters, not language. What's more the simplified material present in most textbooks is designed to focus on a particular vocabulary grouping or grammatical structure and is generally not thought of as needing close reading.

How would foreign language teaching look if every teacher refused to use simplified material?

How much would the students benefit from a classroom rich in culture and authentic language?

Content area literacy skills would be needed in abundance if literature was introduced at the lower levels, and if students were constantly being asked to construct their own knowledge from authentic texts, written, oral and visual.

I myself hope to create such a classroom, and I hope you do too!
Literacy in the Foreign Language Classroom
While the idea behind simplification was to make the texts more accessible, many experts in the field do not believe that this is the result, and that simplification actually complicates the material.
How can students be expected to take what they learn in the classroom out into the world if the world is not first present in the classroom?
When students are not comfortable with the language, when they have missed out on the essence of the language, they try to translate word for word when they read. This is difficult and hard work. Students of Spanish (L2) would benefit greatly from learning to read directly in Spanish and to not read Spanish through an English (L1) translation.
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