domingo, 27 de enero de 2013

Walking the textbook-authentic-thematic line

This post was prompted by last Thursday's #langchat. I did not actively participate, I just lurked while I watched a show with my son. I am very fortunate to teach my Cultura y Civilzación course (Spanish 4 and Spanish 4+) and not use a textbook. I am able to use all authentic materials and have some great thematic units. But, for levels 1-3, we (a department of 3 Spanish teachers) use the Realidades textbook. We use part of the first book for Spanish 1 and use the second book for Spanish 2 and 3. I would like to get rid of the textbook and use authentic material, Zachary Jones material, and TPRS Publishing novels* (Esperanza, Desde los valles a las montañas, Robo en la noche, La hija del sastre, La guerra sucia, and Vida y muerte en la Mara Salvatrucha), but that is probably not going to happen for a variety of reasons (that I will not go into here).

So, what to do to make it more meaningful, more interesting, more authentic, and more CI? Here is what I will do in my Spanish 3 textbook driven curriculum class.
  • How will I have Content Based Comprehensible Input? I will use two TPRS novels: Robo en la noche and La hija del Sastre
    • How will I incorporate these books? Last semester I had Spanish 3 during the 90 minute lunch break, after lunch we had 30 minutes and we read during that time everyday. This semester I have two Spanish 3 classes, so my plan is to set a time on the clock and stop whatever we are doing to read. Since this is the first time they are reading anything this significant, I will start by reading aloud to them and asking lots of questions as we go along.
    • Last semester I used Piratas: Triángulo de las Bermudas, but the students found it to a bit too silly after a while. It might be better for younger students (these are sophomores). I like the story of Robo en la noche and there is some culture as well. Also, I am planning a trip to Costa Rica in June 2014, so this might get them excited about going. The grammar in Robo en la noche has preterite vs. imperfect, so I will be pointing that out a lot. So, the goal will be for them to understand that concept better by the end of the novel (9ish weeks), not by the end of the first chapter (2 weeks). 
    • I used La Hija del Sastre and students really enjoyed it. The novel is interesting, suspenseful and full of things to talk about. The grammatical structures and vocabulary are rich and although I am not teaching past perfect and imperfect subjunctive, this book exposes them to it.
    • *The TPRS Publishing novels listed are not only excellent Comprehensible Input material, but are cultural and/or historical. Some with excellent Teacher Guides and audio as well.
  • How will I incorporate more Authentic Material?
    • First, let me define Authentic Material: It is a resource in the TL that was created by native speakers for native speakers. 
    • Zachary Jones is my go-to for these resources. I will use a song in every unit. Hopefully, one that is thematically linked, but some will have to be gramatically linked (I don't think he has any activities with songs about fire fighters and natural disasters... yet). I am going to use Te fuiste de aquí by Reik for the first unit. Last semester's students loved this song.
    • I will use websites like this one for authentic reading and listening activities. Here is a worksheet to go along with that website (might need to be updated). Here is another worksheet that uses authentic hotel websites; it is an activitiy leading up to this project
    • I will also try to use a lot of commercials and PSAs. I had great success with that last semester, particulary in this unit in which students viewed a commercial a day for 9 days. They were our "audio activities" (instead of the book activities, which they do not like). There is so much you can do with commercials. Here are two examples for the first unit: En las noticias: Un acto heroico
    • This is what I plan to do when I use commercials (see worksheets linked above):
      • Show it to them and have them watch it.
      • Salk about what they see. They do not have to be speaking in complete, grammatically correct sentences. I am happy with words to start.
      • Ask for key words that they hear.
      • Do a cloze activity. Listen to the commercial 3 or 4 times.
      • Go over and watch again. 
      • Say the commercial with a partner. Try to imitate the person who talks in the commercial. This is fun and funny! Great for pronunciation.
      • Answer a few questions about the commercial.


  • And, finally, how will I use the textbook? 
  • Thematic - Actually, the chapters in the book are not all bad: Natural disaster, accident and hospital, television, movies, food, travel and the environment. It is much better than the "themes" for Spanish 2! And there is a lot of authentic material for those themes.
  • Grammar - I will give notes, do some practice and then expose them to it in context. 
  • Assessments  - I will try to use authentic materials on my assessments. I will hopefully have a speaking assessment for each unit. I love the ideas here (from @lisamjch) and here (from @sonrisadelcampo) for assessments, and I hope to do some similar things. Also, I should probably develop these before I start the unit. I do have some good assessments already but need to make them more proficiency based.
I still have a lot more to think about and implement, but these are some ideas to transform my  textbook driven class into a more engaging, authentic, and comprehensible-input-driven class.



5 comentarios:

  1. Hi Kara
    Finding your blog means I can put a check next to one of my goals for 2013 - to find a few more solid language teachers' blogs for ideas and resources. I look forward to reading more!
    Cynthia

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  2. I really feel like we are in the same "place", in terms of having to work within a department, yet assuring HOW we teach (not just WHAT) is placed at the upmost highest value. This blog is a great reassurance that others feel the same and want to do the same as I. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.

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  5. I have enjoyed reading your blog as we have many similar goals in terms of getting our students to communicate and understand communication in the target language. I see your goal was to have a speaking assessment as part of each unit. I am wondering if you were able to achieve this and HOW!?!? This is something I struggle with...how to assess student speaking without wasting too much instructional time or personal time (I have a 1 year old which does not leave me much time for homework!).

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