What is Authentic Language?
Authentic language is the communication of real messages as opposed to artificial practices and drills. Drill: Write a sentence with the pronoun “tú” and the verb “nadar”. Authentic: Show a picture of a person swimming and ask, “What’s he doing?” It is important to make most of our classroom communication as authentic as possible in order to encourage students to view the target language as a means of communicating, not as another class they have to take. In addition, language is acquired by communicating in meaningful ways using language in context.
~Authentic songs. Songs are a great way to cement language by repetition and to introduce culture into the lesson. I use songs as often as I can at all levels. My students love the song, “Ya no Quiero” for imperfect/preterite practice. (See below.)
~News articles give lots of language in context and academic vocabulary as well as provide spring boards for discussion. http://noticias.univision.com When students are focused on understanding and conveying real messages they learn the language while doing something else as opposed to focusing solely on grammar functions of the language.
Ya no quiero- Imperfect Preterite Input
TPR Stories for Authentic Language
Also, stories have an element of mystery; students are interested to see what will happen next and how the plot will unfold, even in level one. In addition, stories with accompanying activities provide the necessary repetition needed to learn the language provided the teacher is skilled in TPRS. TPR Stories for Spanish One and Two give some basic instructions for how to teach using TPR and some illustrations to aid students in comprehension.
Authentic Language in the Internet
The Internet is a great resource for authentic language with endless possibilities: Students can email Spanish speakers in other countries, talk to Spanish speaker via Skype, listen to Spanish radio broadcasts on the internet, listen to podcasts or read blogs, noticias, diarios. One site that I have used often, “Spanish Proficiency Exercises,” provides comprehensible input and examples of many different accents for all levels.
Authentic Language in Videos and Movies
Movies, if chosen judiciously, can be wonderful comprehensible input. By, “judiciously”, I mean not above the level of the students, language +1. For students to learn from movies, they must be only slightly more difficult than their understanding. If it is too advanced for them, they will not acquire the language and will only read the subtitles. It will have been wasted instructional time which is already more scarce than money.
Here are some popular videos for Spanish One that include Spanish subtitles and pop-in images to aid in comprehension (Click on the image):
My AP Students Love the Movie, "Bajo la misma luna"
Make sure to give students accompanying activities to keep them focused and accountable.
- Of course, games are perfect for all levels because students are so caught up in competing, they forget they are not using their own language, provided the competition provides and requires language in context and not merely isolated conjugations or words. Here are two that my students love:
I found some ideas for activities for authentic language at this interesting site: Musicuentos
With so many choices, it’s easy to use authentic language in our lessons.