Spark Excitement with Authentic Resources

Posted by Megan Smith on July 18, 2015 in 2 Authentic Resources, Culture, Listening, Reading, Videos

#AuthRes (authentic resources) have made a huge impact in world language classes around the world. Basically, they are anything made for native speakers. The beautiful thing is that the internet has helped make these resources available to all of us and to all of our students without having to go on a long trip. Hooray for technology! Kara wants to know who else remembers begging jet-setting friends to bring “realia” back.

Here’s our take on authentic resources and our new addition to the website.

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They are a spark! Excited students are more fun to teach and cultural differences catch their eye.

Students are visual. It helps them to “see” the aspects of culture and make the language comprehensible.

It’s REAL (aka: authentic)  – made by companies/individuals for their target audience.

It’s target language time – That 90% shouldn’t always be from the teacher. Videos show them what people around the world look and sound like.

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Class opener – I love starting class with a great video. It’s much easier to grab their attention with a catchy song or ad.

Brain-break – Using a TL video or image can be a great cue or visual to signal a transition in class.

Conversation starter – Our chat only goes so far with “cómo estás” but after we look at neat video/article we have something new to talk about and usually a lot of questions!

Instructions – I don’t have to explain or write direction to all activities. I can use how-to videos made by native speakers and students follow along. Last year, students learned how to cut papel picado, play the guiro, and how to take a good selfie from videos in the target language.

Interpretive activity/assessment – So often we jump right in to the production stage without giving students time to listen and read first. These skills will improve if we give students lots of opportunities to practice. Plus, they start to realize that they don’t need to know every word to understand what’s going on.

Introduce new vocabulary in context – No huge vocab lists before we start a unit. Students can decide for themselves what words are important and usually jump straight to phrases when we start with authentic resources.

Inspiration to create a project – Find a great song? Then they can make their own. See a group of people in need? Maybe your class can make a difference. So many good ideas come from simply showing them what’s going on around the world.

Need more ideas? Here are 30 unique comprehension checks to use with any authentic resource. (Thanks to Kara!)

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Use a variety of sources – one size doesn’t fit all. At the end of the year, I asked students to name their favorite video. Almost every student described a different one. A nice mix of funny, athletic, musical, serious, romantic and you can connect with all students at some point.

Don’t be afraid to use AUTHRES with novices –  Modify the task. Novices can list what they see/hear, give opinions, identify simple representations, make simple inferences and make simple comparisons. Intermediates can explain or compare culture, narrate, make predictions, and more. I could easily use the same videos in every level (that’s where an aligned curriculum makes life much easier!).

Choose resources that engage your students – Connect to their lives. My band students loved this video and I have a girl who loves Prince Royce and I try to go out of my way to find what will engage them. Many tell me that they showed someone later or downloaded a song. I want them to choose to listen on their own outside of class! #AuthResSuccess

Show/use it again –  Whether it’s 3 times in one class period or using it with a different unit, it’s OK! They will see something new each time.

So now you know about our love affair with AuthRes. Now we want to share this passion with you!

This is how…

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We’ve added a new page that is a collection of AuthRes in Spanish with a few other resources that have been successful in our classes. They are organized by categories and you can find just what you need by clicking a theme on the top of the page. We will continue to add more each month.

Authentic Resources have added a little chispa* (spark) to our lessons by providing meaningful language input, unique cultural aspects (practices/perspectives/products) or a touch of much needed inspiration.  Our goal in sharing is to save you a little time and inspire some amazing lessons. Let us know what you think and feel free to share your favorites back with us!

10 comments for “Spark Excitement with Authentic Resources”

  1. Kara Parker says:

    Megan and I are so excited to be able to share this new Chispa collection with all you Spanish teachers! We will definitely add more as we find new ones and go through last year’s lesson plans. Let us know if there’s a specific “topic” you would like to see more of. Also preview each one to make sure it’s appropriate for your class/school’s culture. Hope you enjoy!

  2. Kelly Ochoa says:

    This is awesome. Mil Gracias!!! I am attending Camp Musicuentos this coming Friday and can’t wait to put some of these to use when I go.

    1. Kara Parker says:

      I’d love to hear how you are going to use them Kelly. 🙂

  3. Irma leal says:

    Thank you for sharing your amazing ideas.

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Welcome Irma! Let’s us know how it works for you.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hey all! My coworker and I recently did a presentation on Adapting Authentic Resources at Lausanne Learning Institute! It seems right in line with your article here! I wanted to leave the open link to the Google Folder here in case anyone is interested in the materials:

    Feel free to add me on Twitter or email me too because I am always looking for collaboration!

  5. Kristina says:

    Excellent information! Can’t wait to start using some of the resources in my classes!

  6. Elicia says:

    Hi, I noticed that many (about 50%) of the links on your blog are broken/504 errors, and that the authres/chispas page is not searchable by content type (video, etc.). I am pretty sure that I read that you had intended it to be, so I just wanted to let you know! Thanks for all the great resources! I am going to add cultural videos in to my classes as the new year starts and I really appreciate that you have made it easier for me to integrate this into my curriculum. Thank you!

    1. Kara Parker says:

      Links are always changing so that’s a constant battle I feel like I’ll never win! 🙂 I didn’t mean to make it searchable by video, article, etc., only by topics that the resource would support. We are in the process of reformatting all of this to include the “chispa” plus the follow-up activities/tasks on Thanks for the info!

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