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We teach kids to speak real Spanish. For Life

by Erica Fischer on Nov 30, 2012

Preparing Students to Interpret Authentic Audio Resources

Authentic Audio Listening

With the right preparation, students will enjoy their authentic audio experience more and retain new concepts better.

After a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday, #langchat was alive with great ideas and interesting perspectives on the different ways that teachers are preparing their students to interpret authentic audio sources.

Setting Clear and Appropriate Learning Expectations

One of the key components that many teachers agreed upon was the importance of setting realistic and attainable expectations for their students before introducing authentic resources. @SECottrell said, “It’s great to also tell [students] exactly what your goal is for them.” To support this concept, @GlastonburyFl, @MartinaBex and @Karacjacobs suggested pre-teaching key words and phrases that students should recognize in the text.

Another key to setting expectations is preparing students (especially novice speakers) for misunderstandings that will naturally occur. @Trescoumnae said, “So many students (especially novices) freak out because they expect and think that they should understand every word.” While some teachers advocated preparing students for this sometimes disappointing learning curve by explaining that they could expect to understand about 50-80% of new authentic audio, others thought that percentages were intimidating to students.

Providing Authentic Audio Sources as a Natural Teaching Method

A number of #langchat members discussed the importance of using authentic audio as a regular part of the classroom instead of as a teaching novelty. @Musicuentos said, “Students will be more primed to comprehend authentic audio when you stay in [the] target language from [the] novice level.” @PreKlanguages agreed, saying that young learners learn the language much better if they are exposed to regular authentic audio experiences.

Some participants stressed the importance of speaking in the target language a large portion of the class time. The idea is that the more students become familiar with hearing foreign words, the more comfortable they will be with authentic listening exercises. @GlastonburyFL said, “I strive for speaking in the second language 100% of the time, so my students are used to hearing unknown words.” @Tecabrasileira enhances this concept in her classroom by playing popular Spanish music as the students enter each day.

Lower Level and Higher Level Responses to Authentic Audio

One concept that got some attention was how students should be reacting to age-appropriate audio lessons. Some participants, such as – and – wanted to make sure that students were able recognize and understand key vocabulary terms. Others, such as – and – wanted to make sure that students focused on getting the “gist” of the audio selection rather than focusing on individual words.

The participants talked about using authentic audio to focus on encouraging different levels of thinking skills. While some advocated novice-level students focusing on identifying vocabulary in authentic audio, others argued in favor of using audio to promote higher-level thinking skills for identifying main themes and ideas. @Dr_dmd said, “As we examine the ACTFL proficiency guidelines for novice, we see that situations [should be] highly predictable and personal – not abstract.” @Martina Bex agreed stating that, “Listening for main idea is incredibly challenging in lower levels.” As a counterpoint, @SECottrell said, “Don’t forget to push for critical thinking. Don’t stop with CLOZE and vocabulary lists.”

Best Practices for Teaching with Authentic Audio

Some of the most valuable tweets of the night had to do with best practices and ideals for using authentic audio in the language classroom. A couple of these concepts were the most retweeted of the evening:

  • Graphic organizers such as T-charts, Venn Diagrams and modified timelines of events are great aids in pre-listening, listening and post-listening activities.
  • Thematic, entertaining and applicable audio and video will be much more accessible for students. @Glastonbury FL said, “Students will be more engaged if it is a topic relevant to their lives.”
  • Providing students with written lyrics or transcripts of audio and video allows for better scaffolding and post-reading discussions.
  • Targeted listening, whether linguistic or thematic, will provide students with a framework for listening that builds confidence.
  • Differentiate the audio or visual text to the class. @Tmsaue1 said, “There is no such thing as “leveled” audio/video. Change the task, not the text.”
  • Give clear instructions about the activity before you begin, and be prepared to repeat the audio a number of times. @SECottrell said, “Don’t be in a hurry to leave your audio. Do multiple activities with the same one.”
  • Use practiced nonverbal cues, such as a “thumbs up” or nodding, with the classroom to quickly assess understanding during an activity.
  • @Dr_dmd said, “Authentic is not check off singular/plural or present/past, but make the task communicative and real life.”

A complete list of authentic audio teaching strategies and resources from this week’s #langchat is on its way! Watch for a new blog post with helpful links and ideas from this week’s #langchat.

Join us for #LangChat every Thursday evening at 7pm EST. Also, remember to vote in this week’s poll about upcoming discussion topics or submit ideas for discussion at the #LangChat wiki.

#LangChat is an independent group of world-language education professionals who come together every week via Twitter to share ideas and discuss pressing issues in the world of education. Check out the #LangChat wiki for more information about our goals and the team behind it all here. These weekly discussion summaries are sponsored by Calico Spanish as a service to the world-language community.

Erica Fischer
Erica is the founder and CEO of Calico Spanish. Her passion for teaching her own children to speak Spanish led her to create Calico Spanish. Our mission is to give all children the opportunity to learn to speak real Spanish for life.

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