What is ‘authentic’? According to the Oxford Dictionary it is something that is “genuine”, “accurate”, “based on facts or reliable”. There’s a big push for ‘authentic resources’ these days in the MFL classroom. And there should be. I want my students to be using Target Language (TL) ‘real life’ information and sources in their language class and am making a big push to do that. Last year, during a unit on travel, I was stymied trying to find data – specifically data on travel trends among youth. And then it struck me – that authentic data was right at my fingertips and that data is, by its definition, an authentic resource. When I need it I now generate authentic information for use two ways in my classes.
As a Source for a Task (Google Docs Form Surveys)- in my senior Travel unit, as previously mentioned, I was looking for real data on travel preferences and trends. When I couldn’t find it – I went about generating it. I created a Google form survey in the TL and posted it on my site. Then, for homework, students were asked to fill in the survey. Armed with the responses my students set out on their task – to create an optional tour in the TL country for young people who were visiting the major cities. Student ‘buy-in’ is great as they know they are working with real information. After the oral students then select the tour of their choice – and write about why it appealed to them.
As a Task Itself (Student Interactive Surveys) – in my senior Food Unit our final task is to do a taste test comparison of 3 brands of the same product. The goal is to advise the school cafeteria of possible choices in what to serve. On taste-test ‘day’ student pairs spend 50-55 minutes, in the TL, gathering data/information from their fellow students. Each student is responsible for administering the survey for half of the the time, and for being a participant in surveys the other half. All exchanges are in the TL but all information is written in English – to ensure comprehension. After the taste test students complete a self-evaluation of their oral performance. Then they have 45 minutes or so to work with their partner to discuss – in the TL – the information. The next class they come in and write their report – using the information gathered to justify their recommendation.
The best kind of resource is one that is current, valid and generated in a realistic way. Using your students to generate that resource can be an alternative as you expand your knowledge and use of authentic information.