As a German teacher who also leads trips abroad, it is critical for me to include interpretive tasks (reading, listening, speaking) in all levels of the German curriculum, so students get a sense of what “real German” is like (and/or understand what they will be surrounded by when they step off the plane in Frankfurt, Germany). When I’m not abroad in Germany with my students, however, this task can be daunting, because access to authentic resources is a challenge, and choosing how to best didacticize those resources to encourage higher-order thinking can prove difficult.
I recently came across a blog article by Kara Parker on the Creative Language Class regarding same topic, and it seems she has experienced a similar conundrum in her Spanish classroom, particularly at the lower levels, since the language production level is low at this stage, but the thinking capacity is high.
Parker begins by presenting the issues she has with traditional interpretive tasks as well as specific examples of them. She goes on to describe why those traditional methods are lacking. She then elaborates as to why she’s decided to change the manner in which she teaches and assesses the interpretive mode of language learning, which, at some point in her journey, included a key conversation with language expert Paul Sandrock, Director of Education for the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages).
Finally, Parker reveals ideas for lessons she has migrated toward to increase the authenticity of interpretive tasks; most of which are based in real-world application to the scenario at hand. Her post is a breath of fresh air, which inspires me to follow suit. No more spending hours finding and creating resources that are more meaningful to me than my students – it’s time to “keep it real”, as it were, and base interpretive tasks on authentic, realistic scenarios that students are investing in, as that’s where true learning takes place.
You can read Kara Parker’s post here: Making Interpretive Tasks More Authentic