Who to see @ACTFL 2016

ACTFL 2016, the national conference on language teaching, is taking place in Boston this weekend. It is an opportunity to hear about current trends in language education. Last year when I attended the conference in San Diego, it took a lot of time on Twitter to prioritize which presenters’ sessions to attend. I took interest in the teachers who were active on #langchat, the ones who were making comments that showed the merit of their practice. In addition, I relied on the list of ACTFL Teachers of the Year as they are all excellent professionals.

In case you don’t have the time to do your own research, I want to share with you a handful of excellent presenters that you can catch this year.

  • Catherine Ousselin is a Digital Literacy Coach and French teacher. She has attended MaFLA in the past, so maybe you have already heard her speak. She is a leader in the area of technology. When the site Photo de Classe came online recently, its merits were obvious to French teachers and so I am intrigued to find out how Catherine uses it. Photo de Classe: Connecting Origins, Family and Identity Using Global Units. Friday 11am-12pm
  • Amy Lenord is a Spanish teacher and is the #langchat moderator. Here she will be addressing whether or not vocabulary lists hold us back. Liberation from the Lists: Vocabulary Instruction without Limits. Friday 3:45-4:45pm
  • Nicole Naditz is a French teacher and was ACTFL teacher of the year in 2015. I blogged about her tips after ACTFL 2015 and can’t wait to hear what she has to say about Interpersonal communication for novice students. Breaking Through: Building Up to Spontaneous Communication from Year 1. Friday 3:45-4:45pm
  • Noah Geisel is a Spanish teacher and was ACTFL teacher of the year in 2013. The description of the sessions states that, “Mobile Storytelling… facilitates reciprocal communication with authentic audiences” I will get out of bed early Saturday morning and leave my husband with the kids to find out what “authentic audiences” means. When Digital isn’t Enough: The Magic of Mobile Storytelling. Saturday 8-9am
  • Sara-E. Cottrell is the Spanish teacher who is responsible for Musicuentos.com. Here she is addressing a very timely subject for me and my colleagues, how to use a text book. Textbook as Aid: Adapt, Incorporate and Ditch. Saturday 5:15-6:15pm

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The daunting task of collecting authentic materials

My district’s curriculum coordinator is encouraging language teachers to find their own authentic materials instead of using ones from a publisher that are written for the second language audience. Authentic materials are culturally rich and tend to rely less on stereotypes than textbooks. The task of collecting them is made a little bit easier because I have been working at it for the last four years, but I still find it daunting. In this post I would like to share what I’ve learned so that others can collect authentic resources more quickly than I did and get on to the next step of using them.

My goal has been to find authentic videos and texts that are of high interest level to my pre-teen students and are accessible at the novice level. These materials also need to fit into the themes that are taught in the first years of French class and need to be geared toward social justice, as per my district. Where do I go to find such texts and video clips?

I will start with my favorites. My best resource is TV5Monde. Click here to see my blog post about this gold mine of a resource. In addition, I have found some individuals who collect authentic resources. There is a new site called Le vrai de vrai that has just come online in the last month and is a game changer for French teachers. It is a collection of authentic materials leveled for novice and intermediate students. Another great collector, Catherine Ousselin, on behalf of AATF has created a You Tube channel called AAT French that is a rich source for videos. The materials from these three sources figure prominently in my instruction.

Beyond these sites, I rely heavily on materials other French teachers have posted to Pinterest and Twitter. On Pinterest, French teachers have adopted FLE, Français Langue Étrangère, as their designation for French materials. Do a search with the terms “FLE” and the theme that you are searching for, such as “FLE nourriture”, then click on “boards” to find boards with multiple pins on the topic. You will be led to many short video clips, info-graphs and articles. Not all of them will be authentic, appropriate, interesting and accessible so you will need to sort through with a critical eye. You can check out my boards here, as a starting point. Pinterest is, by the way, a great place to store for future use the authentic documents you gather. On Twitter, the shortcut to authentic documents is #authres and if you add in #french you will see the latest tweets for authentic French resources.

Media outlets from France that write content for children are a great resource as well. Best would be to subscribe to magazines like GéoAdo and Okapi, but online you can get some good resources from these magazines as well as from 1jour1actu and P’tit Libé, which have both been excellent for me.

What to do with the clips and readings you have found? Once I have found a video clip, I want to be able to call it up quickly when I am using it with my students, so I want to take out the hassle of unreliable wifi and advertisements. Also, I frequently want to use just a segment. So, I use a clip converter to download the segment. And I store both the clips and the readings that I have found in my Google Docs, which seems to have enough space for all my content.

These hints have taken me four years to assemble. I wish you happy collecting. May you move more quickly than I did.