My class needed to practice describing faces, but I wanted them to do this via authentic language tasks.
What could I do?
Design my own faces!
I used this site for designing faces, and used the face designs to naturally direct the student practice.
For instance, take this pair of faces:
I could use them in a variety of exercises, such as:
- Practicing comparatives and ordinals by giving each student both pictures and having him/her describe the differences (e.g.: “She has longer hair in the second picture”)
- Practicing question formation by giving each student only one pic and having them play “Spot the Differences” without looking at the other student’s pic (e.g.: “Does she have long hair?”)
In addition, controlling for content and level is as easy as designing the picture around that. For instance, if I want students to practice using terms involving the eyes, I’d vary that part of the picture. If I have more advanced students, I’d make the pictures much more similar, like so:
Similar pictures require more speaking time and a better grasp of language, all of which are better suited to more advanced students.
Obviously this isn’t limited to faces. I could use any site that allowed for designs (e.g.: vehicle designs, living room layouts) to practice authentically in an appropriately themed class. The bigger picture (*ahem*) is the use of supplementary materials to help control practice while keeping it authentic.
In short, we’re designing a context (or simulation) that naturally triggers the needs of the language I want students to practice.
With this natural need arising, they can better understand the language. It’s a lot easier to practice comparatives (what’s the difference between bigger and big?) when they are in a situation in which they naturally need those structures.
What About You?
Do you have any site you like for designing supplementary materials?
Do you use authentic language in your class?
How do you manage to create contexts in which students can authentically practice what you teach them?