My #langchat colleague Mira Canion (@MCanion), known for her successful TPRS novels, and I had a long chat one day about what authentic resources are and it was her suggestion that a criteria to evaluate authentic resources ought to exist. So, being challenged by her brilliant idea, I decided to do just that, create criteria for teachers to use when they encounter an authentic resource they are thinking of using in a lesson.
Evaluating Authentic Resources
For the purpose of this post and in my own opinion, must = a characteristic of the resource that is non-negotiable and should = a characteristic that is ideal, but not required.
1. The resource must be closely connected to the learning targets and themes that drive your lesson or unit. What do you want students to do with the language? How will this resource help them do that? How will your students interact with this resource?
2. The resource should enrich their cultural experience and enhance their cultural awareness or cause the students to make comparisons between their own culture and the target language culture. Authentic resources shouldn't always point out the differences between cultures. Our students need to see cultural similarities between the TL culture and their own to strengthen their sense of empathy and humanity.
4. The resource should be eye-catching or highly engaging. Does this resource elicit student curiosity? Is it clear and easy to view, read or hear? Is the resource relevant to my students either through interest or need? How will my students connect with the information in the resource even if it doesn't fall within their realm of personal interest? What would I have to do to design a learning experience in which this resource would be engaging?
6. The resource should have multiple uses. How can the resource be used throughout multiple stages of the lesson? What input does it provide? What conversation does it prompt? How can it serve as a model for a student product? Can it be reinterpreted in another way?
7. The TL should appear to be authentic meaning that it should be written/designed by a native of that language for a native audience of that language.
Happy Coaching, friends!