For the third year, let’s celebrate August (which is back-to-school time here in the southern half of the U.S.) with some #AuthresAugust! For previous posts related to using authentic resources in the classroom, including previous #AuthresAugust picks, check out my authres tag. Definitely take a look at my post from last August called “Authentic or learner material? Wrong question.” It’s all about creating an input-rich, communication-rich classroom with a balance of authentic materials and learner materials instead of pointlessly arguing about which one is “better.”
To start off this series of #AuthresAugust, let’s preview an upcoming Musicuentos resource release by taking a look at TripAdvisor.
My dear language teachers, TripAdvisor is an absolute gold mine. It’s not just for travel chapters. If you’re doing a unit that’s related to any particular country, entertainment, activities, city life, there’s something students can use here. Need more reasons?
- You can see TripAdvisor reviews in so many languages. Check out Spanish, German, French, Japanese.
- The language is short and highly contextualized, usually. Trust me, at least in the Spanish site, you will easily find reviews that span the range from Novice Low to Advanced Low, for the most popular sights anyway.
- TripAdvisor reviews are social media; they’re posted online publicly without expectation of privacy, so ostensibly that content is open for public use. This is why all your news outlets regularly publish publicly posted material from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- TripAdvisor lets you know if they’ve autotranslated a review for you. If not, you can trust the language is authentic- as far as I can tell, anyway.
After using TripAdvisor extensively for last semester’s units on Costa Rica (in conjunction with Robo en la noche) and Colombia (in conjunction with Peter va a Colombia), here are my tips for using this site.
- Look for reviews that are long enough to contain helpful information (¡muy recomendado! is not it) but are not so complicated that they frustratingly exceed the learner’s proficiency.
- Look for enough new vocabulary to liven up the acquisition and enough recycled material to foster long-term memory of previously covered language.
- In the spirit of quality, comprehensible input, edit for abbreviations, spelling errors, and hastily omitted punctuation if desired. (Yes! Go ahead, adapt the text!)
- Along those lines of adapting the text, feel free to take two reviews and combine them if they both contain elements you want to include, and combining them into one “imagined” review doesn’t fundamentally alter the authentic language.
Last year, our novel units each culminated in a travel itinerary for the country of the book’s setting. I presented my learners with choices based on the type of destination. I tell them, for example, on Day 1 in Bogotá, you get to go to one cathedral, one museum, and one park. For each type, I give two options, each with a review. After you read the review for this museum and that museum, tell me which one you want to visit and why.
I’ve taken these travel itineraries and polished them up to release them as a Musicuentos resource. Keep an eye out for those releases. Eventually, I hope to have one available for every Spanish-speaking country. Meanwhile, here’s a sneak peek.
(Psst, the itinerary for Colombia is already available.)
So, how do you turn such an itinerary into a multi-modal assessment / project?
- Interpretive reading: This is built in. In order to choose a place, you have to understand at least the main points in the review.
- Interpretive listening: After they’ve chosen a place, ask learners to find a YouTube video on the choice, if available. Ask them to add a detail they learned from that video.
- Interpersonal: Have students pair up with someone and compare their choices. Help lower-level learners with questions like “Which one do you want to visit?” Ask intermediate learners to defend contrary opinions with a partner who’s made the opposite choice.
- Presentational: My learners ended the semester by putting together a presentation of their choices and presenting this to the class. For the ones who put effort into it, the results were a lot of fun to watch.
How will you use TripAdvisor?
If Musicuentos has significantly helped you in your language teaching journey, consider becoming part of the “thanks” crew on Patreon. “La lotería” patrons receive every resource I produce, whether it’s a $2 activity or a $50 ebook guide, including these trip itineraries as thanks for their sponsorship.