We Really Can Do it: strategies for using authentic sources to encourage language use.
Ruth Ferree, The University of Virginia
Even the title, "Can-Do Statements," suggests that these activities are within the realm
of possibility for students. Using authentic materials as the starting point for language
tasks can boost students' confidence, providing them with evidence that they really can
read French or understand a scene in a Spanish video (Weyers, 1999).
Thanks to the Internet, access to authentic materials is relatively easy. Let's consider
three categories of authentic sources and what students might do with them. First, on-line
shopping sites, which I've seen generate debates as intense as if students had real money
to spend. Second, video/film clips, which can engage students with strong visuals and
stories. Finally, news sites, both text and video, offer the whole world of topics in the
moment. These are especially useful for Advanced Placement-related themes such as global
challenges and science and technology, but can also be useful with novice learners.