Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Home go

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Spanish: Interpreting Literature
Connect to Your Teaching

Reflect on Your Practice
As you reflect on these questions, write down your responses or discuss them as a group.

  • What criteria do you use in selecting literary texts for your students?
  • How do you check that students comprehend the text? How do you check that they are moving beyond a basic understanding toward grasping the deeper meaning of the text? How do you differentiate between a student's lack of understanding and what could be a unique interpretation of the story?
  • How do you use literary texts to further students' critical thinking skills?
  • When assigning oral presentations, what guidelines do you give to students? How do you assess the presentations? How do you involve the other students during the presentations?

Watch Other Videos
Watch other videos in the Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 library for more examples of teaching methodologies like those you've just seen. Note: All videos in this series are subtitled in English.

Exploring New Directions (Chinese) shows students making oral presentations based on their interpretations of literary texts, and Interpreting La Belle et la Bête (French) features students interpreting a cultural product (a film) and discussing its moral message.

Put It Into Practice
Try these ideas in your classroom.

  • When exploring literature as a cultural product, tailor the tasks to the proficiency level of your students. Begin by selecting a text that is age appropriate and interesting to students but also challenging. For younger or beginning students, contemporary poems, short stories, or children's books are appropriate. For high school students in intermediate/advanced levels, texts with "coming of age" themes or issues of right and wrong (as in Dos caras) are appropriate because students can relate to the content without needing extensive knowledge of history or culture. Regardless of the age group, begin by designing carefully sequenced activities that focus on the text's meaning and that use support materials -- such as the visuals, dramatizations, retelling, and summarizing seen in Ms. Pope Bennett's class. Once students understand the content of the story, they can begin to interpret the text for the author's underlying message and note their own reaction to it.
  • Use oral reports to assess students' skills in the three modes of communication. The following is one potential presentation sequence: First, a student gives an oral report, thus performing a presentational task. The students who are listening use interpretive communication skills to understand the report. After the presentation, students engage in interpersonal communication during a Q & A session. The session gives the presenter an opportunity to negotiate, clarify, and expand on information, while giving his or her classmates an opportunity to correct misunderstandings and to react. In terms of language outcomes, oral reports allow students to plan and deliver a set speech in which pronunciation, word choice, structure, and fluency can be practiced. Students should be made aware, however, of the different expectations for their language use in prepared speeches for different audiences. In addition to language use, oral reports demonstrate how well students conduct research, organize material, and deliver information to a group -- all outcomes that are highlighted in the educational system at large.



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