Using authentic resources can be great, but sometimes it’s overwhelming for our students. I wanted to share a way I made using the news in Spanish class accessible to my novice learners!
One of our Spanish 2 chapters focuses on the media and the news. The times I’ve done this lesson have been great, and the students really enjoy getting to look at the news sites in other languages, and discuss what the sources are highlighting as news. This year I wanted to do something a little more concrete while they go through the news sources and guide them towards how to interpret as much as they can from the article they chose. This is what I came up with.
I really liked having them explore the site in general before picking an article to look at. We had interesting comments like, “They have an entire section of their site just on hurricanes!” which certainly drove home just how much of an impact they have had in that region (looking at a newspaper based in Florida).
After looking around the site, they chose an article. Kids were picking based on their interests, the pictures, or just recognizing a single word in the headline. Next, we poked around and looked for words we already knew from the article. This was great right after doing preterite with them! Lots of them were recognizing things like “dijo” and “hubo”.
Our next step was to look for words we could figure out, through context clues, or because they were cognates. My Spanish 2s were surprised at how many words they could actually figure out. “Like I can actually read Spanish!”.
Our third step is to pick words they didn’t know and couldn’t figure out through context or cognates and use WordReference to define them. There were some surprising choices here!
The last two steps are to describe an image from the article and to write a summary of what you think the article is about in English.
I really enjoyed this to break down the somewhat overwhelming amount of language that comes at them in a news article, and help them feel like they can be successful in reading stuff meant for Spanish speakers. This could be really great for a sub-plan in a pinch, or just when you want your students to have some more reading practice! It doesn’t have to be part of a specific media unit.
One word of caution – keep in mind that it’s the news, unfiltered. It’s not necessarily happy, and some of the stories are downright depressing. You know what’s appropriate and what isn’t for your students.