Core Practice #5: Design and carry out interactive reading and listening comprehension tasks using authentic cultural texts of various kinds with appropriate scaffolding and follow-up tasks that promote interpretation.
Interpretive communication is receptive communication where clarification of meaning is not possible. The creator of the communication is absent. It is reading, listening, and viewing. It includes literal and inferential comprehension. Inferencing is a thinking process that involves reasoning beyond the text using generalization, synthethis, and/or explanation. Readers interact with text and their background knowledge. Ask questions like what do you think will happen next? What kind of person do you think character X is?
Why authentic texts? Authentic texts present real language. They integrate authentic culture. Authentic texts stimulate interest in language learning. I agree with Dr. Eileen Glisan in the ACTFL Core Practices webinar, that students are motivated to interpret texts their counterparts are reading, viewing, or listening to in the target culture. Interpretive tasks should be motivated by a reason to use the language in the real world. Provide students with a scenario. For example, you are vacationing with your family in Paris. What is the best way to go sight seeing? Search the internet for transportation options and decide how you will get around Paris and what landmarks you will see. Use information from the text to respond.
Commercials from the target culture are authentic resources and a great way to practice inferencing and predicting.
Do you think that Emma likes her husband’s reminders to use the iPad? What makes you think that? Here is a Movie Talk script and cultural comparison activity to go with this commercial in French, Spanish, and English. The only word in this commercial is “Emma” so it can be used with any language. Stop the video along the way and point out the wife’s facial expressions and have students make inferences about how she is feeling. Have them support their answers with evidence from the video.
Have the students watch the commercial again and notice the things they are doing and the things in the background. What do you notice that is similar to our culture. Do you notice any differences from our culture?
A few last tips. Let students collaborate to interpret a text or video. At the novice level some collaborating will be in English and sometimes comprehension questions can be in English. Teach students to activate their background knowledge, skim the text for the main idea, and then re-read and scan the text for important details. Edit the task not the text for novices.
Here is a link to a former post on Core practice Number Five and some reading activities and resources. There are inferencing resources like task cards and graphic organizers at Teacherspayteachers in French and Spanish for additional practice.