As the state of Maine, and the nation, move towards standards based education and proficiency based report cards, foreign language instruction has shifted away from the traditional textbook exercises, learner specific audio, and verb conjugation exams. Students are now expected to reach a certain proficiency level prior to graduating, meeting standards in communication. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) created these proficiency guidelines and have divided the Communication standard into its three components; Presentational, Interpersonal, and Interpretive.
The Interpretive standard states that “Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.” The written text and audio listenings used when assessing the students are required to be authentic, meaning they are written or spoken by natives, for natives. Therefore, teachers cannot create material on their own. Authentic resources are difficult for some teachers to come by, especially teachers in Maine, and other northern rural states, where the hispanic population is low. Teachers frequently rely on the web to find authentic material for listening and reading assessments, often toiling for hours, sifting through material. Sites are limited, Youtube‘s TV videos are not labeled by content, and episodes of Aquí No Hay Quien Viva or El Hormiguero are long and contain segments that are not appropriate for younger learners.
With this grant money, I am spending a month in Madrid collecting audio, video, and photographic materials to publish on a website database for teacher usage. From my host family, to co-workers, the language school where I prepped for the DELE, and the Colegio Mayor where St. Lawrence’s office is, I will gather conversations for teachers to use in their Spanish instruction and Interpretive assessments. I also want to collect video footage of city and cultural scenes like food, art, and music. From an afternoon in Retiro Park to a walk down Fuencarrel, the city offers many opportunities for footage. Lastly, authentic texts like menus, maps, and tickets will be photographed and uploaded to the database as well.
With this collection for public usage, teachers in Maine and other states with limited native populations, will have an easier time adapting their teaching and assessments to the standards based proficiencies. I would love to use my love of Spain and skills in technology to bring resources to my fellow Spanish teachers.