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Teaching Foreign Languages Workshops Home
    1: Meaningful Interpretation

Examine the Topic

Introduction
Before You Watch
Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic
Put it Into Practice
Action Research Project
Reflect on Your Learning

Resources
Library Video Chart
Printouts
Assignments
AssignmentNow that you have read the research and viewed the video discussion on interpretive communication, you will examine the topic further by analyzing a sample interpretive task.

For this task, you will put yourself in the role of a student and interpret a Web page titled "Carnaval en la calle" (see Resources), or "Carnival in the street." This task might be part of a unit on holidays, a cultural unit on festivals, or a February activity. The Web page has been selected for high school students at an intermediate proficiency level. The same theme could be done with novice learners and younger learners, but a Web page with more visuals may be more suitable.

A. Previewing

Previewing activities can serve several purposes: to motivate students, to tap into their background knowledge, to create anticipation for the information to come, and more. They are designed based on students' ages, interests, prior knowledge, and proficiency level. The following are two examples of previewing activities for this interpretive task:
  1. The teacher writes the word Carnaval on the board, circles it, and tells students that it is una fiesta en muchos países (a festival in many countries). The teacher asks the students to help brainstorm words or phrases in Spanish that might describe aspects of Carnaval. These terms are then used to create a web that clusters similar ideas. Students are encouraged to respond in Spanish, or with a definition if they don't know the exact word; the teacher can then negotiate meaning by elaborating on what the students say. The teacher also adds specific vocabulary to the web. Some word clusters that the word Carnaval might generate include the following:
Parades: floats, music, spectators
Costumes: colors, masks
Traditions: ties to Lent, fasting, religion
Practices: eating, drinking, partying

If the teacher and students live in a region where Carnaval, Mardi gras, or Fasching is celebrated, the activity could then be tied to local lore.
  1. The teacher asks students to look at the photograph on the "Carnaval en la calle" page and describe what they see. If students have already brainstormed ideas to describe Carnaval, the teacher asks them how the photograph reflects these ideas.

B. Skimming, Scanning, and Interpreting

During skimming and scanning, students begin to work with the text itself. Skimming involves glancing through the text quickly to get the gist or main idea. Scanning involves searching the text for specific information. Some texts lend themselves to both processes, for example, a lengthy document or one with multiple sections. Other texts may be suitable for just one of these processes. For example, students don't need to skim an entire brochure to understand what it's about (publicizing an event or attraction), but students can scan it for specific information like time and place. In this Interactive Activity, skimming and scanning are combined into one phase of the process.

Students then move on to interpreting and reacting to the text. To comprehend the author's message, they use contextual guessing, inferencing, background information, and associations with the language and content. After comprehending the text (i.e., reading/listening to the lines), they can begin to react to it (i.e., reading/listening between the lines) by considering the message in the context of their learning and experience.

Note: The Web page is written in Spanish. Although you should be able to follow along with this activity regardless of your knowledge of Spanish, an English-language translation (PDF, 82 K) is available for reference.
 Click on the image to begin. Click on the image to begin.
Assignment Write a brief summary of what you learned from this activity to submit as an assignment.


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1: Meaningful Interpretation > Introduction | Before You Watch | Analyze the Video
Examine the Topic | Put It Into Practice | Action Research Project | Reflect on Your Learning
Resources | Library Videos Chart | Printouts | Assignments

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