Using Authentic Materials
to Develop Foreign Language Literacies

July 22–26, 2019

Kate Paesani

Preparing students for participation in the globalized communities of the 21st century entails out-of-the-box thinking on the part of foreign language teachers. How do we move beyond preparing students to order coffee or buy train tickets, and instead encourage them to be reflective, culturally aware language users? To answer this question, this institute focuses on how to develop students’ foreign language literacies through engagement with authentic written, audio, audiovisual, visual, and digital texts.

Using conceptual and pedagogical understandings gained during the institute, participants will collaboratively evaluate and analyze authentic materials, create literacies-oriented learning objectives, and design text-based lessons that develop students’ communicative abilities, encourage cross-cultural connections, foster critical thinking and problem solving, and facilitate engagement with the world outside of the classroom.   


Program Schedule (9am-4pm)
Day 1 Determining Goals for 21st Century Language Programs
  • Building Conceptual Understanding
  • Defining Authentic Materials
Day 2 Developing Foreign Language Literacies through Authentic Materials
  • Backward Design Planning and Literacies Learning Objectives
  • Selecting and Evaluating Authentic Materials
Day 3 Rethinking Classroom Communication: Instructional Practices
  • Experiencing, Conceptualizing, Analyzing, and Applying the Content of Authentic Materials
  • Analyzing Activities and Lessons
Day 4 Putting it All Together, Part 1
  • Connecting Objectives and Instructional Practices
  • Designing Activities and Lessons
Day 5 Putting it All Together, Part 2
  • Designing Activities and Lessons
  • Sharing Materials, Resources, and Future Goals

After this institute, you will be able to:

  • Discuss principles related to foreign language literacies, backward design, and literacy-based pedagogy;

  • Identify and evaluate authentic materials appropriate for your instructional context;

  • Analyze the effectiveness of existing learning objectives, activities, and lessons;

  • Apply principles related to foreign language literacies, backward design, and literacy-based pedagogy to your own courses; and

  • Create learning objectives, activities, and lessons that effectively engage students with authentic materials through cross-cultural comparisons, critical thinking, problem solving, and connections.



Kate Paesani is Director of CARLA and affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. A former French professor and language program director, she has delivered workshops and lectures across the United States on a range of topics related to text-based teaching and learning, foreign language literacies development, and teacher professionalization.

Target Audience: This institute is best suited to foreign language and ESL teachers at the middle school through postsecondary level, as well as teacher educators, curriculum coordinators, and language program directors.
This institute is not meant for elementary school teachers or immersion educators.


Quote MarksI highly recommend using Authentic Materials to Develop Foreign Language Literacies to all language instructors! It is research-based and well-grounded in pedagogical theory, and yet the sessions are practical & empowering. This has been a truly transformative experience.
—Bethany Welch, 2018 Participant


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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414