Chocolate & Zucchini: A free interpretive reading task based on a French food blog

While I like to base the majority of my instruction on comprehensible input-based materials, I also love to use authentic resources in my classes.

Authentic resources are wonderful because they allow me to bring the target culture to life in the classroom. They compliment my comprehensible input-based teaching style by exposing my students to rich, real-life language use in context. And, they give me the opportunity to share my own passions and interests with my students.

Today I am happy to share an example of a task that I have created based on an authentic resource that I love, love, love.

I’ve been a fan of the French food blog Chocolate & Zucchini for years. In fact, it is one of my very favorite food and cooking websites. The recipes are delicious and the author, Parisian food writer Clotilde Dusoulier, is absolutely charming. So, when I decided to round out my unit on French food with some tasks related to authentic resources, Chocolate & Zucchini was naturally the first place I turned.

I decided to use the blog as a way to help my Novice-High to Intermediate-Low students practice the skill of interpretive reading. To create the task, I went on the website and chose five posts that included at least some vocabulary that I knew my students were familiar with. (In general, the writing on this blog is far above my students’ proficiency level. But that’s ok, because I’m not expecting them to understand every word.) I copied and pasted one paragraph from each of those posts into a document. Using the ACTFL IPA guidelines for interpretive reading as my road map, I created questions that would encourage my students to practice a few key interpretive skills: recognizing key words, making inferences, and identifying main ideas.

Over the years, I have used this task in different ways depending on what I wanted to focus on for the unit. I have used it as interpretive practice, a formative assessment, and as an end-of-unit summative assessment. I have read the passages aloud to my students, and I have asked them to read individually. I have spread the readings out over several days, and I have had the students complete the whole task at once. It really just depends on what my goals are for the class at that time. However I decide to implement the task, I like to use this interpretive rubric to assess students’ work. And I also like to project posts from Chocolate & Zucchini on a screen while we work on it, so my students can have some fun seeing the actual resource.

If you are interested in using this resource, you can download it (for free!) here. I hope you and your students will benefit from this authentic reading activity!

Merci et à bientôt!

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