Because it is important to keep the content in CBI alive and relevant, you will want to supplement the course material with media that will personalize the class. It doesn’t take a lot to achieve this effect. Even just one supplement every two or three class meetings can keep your course content fresh and motivating.
You can think in terms of sources you already know — such as TED presentations or YouTube interviews or Spotify songs or other pieces of media you have archived. (Hint: If you don’t have an archive of favourite sources to supplement units in Contemporary Topics, start one now!) Some popular sites that I use for supplementary material are Newsela and Listenwise. Just type in some topical words and you can find current content that is related to the course material.
Remember: The key with this type of supplementation is that you are using “authentic” sources that focus on ideas and events, not on language learning per se. They give extra dimensions to the content of the course. And remember also, you don’t need to use every bit of media as a thorough comprehension exercise. You’re trying to spice up the content of the class, trying to keep motivating your learners to engage more. Aim to arouse curiosity and generate insight.
Of course, you can also use language-related supplements. One of my favourites is Quizlet – it’s very fast and easy to create your own vocabulary quizzes for a unit. Add other terms that you think are useful. You can allow Quizlet to give you translations, definitions, and even sample sentences and graphics. All with a free account. Just create your quizzes and pass along the link to the students. They can practice in pairs, quizzing each other.
Just adopt an experimental mindset — and see what kinds of supplements “click” with your students. And of course, don’t be afraid to ask your students to suggest supplements or types of topics they’d like to learn more about.
[Here are some suggestions for supplementary activities you can use with Contemporary Topics.]