Using " Realia"
I was reading how some texts don't inspire or interest students. Some texts don't interest me as a teacher either! So I always supplement lessons with "Realia," real stuff from life. I'm trying to use as much technology as I can also. Realia includes things like real newspaper headlines (on a lesson like this, I bring in different types of publications...everything from the daily newspaper, to the NYT, to the Wall Street Journal, to the National Enquirer - all part of America, right?). Or, if we're taking a field trip to a restaurant to practice ordering in English, I get menus the day before and go over any vocabulary that's unusual. At Cracker Barrel, none of my Spanish-speaking students knew what a sausage 'patty' was. Interesting. Who would've thought?
I often use google images to illustrate vocabulary words. The word 'landmark' came up the other day. We looked up landmarks in Venezuela and South America and also US landmarks. You get the idea. It's fun, it's topical and real, and it brings home the point more than any description in words can do.