1. Just share some links to my older posts with great suggestions for using authentic materials
2. Discuss the implications surrounding the decisions to "go authentic" or not. Suggest that there is now a much greater "grey" area between these two types of materials.
1. My "Authentic" posts.
Find in these posts- valuable thoughts and resources for using "real", non-educational (see the definition below) materials. It takes some creative thinking and a bit of stretching yourself in order to start focusing your curriculum planning towards authentic materials. But they are out there, available and ready for use in your classroom.
2. Why "Authentic"?
First of all some backdrop - what exactly is an "authentic" material?
Essentially - it is any material used in the classroom or for student learning/consumption that is not explicitly designed for education - it's purpose isn't "educational". It's creation was for other purposes. It could be a text: a full book, a brochure, a flyer, a menu, a letter, a novel, labels and packaging, a poster. It could be visual and a video or image: personal photos, art, graphics, animations, comics, music (song or video), online video, a skype conversation, a person in the classroom. The key is that it isn't made by a person "tampering" with the language and material, filtering it for use in education. This presentation I made, offers up a lot of info. on this topic.
Generally, English language teaching and what happens in our classrooms has been dominated by the publishing business and their "educational" materials. For many reasons but mostly because it was very hard to find appropriate authentic materials to use in the classroom. There were few alternatives to the leveled textbook, the "bits and pieces" approach of textbook teaching. This no longer is the case and I will argue, there is now no clear dividing line between what is "authentic" and what is "educational" given several big developments;
1.The Web 2.0 online world where teachers can share and promote valuable authentic materials for the classroom.
2.The abundance of authentic video and text materials now available (over 60 hours of "real" video gets uploaded onto youtube every minute!).
3.New technologies (delivery devices) which now allow teachers to use authentic materials directly in their classrooms.
Language is a living thing and it is incumbent on us language teachers (it is our job) to bring the real world into our classrooms when possible. If we really want what is best for our students - we should be using authentic materials with our students - the textbooks should be left in the storage rooms. Our first commandment should be to ask ourselves - "What can I use that is "real" to teach this lesson aim or objective?" Of course, if an alternative authentic resource can't be found, use something educational. But I'll suggest, if teachers really try and really crowdsource, these resources are out there in abundance - for teaching all aspects of language.
Now, the usual response I get from teachers when pushing the use of authentic materials is, "they are too difficult for our students!" This is a very valid concern and though we want to get our students dealing with and tolerating all the ambiguity of language - sometimes throwing them into the pool to learn to swim, isn't the best approach. However, authentic doesn't mean "overload" or student bewilderment. There are now plenty of authentic materials that do the same as those that are educational - allowing teachers to control the amount and type (form) of the language. Nowadays, there is simply a very big grey area between the concepts of authentic and educational materials. Take for example these two videos below. The first is educational - purely simple and to help students not deal with too much else. The second is authentic. Made by a guy and uploaded onto youtube. Which would be better for your own students?
I'll leave the discussion there and will return later in the week with my own thoughts.... but something to think about. Authentic no longer does mean "difficult" and "hard to use in class".
Educational: Objective - using the past tense, describing a typical day and routine.
Authentic: Objective - using the past tense, describing a typical day and routine.
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