Education - Languages
By: - at April 18, 2013

Using Authentic Texts in Language Teaching

simplified texts or authentic texts in language classroomsLinguists have long been divided on whether to use simplified texts or authentic texts in language classrooms.  Given the features of both, theories on their effectiveness are strongly in support with the claims.  For proponents of simplified texts, it is understanding that should go first, not structures.  For authentic text supporters, the distinct quality of a language as used by the native speaker is what students ought to learn.

We always have to choose between the two sides of the coin.  This can also be applied in the decision of whether the teacher will or will not make use of authentic texts in teaching language.  Students learn important topics through materials like audio, video, books, journals, magazines, newspapers and online resources.  It is a well-known fact that with reading and listening learning is increased.  Teachers make use of many strategies to foster studentsí knowledge.  Not too many students who learn a language will have the chance to immerse with the people in the target language.  One popular strategy to simulate immersion into a different culture's language is to use authentic texts in the classroom.

What is Authentic Text?

Writing in classroomIt is generally defined as messages created, originally, to fulfill the social purpose of the language in the community where it is used.  With the changing linguistic boundaries, it is now widely known as materials that include ideas, words, phrases and expressions that are heard and read in real-life situations.  In simpler terms, these are materials that provide information ready to be used as soon as the student leaves the classroom and starts to mingle with others.

Authentic Texts Are Readily Available Everywhere

With the influx of language learners, it seems that the educators have to utilize materials that are suited for their studentsí interests and proficiency levels.  One very good reason for teachers to consider using authentic texts is its accessibility.  It is quite easy to find and select important information for students to learn from while surfing the internet, reading a newspaper, or while having coffee.  In most cases, it is easier to spot an interesting topic from the mentioned material than it is from textbooks.  This will become not only a source of language conventions but of information on whatís going on around them.

The Benefits of Authentic Texts

Using authentic texts in the classroom are known to have the following advantages:

Students on ComputersFirst, when authentic materials are made available for students, they provide exact examples of how the language is used by its native speakers or of the vast majority of target language users.  This provides opportunities for class members to get discourse exposures.  There are a multitude of materials sold that claim to be helpful in building decent foundations for language, but failed to provide learners with up-to-date changes in target language usage.

Second, students feel more confident using the language when they know they are performing as expected.  With authentic texts, learners are provided with words and expressions used in real-life contexts.  When students are confronted with similar situations, they are less likely to shy away from the need to communicate.

Third, materials that are published weekly are more informal and socially-centered than those that purely define rules and provide patterns for sentences.  Additionally, articles from magazines make use of expressions that may not always be acceptable for prescriptive linguists but are widely used in informal, face-to-face communications.

Lastly, authentic materials include new features of the language that would take some time to get adapted in textbooks.  With this, it keeps teachers and students aware of changes in language.  When craze words and phrases are introduced, students are likely to be interested about how they are used.  As opportunities arise, they can understand and give opinions on issues using these words.

Answer to Dynamic Linguistic Changes

Language text books can become outdated.Language is dynamic.  It changes with demands of society migrations, popular culture, and even technological innovations.  If teachers rely on traditional textbook for materials for class, teachers will be constantly providing outdated information.  Students trained to use the language as the native speakers do will find less need to alter their language later when using it conversationally.  In addition, when given the opportunity to travel to places where the target language is used, the learner will not have as much difficulty understanding announcements such as safety measure in airlines, or conversation in schools they wish to attend.

Research revealed that communications in English are mostly between a native and a non-native.  Using authentic texts may be difficult as claimed by proponents of simplified texts, but it provides students with practice and increases their ability to communicate in a variety of contexts and issues.





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