What are they?
Authentic materials include newspapers, magazines, brochures, radio news, TV programmes, novels, maps, advertisements, timetables, catalogues, menus, films and internet pages, internet video (eg YouTube) etc that have not been specially made for language learning.
Why use them?
- They are available
- They are examples of ‘real English’ and are culturally interesting
- They are a source of new vocabulary/listening material/pronunciation/grammar usage
Difficulties associated with using authentic materials
- Can contain advanced, very informal or rarely used vocabulary. Can be very culturally specific
- Newspaper and magazine articles may only be suitable for high level students
- Authentic materials do not always provide a helpful model for spoken English
- May be badly written or be grammatically peculiar or too long or dense
Using authentic materials
- View short clip with sound off. Guess dialogue. Listen and compare
- View short clip from daytime TV discussion programme. Discuss the issues raised.
- View short clip and copy intonation patterns (soap operas?)
You are very likely to find short YouTube videos on nearby and regional places of interest. Can be an interesting way to introduce a topic. Search using Google etc or search in YouTube itself.
Films on DVD/tape
Only use short clips in lesson time. Whole films can be watched outside lesson time.
Newspapers and magazines
Can be used in many ways but it is important you are clear what you are trying to achieve. If you are using a text, is it for
- Scanning (finding key info) or skimming practice (overall content)?
- Preparation for discussion?
- Showing sentence structures?
- A source of new vocabulary or example of a level of formality?
A superb source of short accessible texts on almost any topic. The content of Wikipedia may not be 100% reliable but is excellent for many subject areas. For presentation it is often best to cut and paste into a Word document.
Brochures (holiday etc), catalogues (Argos etc) and, menus
Provide resources for role plays, making comparisons, wishes etc.