Knowing how to use authentic texts in class is like having a secret weapon against boredom and routine. The use of real-world examples of English benefits students’ fluency while providing a welcome break from potentially monotonous coursebooks.
Most TEFL teachers are trained to use coursebooks in their classrooms. Very often schools will even dictate what coursebooks are to be used and which units are to be covered when. This is all well and good – coursebooks definitely have their place in the classroom – but lessons can become monotonous and dull if a teacher insists on using the coursebook day in and day out.
The solution? Authentic texts.
Authentic texts are a great way to bring the real world into the classroom. They bring balance to lessons filled with constructed texts and graded language. Students enjoy them because they are more up-to-date than coursebooks and so (if chosen correctly) can be more relevant to the students.
Of course, by their very nature authentic texts can be difficult for learners, so here are a few ways to incorporate authentic texts into your lessons without bewildering your students:
- Use simple, visual texts. Things like menus, cartoons, and brochures are great for lower level learners.
- Shorten the texts. If the text is long, shortening it will decrease the cognitive load on your students.
- Spend time on it. Don’t use an authentic text for a 5-minute activity. So if you are using a video clip, watch it several times with activities pre- and post-viewing for scaffolding; if you are using a newspaper article, use it for several activities, not just one.
So the next time you find yourself stuck in a rut in the classroom, plan a lesson which doesn’t involve opening a book. Expose your students to genuine, authentic language and show them how much they can accomplish with real-world texts.
About the Author
Kirsten is a DELTA-qualified teacher, teacher trainer and materials developer. She has taught in Thailand, China, Spain, the UK and Qatar, but now prefers to call South Africa home. She spends her most of her time drinking tea, blogging, and satisfying her sweet tooth.
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