Have you ever experienced the moment you came across a leaflet or brochure and you did not get what was written on it, even though you have been learning English for a couple of years?
This is what your students might feel when they travel abroad.
We should prepare them for the words and structures they may encounter in the real world. It will give them confidence and pride in their competence while exploring places of interest.
What are authentic materials?
Everything you can find in public places such as visitor centres, railway stations, etc. Here are some examples of printed materials you can come across:
– public transport timetables
– leaflets, brochures, flyers distributed in most visitor information centres
– theatres or cinema listings,
– materials about cultural events
– real estate and hotel offers
– sale offers
– articles in newspapers
– radio and TV broadcasts
– song lyrics
– maps with attractive places marked on them and described.
Unquestionable benefits of using authentic materials.
First of all the students will be happy to understand the language and enjoy using English they have acquired.
Secondly, they will learn the vocabulary, structures and abbreviations which don’t often appear in their textbooks but are commonly used in the English speaking environment.
They will understand how language is used in context.
They are going to become highly motivated and excited while working with “real” materials, e.g.: hotels or house offers in Los Angeles or London!
And last but not least, authentic materials include the most recent news and information so the students will have a chance to find out more about the current events, facts or sale offers. That may boost their interest in English speaking countries and broaden their cultural knowledge.
The fact that you may use a given material (a leaflet, a map, etc.) in many ways for various activities, makes these materials a valuable and effective tool .
How to work with authentic materials.
1. Help your students identify authentic materials, ask your students how they could benefit from using them or how these materials may help them reach their goals.
2. Warn your students of the challenges they may face, for instance, the difficult vocabulary they may encounter.
3. Choose the material appropriate to:
- the topic you are currently working on. E.g.:
When you work with FOOD– choose a real menu or restaurant offers, to discuss which restaurant might be the best for a vegetarian friend or which restaurant you would chose to celebrate a successful project with your colleagues.
When you teach your students about HOUSES – find the best house offers in an attractive location and ask them to decide the best for their family.
- your students’ needs or your language objectives
4. Take into account the length of the content. Do you have time for a whole hour’s project and make your students plan the trip around the USA or maybe for a 15-minute discussion about the best hotels your students would like to stay in?
Plan it beforehand, according to the material and time you want to spend on it with your students.
5. Remember not to use too long or too difficult texts at the beginning, the students need to get used to reading and understanding texts, so please use simple and short ones initially. Explain new words and phrases.
6. Don’t forget to follow-up. Revise the new vocabulary in the next lesson using your students’ favourite ways. For example, my students love “wheeldecide”.
7. Be cautious while using with beginners. The vocabulary is mostly challenging, so when you want to embark on using authentic materials with beginners, it’s good to start with very simple information. For instance dates, hours, ticket prices, pictures, basically the information that they are able to understand. Apart from “paper” authentic materials there are plenty more of them available online.
Here are a few suggestions of how to use authentic materials available online
HOUSES TO BUY IN FLORIDA
You are planning to move to Florida, you have a 3-year old daughter, a 15-year old son and a dog. Look through the house offers to decide which one would best meet your family’s needs.
What factors do people take into account while choosing a house to purchase?
FLATS TO RENT IN LONDON
You are a student who is going to study in London. You are looking for a flat to rent. Find the best offer for you. Your budget is 250 pounds per month.
RESTAURANTS IN MELBOURNE
You have a brother whose 10th birthday is coming soon. Consider taking him to the ice bar in Melbourne. Find out more details about the possibility to arrange a celebration like that.
Look at the breakfast menu in a IN NEW YORK restaurant.
Decide if you prefer to take a buffet or a meal a’la carte
The task: look at the restaurants by the river Thames and decide where you would like to celebrate your birthday.
The task 1
You decided to start a healthy lifestyle. You need help what to start with.
Please have a look at some proposals in Health.com and choose the best for you. Justify your decision.
The task 2
Read about the advantages of drinking coffee. Discuss them with your friend. Which argument seems to be most convincing?
The task 3
Alternative or traditional medicine? Which are you into? Read the arguments and discuss them with your friends. Justify your choice.
Richie Regipio, our worldly traveller, has a nice surprise for you but he will give away the secret in due time.