Presenting language through texts
Texts have been used in language classrooms for many years. There are many reasons for teachers using texts. Firstly, they use texts as a linguistic objects. Secondly, they use texts as vehicle for information. And for the last reason, they use texts as a springboard for production. So texts in language teaching have played the important role in language learning and teaching.
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The most effective texts in learning process are authentic materials. Leaning English through authentic materials will make the learners feel like the are in the a real language situations. The atmosphere of the classrooms are alive. Research studies on the use of authentic materials reveal that it can promote the students’ motivation, positive attitude, involvement and interest on the subject.
There are several kinds of authentic materials which are audio, visual, printed materials and multimedia materials. The multimedia materials are involved audio, video and graphic presentations. All of these materials are applied for communicating specific dispatches in real situations.
Authentic audio materials:
- Music, news and other audio materials available on the internet
- TV programming including movies, commercials, quiz shows, cartoons, news and weather
- Radio including ads, music and sales pitches
- Taped or eavesdropped conversations, such as one-sided phone conversations
- Meetings, talks
- Announcements in airports and stores
- Professionally audio-taped short stories and novels
Authentic visual materials:
- Images and graphs available on the internet
- painting and drawings, children’s artwork
- wordless street signs
- pictures from magazines, postcards, wordless picture books
- coins and currency
- Halloween masks and other holiday decorations
Authentic printed materials:
- web based printed materials available on the internet
- newspapers including articles, movies reviews and advertisements, astrology columns, sports reports, obituary columns, advice columns, classified ads
- reports, obituary columns, advice columns, classified ads
- lyrics to song
- restaurant menus
- street signs
- food product labels such as cereal boxes, candy wrappers
- tourist information brochures
- university catalogs
- telephone books
- magazines including TV guides, comic books, catalogs
- greeting cards, letters
- grocery coupons and flyer
- pins or t-shirt with messages
- bus schedules
- mail including bills , missing children flyers and junk mail
- flyers, posters, billboards
- school notices
- forms including leases, tax forms, applications, medical history forms
Authentic multimedia materials:
- TV, Video programmes of various kinds
- podcasting on the internet
- we based programes involving multimedia use
There are criteria for teachers to consider for choosing the authentic materials for classroom use. Firstly, the interest of the students, the teacher has to ensure that the chosen materials suit the age, interest and background of the students. Secondly, the purpose of language learning, teachers must consider the information in the chosen materials are of value to the learners. Thirdly, the cultural appropriateness, some materials are produced on the basis of the native speakers, the learners might not familiar with the culture of the contexts. Thus, the teachers should carefully select the appropriate second language contexts. Fourthly, the language level, the group of students are different levels like beginner, intermediate or advanced students .because the authentic materials are not made to fit the learning purposes so the teachers must choose the kind of comprehensible input which is slightly difficult in order to sustain their motivation. Lastly, the quality of the materials may be concerned. The chosen texts must have the quality of the text organization and the appropriate picture use. In the same time, the teachers must attentively check for errors and spelling mistakes of the texts.
Using authentic materials have great benefits or advantages, specially for the second language learners of English. A large number of evidences of research studies have revealed a wide range of advantages. Firstly, the learners will expose to a wide range of natural language. Next, the reality and the meaningful interactive are brought into classroom. Then, there is a connection between the classroom and the outside world. The teaching and assessment focus on the 4 skills which the facts of language are not included. Moreover, the important objective is not a memorization for the examination but for the communicative proposes. For the next reason, the authentic texts can help the teachers accessing the ready, available, attractive and inexpensive resources of the texts as well as bring the variety to the classroom activities. So, the students have opportunities to practice the skills learnt in the classroom in the outside world when they meet them in the real situations.
Using the authentic materials also have some problems. Some kinds of materials may include difficult language and unusual vocabulary items which are not being used in the daily life basis. These kinds of problems cause a burden to the teachers. So to solve the problems, the teachers should carefully pick the authentic materials by using the above mentioned criteria. For instance, the notices, bottled labels and reservation forms are used for the lower level learners. Whereas, the advanced levels need more complex materials.
Thornbury claimed that ” language always happens as text and not as isolated words and sentences” Therefore, the basis of foreign language teaching is handling texts for both written and oral. There are three acronyms that have been used to describe texts.
Texts – based activities presented in the course book ‘Information Technology’ are marking the statements as true or false, filling in the gaps in the statements, linking each pair of actions ( donating cause and effect ) by a time clause, matching the terms in table A with the statements in table B, making a list of the key features of the facility ( device ) students are reading about, matching the reviews of the facilities to their titles, writing a brief evaluation of the phenomenon you have read about ( at least by listing its good and bad points ), trying to guess the meaning of the given abbreviations, trying to paraphrase the statements, linking each set of sentences to make one sentence ( corresponding to the descriptions given in the text ), completing the forms to record the main details of the problem described in the text, working in pairs, studying the diagram to explain how facility works, putting the described events in sequence, finding words or phrases in the table which mean what is given in the statements below.
From my experience as a teacher, I have been teaching young learners, mostly in the Phatom 1-3 students. And I have used several kinds of authentic materials in my class. For example, I use English songs and nursery rhymes when I would like to present new language to my students for promoting the motivation and engagement in learning of my students. Then, I use many pictures to present the new vocabulary in order to promote a better understanding of the meanings of the words. Sometimes, I have them read their favorable books from the bookshelf, so they can choose what ever they like.