Language in Bloom

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Using Authentic Resources in the Language Classroom

One of the best ways to model authentic language in use for students is using authentic resources in the classroom.

An authentic resource is video, audio, text, or realia, that is created by a native speaker for native speakers. There are many benefits to using authentic resources: they’re interesting to students, they tell you a lot about how language is actually used, they’re readily available thanks to the internet, and they’re fun to include in lessons. That said, they can be challenging to use well, because as a teacher you have to be willing to get over one major hangup:

The point of using authentic resources is not for learners to be able to understand every word of that resource.

Many language teachers find themselves stuck when trying to incorporate authentic materials in their classes because they are not sure how to use a text or other source that students won’t be able to understand.

The first step to getting over this hangup is preparing your students to overcome this challenge. Communicate as clearly as possible that for whatever activity you’re doing, the objective is not to be able to fully understand 100% of the content. The objective should be attainable and measurable. 

Example Objectives:   

Even if you take a very complex authentic text like an entire novel, you can still adapt tasks to make that resource accessible in some way. If you need to include comprehension as an objective to meet a standard, then you can choose another resource or include the authentic resource activity as a warmup.

Example Authentic Resources:

Textbooks and other materials that were created specifically for language learners have their place in the classroom as well: they provide support to learners at different levels, and they can provide a good framework for meeting a course’s objectives. By increasing the focus on authentic materials, students can see true examples of how to apply what they are learning in the classroom and inspire them to create with language on their own.

Additional Articles on Using Authentic Resources:

35 Authentic Language Teaching Materials 

List of scholarly articles on using authentic materials 

Authentic Resources for World Language Teachers 

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Written by

Tammy Bjelland
Language lover, teacher & coach.

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