Authenticity in TESOL Dr. Desmond Thomas, University of Essex
Indicated Reading • Clark, J. 1987:203-7, Curriculum renewal in school foreign language learning, Oxford University Press • Field, J. 2008, Listening in the language classroom, CUP • Gilmore, A. 2007, ‘Authentic materials and authenticity in foreign language learning’, Language Teaching 40 • Guariento, W. & Morley, J. 2001, ‘Text and Task Authenticity in the EFL Classroom’, ELT Journal 55/4 • Kramsch, C. and Sullivan,P. 1996, ‘Appropriate Pedagogy’, ELT Journal 50/3 • McGrath, I. 2002, Materials Evaluation and Design for Language Teaching, Edinburgh University Press • Peacock, M. 1997, ‘The Effect of Authentic Materials on the Motivation of EFL Learners’ ELT Journal 51/2 • Widdowson, H. 1978: 79-83, Teaching Language as Communication, Oxford University Press
What does authenticity refer to? • Language itself • Context or situation • Materials/texts • Communicative purpose or message • Activities /tasks • Interaction • Assessment ? Cultural content? Etc. Not just language or materials …. But …. Also how they are used?
Authentic language • Authentic language would be undoctored, exactly as people in `real life' use it, in situations where people are not paying attention (`monitoring') their language use, and are not thinking about what people might be doing to judge their language use (or make judgements about them). http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/popcult/handouts/authentic.html • Issue 1: Graded vs ungraded • Issue 2: Scripted vs unscripted
Authentic language? How can we tell? K: This is very nice R: Yes, it is, isn’t it? K: Do you come here often? R: Quite a lot. Especially in the summer. You can sit outside K: Mmm R: So what would you like? K: I don’t know. What’s ‘requeijao’? Innovations Elementary, Unit 17 p.80
Is this any better? • Michael: You know, I was reading an article just yesterday in the news that the government in England is bringing in a law to make it illegal to show TV advertisements for junk food. On any… • Lori: Really? • M: …but on any programmes that are targeted at the under-16s, so kids’ programmes… • L: Ah ha. • M: Umm, they’re going to completely outlaw it, umm…and…and… I mean, junk food, I mean, it’s anything — that’s from McDonalds to any kind of food that’s high in fat or sugar or anything like that — it’s…and it’s something that people have been talking about for years, you know, that…that…how bad junk food is for people. • http://www.betteratenglish.com/junk-food-1/
And how about this ……this? • CAP: DESCEND IN 3 MINUTES. THEN --- 20 DEGREES --- THANKS. 45'29" • CAP: LET'S COMPARE. WE --- COMPARE --- NOW, USE RUNWAY 30, THEN 2 KINDS OF WINDS --- 10 KNOTS, AND DIRECTION --- BETWEEN --- AND --- (ATC COMMUNICATION OF OTHER AIRCRAFT) 45'45" • F/O: NAGOYA ---, MSA --- WE ARE AH APPROACHING FROM SOUTH EAST, PROBABLY AT 4800 TO 5000 FEET, --- 250 OF 302, SET, SET, THEN --- 500 FEET, HEADING 340, AFTER THAT, TURN LEFT TO230 RADIAL, WITHIN 10 MILES, THEN CONTINUE TO 3000 FEET, THEN TURN LEFT 10 MILES, UH, WITHIN 10 MILES, HOLD ON 110 RADIAL, ON 110 RADIAL • http://www.rvs.unibielefeld.de/publications/Incidents/DOCS/ComAndRep/Nagoya/Nagoyappend/CI140Cvr.htm
And more …. • MISSED APPROACH PROCEDURE, GO LEVER, GO AROUND POWER, FLAP ONE STEP, POSITIVE RATE, GEAR UP, HEADING SELECT, ALTIMETER 1500, LEVEL CHANGE, 250, LEVEL CHANGE, CRUISING POWER, THEN FOLLOW MISSED APPROACH PROCEDURE. 46'46" • F/O: SO WE CALCULATE, IF WE CALCULATE ASSUMING WE LAND ONTHE RUNWAY END, START DESCENT AT 116 MILES. 46'52" • CAP: OK. 46'59" • CAP: TURN OFF? PREFER THE LIGHTS TURNED OFF? 47'02" • F/O: DOESN'T LOOK BAD. 47'08" CAP: ADJUST A LITTLE BIT. HOW ABOUT IT? CAP: IS THIS BETTER? OR THIS? 47'13" F/O: NOT BAD, SIR. 47'14" • CAP: HOW ABOUT THIS? OR DIMMER? F/O: SLIGHTLY DIMMER IS BETTER, SIR. CAP: YOU LIKE IT SLIGHTLY DIMMER. 47'17" F/O: SIR, YOU LAND WITH LIGHTS ON? CAP: AH? F/O: YOU LAND WITH LIGHTS ON? 47'21" CAP: NO, NO. I DO THIS WAY.
So, should we aim to use authentic rather than graded language in class? • To simulate the ‘real world’ outside class? • To develop effective communication skills? • To motivate learners? • To provide a real sense of achievement? • To challenge learners who have reached a certain level of competence? • Because we believe in this approach?
There are some who disagree … “I would … argue against using authentic language in the classroom, on the fairly reasonable grounds that it is actually impossible to do so” “The language that is authentic for native speakers cannot possibly be authentic for learners” (Henry Widdowson 1998 ‘Context, Community & Authentic Language’, TESOL Quarterly 32/4)
‘Authentic language’ and ELF • “The spread of English around the world and its success as the primary medium of global communication has considerably complicated the issue of teaching the language and the concept of authenticity in the process”. (Gilmore 2007)
What are authentic materials? • “Material created by native speakers for other native speakers for communicative purposes in the world outside the classsroom. In this sense, ‘authentic’ material excludes material produced for language teaching purposes ….. • For material to be authentic in the outside world, it must have some personal relevance to the listeners/readers. …. We might call this authenticity of purpose to the individual listener/reader • For material to remain authentic in the real world, the listener/reader must respond to it in an authentic way …. What the listener/reader does with the material is more important perhaps than where the material comes from. We might call this authenticity of response.” (Clark 1988: 205)
However …. it’s not quite so simple • “Learners are not communicators in the outside world at the time when they are receiving classroom communicative data. They are learners in a classroom • There is therefore another perspective on authenticity that needs to be taken into consideration. Material needs not only to serve an authentic communicative purpose, but also to serve the purpose of language learning, in order to be authentic to the purposes for which learners find themselves in the classroom. We might call this authenticity of purpose to the learner as learner” (Clark 1987:206)
Genuineness and authenticity • The extract is a piece of genuine discourse. But the fact that it has been removed from a larger text reduces its naturalness • “In the normal run of events we do not encounter discourse in the form of separate reading passages but as complete rhetorical units” (Widdowson 1978:80) • “The extracts are by definition genuine instances of language use, but if the learner is required to deal with them in a way which does not correspond to his normal communicative activities, then they cannot be said to be authentic instances of use” (ibid.) • THEREFORE: Authenticity is a feature of how we use text, not of the text itself
Guiding Principles for Choosing Authentic Materials • Relevance to Learner Needs • Intrinsic interest • Cultural appropriateness • Linguistic demands • Cognitive demands • Logistical considerations • Quality (e.g. of recordings) • Exploitability (McGrath 2002:106)
Authenticity of task and of learning • Roleplay in which you play the part of another person? • Discussion in which you argue a point of view which is not yours? • Roleplay in which you play yourself but in a situation which has been devised for you? • Discussion in which you put forward your own opinions when invited by the teacher?
Making authentic texts more accessible • By Grading the Text ? • Fine-tuning the linguistic level by simplifying structure, substituting vocabulary • Adjusting speed of delivery for oral texts • Adjusting difficult accents for oral texts • By Grading the Task ? • Overall rather than detailed comprehension • Pre-teaching difficult language items
Is it inappropriate to adapt an authentic text? Ways that an authentic text may be altered: • Altering lay-out • Pruning length • Adding visuals • Changing content • Simplifying the language
Task: Adapting an authentic text • What changes would you make to the sample text for a group of advanced learners? • And for intermediate learners? • What kind of authentic tasks could be provided in each case? (Source: Deborah Tannen, “You Just Don’t Understand”, Virago)
Project Work as ‘authentic learning’ • Preparing a tourist brochure for your town • Writing and exhibiting recipe books • Compiling a science fiction journal • Writing and performing a play • Recording a TV documentary • Publishing a ‘wall newspaper’ All of these re-create ‘authentic’ ‘real-world’ contexts in which language is a means to an end
Project work characteristics • Focus on content rather than language learning – with a specified end product • Student-centred, with the teacher in a supporting role • Co-operative rather than competitive 4. “Leads to the authentic integration of skills … mirroring real-life tasks” (Stoller, F. 2003, ‘Project Work: a Means to Promote Language and Content’. In Ricahrds and Renandya …