Nunan (1999) defines authentic materials as spoken orwritten language data that has been produced in thecourse of genuine communication, and not specificallywritten for purposes of language teaching.
When people first think of authentic materials they usually assume that we are talking about newspaper and magazine articles. The materials used, will of course, depend on the usual factors: topic target language area skills students needs and interests Its no good trying to get your students fascinated by a text on the latest art movie if they are all fans of action films. You might as well save your time and energy and just use the text book!
Naturally certain texts will lend themselves more easily to certainlevels.At lower levels some possibilities include leaflets, timetables, menus,short headline type reports, audio and video advertising, or short newsbroadcasts. The task should be simple and relatively undemanding, and itis important to pre-teach key vocabulary so as to prevent panic.At more intermediate levels this list could be expanded to includelonger articles, four or five minute TV or radio news reports, a higherquantity of shorter items, or even whole TV programmes, if yourcopyright agreements allow it. Again pre-teaching is important, althoughyour students should be able to deal with unknown vocabulary to someextent.At higher levels its a case of anything goes. At an advanced levelstudents should have some tactics for dealing with new vocabularywithout panicking, but its still useful to have a few quick definitions tohand for some of the trickier stuff!
Advantages Disadvantages They have a positive effect Often too culturally biased, on learner motivation. difficult to understand They provide authentic outside the language cultural information. community. They provide exposure to Vocabulary might no be real language. relevant to the student`s They relate more closely to immediate needs. learners needs. Too many structures are They support a more mixed so lower levels have creative approach to problems decoding the teaching. texts. Special preparation is necessary, can be time consuming.
Non-authentic materials are those thatare speciﬁcally designed for the languagelearners. They are either adapted orsimpliﬁed or written keeping in mind thelanguage proﬁciency of the learners inquestion.
They are specially designed for learning purposes. The language used in them is artificial. They contain well formed sentences all the time. They are useful for teaching grammar.
As can be seen, using authentic materials is a relatively easy andconvenient way of improving not only your students general skills,but also their confidence in a real situation. This is only a briefintroduction to the ideas involved, but some of these ideas couldeasily be expanded to form part of a motivating and effective course.