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The Increasing Need for Authentic Reading Texts in ELT Classrooms - Essay Example

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Globalization has given a new dimension to the mastery of English as an international language (EIL), underlining the need for a more efficient, no-time-wasted language teaching in schools. For this purpose, the crucial role played by texts in ELT reading exercises has come under closer examination…
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The Increasing Need for Authentic Reading Texts in ELT Classrooms
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Download file to see previous pages By working on a "living" language as used by the community, this could give learners the feeling that they are in touch with reality and thus increase their motivation for learning. For this reason, more and more authentic texts are being incorporated into the materials used for English language teaching to close the gap between pedagogic texts and the real world. Authentic texts, being culled from day-to-day living, may appeal to students as relevant and interesting and thus serve to increase their motivation to learn. Hence, text authenticity has become popular as part of the current orthodoxy in ELT, its relevance considered especially high in the communicative exercises. In this essay, we shall discuss the rationale, advantages and benefits of authentic text, including the problems that may arise from its use. Together with the reasons for its increasing use in the classroom, we will also explore the factors that may dash its effective use, how the materials are actually taught and the different contexts and requirements for a successful teaching of such authentic materials.
For the past 15 years, the conviction grew among applied linguists and those who design ELT texts that language teaching involves not only an immersion in its grammar but also how grammar is used in the business of actual everyday communication (Widdowson, H., 1979). Language teaching, in this view, will not go far if it seeks to develop only the student's grammatical competence without paying heed to his communicative ability. For language study to be productive, the language experiences must engage the thoughts and minds of students. This gave impetus to the development and increasing use of authentic text, which brings real communication into the classroom (Nunan, D., 1985).
This arose out of the need to shift our attention away from an almost exclusive concentration on grammatical competence and give equal attention to communicative competence (Widdowson, H., 1979), because knowledge of language involves both. Authentic text is seen as an effective tool to provide communicative competence. But for this to happen, English teaching must be presented as authentic enough to serve as a "door to a whole new world of possibilities, career or otherwise, be it in the business world or other sectors (Nunan, D., 2004)."
Clayton, Fomo defines authentic texts as "genuine samples of language in use," which are not produced specifically for the purpose of language teaching. This text, sometimes spoken and sometimes written, simulates and uses the language of the real world, which is adapted in the classroom for its relevance to the students' social milieu. The objective is to develop the students' language skills for the real world, and bridge the gap between classroom knowledge and the students' capacity to participate in real-life events. Exposing students to the language of the real world will help them acquire "an effective receptive competence in the target language (Guariento, W. & Morley, J., 2001)."
Samples of authentic text, which are described as forms of "genuine and less formal" English, are offered in the volume Cambridge Skills for Fluency: Listening Series (1998). Such a text could be anything from newspaper clippings to flyers promoting a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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