Authenticity In The EFL Classroom
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Authenticity is a buzz word in the English as a Foreign Language field at the moment. Gone are the days of doing random grammar exercises which don’t relate to anything in our real lives. Instead, we try to incorporate as much of the real world into our classrooms as possible. After all, our students are learning English to use in the real world.
Authenticity can be brought into the classroom with materials, functional language and role plays. The key to incorporating authenticity into your lessons is to make it as natural as possible. When you are planning your lessons, consider the topic and think about what materials you can use and what activities you can do which will mimic your students’ experiences.
Ideas for bringing authenticity to the EFL classroom
- Bring in menus from local restaurants if you are in an English-speaking environment, or printouts of English menus if you aren’t. Students can learn authentic dish names and can use the menus to roleplay a restaurant.
- Discuss personal and cultural eating habits.
- Watch the documentary Supersize Me to initiate a discussion on fast food and dietary habits.
- Watch an English news broadcast on YouTube. Students can write stories about current events in their town or country and act out a broadcast for their classmates.
- Listen to the news on an English radio station.
- Use English newspapers for classroom activities.
- Bring in photos of your family and introduce them to your students. Your students can do the same with their own photos.
- Find news articles on interesting families (think octomom or polygamy) and do a gapped reading.
- Get your students to play their favourite music or music from their country to share with the class.
- Play a clip from a well-known movie and use it to focus on a language structure or for comprehension questions.
- Students take out their mobile phones to compare with each other.
- Students discuss what technological innovations they know about in their country.
- Bring in English travel brochures from various local tourist destinations. These can be used to teach vocabulary or students can use them to plan a group holiday.
- Students use the Internet to look up travel itineraries and compare prices. They can be tasked to find the cheapest, most direct or most convenient route to a certain place.
Authenticity should be a part of every English as a Foreign Language. No matter what topic you are covering, you are sure to be able to find appropriate authentic materials and activities that can be used to link the classroom language work with the English-speaking world outside the classroom.
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