There are real benefits to using authentic texts in English teaching. But what if it is too complex? What if students get stuck and can’t complete the task? These questions can sometimes put teachers off using authentic texts, but they shouldn’t!
We’ve compiled a list of the basic questions we ask ourselves when selecting authentic texts to use in our resources. They should help you feel confident that the text you have chosen will work in your lesson.
- Does it contain useful grammar examples? Often, you will have picked the text for this reason: because it contains multiple examples of modal verbs, or a wide range of adverbs. Keep an eye out for anything irregular that is above the level of your lesson, don’t be put off but consider your class – will they be distracted by something that doesn’t follow the rule or will it start a useful discussion?
- Is the content interesting and age-appropriate? Are you interested in the text? Do you want to read it? If students are not engaged then it doesn’t matter how many perfect examples there are of the past historic – they will switch off, particularly if they are reluctant readers at the best of times. Similarly, it is essential that the content fits the age of your class. Young learners might be interested in the news but an article about a violent attack is unlikely to go down well. On the other hand, adult learners will quickly get sick of reading about Justin Bieber.
- Is the vocab familiar to students? If not, don’t panic! You don’t want a text where every other word requires students to get out their dictionaries. But some unfamiliar words can either be glossed at the start, used for vocabulary extension tasks or picked out as examples of how to guess the meaning from the context.
- Can I exploit the text fully in my lesson? You’ve gone to all that trouble, finding an interesting authentic text, checking the grammar and vocabulary and creating accompanying reading exercises. Now, make the most of your hard work! Use the reading task as a springboard for another activity: discuss the ideas raised in the text; ask students to write a response; focus on the grammar used and get them pulling out various examples to analyse.
Was this helpful? Are there other questions you regularly ask yourself? We’d love to hear from you. We’d also love you to check out Wordie.com – our free online tool that checks the level of vocabulary for you!