Language Education and Students

Topics: Language education, Teaching English as a foreign language, Language Pages: 15 (5546 words) Published: December 8, 2010
12-1 1998

1.0 Introduction In this paper, I will discuss the benefits and problems when we use authentic texts in EFL classrooms. I will examine EFL coursebooks, short stories written by the native speakers of English, and a film and its scenario also produced in the target language. The latter three are considered as authentic written and spoken texts. 1.1 Authentic Texts Authentic texts can be defined as those texts that are naturally produced by the interaction between native speakers of the target language. It also can be paraphrased by Willis as 'genuine language use' or '[being] typical of real English' 1990:26,127 . Taking this viewpoint, it seems that the genre of authentic texts should be narrowly limited to spontaneous spoken discourse. However, as many recordings of spontaneous spoken discourse show, they are often ungrammatical. This is one of the most difficult points to deal with authentic texts. Advanced level students can recognise those ungrammticalities in authentic texts as aspects of real spontaneous spoken texts. Language forms that are sometimes rather different from those in school grammar books, in other words broken forms for the learners, actually do not bother interactions among the participants; they even facilitate interactions to go smoothly, as Willis skills 1990:126 explains. Yet students of lower than intermediate level may not be able to learn enough from them to develop their see sections 2.1 and 2.2 . Another big problem is that authentic texts which can be utilised in classrooms are harder to get than other usual course materials in places where English is not the official language. Considering these points, I will take stories and film scenarios written by English native speakers as examples of authentic language. Both of them are written texts, and written texts tend to show idealised forms of the language; however, they at least do not contain the strongly concocted flavour which EFL books do contain. Hence as a basis for comparison with them, I will take EFL coursebooks which are especially produced for language learners. We can see natural and real uses of the language in stories and scenarios. In the case of film scenarios, students can understand the functions of language that are taking place in front of their eyes, namely 'language-in-action' or the concept of 'shared knowledge' McCarthy and Carter 1995: 209 between the speakers. 1.2 Viewpoint of Grammar My previous comments may make it sound that authenticity and grammaticality are in conflict and that they never exist with each other at the same time. As Willis says, in developing their communicative skills learners need to become aware of the choices realised in genuine language use in order to create appropriate meanings 1990: 26 . This opinion puts the learning focus on fluency. Brown says that "fluency and

accuracy are seen as complementary principles underlying communicative techniques. At times fluency may have to take on more importance than accuracy in order to keep learners meaningfully engaged in language use... A great deal of use of authentic language is implied in CLT [Communicative Language Teaching], as we attempt to build fluency. It is important to note,..., that fluency should never be encouraged at the expense of clear, unambiguous, direct communication" 1993: 245 . Grammar is helpful to develop accuracy. This holds true especially when we teach adults and young adults whose native tongue is so much different from the target language, that grammatical knowledge facilitates communicative exchanges. Owen tells that 'in these days of 'communicative' language teaching, [the majority opinion] is that conscious grammatical knowledge is indispensable for teacher and of considerable benefit to most learner under formal instruction' Here we ought to reflect on Johnson's 1994 1988:22 . 1.3 Declarative Knowledge and Procedural Knowledge view of teaching and learning grammar. He presents two kinds of grammatical...
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