Authentic reading materials are real life texts that have not been written for pedagogic purposes. Such texts have been created to fulfill a certain purpose in the native speakers' community.
Some teachers refuse to see the value of using authentic texts in the EFL classroom, the main concern being that such texts are too difficult for the students to understand. Yet authentic materials may turn out to be an extremely beneficial tool boosting the students' confidence as readers.
The main advantages of using authentic texts in the EFL classroom are as follows:
- They expose students to real language with all its changes and variations
- They are a source of authentic cultural information
- Students are given the opportunity to learn about what is happening in the world
- Real life texts often include incidental and improper English very common in real life but conspicuously absent from textbooks
- The same piece of material can be used for different tasks or to practise different skills (e.g. speaking, reading, writing)
- Authentic texts are perfect for practising mini-skills -skimming or scanning
- They contain a wide variety of text types and language styles not easily found in conventional teaching material
- Authentic materials encourage reading for pleasure and are likely to contain topics of interest to the students, especially when you let your students choose what they want to read
- They may give students a sense of achievement and encourage further reading being thus highly motivating
- Using them may contribute to the development of an individual learning style and learner autonomy
- They usually relate more closely to students’ needs
The most important advantage of making use of authentic materials is that it supports a more creative approach to teaching. Needless to say, it is something we should prioritize at all times.
On the other hand, having read real life texts with different age groups myself, I must admit that using them is definitely not all roses.
Fortunately experiences vary.
Anyone willing to share their ideas is more than welcome to contribute :)