Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Authentic Materials

Books, articles, websites, interactive media … there is so much material out there! The question is … how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

When it comes to learning English as a second language (ESL), most students turn to worksheets, study guides, readings with comprehension questions they find on the web and ‘how to speak English’ videos on youtube. Is that you?

No doubt you are interested in learning new words. For me, learning a new word is like finding money on the street. The chances of finding a lucky treasure like that on an ESL page are pretty limited, especially if you are at an intermediate level or above.

Authentic materials (those created for native speakers) are the way to go.

You might be thinking that this kind of material is very difficult … that’s the point! The greater the challenge the sweeter the victory.

When you read, listen or watch it’s important that you develop strategies for managing new vocabulary without panicking. Remember, a native speaker doesn’t understand everything that they hear or read either but they don’t freak out when that happens.

If you came across a word or phrase in your first language that is unfamiliar to you, what would you do? First you would likely try to extrapolate some meaning from the context. If this doesn’t satisfy you, you might consult a dictionary. Or perhaps you jot down the word to investigate later. Whatever your process is, reproduce it when examining authentic second language material.

And with this last piece of what I hope is useful advice, I bid you adeu dear friend. I am going to take a little rest from this blog. Perhaps you will see me again on these pages, or perhaps somewhere else. 

Yours faithfully,
Jennifer