General view

There is no doubt that today English teachers have a lot of choices in terms of teaching materials. Choosing them we are to keep in mind that we should focus students‘ attention not only on vocabulary and grammar structures but prepare them for real communication where the knowledge of culture is sometimes crucial. Thus the use of authentic materials can help solve this problem. The majority of scholars define authentic materials as materials which are designed for native speakers; they are real texts, designed not for language students, but for the speakers of the language. There has been an increasing amount of research on the pros and cons of authentic texts in language classrooms for several years. It has been widely discussed that using authentic texts and encouraging students to join discussions enhance language development (AdairHauck & Cumo-Johanssen, 1997; Adair Hauck & Donato, 2002; Carter & McRae, 1996; Kramsch, 1993; Lafayette1993; West & Donato, 1995). We want to make a short review about the advantages and disavantage of using authentic text in general and then particularly in class of primary students in mainstream in Vietnam. There are some reasons for us to choose this issue. For one thing, the use of authentic in class is not always in good way, so we want to study the articles and books written about it to more deeply understand the situations, especially in Vietnam. The second reason is that members of our group will become teachers in the future, we will definitely use authentic text in our teaching, so it is necessary to know how to make the most of these materials. The report is in answer to these questions (1) What is the use of authentic texts in classrooms? (2) What are the advantages and disavantages of using authentic text in EFL classrooms all over the world in general and in classes of primary students in Vietnam in particular? (3) How to use the authentic text effectively in these classes?


Our report is based on some research. Some ideas in part II are collected from several studies, and ideas in part III is mainly based on two studies enclose. II. The avantages and disavantages of using authentic materials in general and in Vietnamese mainstream primary schools Nowadays, many people in the world think that using authentic materials in communicative language teaching gains a lot of benefits for learners, especially for young learners in primary schools. However, others do not think in that way. In order to have a comprehensive view on this issue, we need to consider advantages and disadvantages. These both sides of the problem not only are suitable for young learners in the world but also do involve in Vietnamese primary students. In terms of its advantages, the authentic text helps them to extend their knowledge about different aspects of in the real world and not the abstract definitions written in textbooks at early age. Chirldren are not forced to follow the inflexible requirments in the books. That knowledge is hard to apply in daily life, in each situation and different circumstances. According to Dr. Sacha Anthony Berador on title ―the use of authentic materials in the teaching of reading‖, he said: ―… the learner is not still exposed to real discourse and not the artificial language of course textbooks, which tend not to contain any incidental or improper examples. They also tend to reflect the current teaching trend. Authentic materials also give the reader the opportunity to gain real information and know what is going on in the world around them...‖ for example, authentic literature, especially the authentic stories. As many people know each story reflects one situation, problem, or experience in the real life and young students learn, use and alter other stories for their own experiences. Besides, literature is full of examples of daily life languages such as: students at primary schools learn speaking languages from situations, model communications in authentic stories. Besides, they can learn effective situations from

authentic stories that they are easy to come up against with in real life. Like Vietnamese students in primary schools, learning English is compulsory in grade three and in some schools; students are introduced authentic fiction stories which contain real situations to read for pleasure. According to Dr. Irma K. Ghosn said: ―Literature can promote academic literacy and thinking skill, and prepare children for the English medium instruction‖. Second, Authentic text helps Vietnamese young students survive in the real world. For example, in primary schools, teachers can bring pictures of advertisements, or street signs taken from everywhere teachers pass. They show and let their students read and recognize main contents in these advertisements. It is not about their recognitions but applying in real situations students have in their life. In a lesson, teachers, for example, showed billboards hanged outside in the store, learner‘s duties are to find out the main information written in the billboards. It is very helpful for them for identifying location if they are lost for instance. Thirdly, by getting deep background knowledge in different aspects of the world and culture as well though the authentic texts, learners in primary schools gain many benefits in preparing for the real texts. According to Dr. Sacha Anthony Berador on title ―the use of authentic materials in the teaching of reading‖, he said: ―… the artificial nature of the language and structure used, make them very unlike anything that the learner will encounter in the real world and very often they do not reflex how the language is really used. They are useful for teaching structures but are not very good for improving reading skills (for the simple fact that they read unnaturally). They can be useful for the eventual reading of ―real‖ texts.‖


especially in elementary schools. when he implemented his project. This problem is totally suitable for Vietnam primary schools. 4 . A news on BBC radio talks about a killer hiding somewhere in the area learners live. If teachers inform the situation too late and do not show them how to beware this. the vocabulary might not be relevant to the student's intermediate level. CDs. I agree that this problem results from teachers‘ qualifications. they may be in danger or can be killed. comparing the requirement. we cannot deny one thing that many elementary schools in Vietnam do not support enough equipment for teaching and learning English‘s needs. Choosing the suitable original text encourages the student‘s interest. If not. The news. teachers of English must have to reach B2 level and have ability. elementary in particular such as radio sets. Almost all primary schools are not added private rooms for children to learn English. According to Ministry of Education and Training‘s requirement in primary schools. other audio-visual aids is not enough or these equipment is too old and may be broken. Luong Van Cau – Vice Director of the Hai Duong Department of Education and Training. they will feel that learning English is hard and do not want to study English any more. for example. responsibility to their children.In terms of its disadvantages. This also happens in Vietnam. the material can become outdated easily. According to Mr. Whether the authentic materials are suitable for learners‗levels or not depends much on teachers‘ considerations. is updated day by day. equipment used for learning English in many schools. There are few projectors in classes. In addition. Moreover. the toughest issue is lacking of the number of qualified teachers of English. they found that teachers of English at elementary schools lack of both professional ability and pedagogic ability. However. According to the leader of the Da Nang Department of Education and Training.

2001:348). There should be a close relationship among the authentic materials‘ features. for example post-intermediate. A question here is that which kinds of TV program and restaurant menu are suitable with primary level? Cartoon TV program or science and technology 5 . The effective ways to use authentic text in language classes in general and in Vietnamese mainstream primary schools There is a question that how to make the best of authentic text in classroom environment for primary students. and. For examples. at lower level like primary students. it seems to be better to salvage a piece of authentic information such as TV program schedule or restaurant menu to desined tasks for in-class activities. However. Firstly. demotivated‖ (Guariento and Morley. In stead of choosing difficult topic.To prevent this situation. it seems to be more difficult to restrict not only the gap between students‘ ability and authentic texts‘ level but also the incorporatedness between students‘ need and authenticity benefit. teachers‘ role and students‘ sound awareness to bring authenticity to English lessons in primary school. Looking at the situation realistically. At higher level. these materials should refer to something primary students may encounter in real life. therefore the use of highly-qualify material ―may not only prevent the learners from responding in meaningful ways but can also lead them to feel frustrated. who can be regarded as a kind of English-learning beginners.III. confused. a wide range of authentic texts and designed tasks is available for praticing in classroom. these children have little experience about life. Because of primary students‘ distinct intelligence. some special characteristics of authentic texts should be considered. Widdowson (1978) claimed that the materials have to draw learners‘ attention as well as meet their interests and concerns. more importantly.within national curriculum. using a material related to philosophy may be not a good choice for teaching English at primary level because it tends to be strange to students‘ knowledge and experience.

In fact. national English textbooks from grade 3 to grade 5 mainly concentrate on form-focused instruction. However. Another way of expression is that the level of authentic text have to be equivalent to students‘ level. it is neccessary to choose genuine materials which have both close relationship with the students‘ real life experience and simplification in accordance with their interest. Cinema ticket may be familiar with urban students. the teachers should choose documents which are not only close to students‘ concerns but also are simple to them to understand and practice within classtime. It may lead to the vanishing of students‘ engagement during lessons. living standard and even seperate culture and religion of Vietnam inhabitants are important criteria that have to be considered carefully when choosing materials. it is often a new thing for rural and ethnic students. In Vietnam. on the contrary. different living environment. 6 . as well as appropriatedness with their living situation. In addition. using authentic materials seems to be still unfamiliar with primary students. ―contributes both to the current communicative event and to longer-term language development‖. first and foremost primary students.discovery one? Traditional Chinese restaurant or fast food one? To answer this question. authentic materials may become useless to learners. not all of the authentic texts are full of complicated vocabulary and structures. Therefore. If they have to do somthing in class time that they have a few chances or even no chances to practice in real life. simplification of authentic text is more important because it can. For students at lower level like primary one. Of all resources that genuine materials can be found. There is a typical disadvantages of using these materials in classroom: Too many vocabulary and structures are mixed so lower-level students have a hard time decoding the texts. we should be conscious of the important of genuine materials‘ simplification. as Lynch(1996:15) believed. to bring authenticity to English language classroom in Vietnam at primary schools. It means that the focus of the English lesson is on grammar and accuracy based on a large number of unnatural texts or tapes.

which focused on the practice of authenticity in three elementary schools in Trinidad and Tobago (former British colony) . A research of Seunarinesingh (2010). he used many ways to approach genuine materials. reading and writing skill. there is a variety of sources and material-based tasks that can be used to creat authenticity in elementary schools. To help the students practice writing skills. Then their product would be checked by not only the teacher but also a special guest (*). Sarah. grammar. These ways of approaching authenticity creat an active environment for primary students to help them not only improve their English skills but also enhance their knowledge about real situations. a teacher of Evergreen Elementary School. She created good conditions to her students. Margaret. often made use of visual materials.Additionally. afterthat they worked in group to write a report to things they gained during this trip. a teacher of Orange Valley Primary School. Mark. Like Sarah. often used ―current event‖ which was reported in TV programs or newspapers to teaching English writing and reading skills (vocabulary. Moreover. Mark asked his students to watch a movie episode to write a reflection about a character. especially pictures to plan her lessons. The methods these teachers used authentic materials to design tasks that Seunarinesingh observed have many advantages. for examples. Another teacher. she sometimes gave her students free choice to choose their own pictures and the topic related to this one for class discussion. she took her chilren to a real place (farm) to practice these materials.etc). The last teacher. For examples. These activites abolish students‘ passiveness and change them into the centre element of classroom. he gave his students a chance to join in a short trip to have real awareness of topic. The role of teachers is the instructors who just guide their children to using authentic materials in suitable and effective ways. sentence structure and grammar by practicing speaking. showed the kinds of authentic material and the way to practice English from these one that a teacher from each school used. She focused on the use of English vocabulary. used audio-lingual materials for his class. Based on the ways that the teachers planned English 7 .

Teachers and students have to spend some 8 . an episode of a movie seemed to be suitable for the students‘ level and it could draw their attention. In fact. there were three findings found by Seunarinesingh. He found that the teachers often use ―a variety of easily available textual and visual resources for developing children‘s reading and writing skills‖. The second finding was that the teachers focused on developing students‘ linguistic knowledge (vocabulary and grammar).even field. garden are the better choice. Therefore. they could get enough information to creat their product in their own way. Vietnam complicated administrative formalities raises objections to the teachers and the students who want to visit these places. exercises and activities to their students. Sarah had a good job when she tried to use some methods to help the student have deep understanding about the topic. they knew how to design suitable and enjoyable tasks. It should be considered that what is the suitable and effective ways of using genuine materials in Vietnam primary schools? Could these methods and tasks are put into practice? Of course Vietnamese teachers can if they have good consideration to specific characteristic of each primary school condition. The first finding could be used to demonstrate for one things mentioned above: the authentic materials for primary students should be as easy as possible. Finally. touring to public locations such as parks or cinemas.lessons. 1990:195). Because the three teachers had clear understanding of the importance of materials‘ attraction. a picture. therefore they were active in class. In stead of spending time on unfeasible places. These materials such as a piece of information on magazine. It seemed to be quite unrealistic if a teacher tries to make a trip to a big farm or a factory to creat authenticity for the written materials. the choosen materials reached students‘ interest. zoos and stations. A disadvantage of using authentic materials is that it is really time-consuming. It seemed to be reliable that ―linguistic knowledge is achieved by means of performing under real operating conditions in meaning-focused language activities‖ (Ellis.

Another 9 . authentic materials should be not only easy but also short enough to do during a lesson. Nowadays.hours on an outdoor activities. more exercises and tasks that the teachers require. Apart from these kinds of materials and methods. DVD and VCD used in this school were made in America for the purpose of entertaining American children. Picture description activities and a short writing assignment based on existing materials need not much time but these one could encourage students‘ participation. therefore time-consuming drawback could be avoid. For this reason. a lesson is of from 40 to 50 minutes duration. teachers have to fulfil requirements of formal syllabus and it is hard for them to plan more tasks for their students. It may make them feel confident when communicating with native speakers. Both Sarah and Mark chose a place where its location has short distance from their school. In other words. there is a recommendation that they should choose the appropriate materials. A research was made by Hong Kong Education Bureau to study about the sucessful way of teaching English using audio-visual materials in Ching Chung Hau Po Woon Primary Chool (Hong Kong). not only English. During school hours. Using pictures(like Margaret‘s lesson) or a piece of information(Sarah‘s lesson) is really a good choice. which its topic relates to a near place. they had chance to learn vernacular pronunciation and intonation. Consequently. in Vietnam. In fact. Vietnamese primary students have to learn lots subjects. more time students need to well-prepared for it. It made the students feel that they were really living in a real English world. Besides. so one practical extra-activity per week or per two weeks is enough. if the teachers really want to plan a extracurricular activity for their student. Typically. not including time for approaching available materials and for complete final product. we should consider about another kind of material that is audio-visual one. it reduced the gap between the things they were taught and the situations they could face in real life.

most primary students in Vietnam ―are from average family backgrounds with limited English exposure‖. as Hau Po Woon‘ students. therefore it does not take much school time. as this research claimed. children may have deeper knowledge about the topic and feel interested in new things (**). speaking. Secondly. writing. These ones seem to be simmilar with Vietnamese children. Firstly. the teachers can choose an appropriate episode which is suitable with their school curricula. Because each episode relates to a distinct situation. so both teachers and students can learn many interesting things after each lesson. Real audio-visual materials can fill up the teachers‘ shortcoming to some extent. 10 . There are many good points that primary schools and teachers can learn from the practice of using authentic materials in this school. and the same toVietnamese children. Actually. Looking through some findings of this research. Decision of using DVD and VCD as a means of teaching English in Ching Chung Hau Po Woon Primary Chool is based on their students characteristic and habits.5 percentage of this school‘s students like watching TV in their free time (at least three hours per day) because they want to approach with interating new things from the media. so it is not enough if the children only learn four language skills from their teachers. Secondly. Therefore. Vietnamese children may stand a chane of interacting with correct ways of practicing English thanks to videos made by native speakers. listening) by using audio-visual materials. Vietnamese primary teachers‘ qualifications is still at low level. there is an optimistic view about the success of this kind of genuine material if it is put in practice in Vietnam primary school. audio-visual materials is a means to introduce not only the language but also the culture. By combining written materials in textbook with these authentic one.advantage is that the teachers can design tasks integrating all of four language skills (reading. Firstly. about 65.these audio-visual materials were devided into small episode.

read the supplemental document on page 11 (**)For more information about the data presentation of Seunarinesingh‘s research. Making use of English audio and video at home may also reduce the time children use to watching programs. Conclusion Materials are being used in all teaching context (Evans and John. Learners feel that they are learning a target language as it is used outside the classroom (Kilickaya. 1998). From optimistic view. there is a belief that authentic materials included audio-visual ones will bring desired effect if they is applied in Vietnam primary schools. IV. read the sup plemental document on page 22 11 . Understanding the disadvantages and advantages of using authentic text will help teachers have effective ways in applying this kind of material in their EFL classes.Learning English by watching something on the screen can increase students‘ attention and interest. which is not always good. (*) For more information about the data presentation of Seunarinesingh‘s research. 2004). on television. And authentic materials enable learners to interact with the real language and content rather than the form. The use of these material for teaching English in Hau Po Woon Primary Chool recieved good feedback from both teachers and students. The best solutions for the problem are to choose texts that interest students and to choose texts which are simple to students to understand and practice within classtime.

November).jrc.166/ELT/files/56-2-7. Oura. September).ist.72.edu/jolle/2010_1/explorations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Primary teachers‘ explorations of authentic texts in Trinidad and Tobago.(2010).References: Yvette Murdoch. Ellis.pdf Widdowson. Volume 55/4. (1999.nz/content/download/275/1274/file/Guariento%2520and%2520 Morley%2520on%2520authentic%2520texts%2520and%2520tasks. 6(1). The Reading Matrix. R. Using Authentic Texts in the Language Classroom.jp/kiyou/ki21/gaio. P.145. Lunch. Retrieved from http://tetereauraki. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.Communitive in the Language Classroom. Guariento.psu. Text and task authenticity in the EFL Classroom.(1990). & John M. Oxford: Oxford University Press.sophia. Four good reasons to use literature in primary schools ELT.edb.(1978). H.( 2001).d). (2006. Oxford: Oxford University Press.pdf William G.4064&rep=rep1&type=pdf Irma K. The Use of Authentic Materials In The Teaching Of Reading..hk/FileManager/EN/Content_3853/engartifactevejune05. Retrieved from http://203.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10. Available http://www.117. Oxford: Blackwell. Ghosn. T. ELT Journal.(1996). 347.Using authentic audio-visual materials in primary school English language classrooms. Retrieved from http://www.1.1. 40-57. K.J.coa.ac.gov. Instructed Second Language Acquisition.uga. Authentic Task –Based Materials: Bringing the Real World into the Classroom.W. Seunarineingh. Retrieved from http://www.pdf Sacha Anthony Berardo. 60-66. and Morley.pdf Hong Kong Education Bureau. Teaching Language as Communication. Gail K.org.pdf 12 . Journal of Language anf Literacy Education [Online].tki.G. (n.

13 . Terms of Use.Supplementary 1: Some sample work: Ching Chung Hau Po Woon Primary School Primary 4 English Language Module: Writing an email to Elmo about Chinese New Year Write to me about Chinese New Year! Copyright 1998-2005 Sesame Workshop.

on the envelope. 3. Then I li 3. into the mail box. It is for gar can’t mail a letter in a basketball net. 4. You can’t mail a letter in a garbage can. Put a st 4. . You mail a letter into the box. Noodle should do when mailing a letter. Task 3 Discuss with your classmates four examples of mail. Task 1 Tell what Mr. Put the it closed.Sesame Street-Mail Watch Elmo’s show on “mail” and finish the following tasks. 1. 14 . . 1. You Task 2 Steps for mailing a letter. 2. Put the letter into the en 2.

Please write back soon. How are you? I hope you enjoyed celebrating the coming of 2005 on 1st January.An E-mail from Elmo To: chanyw@cchpwps. 15 . Each of us made wishes for the coming year.net From: Elmo <elmo@sesamestreet. Tell me more about what you do in the Chinese New year. Cookie Monster and Ernie. potato chips. I know that Chinese people celebrate the Chinese New year in February. I had a big party with my Sesame Street friends such as Big Bird.4 students in Hau Pa Woon Primary School. 2005.com> Subject: How do you celebrate Chinese New year? Dear P. finish the following tasks which may help you to write the reply. cheese cakes and soft drinks. We counted down together on the New Year eve and shared a lot of food like chicken wings. because I really want to know the answer! Regards Elmo Task 4 Write an email to Elmo Read Elmo‘s email and write back to him. Before you write the reply.mysch.

Task 5 You can write a paragraph in your reply about what you do in the Chinese New Year. What I do for Chinese New Year Received (1) money from parents (2) Had (3) Said “Gong Hei Fat (4) and parents (5) lion (6) meal relatives reunion ” to relatives Helped mother to cook (7) (8) (9) fireworks new clothes 16 . The following record may help you.

Task 6 You can also write a paragraph about what you eat during the Chinese New Year. Food Do you like red/black melon s (10)_ ? Do you like du Do you like tu Do you like sw Do you like cho (14) ? ? ? ? (12) (11)_? cakes? (13) _? Number of students Do you like dried coconut meat Do you like glutinous rice cake Do you like lotus seeds 17 . find a group representative to report to your teacher. Finally. In groups of four to five. tell your classmates your favourite food for Chinese New Year.

To : Subject: 18 .Task 4 Write an email to Elmo about Chinese New year.

19 .

20 .

Sarah and her class were responding to news that tropical storm Olga was heading towards The Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. Findings Sarah’s Practices During the time that I observed her. On one of those days I was present for the middle lesson she was teaching in a unit on the effect of hurricanes. and was several hundred miles away in the north western Caribbean. Sarah used materials she had collected from doing a similar unit when Hurricane Ivan had hit 21 . the location of Santo Domingo. Retrieved from http://www.Using authentic audio-visual materials in primary school English language classrooms. Sarah had decided to explore with them what the coming of such a weather system meant for their Caribbean neighbors.gov. Sarah taught a class of 10 year olds. Following this. she first showed them. on a medium sized map. A few students had heard of Haiti though.pdf Supplementary 2: Data Presentation I used the data to create three individual cases (Sarah. since no one knew where the country was. Despite the fact that the storm posed no threat to her and her students. At the end of each case I offer an analysis of emerging issues then conclude the section with an analysis of emerging issues and themes.hk/FileManager/EN/Content_3853/engartifactevejune05. Margaret and Mark) in order to accurately report what authentic materials teachers used and how they used them.Source: Hong Kong Education Bureau.edb. This was part of a larger class project on weather in the Caribbean. which was Santo Domingo‘s neighbor. To do this. This in turn had been inspired by a reading passage in their basal reader on a hurricane that had hit the island of Tobago decades before.

anyway?‖ In response. the Prime Minister‘s name. The specific title of her previous unit was ―Grenada in Ruins‖. When everyone agreed with alacrity that they would experience the same misery. while Sarah wrote ―Grenada‘ on the left side of the board and ‗new words‘ on the right hand side. and the size of the population. such as ―food‖. Sarah had her students think of the possible loss Grenadians had suffered many years before and what physical needs they might have had. ―Oh ho! Is Grenada we does get nuttenmeg (nutmeg) from!‖ Sarah immediately asked the class to justify whether the bit of information was valuable or not. The following day. (2006) spoke 22 . Words that Sarah wrote in this column were. Reorganizing the list meant creating meta categories or superordinates. It telling something about the country. ―Grenada in Ruins‖ from a daily newspaper and organized the students into groups of four. Sarah directed attention to the map of the Caribbean and she and the students charted the course Olga was taking. Sarah sought to extend her lesson by introducing the element of ―community‖ that Duke et al. ―Where Olga gone now. some 90 minutes later. ―personal hygiene‖. students began inquiring about the location of Tropical Storm Olga. and ―security‖. ―Is like oil from Trinidad. as one girl explained. She asked them to think about whether or not the citizens of Santo Domingo would have the same needs as the Grenadians did. its main export crop. The section on ‗new words‘ was reserved for any unfamiliar words students met in the text and for which they had guessed at meanings. She let her class brainstorm for a few minutes then wrote their ideas on the board. They agreed it was since. Under the former she placed any information students thought relevant and interesting about Grenada in the newspaper article. which had virtually crippled the country‘s economy in 2004. or as one boy asked. ―fury‖.‖ Armed with this operating definition. ―havoc‖ and ―braced‖. About ten minutes into the reading.Grenada. She had photocopies of the article. since she was focused on the destructive power of Hurricane Ivan. one girl exclaimed. students gleaned from the newspaper information about Grenada‘s capital. Most of them immediately identified food and water as basic needs. Towards the end of the session. Sarah enlisted their help in reorganizing the list to create what the class called a ―Help Santo Domingo‖ list of supplies that could possibly be collected and shipped to the island. students immediately began reading. ―building supplies‖. ―spared‖. Finally. When she presented them with their copies.

the class engaged in ―post-storm‖ writing. She achieved this by allocating students to one of three groups and having them write (a) a factual description of Santo Domingo and its people (b) a projection of what was likely to happen (―When Olga hits. Most often she created stand-alone. such as the following: ―Olga threatened Santo Domingo‖. Sarah had explored the issues raised pragmatically. ―Olga ran out of steam‖. She read the report to the class the next morning. where she showed them properly labeled bottles of chemicals. with them. Subsequently. since it would have necessitated negotiating too many bureaucratic procedures and was not certain to receive approval from the school‘s PTA. An example of the latter occurred following a newspaper report which described a tragic incident in which an infant had ingested weedicide from an improperly labeled bottle. She asked them to speak about ―safety at home‖ by comparing what they had just seen on the farm with what they had read about in the newspaper. Sarah had them cut out rectangular strips of pink Bristol board. there will be…‖) and (c) a letter to parents soliciting donations of money or supplies.about. Sarah‘s explorations of authentic materials appeared to target primarily language arts 23 . However. After that they went back to class and Sarah did two comparison words. discussed it for a while talking about safety in the home. so that their friends from neighboring classes could share what they had written. Sarah later said that the last idea was not actually implemented. ―unlike‖ and ―but‖. She compared these with what had happened in the story and talked about the proper storage of the bottles. ―We prayed for our neighbors‖. approximately 7 inches x 12 inches. Then she took her class to the farm (a small area at the back of the school devoted to vegetable crops). when Tropical Storm Olga made landfall as a relatively weak system that brought heavy rainfall rather than extremely high winds and torrential downpours. the other two ideas were presented to the school‘s acting principal when she accepted a formal invitation to visit the class that very afternoon. on which they practiced Standard English structures. The foregoing description of Sarah‘s practice during one unit was typical of her teaching during the three months I observed her. single lessons on topics that emerged from events reported in the media. ―The storm scared all of us‖. The students stuck these to the class walls at about eye-level.

Margaret‘s stated focus in the lesson was on verb inflection. However. Water Everywhere. On other occasions. ―I am. this increased talk means the lesson takes a lot more time than usual and I think I will have to use the block method in my class. he is. She had students bring in cuttings from 24 . Margaret said. although that community was restricted to the school and did not include visitors from the wider neighborhood or correspondence with a larger external audience. She used the picture as a stimulus for having students produce English sentences such as. studied and planned for extensively to ensure its effectiveness. since in Trinidad Creole there is no inflection of third person singular verbs. her lessons were of 35-40 minutes duration. Margaret created a unit on floods. sentence structure and vocabulary. The relevance of and sensitivity to this local audience was reflected in the display of student writing at eye-level for their peers from neighboring classrooms to read. when her students had just come to her. She said. Margaret’s Practice Margaret‘s primary authentic texts were newspapers and popular magazines. she displayed a picture from ELLE magazine in which a woman dressed in a pink summer dress was walking her dog in a park. With respect to selecting and preparing materials. such as ELLE. especially newspapers. it is‖. some of Sarah‘s explorations were community focused. Early in the December term.and social studies curricula. which spans the period June to December. ―It (the newspaper) stimulates and maintains interest among pupils. Notably. for authentic materials and used these for teaching English grammar.‖ For example.‖ Typically. She did not plan units or mini units.‖ In it Margaret set out to challenge her students to think about the effects of perennial flooding during the rainy season in Trinidad. she explored the use of newspaper pictures to teach vocabulary. ―Floods: Water. Her main pedagogical purpose appeared to be the teaching of language arts content that she approached on a lesson by lesson basis. in one lesson. I think it‘s because they (the materials) represent real issues about real people. She depended heavily upon current events as reported in the media. It is highly interactive and pupils express themselves with greater confidence as the issues are real to them. which she taught in significant blocks of time devoted to those subjects. Her method was to find interesting stimuli and weave instruction around them so that learning could be contextualized. It was entitled. ―the selection of authentic material is time consuming as it needs to be sourced.

With respect to ―sad‖. The students generated sentences such as the following: ―There is a lot of dirty water everywhere. her chalkboard contained the following paradigmatic possibilities: |sad| |unhappy| |glum| |dejected| |forlorn| |despondent| |miserable| After Margaret put it to a vote. the students chose ―despondent‖ as most apt for describing the expressions on the people‘s faces. In one case. invited students to tell her what they were seeing. She repeated this procedure for each sentence until students had a fresh bank of words to choose from. To complete her unit. Margaret asked for suggestions on alternative words/phrases and wrote these below the target word. students responded to a picture of a completely submerged plain. Margaret had her students write letters to the editors of several daily newspapers offering their opinions on the discomfort and loss people felt when they were affected by floods. Margaret wrote sentences like the preceding examples then she used a different colored chalk to suggest a more sophisticated lexical item by enclosing the target word or phrase between parallel lines. For example.‖ In all.‖ ―The people in the cars looked really sad because they had nowhere to go. she engaged her students in a general discussion of paradigmatic categories (Halliday and Matthiessen. students created 17 sentences in less than 10 minutes simply by looking at the visual stimulus. drew lines out from the picture with these labels then created sentences with some of the student-generated vocabulary. 25 . She then drew a line from one person‘s face in the picture to the chalkboard and wrote the word ―despondent‖. out of which just a sign post and a few cars were visible.newspapers displaying pictures of severe flooding and she affixed them to the classroom walls. for example. Margaret stuck a picture from a weekend newspaper in the middle of the chalkboard. 2004) of selected words so that they could evaluate for themselves the varying effects of word choice on sentence meaning.‖ ―The villagers were stranded in their houses and had to depend on the army for help. Following this. Following that.

Margaret did not pursue the matter and did 26 . Miss is the same t‘ing by me. what can people do about this? Rawle: Nothin‘. Rawle: But. it does happen like everyday down by we.‖ After that. Mike and Rawle were the most vociferous. This took about 15 minutes and was conducted entirely in Creole. He coulda be mindin‘ he own business and that Police decide to. responding to the visual stimulus as follows: Rawle: Miss. and he… Mike: Yeah. Margaret: So what are you trying to say about this picture then? Mike: He coulda be a innocent man nah. Rawle. The class then discussed the probable reasons for the incident. Margaret appeared surprised. Is the Police. Them (the Police) does come and real brutalize people. but pleased. he doh do nothing‘ and them push ‗im on the groun‘ and handcuff ‗im. Is like my cousin. a student brought to class a front page picture from a newspaper of a man jumping across the hood of a parked car. Most students said. ―Miss. However. On other occasions. students groaned and complained that they had just written a short story the previous day and had been writing ―whole day and we tired. he mad.‖ about the man being chased.. Miss.However. ‗Cause them Police always lookin‘ for drugsman and sayin‘ the people by me in t‘ing. at the student‘s request for class discussion of the image. For example. some wanted to talk about police brutality and offered anecdotes about persons dressed as policemen beating their (the students‘) neighbors and arresting them. This conversation went on for about three minutes more and culminated in a suggestion from Margaret that the class write a letter to a newspaper describing their experiences. Pursuing him was a uniformed policeman. They like to beat yuh up and take yuh down to the station. Miss. she simply had authors read their letters to the class and she made comments about their grammar and the extent to which they had successfully used the new words. Margaret did not post the letters. is known them Police does chase man down for nothin‘. Miss. however. Nobody cyah do nothin‘. Las‘ week it had a man get beat up because they say he pushin‘ weed (marijuana). Margaret: So. Margaret explored stories that students wanted to discuss.

since they never spoke about their communities in class. She focused considerable attention on English grammar and sentence construction whether or not she was teaching social studies or language arts. Margaret did not use them everyday. as a precursor to writing activities. It was notable that Margaret used an inductive approach to teaching new words and did not ―give‖ the words to students. She estimated that she used them twice per week. She confessed to some nervousness in discussing the topic: I was really surprised today because I . I never realized that that is what they see when they are home. In the vocabulary building exercise. What the visual stimuli appeared to do was provide a recent. especially when they had been following events in the news. contextualized nexus for their conversations. Margaret frequently talked about balancing the need to use authentic materials on the one hand with the requirement of completing her syllabus and teaching to the program of instruction that had been set out for the term. Margaret‘s surprise at their animated and engaged response suggested that even though she allowed free expression and was aware of some of the students‘ backgrounds. you know? But today they seemed to hit—the papers seemed to hit a sore spot. Usually they will contribute to class. Also.this came right out of the blue. how to handle it because these things don‘t really come up often. Mark’s Practice 27 . She indicated during the post-lesson interview for this particular class that she had been very surprised at the reaction she had had from the two boys. the focus was on teaching new words as D1 vocabulary. It really shocked me and I wasn‘t prepared for Rawle and Mike to be so outspoken. you know. Most remarkable for the teacher too were her students‘ reactions to the picture of a policeman in pursuit of a man. Margaret used visual prompts to stimulate her students‘ oral responses. Though she was enthusiastic about using authentic materials.not re-visit the issue on any subsequent day. she was unprepared for the spontaneous discussion that arose and was unable to ―guide‖ it very much. I should say. come up at all. even if she wanted to. I wasn‘t really sure. where students had to choose what they considered le mot juste.

After this. the children walked about in pairs 28 . The weekly chart was mounted immediately to the right of the chalkboard. Mark poses an intriguing/provocative question to his class: ―Are Carnivals a waste of time and resources?‖ This is usually a provocative question because as Mark explained: ―We have a situation where Carnival is not a public holiday. the kinds of tools they worked with. created a bar chart to show the daily sales and worked out how sales had fluctuated across the week. writing weekly reviews of their favorite episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants (a TV cartoon character) modeled after reviews Mark had read to them from newspapers. and adding to a tally chart and creating the weekly histogram. the person in charge of the production greeted the children and gave them a brief ―do‘s and don‘ts‖ lecture prior to the commencement of their tour. which was reflected in the frequent links he made between current events and topics in the social studies syllabus. students took along their notebooks and Mark carried the school‘s new digital camera. Mark reminded his pupils about what they had to observe when they got there: descriptions of what workers were doing. The trip lasted approximately 40 minutes and before setting off. Once they arrived at the Carnival camp.‖ To begin answering the question. the teacher took his class on a field trip to a Carnival camp in the neighboring town. In addition to a major project on Carnival. where it competed for space with reviews. which remained papered to the classroom wall for the better part of the term. and those who could afford it take a plane and fly off somewhere. Then on Carnival Monday and Tuesday about half the population runs off to the beach or some church camp or something.Mark had an interest in social studies. the texture of materials they used. which he undertook annually in February. But the Government gives millions of dollars for Carnival. In the latter case. and poems. and what emotions they [the students] felt when they saw the costumes for the first time. students tallied weekly sales of stationary items they sold on behalf of the school. usually Miami. that kind of thing. or as extended. around carnival time. drawings. such as making maps of their communities. you know? Schools shut down. as Mark‘s major annual project on the theme of Carnival. businesses close. ok? But the country shuts down for almost a week. Every year. Since they were required to make notes on their trip. his students explored small topics. so it is important for children to talk about these things before we have our school celebration. These weekly authentic activities were not as elaborate.

we collected some scraps of foam and cloth of different colors. but there was one proviso: Mark reminded them that he was not accepting ―nice‖.‖ ―The most satisfying part of our trip was that we got to use the camera. ―good‖. Instead. yet it can move about… Finally. he posed questions to have them recount the morning‘s experiences and gave them several target adverbs and adverbial phrases that they wrote into their books:     First. where they had the option of adding to it if they so desired. This activity provided an opportunity for students to use a variety of adjectives. when they returned to school. His explicit intention he said was ―To teach students how to use adverbs of time to sequence events that occurred in the past. which… In order to encourage affective connection between students and the writing activity. and collecting scraps. measuring finished items. ―When we got to the Carnival camp. For example. even though the king‘s costume is really big. He also prompted them to describe the setting in the Carnival camp. Mark had them talk about how they felt during the trip. Their finished product went into their writing books. but never use them when they are writing. he said. Since he budgeted two hours for a 29 .and small groups observing workers and asking process questions. and ―glad‖ as descriptive terms. which he had used to take photographs at the camp.‖ Thus.‖ ―I was astonished to see the amount of work that went into making the dragon costume. because they could rattle off parts of speech like parrots. To get discussion going. Mark worked on the chalkboard and questioned his pupils about the sequence of activities that they had engaged in and observed that morning. After lunch. we spent some time measuring the length of the dragon‘s tail.‖ After about 10 minutes or so of pair discussion. children had opportunities for touching materials. we got onto the bus. to the class computer so that students could view the images of their morning‘s experiences. he connected the digital camera. After that. such as ―How do you get that neat circular shape?‖ ―Why do you have to use this kind of material?‖ and ―What happens after this piece leaves your table?‖ During their tour. As a result. The following day. I again sat in on Mark‘s class. we were all bubbling over with joy because we had never visited such a place. the class collaborated to write two paragraphs about their trip. he modeled for them how to use more sophisticated vocabulary. which took us past other schools in the area. which they dictated for Mark to write on the board.

Students also had opportunities for talking about what intrigued and interested them about other countries‘ carnivals. He wrote these new words onto the class word wall at the end of the lesson. vocabulary choice. A story in which someone either benefits from or suffers as a result of participating in a Carnival. asking questions about what had been written. Mark circulated amongst the groups clarifying tasks. During that time. students first spent time rereading the stimulus then they looked at their tasks. unfamiliar words. by sometimes pointing to the charts on the classroom walls. and sentence structure and reminding writers about what they had already learned about writing conventions. encyclopedias and printed books on carnival. The readings focused on just three ideas:    How Carnival started. the teacher drew a timeline on the board and got students to supply the details. Since much of the reading was chronological (detailing as it did the history of carnivals). helping with spelling. he read several brief articles from Internet sources. a letter/email to a friend describing what they had experienced on their trip to the carnival camp. Mark structured his language arts block as a writing workshop. if any. During students‘ deliberations. how their country‘s celebration compared/contrasted with the celebration described of another country. Students arranged themselves into small groups to engage in process writing. Mark had assigned each group three genres: 1. Their task was to create a variety of texts that would present their opinions about Carnival. Since they had copies of those readings. such as dates and events as they occurred in chronological order. Mark was able to explore a significant amount of reading and writing. 3. A poem using rhyming couplets. The next day. with the poetry writing being especially difficult for them. They used the information that was read to them the previous day as well as other sources that several of them had researched on the Internet. Once students completed a piece and were satisfied that it was ready for publication. on the theme of Carnival. are mentioned in the reading? During reading. they turned it in to 30 . 2. and what they thought about the issue of Carnival being a waste of resources. These tasks occupied students for four days.language arts block. Mark frequently stopped to question his class about the content of the articles and to guess the meaning of new. What Carnivals look like in various countries [what people do] What benefits/drawbacks that derive from Carnival.

three core findings emerged. The first finding was that teachers used a variety of easily available textual and visual resources for developing children‘s reading and writing skills.. the visitor expressed his thanks for the invitation and discussed with students the merits of their positions as articulated in the pieces they had read. The children were excited and very curious. and the situations chosen for exploration were topical. At the end of all the tasks. which were unfolding in real time (Forrest. That is. but their teacher insisted on keeping it a secret. Notably. However. The planned trip to the Carnival camp. Discussion From the data presented. Following this. Following this. A core aspect of Mark‘s practice was his use of sensory experiences for teaching language concepts. ―current events‖ type of situations. in addition to being strongly visual. 31 . After the principal left. he listened to the children present their work. It requested her presence at the formal reading of everyone‘s pieces. Mark introduced his mystery guest: the owner of the Carnival camp that they had visited several weeks before. The following day. as Duke et al. was a staple experience he provided annually and it furnished learners with concrete experiences about which they could write and speak. Mark told them that they would be having another visitor the next day. 2006). At the end of the session. who offered comments on it. the use of digital technology was invaluable. the teacher closed the project when he affixed samples of each group‘s work to the walls for viewing by other classes and allocated marks to groups for their written products. students kept returning to their readings to gather further supporting information for their pieces. negotiating. (2006) and Beach. and commenting on what they were learning. 1993. Ward and Mirseitova (2007) showed. He took a tour around the classroom visiting the various exhibits. since it refreshed students‘ memories and offered immediate visual stimulation for their discussions. just as they had done for the principal the previous day. which was delivered to the principal. the materials teachers used were from the ―real-world‖: they were not created for instructional purposes (Duke et al. McCallister 2002).Mark. for example. He immersed students in visual and tactile experiences that provided them with opportunities for describing. signed by all the students. Mark had one of the students create a large invitation measuring 11 inches x 17 inches. In this respect. too.

authenticity does not have to be synonymous with current events and breaking news. Goodman. This was most evident in Mark‘s classroom. Instead. In Beach et al. interesting issues which they felt would intrigue students and provide meaningful prompts for wanting to read and write. teachers used these materials to focus considerable attention on developing students‘ linguistic knowledge. Second. (2006). and provided opportunities for students to interact. which could have been a function of the topic she was exploring during the period I observed her. for example. Pasquale‘s fourth grade classroom.‘s study (2007). For example. Chandler. The missing ingredient in Sarah and Margaret‘s practices was an authentic external audience or consumer of the classroom products. there were authentic ―interactions around books‖ (p. Despite the authenticity of the materials used and experiences provided. This was not done using contrastive grammar or lexical analysis. Margaret‘s students simply shared amongst themselves. Teachers used stimulus materials with strong visual content. as well as Sarah‘s. (2006) studied. in which children were ―bombarded with vocabulary‖ (p.on way. Barnes. The science teachers Duke et al. The three teachers in the present study chose to focus on current events during the period I visited their classrooms and it is possible that a more extended stay in those contexts would have provided evidence of wider usage of authentic materials and situations. the teachers‘ practices do not qualify completely as ―authentic‖ if one uses the definition proposed by Duke et al. grammar instruction dealt with the D2 as a second/foreign language. though. with materials. but relatively less so in Margaret‘s. the field trip and subsequent reading and writing activities Mark‘s students engaged in had the flavor of 32 . however. Hemphill and Jacobs (1982) described about Mrs. Mark‘s invitation to the owner of the camp to visit the classroom was an explicit use of an external audience. Third. vocabulary instruction in new lexical items resembled what Chall. The closest that either Sarah or Margaret came to this ideal was Sarah‘s students‘ displaying of ―post-storm‖ writing for their friends from neighboring classes to read. had their students create a brochure. which was displayed in the front office of a nature center.147). for example.7) during literature circles. which are just two examples of situations that generate multimodal texts. particularly their vocabularies and knowledge of English grammar. Snow. often in a hands. since Trinidad Creole has an English-based lexicon. teachers explored topical. In contrast. Also.

it is apparent that the connection between instructional activities. Based on these findings. whereas Margaret‘s students only received visual stimuli. though it can be comprehended because it shares the same lexicon. tools used (authentic texts). The major issue they faced was in engaging Creole speakers to learn English in settings where that language is not spoken widely. 33 .language experience approach (LEA) lessons. The three teachers‘ desire to secure students‘ engagement in core literacy learning motivated them to experiment with new tools. Sarah‘s students engaged in relatively more hands-on activity than Margaret‘s and actually created artifacts for an external audience. and pedagogical intentions in the lessons observed is an uncomplicated one.

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